College Football Best Bets for Week 1: Is the Georgia-Clemson line done moving?ESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)
A primetime, top-five showdown of the Georgia Bulldogs and Clemson Tigers is expected to generate the most betting handle of any game this weekend but it's not a situation that instills fear into the oddsmakers. Sharp money has already driven this number down from Clemson -4 to -3, and now the recreational bettors will take it from here and represent a giant portion of the handle.
"It will definitely be public money," FanDuel communications director Kevin Hennessy told ESPN. "We typically see interest starting Thursday and it then becomes a crescendo into Saturday night. You'll see people who take their winnings from early games and play them into Saturday evening games."
Season openers operate on a unique timeline, given the odds have been posted throughout the summer. After this weekend, a game will typically move throughout the week but for this clash, oddsmakers do not expect any more sharp action. "I think the line is just going to stay at three," said Ed Salmons, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook vice president of oddsmaking and risk management, sharing that almost all of the SuperBook's handle will arrive this weekend.
Georgia has encountered numerous injuries during training camp and some at key positions but that should not induce any line movement. "Teams like Georgia and Alabama, when a guy gets hurt, the guy behind him is probably better," Salmons said. "They just recruit at such a high level. They can almost field two teams. Same with Clemson." -- Doug Kezirian
Every Thursday during the college football season, betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Bill Connelly, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh and David M. Hale will provide their top plays across the college football landscape.
Here are their best bets for Week 1 of the college football season.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill as of Wednesday (unless otherwise indicated).
Temple Owls at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-14, 51.5), 6:30 p.m. ETFortenbaugh: All hail the return of head coach Greg Schiano, who took a 2-10 squad from 2019, navigated his way through a pandemic with very little offseason time to improve his roster and finished last year 3-6 with a triple overtime loss to Michigan. Schiano now has a full offseason of work under his belt and 21 returning starters at his disposal. Meanwhile, the Owls are coming off a brutal 1-6 season in which they were outscored by an average of 20.5 points per game in their six defeats. Look for Schiano and the Scarlet Knights to make an early statement.
Pick: Rutgers -14
East Carolina Pirates vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (-10.5, 56), 7:30 p.m. ET in Charlotte, NCKezirian: This is one of those picks that could be horrendous or even induce some flexing with an outright upset. That's the beauty of Week 1; no one truly knows what the season will hold, especially off a COVID-19 shortened season. However, with all that being said, East Carolina returns numerous key players, including senior quarterback Holton Ahlers. He can make plays with his arm and legs and also has a flare for the dramatic. I love betting on him and hate betting against him. As for Appalachian State, the Mountaineers have transitioned smoothly to FBS and displayed some potent offenses along the way, which could pose serious problems for a shaky Pirates defense. However, App State unveils a new quarterback in transfer Chase Brice, who started his career at Clemson before transferring to Duke. This neutral site game could go in a lot of different directions but I prefer the known over the unknown, particularly in the opener.
Pick: ECU +10.5
No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (-14, 63.5) at Minnesota Golden Gophers, 8 p.m. ETFortenbaugh: How much does Ohio State want to put on tape knowing a marquee showdown with Oregon looms next week? Further, if the Buckeyes find themselves with a sizeable lead in the second half of this matchup, how long will the starters play knowing, again, the Ducks are on deck? Look at last Saturday's UCLA-Hawaii game as an example, as the Bruins hung 31 points in the first half and then throttled back big time, scoring only 13 points in the second half knowing a date with LSU was waiting in the wings. Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck wants to run the ball at all costs and I think Buckeyes boss Ryan Day is going to feature a heavy dose of running back TreVeyon Henderson.
Pick: Under 63.5 points
Bowling Green Falcons at Tennessee Volunteers (-37, 60.5)Kezirian: We've heard the narrative about Tennessee in rebuild mode, having lost numerous transfers and bringing in a new coach. That is certainly the case but it will all rear its ugly head come conference play. This opener is about injecting optimism by bullying a bad team, and I expect Josh Heupel to move up and down the field against a horrendous Bowling Green defense. The Vols should hang at least 50 in a game that will make U.T. fans happy for at least a week.
Pick: Tennessee team total over 48