Week 1 of the college football season is finally here. Even with a five-game slate on Saturday, August 28th to get opening kickoff underway, there’s some terrific value on the board. We’re using every tool we can to start rolling our profits in 2021. Over the last three years, I’ve found veteran teams more reliable than their peers within the first three weeks of the college football season.
Week 1 is a dangerous time for big favorites. We often see uncomfortable winning margins as teams try to figure out their own identity or play youngsters. We’ve made our Week 1 picks based on the meaningful trends and best values on the board. Check out our breakdown of each of our top plays. Let’see the NCAAF odds.
Nebraska vs. Illinois
Saturday, August 28, 2021 – 01:00 PM EDT at Memorial Stadium
The first game of the college football season is, unfortunately, likely a bore-fest unless you love the ground game and relatively weak passing attacks. That’s okay, because Nebraska and Illinois offer us an excellent opportunity to cash-in on two bets.
I love the spread for Nebraska as they return the majority of their defense along with starting Adrian Martinez’s junior season. Illinois has been anemic on offense thanks to a dearth of playmaking talent at quarterback and receiver. The pathway for them to win in their 2020 upset of Nebraska was extreme, and unlikely to repeat itself in any form.
Nebraska has gone under in six of their last seven games on the road, but has won their last 10 games in August. Illinois has gone 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games, and has won just two of their last 11 games straight up.
NCAAF Pick: Under 55 -115 with BetOnline
UCONN vs. Fresno State
Saturday, August 28, 2021 - 02:00 PM EDT at Bulldog Stadium
While I can say Fresno State wasn’t very good in 2020 as they were only 3-7 overall and covered the spread four times, at least they played last year. UCONN opted out of the 2020 football season, making them a complete unknown in 2021. But the results we’ve seen from the program in recent years have been terrible.
The Bulldogs return a solid amount of production from last season and that’s enough for me to be more optimistic they can cover this large line. At the very least, I’m hitting the under. I expect UCONN to be incapable of producing scoring opportunities in their first game back in 18 months.
The Huskies have lost 10 of their last 11 games played, and have covered the spread just once in their last seven Week 1 games. Fresno State has won just three of their last 10 games, but have won 14 of their last 19 home games. The Bulldogs have covered the spread in four of their last five Week 1 contests.
NCAAF Pick: Fresno State -27½ -110 with BetOnline
NCAAF Pick: Under 63 -110 with BetOnline
Hawaii vs. UCLA
Saturday, August 28, 2021 – 03:30 PM EDT at the Rose Bowl
If you’ve been following along with our projection pieces this week, you’ll know we jumped on UCLA -17 and the under at 69.5 earlier this week. It’s okay if you missed those prices, but be more wary of a growing line as the week progresses. UCLA has a lot of momentum around the program as they bring back 91% of their 2020 production from last year.
Hawaii should be able to move the ball through the air against Chip Kelly’s Bruins, but I don’t see a high-scoring affair. UCLA has too much athleticism and talent in the trenches for this game to be too close.
Hawaii has hit the under in five of their last six games and have covered just two of their last six spreads on a Saturday. UCLA is only 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 games when playing as the favorite, and have won only three of their last 10 games straight up.
NCAAF Pick: UCLA -1000 with BetOnline
NCAAF Pick: Under 68½ -115 with BetOnline
UTEP vs. New Mexico State
Saturday, August 28, 2021 - 09:30 PM EDT at Aggie Memorial Stadium
Another team that opted out of the 2020 season is New Mexico State. This was another bad program prior to missing the year, and are hoping a fresh season injects life into the school. UTEP is a relatively favorable opponent to start the journey against but still, the Aggies are solid underdogs.
The Miners are rebuilding half their defense from last season and must go against a run-heavy offense. Still, Dana Dimel’s squad will find big plays on the ground themselves and rely on star rusher Deion Hankins.
UTEP has covered four of their last five spreads, but only three of their last 19 games overall. New Mexico State has seen five straight totals go over, but have lost 13-of-16 and have failed to cover the spread in six of their last nine.
NCAAF Pick: Over 57 -105 with Bovada
*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.