College Football 3 Bets Opens Season with Nods to LSU, Utah

In our first 3 Bets of the 2023 College Football season, we examine two of the best matchups among Week 1 games, along with a Pac-12-SEC rematch that should have a different outcome from last year.

Never let it be said that at 3 Bets, we’re not about entertaining you. Our first offerings of the 2023 season feature perhaps two of the more enticing games on the Week 1 slate. Both pitting ACC and SEC teams against each other. One features a Heisman hopeful playing for a national champion dark horse and the other two feature quarterbacks who could throw for 400 yards apiece.

Our third game brings you the two-time defending Pac-12 champion against a fallen SEC blueblood—albeit a fallen SEC blueblood who somehow won this game last year.

As always, we’re about value and opportunity. And these three games provide both.

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Can FSU Hold That Tiger?

We’ll get this out of the way early. Jayden Daniels is the best quarterback in the SEC. The LSU Tigers’ fifth-year senior is a fifth-year starter who accounted for 3,793 all-purpose yards, including 880 on the ground. Daniels is 10-1 to win the Heisman. He threw for 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions last year, showing improved decision-making skills. His rushing stats are mind-boggling when you consider he was sacked 43 times.

Taking the pressure off Daniels’ legs will be a flotilla of runners. They are led by Josh Williams, Noah Cain and Notre Dame Fighting Irish transfer Logan Diggs. LSU being LSU, the Tigers have their usual mile-deep roster of wideouts, led by Malik Nabers (72-1,017-3), Brian Thomas (five TDs on 31 catches) and Kyren Lacy. They have their usual Great Wall of a front-seven that should be improved from last year’s team that gave up 31 points or more in its last five SEC games.

This stellar Week 1 showdown is no gimme, courtesy of a Florida State Seminoles team with its own do-everything QB in Jordan Travis. He has targets in 6-7 Johnny Wilson and Michigan State Spartans transfer Keon Coleman. Florida State took advantage of a late turnover to win this game last year. This, however, is a vastly improved LSU team in Brian Kelly’s second year. According to VSiN’s Steve Mackinen, small favorites are 13-3 straight up and 12-4 ATS in early neutral-field showdowns between Power Five non-conference opponents. That’s the capping argument for LSU to even the score in this tasty season opener.

Prediction: LSU -2.5 (-110 at Caesars)

Watch: Sunday 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC or fuboTV

Utah Rising, Florida Falling

Last year, the Utah Utes went into the Swamp and met with its version of a swamp creature: QB Anthony Richardson. The Utes were not prepared to deal with a multi-talented passer who runs like a Sherman tank and it showed in the 32-29 upset. Nor were they prepared to deal with a ground game that rolled up 531 yards.

They don’t have that worry this year, because on no planet will Florida Gators QB Graham Mertz remind you of Richardson, starting with his nearly even touchdown-to-interception ratio for the Wisconsin Badgers last year.

Speaking of quarterbacks, this game’s line has yo-yoed all over the place due to the uncertain status of Utah’s Spencer Rising, he of the 3,034 yards and 26 TDs last year and he of the 465 rushing yards and six TDs. But Rising is also of the torn ACL suffered in the Rose Bowl Game and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has been mum on whether Rising will play. Based on cryptic comments by Rising, expect the fifth-year senior to play, which means the Utes have the better quarterback, a better coach, more continuity up and down the depth chart, a 14-game winning streak at home and a 25-1 record at Rice-Eccles Stadium in its last 26 home games. Where the line stops, nobody knows yet, but put yourself on Utah’s side when it does.

Prediction: Utah -4 (-110 at Caesars)

Watch: Thursday, 8 p.m. ET ESPN or fuboTV

What’s On Carolina’s Mind? Points

Fasten your seat belts, because this is a game with two QBs: Drake Maye of the UNC Tarheels and Spencer Rattler of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks who will fling the ball all over neutral-site Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. And they will fling the ball all over against defenses that can charitably be described as “mediocre.”

North Carolina returns one defensive back among its eight defensive returners to what was the worst defense in the ACC. South Carolina welcomes only four defensive starters back to a defense that lost top edge rusher Jordan Burch to Oregon. That group yielded 200 or more rushing yards seven times.

The Gamecocks led the SEC with an eye-watering 27 turnovers,. That stat was washed away via a 44-point average in its last three games. As for the Tarheels, they were manic at the beginning (a 9-1 start). Things like that happen when your QB throws for 4,321 yards and 38 TDs. Alas, UNC was depressive at the end (a four-game losing streak punctuated by a 29-point beating by the Clemson Tigers in the ACC title game). Things like this happen when you were dead last in the ACC in total and scoring defense (437 yards and 31 points a game). Maye has a talented group of receivers back. Rattler has the same. The defenses are still an atrocity. All this conveniently translates into one entertaining Over.

Prediction: Over-64.5 (-110 at BetMGM)

Watch: Saturday. 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC or fuboTV

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