Must-Bet College Football Week 1 Parlay for Saturday

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Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Clemson Tigers

Saturday, September 4, 2021 – 7:30PM EDT at Bank of America Stadium

Clemson Tigers Offense vs. Georgia Bulldogs Defense

Losing Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne to the NFL will be a blow but not devastating for the Tigers. Sophomore D.J. Uiagalelei is my Heisman pick with just a handful of games in his back pocket for good reason. Week 1 of the college football season brings a full slate on Labor Day weekend. This is a tremendous opportunity to take the value oddsmakers give us before adjusting to what’s happening on the field.

Some of our best plays will come before the end of the first month. One of the simplest ways to walk away a bigger winner each college football Saturday is to take advantage of parlays. Stacking lines and totals offer tremendously good value compared to individual bets. Of course we want to jump into the action. We have three great parlays available that we had to jump on. We’ll continue to break down the main slate like this for each week of the season. Welcome to Week 1.

 Uiagalelei showed premier talent in limited showings last year and has everything needed around him to recreate a terrific offense. Clemson’s offensive line mostly returns, and the Tigers are getting phenom receiver Justyn Ross back from a nasty neck injury. The rest of the Tigers’ playmaking corps has to prove themselves as viable and consistent performers. This should be reason for concern for the upside and floor for the offense.

Returning receiver leader E.J. Williams had just 306 yards last year, and Frank Ladson was at 281 yards. These guys are talented but I expect Ross to see huge volume until someone emerges. Expect Georgia to force them to step up and win on an island. Georgia’s run defense is always elite and unfortunately the Tigers lack a star lead back. Can freshman Will Shipley earn early carries and become a game-breaker? He might need to be, as neither Lyn-J Dixon nor Kobe Pace showed signs of being a stud. 

Georgia Bulldogs Offense vs. Clemson Tigers Offense

Things are bleak right now for the Georgia offense compared to expectations in the spring. George Pickens’ torn ACL was a massive blow and now Arik Gilbert is away from the team for personal reasons, and there’s no end in sight for his return. There’s some good news though. Quarterback J.T. Daniels is now another year removed from a major knee injury and could see a big boost in his performance.

He was efficient last year but left a lot of passes short and cost the offense opportunities for bigger plays. He’ll have to be aggressive and get the ball out fast against Clemson’s deep array of pass rushers and blitzing front. He’ll have plenty of experience around him, as receivers Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton headline the starters. The two combined for 919 yards and six scores in 2020.

The running game will of course be a focal point. This game may come down to how well Clemson can slow Zamir White and James Cook. Clemson cannot afford to let Georgia own the clock and find gigantic rush lanes, or else they will lose their biggest advantage, which is having an opportunistic defense when playing from ahead. 

Prediction

This should be a close game but higher-scoring than expected. In most playoff games, the offenses eventually find huge gaps and big plays and the defenses are left playing catch-up late. I think this plays out similarly. Clemson is a better team overall with the healthier offensive ecosystem and better quarterback. That’s worth three points to me, and the total hits the over late.  

NCAAF Pick: Clemson -3 (-110) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

Clemson -3 (-110)
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NCAAF Pick: Over 50 (-110) with Bovada

Over 50 (-110)
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NCAAF Parlay: Parlay (+250) with Bovada

Parlay (+250)
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Indiana Hoosiers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

Saturday, September 4, 2021 - 3:30 PM EDT at Kinnick Stadium

Iowa Offense vs. Indiana Defense

Unfortunately the least exciting part of this game is arguably the most crucial. The Iowa Hawkeyes know they need to run the ball and average around five yards per-carry to win but were working with one of the least efficient quarterbacks in the country last year. This game may come down to whether Spencer Petras can up his game on a big stage if rusher Tyler Goodson faces stiff resilience from the Indiana front seven.

The Hoosiers have a terrific secondary so they can rely on their cornerbacks to win on isolated matchups. None of the Hawkeyes’ receivers are massive threats now that Ihmir Smith-Marsette has departed to the NFL, and this Hoosiers’ secondary performed well against better Ohio State playmakers in 2020. But they can’t lose focus.

If Iowa’s group of sophomore and junior blockers can withstand Indiana’s set of seniors and upper classmen throughout their front seven, the Hawkeyes will put up a big fight and own the clock. Anything less will leave them high and dry with scoring opportunities. 

