College Capper: Best Bets Week 1

College Capper: Best Bets Week 1

This article is part of our College Football Picks series.

Welcome back for the 2020 season as we get things underway with an interesting opening week of games. Our cappers take a look at the matchups between FBS teams this weekend and offer their best bets below.

Chris' Picks

While determined to improve on last year's poor record, this week's limited slate forces my hand to pick each game available; not always a recipe for success. We all know we'll have to pay attention for last minute news on who may or may not play. We also know the cliche is that defenses are usually ahead of offenses early in the year. That's going to make the under a popular target this week, especially where service academies and their clock churning offenses are involved. But those haven't been my forte in year's past, so here we are. Five games, five picks on the spread.

South Alabama (+15) at Southern Mississippi (Thursday)

Line shopping here seems paramount, as I've seen this opening at +16, and falling as low as +13.5, and the total has also fallen some five points. USA found some offense late in 2019, with quarterback Desmond Trotter showing he can put up a few points. Southern Miss returns QB Jack Abraham, but is breaking in a new system on both sides of the ball, which figures to lead to some mishaps. And mishaps plagued this team in 2019, ranking 122nd in turnover margin. Very slight lean to the Jaguars here.

SMU - 22.5 at Texas State

I'm

Welcome back for the 2020 season as we get things underway with an interesting opening week of games. Our cappers take a look at the matchups between FBS teams this weekend and offer their best bets below.

Chris' Picks

While determined to improve on last year's poor record, this week's limited slate forces my hand to pick each game available; not always a recipe for success. We all know we'll have to pay attention for last minute news on who may or may not play. We also know the cliche is that defenses are usually ahead of offenses early in the year. That's going to make the under a popular target this week, especially where service academies and their clock churning offenses are involved. But those haven't been my forte in year's past, so here we are. Five games, five picks on the spread.

South Alabama (+15) at Southern Mississippi (Thursday)

Line shopping here seems paramount, as I've seen this opening at +16, and falling as low as +13.5, and the total has also fallen some five points. USA found some offense late in 2019, with quarterback Desmond Trotter showing he can put up a few points. Southern Miss returns QB Jack Abraham, but is breaking in a new system on both sides of the ball, which figures to lead to some mishaps. And mishaps plagued this team in 2019, ranking 122nd in turnover margin. Very slight lean to the Jaguars here.

SMU - 22.5 at Texas State

I'm seeing this opened around -17 and has been bet up north of three scores, a scary proposition. But it shouldn't be with Mustangs' quarterback Shane Buechele returning, as he'll be the best player on the field by leaps and bounds. SMU knocked off the Bobcats by 30 last year, a game that saw then third-string running back TJ McDaniel go for159 yards and three scores on just eight carries. That should give him confidence as he appears set to take over lead back duties in 2020. Texas State ranked 120th against the run last year, and it's hard to imagine that improving enough to keep this close.

Memphis -19.5 vs. Arkansas State

I really want to go against the grain and roll with the Red Wolves, as I think they can score on Memphis. But with the Tigers returning QB Brady White and WR Damonte Coxie, I don't see how an ASU defense that ranked 111th against the pass can get enough stops to keep this within two scores. This is another game where the line opened around -16 and has moved heavily. If it continues to rise, or you shop around and can get Arky State +21, or +21.5, I could see the value argument there.

Army -3.5 vs. Middle Tennessee State

It was mentioned in the intro, it will be again here, and again below. Time of possession will be paramount to success here, and I don't see MTSU being able to get enough stops against Army's ground game. The Blue Raiders ranked 101st against the run, allowing 4.92 ypc in 2019, which is going to limited their chances offensively. MTSU QB Asher O'Hara is a dangerous dual threat who could easily create big plays and win this game, I just question how many chance's he'll have to do so.

Navy +1.5 vs. BYU (Monday)

Feel I've written this game up six times in my head, and have gone back and forth, something I guess isn't surprising given the narrow spread. I like that BYU has an anchor, 320 lb DT in Khyiris Tonga, and an experience linebacking corps that should be disciplined against the option. And the Cougars certainly have experience under center, while Navy must replace star quarterback Malcolm Perry. But BYU is also without their top four pass catchers from a year ago, and struggled to run the ball in 2019 as well. Time of possession means everything when facing the option, and as such, I'll take the modest points with Navy, who will certainly have more chances and I find to have a vast coaching advantage.

