This season kicks off in a big way with some huge games. You do have a healthy dose of enormous point spreads in ‘warm up’ games for big programs, but Alabama/Florida State and Florida/Michigan games are worth waiting out some blowouts this weekend.
Will any player jump out in front of the Heisman race like Lamar Jackson did in the first week last year?
We at ‘America’s White Boy’ pick 25 college football games against the spread in Week 1 of the NCAA Football season (September 2nd, 2017). We also focus on small conference games and Thursday night games.
Are there any upsets you have your eye on this week?
Ohio State at Indiana (+21) – My pick is Ohio State Buckeyes
This may not get a lot of attention in the national media, but this game is very personal for new Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. Wilson ‘resigned’ from his head coaching job at Indiana last December. He was accused of being too rough on the players and forcing kids to play in games while injured. Wilson turned Indiana into a bowl-eligible team and his offense was the biggest reason. I usually fear that a really good team like Ohio State won’t press down on the gas in their first game, especially if it is against a below-average Big Ten team. I have to factor in the personal issues Wilson may still have with Indiana. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to run up the score on his former team, who lost a lot of offensive line talent to the NFL Draft. I have to take Ohio State to cover on the road.
Colorado State at Colorado (-4) – My pick is Colorado State Rams
Colorado hosted Colorado State this week last season and skewered them 44-7. Colorado held the Rams to just 225 total yards. The Buffaloes then went on to have a very good season. I viewed their defense as their biggest advantage all last year. Only three starters remain from that defense. CSU will have an easier time moving the ball against Colorado and have a shot at winning this game outright. CSU receiver Michael Gallup will actually be able to get open against Colorado this season. He’s a stud receiver and the inexperienced Colorado secondary will have issues with him. I have to take the points in this game.
California at North Carolina (-12) – My pick is North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina lost QB Mitchell Trubisky to the Chicago Bears in the NFL Draft, so they will most likely have LSU-transfer Brandon Harris under center. Head coach Larry Fedora is keeping his starting QB decision quiet and won’t say if either Harris or redshirt freshman Chaz Surratt will start. I’m going to assume Harris starts this game. It shouldn’t matter a lot who starts, cause Cal had one of the worst pass defenses in college football last year. The Golden Bears played it fast and loose in the air on offense and defense. They failed to make a bowl game. Their defense is expected to be just as bad this year. I am taking the Tar Heels to cover at home.
Tennessee vs Georgia Tech (+3) – My pick is Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
This game is taking place at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Tennessee will be without left tackle Drew Richmond and middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. due to suspensions and injuries. Being without your starting middle linebacker against the crazy triple-option offense of Georgia Tech is scary for Vols fans. Tennessee had high hopes going into last season, but fell short. They would fall behind in games and successfully come back late to win. UT head coach Butch Jones isn’t exactly on the hot seat, but if he finishes the season with seven wins or less, it will become quite hot. It’s not like he’s doing a poor job on paper cause they had nine wins in back-to-back seasons, but their top recruits haven’t panned out. Failed lofty expectations can get a good coach fired. The Vols will be good, but I just love Georgia Tech in this game. GT head coach Paul Johnson has so many tricks at his disposal with his run-heavy offense. You can’t replicate his offense to practice against it, so teams often have trouble early and struggle to make adjustments. I’m taking the points and I’ll possibly put a few jellybeans on the GT moneyline.
Texas A&M at UCLA (-3.5) – My pick is Texas A&M Aggies
I had a man crush on UCLA QB Josh Rosen before last season. I was all-in on the Bruins, but then Rosen went down with a season-ending shoulder injury. UCLA struggled from that point on finishing the season with a 4-8 record. UCLA changed some position coaches and coordinators to get some fresh voices/ideas in the room. A&M comes into this season hoping to replace QB Trevor Knight. Senior Jake Hubenak has been in the program for a few years, but Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel are the future. As you may have guessed, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t releasing which quarterback(s) will play against UCLA. My guess that Starkel will start, but Mond or Hubenak will play in a few packages. A&M’s Armani Watts is one of the best safeties in college football. I expect him to make a few big plays against Rosen. A&M will keep up with UCLA and this will be a close game. I’m taking the points.
