Week 1 of college football season is set to kickoff. Last week there was a five-game warm-up slate, but this Saturday all the big programs are in action. There are a bunch of marquee matchups between top-end teams and some lopsided spreads. The big card provides plenty of betting options and values. With most teams opening their season, there are more questions than answers. Make sure to check out our projections, depth charts, and datasheets for more information. Let’s dive into a few of the best college football bets, betting odds, picks and predictions for Week 1.
Best College Football Bets & Predictions: Week 1 CFB Picks
Rice at Arkansas: Arkansas -19.5
Rice heads to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas in a game that is not expected to stay close. Arkansas is nearly a three-touchdown favorite, and if not for the toughest schedule in the country, Arkansas could end up atop the standings this year. They return 19 starters, including difference makers on both sides of the ball. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is innovative, and this will give Second-Team All-SEC receiver Treylon Burks plenty of opportunities for explosive plays. The offensive line returns all five starters, and there should be significant improvement from last year. Add in that last year they played an SEC-only schedule, and seeing Rice must be a welcome sight.
Rice is not expected to make much noise this year, and they are at a massive disadvantage personnel-wise. They bring in Luke McCaffrey under center, who was a failed experiment last year at Nebraska. He is not guaranteed the start, but whoever is under center will be constantly under pressure. Rice played a Conference USA schedule last year, and their offense will not have any success against an SEC defense. Despite Arkansas not being a program on the national stage just yet, this is a dangerous team. Lay the 19.5 here; anything inside three touchdowns is a good enough betting line.
West Virginia at Maryland: Maryland +2.5, +125
This spread has been dropping, with Maryland now just a 2.5-point underdog at home. The Terrapins have quietly been recruiting at an elite level, and they return some key pieces from last year’s roster. Under center for Maryland is Taulia Tagovailoa, who showed promise after a dismal opening game last season. He has plenty of options on the outside, including former top recruit Rakim Jarrett, who is poised to break out in his second season. Maryland returns nine starters on defense and brings in the No. 1 linebacker recruit in the country, so the future is bright. This team should improve on the 2-3 record they showed last year.
West Virginia also returns 17 starters, but this is a team that does not stand out in any way. Jarret Doege returns as a one-dimensional quarterback, and he netted negative-101 yards rushing last year. The team has a decent offensive line and some playmakers on the offense, but Maryland appears to have the better roster. This should be a close competitive game, but Maryland gets the edge.
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Georgia vs. Clemson: Clemson -3
The headliner for this Week 1 Saturday is two teams vying for the College Football Playoff. Clemson and Georgia square off at a neutral venue in Charlotte, and both teams will look for a statement victory that will pay dividends on the resume. Clemson is a slight favorite here, and most expect this game to stay close.
Like most elite teams, Clemson reloaded after losing players to the NFL. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne departing created massive holes at some key positions, but D.J. Uiagalelei shined when Lawrence was out with COVID last year against Notre Dame. Uiagalelei is a former No. 1 recruit, and he looks poised to minimize the drop-off from losing Lawrence. There is a similar situation in the backfield, as Will Shipley takes over for Etienne and should immediately produce.
On the other side, Georgia has a backfield that is among the best in the country and a proven quarterback in J.T. Daniels, but there are some concerns. The major storyline is the injuries, as four key pass catchers will not play in this game. This will have major ramifications if Georgia is unable to run the ball effectively. With so many losses on the outside, Georgia’s gameplan is a mystery, which swings interest to Clemson. The Bulldogs also return just five starters on defense and should be tested on that side of the ball.
With this spread dropping down to -3, plus all the injuries Georgia has, Clemson is more trustworthy on a neutral field. They will clear their biggest test of the season in their opening game, and are one of the best college football bets on the entire slate.