Indiana Offense vs Iowa Defense

The Hoosiers’ offense lacked consistency passing the ball and finding chunk gains on the ground. That must change in 2021, and head coach Tom Allen took in several graduate transfers to help him out. The offensive line was bolstered by a graduate transfer at center and running back Stephen Carr. Now Indiana has a must-watch trio of quarterback Michael Penix, receiver Ty Fryfogle, and Carr. Each has fantastic playmaking ability for their position.

The Hawkeyes must overcome each threat using a gang-defender approach, or else their individual talent will be exposed. Penix can’t afford to be a 56% passer again in 2021 and it begins Week 1. He’s more accurate than that but had little help last season. Look for this unit to take what’s given to them more effectively than the big-play approach they relied upon last year.

Prediction

It’s hard for me to fully buy into Iowa’s profile. Their offense will produce on the ground but also so predictable that Indiana should be able to overcome some of the personnel disadvantage they have. I love Indiana’s ability to win this outright, but that’s also dependent on projecting Michael Penix’s ascent to his 2019 impact level.  This total is well set, so I’m simply taking the Hoosiers to cover on the road. 

NCAAF Pick: Indiana +3.5 (-110) with Bovada

Indiana +3.5 (-110)
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NCAAF Pick: Under 45 (-110) with Bovada

Under 45 (-110)
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NCAAF Parlay: Parlay (+250) with Bovada

Parlay (+250)
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Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Saturday, September 4, 2021 - 12:00 PM EDT at Camp Randall Stadium

Wisconsin Offense vs. Penn State Defense

Although the Wisconsin Badgers were unable to produce an impressive unit in 2020, I’m banking on the seniority of the unit and the return of sophomore passer Graham Mertz. The Badgers will continue to be a run-first attack that enforces their will on their opponent. Though they averaged a measly 3.9 yards per-carry last year, there’s absolutely reason to believe this group can take the next step in 2021.

Mertz’s health and continued development brings an element of massive upside to the passing game. Surrounded by senior receivers Kendrick Pryor, Danny Davis, Jack Dunn, and Jake Ferguson, Mertz will benefit from their poise and overall polish. We should see less mental mistakes as this unit has now gotten two years together to mesh.

The run game must improve as well. Returning leading rusher Jalen Berger will compete with transfer addition Chez Mellusi. Both can elevate themselves to a larger role but this is a big game for each to prove themselves. Can either prove to be explosive against better competition? Penn State has an athletic defense capable of playing man coverage and filling the box with defenders. Mertz must make them pay with big plays to loosen the front seven. Wisconsin must establish their ability to be a more effective passing attack in this game in order to win. 

Penn State offense vs Wisconsin defense

The Nittany Lions were far from a potent unit last year. Even though their three best playmakers were statistically good, they dominated a lot of bad competition. The good news is both leading rusher Keyvone Lee and receiver Jahan Dotson are back with more depth around them. Of course quarterback Sean Clifford has to become more efficient as well. He completed under 61% of his passes last year and ran for only 3.4 yards per carry. Both of those marks must leap for this unit to perform against more physically gifted defenses like Wisconsin.

Getting Dotson into space and seeing if Noah Cain, a former elite prospect, has any juice left in his legs, will be x-factors for Penn State. The Badgers aren’t extremely fast on the perimeter of their defense and Dotson roasted everyone he played last year. Slowing Dotson is the key to winning this battle for Wisconsin.

Expect Wisconsin to bring as much pressure as they can afford while still protecting their secondary. This unit produced three multi-sack defenders in seven games last year, and eight total interceptions. They must force Penn State and Clifford in particular into mistakes. 

The Nittany Lions have covered four of their last five spreads overall, and six of their last seven against Wisconsin. They’ve failed to go over in nine of their last 10 road games.  Wisconsin has failed to hit the over in four of their last five games and has also come up short of covering the spread the same amount of times. They’ve won nine of their last 10 at home, though, and have gone over in five of six games against Penn State. 

Prediction

For my NCCAF picks, I like Wisconsin to win but Penn State to keep it close. Neither defense will be completely settled early on, and the playmaking talent will lead to a 28-24 type of contest. 

NCAAF Pick: Penn State +5.5 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Penn State +5.5 (-110)
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NCAAF Pick: Over 50 (-110) with BetOnline

Over 50 (-110)
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NCAAF Parlay: Parlay (+264) with BetOnline

Parlay (+264)
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*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.