The wait is over. It’s officially time for college football’s opening weekend. It’s no slouch of an opening slate, with several ranked matchups and one Top 5 slugfest in NCCAF Week 1.
Waste no time getting into the action. Here are some of this week’s best picks.
Boise State Broncos vs. UCF Knights (UCF -5.0)
Thursday, 9/2 @ 7 p.m. ET – ESPN
The Boise State Broncos are coming off a 5-2 2020 season where they were 5-0 against unranked opponents and 0-2 against ranked.
While the UCF Knights are technically unranked, they have a very strong roster and will be making a push for the American conference title. Knights’ QB Dillon Gabriel is coming off an extremely successful 2020 season in which he threw for 3,570 yards, 32 TDs and just four INTs.
Gabriel’s third season as the UCF starter should be even slightly better than the first two, and Game 1 against Boise will set the tone. Expect a lot of offense and a UCF win by at least a touchdown.
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#4 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (OSU -14.0)
Thursday, 9/2 @ 8 p.m. ET – FOX
The Ohio State Buckeyes are absolutely stacked this season on both sides of the ball. The Buckeyes’ main question mark will be the play of new starting QB CJ Stroud.
While his first collegiate start may not be his best foot forward, the rest of this team is way too good for a Minnesota Golden team coming off a 3-4 2020 season. Expect the Buckeyes to win over the Gophers by three-plus touchdowns.
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Bowling Green Falcons vs. Tennessee Volunteers (BG +35.0)
Thursday, 9/2 @ 8 p.m. ET – SECN
The Tennessee Volunteers are coming off a 3-7 season in which their largest win margin was 25. While the Bowling Green Falcons aren’t a quality group, and the Vols also have improved, there’s not much reason here to believe a 35+ point blowout is in the cards.
Bookies might be biting off more than they can chew with this line. Bowling Green should cover its first spread of 2021, if unconvincingly.
#10 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (UNC -5.5)
Friday, 9/3 @ 6 p.m. ET – ESPN
The UNC Tar Heels are going to be the Sam Howell Show this season. One of the best NFL prospects in college football this year, the Tar Heel QB should continue lighting up ACC defenses, and that starts with the Virginia Tech Hokies.
A season ago, the #8 Tar Heels were able to beat the #19 Hokies by 11 points behind 257 yards and three TDs from Howell. Expect more of the same to start out this season.
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#5 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #3 Clemson Tigers (CLEM -3.0)
Saturday, 9/4 @ 7:30 p.m. ET – ABC
This is far and away the most intriguing game of the early 2021 season, serving as a VERY early College Football Playoff quarter final game. The result of this matchup will be the line in the sand that distinguishes the playoff teams. That means neither team can afford a loss.
New Clemson Tigers starting QB DJ Uiagalelei is a Heisman Trophy candidate before even taking a snap as the starter. The rest of the Tigers team is solid and hungry after a blowout loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the CFP semifinal game a year ago. Expect them to bounce back in a big way, starting this week with a big statement win over the Georgia Bulldogs.
Opening week has plenty to offer: big-time matchups, lopsided spreads and tons of new starters should bring tons of action and excitement. Don’t miss it and get your bets in. Good luck and enjoy!
*All odds from ESPN/Caesars Sportsbook
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