NCAAF Week 1 Best Bets and Analysis for Saturday

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Now that Week 1 is finally here, let’s kick things off by looking at three of Saturday’s (most) must-bet college football picks.

It’s time to switch things up here at the ranch. We’ve spent the past few years showing you how to maximize your sports betting returns by taking advantage of the freely available computer projections out there on the interwebs – and it’s been both fun and lucrative.

Time to Step It Up

But now that you know how to do all that for yourself, we need to up our game. That’s why we’ve invested in some proprietary models from a known and well-respected source in the sports analytics community. We’ll also continue to refer to FiveThirtyEight and the like from time to time, don’t worry.

These models are especially useful for figuring out which of the “straight” bets offer the most betting value. This would be:

  • Point spreads
  • Moneylines
  • Totals

One caveat: We’re not looking at any FBS-FCS matchups since nothing’s shown up on the NCAAF odds board yet as we go to press.

With all that being said, here are our top 3 NCAAF picks for Week 1, focussing specifically on Saturday’s slate.


Bowling Green Falcons vs. UCLA Bruins

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 02:30 PM EDT at Rose Bowl

They say the mid-majors is where the money’s at when you’re making NCAAF picks. The Pac-12 is a mid-major, right? UCLA has the most betting value of anyone on the board at -23; Chip Kelly has proved once again that he’s one of the brightest minds in college football, taking over the Bruins in 2018 and bringing them back to relevance in 2021 at 8-4 SU and ATS.

We’d normally be a bit concerned that the Bruins have already used up their betting value, but they’re not done improving. All the cool kids want to play for Kelly, including:

  • LT Raiqwon O’Neal (formerly with Rutgers)
  • WR Jake Bobo (Duke)
  • RB Titus Mokiao-Atimalala (UCF)

They’ll make sure QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson continues to shine in Pasadena.

What About the Falcons?

As for Bowling Green, the MAC is a proper mid-major, but not a very good one – they finished last among all 10 FBS conferences in 2021 according to the Simple Rating System numbers at Sports Reference. And the Falcons (4-8 SU, 8-4 ATS) were the third worst team in the MAC at minus-12.00 SRS.

It might be curtains for head coach Scot Loeffler after this season. He’s brought back most of the key players behind the worst offense in the MAC, including QB Matt McDonald. There’s some room for improvement on defense, which we’ll discuss in a moment, but for now, this team is a sitting duck.

NCAAF Pick: UCLA -23 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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UCLA -23 (-110)
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A Look at the Over/Under

Yes, we’re still here at the Rose Bowl. The models really like the Under here, even more so now that the total has risen from 55.5 since the opening in late May. Don’t let that very early action confuse you; the BMR consensus reports, at press time, show 57 percent support for the Under, with the surveys reflecting more recent betting patterns.

We’re not about to impugn Kelly’s offensive credentials. Bowling Green (Under 7-5 last year), on the other hand, are ranked No. 125 out of 131 teams on the offensive F+ charts at Football Outsiders, as we head into the opener.

Okay, they’re also ranked No. 112 on defense, but that’s up two spots from last year. At least they’ve shuffled the decks somewhat with linebacker DJ Taylor coming over from Wake Forest. Every bit helps. And it’s Week 1, so defenses should naturally have the edge while the offenses warm up.

NCAAF Pick: Under 57 (-109) at GTbets (visit our GTbets Review)

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Under 57 (-109)
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Utah State Aggies vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium

All that time and expense to tell us that Alabama (12-1 SU, 7-6 ATS) are a prime fade candidate for Week 1. Of course, they are; now that sports betting is even more in the mainstream, there are tons of public bettors scrambling to put their money down on the Tide, driving the line from -34 to -41 (!) at the open.

Of course, Nick Saban has never let a little chalk get in his way. He’ll run up the score as far as he can, but this isn’t your classic Week 1 cupcake matchup – this is Utah State (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS), coming off a championship year in the Mountain West under head coach Blake Anderson.

Are the Aggies a Live Dog?

We should also point out that the Mountain West Conference finished seventh among the conferences last year according to the Simple Rating System, behind only the AAC among the mid-majors. Okay, and the Pac-12. Bet accordingly, and may the prolate spheroid be with you in 2022.

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

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Utah State +42 (-108)
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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.