Alabama vs Florida State (-+7.5) – My pick is Alabama Crimson Tide
This game is also taking place at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This has a chance to be a preview of a College Football Playoff contest. They both come into this game as one of the best teams in all of college football. Both have sophomore quarterbacks that hope to develop into more well-rounded passers in year two. Alabama will have the best defense in the nation, but Florida State is also expected to place near the top as well. The Seminoles return nine starters on defense. Alabama lost many of their studs on defense to the NFL Draft, but they always seem to have a guy on the bench who can immediately take over and do just as well, gets drafted and the cycle keeps going. Bama QB Jalen Hurts will be throwing passes to arguably the best overall receiving corps in the nation. It’s crazy to just look at how much talent Alabama has on their squad. FSU QB Deondre Francois will need to play a perfect game if he hopes to beat the spread. The half-point scares me a little, but I have to take the Tide in this game.
Florida vs Michigan (-5) – My pick is Michigan Wolverines
This game is taking place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Michigan only returns one starter on defense, but head coach Jim Harbaugh has been doing so well in the recruiting that this defense may even be better this season. QB Wilton Speight will have a lot of help on the ground with Ty Isaac, Kareem Walker and Karan Higdon as their three-headed rushing attack. Florida just couldn’t score much last year. They struggled scoring points last season, but their defense put in the work to win another SEC East title for the Gators. The Gators decided Feleipe Franks will start over last year’s starter Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame-transfer Malik Zaire. It was the best decision since Franks has the most upside and as a redshirt freshman, he sets Florida up to look ahead. They could stabilize their quarterback situation which has been a mess since Tim Tebow wore the blue and orange. I banged my head against the wall a bit to pick this game. I have to take Michigan to cover. I don’t think Florida’s front-seven can contain Michigan’s running game.
West Virginia vs Virginia Tech (-4) – My pick is Virginia Tech Hokies
This game is being played FedEx Field in the Washington D.C. area. These two teams used to play each other on a regular basis, but this is their first meeting since 2005. VT head coach Justin Fuente upgraded the Hokies offense in his second year on the job. Some of the weapons he had last year left for the NFL, so redshirt freshman Josh Jackson is now jis starting quarterback. He could have trouble getting targets open for the young quarterback. Tech’s defense should be the reason they could win double-digit wins again in 2017. Cornerback Greg Stroman and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds have a future playing on Sundays and will cut the legs out from under opposing offenses. West Virginia is starting Florida-transfer Will Grier at quarterback this season. Grier struggled at Florida until he gained a lot of muscle one off-season. He got off to a great start in 2015, but got busted for failing a PED test and was suspended for a year. This game will be close, but I’m taking Tech’s defense over Grier…so give me the points.
Washington at Rutgers (+27.5) – My pick is Washington Huskies
Washington QB Jake Browning sort of came out of nowhere to become a Heisman candidate last year. He had a lot of help from wide receiver John Ross, who is now in the NFL. Dante Pettis is the new #1 receiver and Browning has three or four more quality targets. Like Colorado, Washington lost a lot of studs from their secondary to the NFL Draft. Luckily for the Huskies, Rutgers shouldn’t be that much of a problem for the young secondary to tame. Rutgers head coach Chris Ash knew what he was up against when he took over at Rutgers. He just hasn’t had enough time to recruit a depth of talent to compete against most Power conference teams. The Huskies should cover this game on the road.
Charlotte at Eastern Michigan (-14) – My pick is Eastern Michigan Eagles
This is when we pick a game with smaller conference teams. This spot is usually where I would poke fun at Eastern Michigan. I made enough money off betting against the Eagles and it was nearly an automatic win. I can’t do that now. They had their first winning season in twenty years and made their first bowl game in thirty seasons. EMU’s quarterback Brogan Roback and the offensive line was the reason for the improvement. They lost some seniors on the line, so Roback will have to be quicker with his reads. This is Charlotte’s third season in the FBS and they are still filling their roster with FBS-caliber talent. I have Eastern Michigan covering this game at home.
New Mexico State at Arizona State (-22.5) – My pick is Arizona State
Navy at Florida Atlantic (+9.5) – My pick is Navy
Louisville vs Purdue (+24.5) – My pick is Louisville
Wyoming at Iowa (-11.5) – My pick is Wyoming
South Carolina vs NC State (-5) – My pick is NC State
Temple at Notre Dame (-18.5) – My pick is Notre Dame
Kentucky at Southern Miss (+10) – My pick is Kentucky
Western Michigan at USC (-26.5) – My pick is USC
Houston at UTSA (+11) – My pick is Houston
Boston College at Northern Illinois (+3.5) – My pick is Northern Illinois
UTEP at Oklahoma (-43) – My pick is Oklahoma
Miami (OH) at Marshall (-2.5) – My pick is Marshall
Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee (+3) – My pick is MTSU
Ball State at Illinois (-7) – My pick is Ball State
Kent State at Clemson (-40) – My pick is Clemson
Sweetbob’s college football picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.