College Football Power Five: 4 Games That Can Pay Off On Week 1

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Adonai Mitchell #5 of the Georgia Bulldogs catches the ball for a touchdown against the Michigan Wolverines in the College Football Playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2021. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Welcome to college football’s official Week 1, also known as the opening of Espionage Season.

Reports are flying in from around the country about head coaches guarding their depth charts like launch codes for nuclear warheads. God bless their paranoid hearts. 

On to this week’s Fab Four picks as we look at the NCAAF odds for:

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UL Monroe Warhawks vs. Texas Longhorns

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 08:00 PM EDT at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

A Texas official already announced Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian will not provide a depth chart before Saturday’s season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. It’s expected Sarkisian won’t release a depth chart all season.

Sarkisian’s next step will probably be to remove all names and numbers from jerseys, appropriate for a program whose tradition as one-time national power has resided in witness protection for decades.

Sneaky Lineup Featuring Bevo the Longhorn?

If the NCAA approved this, perhaps Sarkisian could slip in Class of 2023 QB commitment Arch Manning and Bevo the Longhorn in his lineup.

This much is known. Ohio State transfer Quinn Ewers has been named starting quarterback. All three of UT’s top receivers and top rushers from last season return behind an O-line with three returning starters.

Meanwhile, Louisiana-Monroe has given up 42 or more points (including 70 or more twice) in seven of its last eight games against Power Five conference schools.

NCAAF Pick: Texas - 37 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

Oregon Ducks vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Saturday, September 03, 2022 - 03:30 PM EDT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

New University of Nike-Eugene head coach Dan Lanning is playing a Duck and Dog game with Kirby Smart, head coach of defending national champion Georgia.

Lanning won’t publicly name a starting QB before game-time Saturday in Athens. The likely starter is Auburn transfer Bo Nix, who completed just 56 percent of his passes and accounted for 2 TDs (one pass, one run) while going 0-3 as a starter the last three years vs. Georgia.

No wonder Smart’s reaction to Lanning’s tight lips was, “I know who the quarterback is going to be. I’m not worried about that. I’m worried a lot more about how our guys play and what our guys do and how our guys execute.”

It's All About Execution

In four of the last five years in his seven-year Georgia coaching tenure, Smart has won 11 or more games and was 8-2 in the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season. The average ranking of his seven recruiting classes is 3rd nationally.

As for Oregon, Lanning is the Ducks’ fourth head coach since 2016 when Smart took over Georgia. Also since then, Oregon’s average ranking of its seven recruiting classes is 14th nationally (though the Ducks have had top-five recruiting classes in three of the last four years).

Talent level and program stability don’t lie.

NCAAF Pick: Oregon -17 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

Florida State Seminoles vs. LSU Tigers

Sunday, September 04, 2022 - 07:30 PM EDT at Caesars Superdome

New LSU head coach and former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Monday he has chosen a starting quarterback for the opener vs. Florida State but will not reveal it because he sees it as a “tactical advantage.” What?

FSU has film of the Tigers’ two QB candidates – Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels and LSU redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier – who played four games last season.

Daniels was the 2019 Sun Bowl MVP for ASU in a 20-16 win over Florida State. The Seminoles also played Kelly’s Fighting Irish in each of the last two seasons. It’s not like FSU is oblivious to his offensive and defensive philosophies.

The True "Tactical Advantage"

LSU’s “tactical advantage” is playing in New Orleans, one of a handful of United States cities that has enough liquor to handle the Tigers’ party-‘til-you-puke fan base.

LSU has won the last 11 of 12 games it has played in the Superdome and has won its last three national championships in 2003, 2007 and 2019 in the Superdome by an average victory margin of 14 points.

FSU’s only advantage heading into this game is it already has a game under its belt. The Seminoles issued FCS opponent Duquesne a 47-7 beatdown, scoring the game’s first 33 points and rolling for 406 yards (7.5 yards per carry) with six players scoring a TD each by using an almost 30-pound per man advantage on its offensive line over Duquesne’s defensive line.

LSU’s strengths – wide receiver and defensive line – should serve the Tigers well vs. the Seminoles. LSU’s biggest worry is its secondary is filled with four-year transfers who have never played together in a live game. Also, the Tigers have new kicking specialists and returners from top to bottom.

NCAAF Pick: LSU -2.5 (-125) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Utah State Aggies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Saturday, September 3, 2022 - 7:30 PM EDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium

All you need to know about this game is Alabama coach Nick Saban released his entire depth chart. When you’ve won seven national championships (one for LSU, six for the Crimson Tide), you really don’t give a damn about hiding superior personnel.

There’s no discernable track record of Alabama obliterating season-opening foes the year after the Tide has failed to win a national title. And because Alabama is favored by unusually large margins – an average of 6 games per year the last five seasons being favored by 28 points or more – it is 38-31-1 against the spread in that time frame.

Is Utah State a Live Dog?

Because Utah State is no pushover – it has 12 returning starters off last year’s 11-3 team that won the Mountain West Conference – the Aggies have a solid shot to cover the spread.

Bet this one with your NCAAF picks at your own risk.

NCAAF Pick: Utah State +42 (-108) at Heritage Sports

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.