Last Week: 0-0-0, Season: 0-0-0

GREG'S PICKS

We are back at it in what can only be described as the strangest of all circumstances. The college football season moves ahead (kind of) this week as several teams will play their first games of the season. From a handicapping perspective, this is going to be tough to navigate, at least early on as there are bound to be some COVID-related absences throughout the season, but that just means we'll have to pay close attention to the news surrounding the teams we plan to play on. With the Big 10 and PAC 12 absent early in the year, we'll also have less games to choose from, which will make it more difficult, but we'll figure out a way through this. As for week one, there are only a handful of games, most of which do not involve high profile teams, so tread lightly.     

*Quick note: Most weeks we pick only the best games on the board, but this week, with a limited schedule, we have to essentially force the issue. Some are stronger than others however, but unless noted, none of these plays would make the cut during a normal week. 

Southern Mississippi (-15) vs South Alabama 

Get used to seeing some new teams in this article…at least for one week anyway. Southern Miss doesn't have the offense that you want when laying a number this big, but it has a stout defense, one which should have little problem holding USA in check all game. USA also lost most of its defensive front from last season and although Southern Miss didn't have a great ground attack last season, it brought in a new O-Coordinator to address that. Look for Southern Miss to get some through the air, some on the ground and just enough to cover this big number.             

Under (55) Middle Tennessee St at Army

Middle Tennessee State struggled on defense this past season, but most of that can be attributed to its terrible pass defense. That's obviously not a concern in this one as Army simply doesn't throw the ball. On offense, the Blue Raiders do most of their damage on the ground, be it from their backfield or their QB taking off on the ground. In either case, the clock continues to run when the ball stays on the ground. Army will obviously keep the ball on the ground, but with a lot of turnover on the O-Line, plus a new QB at the helm, I can't imagine its attack will be all that lethal to start the season. It's always risky taking an under when neither team has much of a defense, but I'm expecting some futility on the offensive side of the ball and a quick game, which should lead to an under.           

Memphis (-19.5) vs Arkansas State 

My first inclination was to take the over here, but at 73.5, it's going to take a lot from both teams to get there and I'm not sure Arkansas State can contribute enough. Memphis will have no problem doing its part as most of its star power on offense is back and man, was it a strong offense last season. Arkansas State meanwhile was a disaster on defense this past season, especially against the run (uh oh) and the Red Wolves lost most of their starters in the off season. Memphis' defense left a lot to be desired this past season as well, but the Tigers brought in a new defensive coordinator, which is bound to give them a boost, at least initially. If you want to hedge, take Memphis and the over as the only thing guaranteed in this one is that Memphis will get theirs on offense, but I think the defense shows up just enough to cover this number as well.       

Under (52.5) BYU at Navy

Not all under picks are built the same. Whereas offensive futility is behind the Army under this week, defense is behind the under in this game. It's not that either team has a great defense, but BYU at least brings a serviceable defense, one that should be able to slow Navy's rushing attack and with no ground game, Navy has nothing else to offer. BYU's offense should be pretty good this season, but anytime you lock horns with an option team, the game slows down and that's what will happen here. This total opened at 55 and is currently at 52.5, which isn't always an indicator of how the game will go, but in this case, I think the early money is on the proper side of the total. If I were to hedge on this one, I'd side with BYU as Navy has to replace its best offensive weapon from this past season.            


Last Week: 0-0-0, Season: 0-0-0

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only College Football Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire College Football fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Chris Bennett
Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
DFS College Football 101: Tips and Strategies for 2022
DFS College Football 101: Tips and Strategies for 2022
Conference Preview: Mountain West All-Conference Teams, Sleepers and Busts
Conference Preview: Mountain West All-Conference Teams, Sleepers and Busts
Conference Preview: AAC Sleepers, Busts and All-Conference Teams
Conference Preview: AAC Sleepers, Busts and All-Conference Teams
Conference Preview: SEC All-Conference Teams, Fantasy Sleepers and Busts
Conference Preview: SEC All-Conference Teams, Fantasy Sleepers and Busts