College Football’s week one won’t be the monster 80+ game slate that was originally scheduled, but we’ll take the nine games that we have because for a while it seemed as if there wouldn’t be a season at all. The week kicks off Thursday with a pair of games featuring Conference USA heavyweights. We’ll get six games on Saturday, highlighted by a G5 heavyweight showdown between Arkansas State and Memphis, and the week will be capped off by a Labor Day tilt between BYU and Navy. Let’s get into the picks.
Straight Up: 660-178 (79%)
Against The Spread Best Bets: 102-90-4 (+2.82 units)
Thursday, September 3rd
Central Arkansas (1-0) @ UAB
8 PM ET, ESPN3
Vegas Line: UAB –21.5
The Central Arkansas Bears picked up a big win last week in the season opener over fellow FCS for Austin Peay. In week one for the FBS, they take on the prohibitive Conference USA favorites, the UAB Blazers. UCA’s win over Austin Peay wasn’t pretty, but I do think there is an advantage to getting the first game mistakes out of the system. Nevertheless, this should be a pretty safe win for the Blazers at home, although perhaps slightly closer than the experts think.
Edit: Some late money has come in heavily on UAB, enough to move the line up over the key number of 21 to 21.5. UCA’s game last week was sloppy, but against a UAB offense that struggled at times last season, the Bears should be able to hold this one to within three touchdowns. Give me Central Arkansas +21.5 as my first best bet of the year (and the first best bet of an FCS team in this site’s history!)
CSD Pick: UAB 33, Central Arkansas 14
☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Central Arkansas +21.5
South Alabama @ Southern Miss
9 PM ET, CBSSN
Vegas Line: Southern Miss -12.5
A couple of teams that had a rough year in the passing game will meet in the only FBS vs FBS game Thursday night. I think South Alabama is a team with a lot of potential, but they will struggle out of the gate on the road here. The USM rush game, led by QB Jack Abraham, is one of the best in Conference USA, and it should lead them to an easy victory in week one.
CSD Pick: Southern Miss 31, South Alabama 16
Saturday, September 5th
Eastern Kentucky @ Marshall
1 PM ET on ESPN
Vegas Line: Marshall -24.5
Marshall QB Isaiah Green transfers out, but star RB Branden Knox is back, as are a few key pieces on the defense. The talent gap will just be too wide here in the first flagship-televised game featuring an FBS team. Give me Marshall, big.
CSD Pick: Marshall 34, Eastern Kentucky 14
Middle Tennessee @ Army
1:30 PM ET on CBSSN
Vegas Line: Army -3.5
We will see if home-field advantage really does matter in 2020 in this matchup of two evenly-matched teams. Based on data coming out of the MLB, I’m wagering that it does. MTSU QB Asher O’Hara may be the best player on the field, but the Army offense is a well-oiled machine, and with limited time to prep for the unique option offense, I don’t like the Blue Raiders’ chances.
CSD Pick: Army 29, Middle Tennessee 23
SMU @ Texas State
4:30 PM ET on ESPN
Vegas Line: SMU -22.5
SMU beat the Bobcats by 30 last year, and I expect the same result here. QB Shane Buechele is back for the Mustangs, as are his top targets, and the best parts of an already bad Texas State defense are gone. This could get ugly, so ugly that I’ll lay the 22.5 and take the Mustangs against the spread as well.
CSD Pick: SMU 46, Texas State 16
☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – SMU -22.5
Houston Baptist @ North Texas
7:30 PM ET on ESPN3
Vegas Line: North Texas -27.5
North Texas loses QB Mason Fine, one of the best players in school history, but they should have no trouble with FCS Houston Baptist to start off the year. There are some talented pieces on the HBU offense, but the defense is abysmal. The Mean Green should roll.
CSD Pick: North Texas 40, Houston Baptist 14
Arkansas State @ #18 Memphis
8 PM ET on ESPN
Vegas Line: Memphis -19
The only game of the week featuring a top 25 team naturally gets the ESPN primetime slot as Memphis hosts Arkansas State to kick off their year. The Tigers got some bad news late this week, as stud RB Kenneth Gainwell opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns over COVID-19. Four of Gainwell’s family members have passed away from the virus.
Even without Gainwell, this Memphis offense will be electric. Led by Brady White, new HC Ryan Silverfield’s boys are probably a top ten offense in America, and I don’t see Arkansas State as likely to be able to catch up. One storyline to watch for the Red Wolves is the QB situation, I prefer Layne Hatcher to Logan Bonner, although I’d expect Bonner, as the more experienced option, to likely get the start. This will be a fun, high-scoring affair, and while I hope ASU is able to keep this one close for a while, expect Memphis to pull away late.
CSD Pick: Memphis 47, Arkansas State 25
Stephen F. Austin @ UTEP
9 PM ET on ESPN3
Vegas Line: UTEP -8.5
It is so tempting to take Stephen F. Austin as an FCS upset special here. The Lumberjacks aren’t half-bad, and they’ll be going up against the worst team in the FBS, UTEP, a program with just two wins in as many years. However, there is some young talent on this UTEP team, and I expect the Miners, at home and desperate for a win, to pull this one out in a poorly-played, low scoring slugfest, but it won’t be pretty.
CSD Pick: UTEP 23, Stephen F. Austin 19
Monday, September 7th
BYU at Navy
8 PM ET on ESPN
Vegas Line: BYU -1.5
An ESPN labor day tilt between BYU and Navy caps off a thin week one. This should be a good one, clearly the best of the week, and Vegas has it as a virtual coin flip. I’d agree. Navy has the home edge, and the tough to deal with option style, but Malcolm Perry is a huge loss at QB, and BYU has the experience at the second level to deal with it. The Cougars also return star QB Zach Wilson, while the Midshipmen still don’t know who will be starting under center. In a coin flip, take the team that actually knows who their quarterback will be. Give me BYU.
CSD Pick: BYU 31, Navy 30