Now that Week 1 is officially here, let’s get those game spread best bets going! Only one ranked matchup will grace our screens this week as (5)LSU and (8)Florida State face off in Orlando. The race to the CFP has officially kicked off!
Week 1 College Football Game Spreads
There were only seven games to pick from and already, we have had a bad week. San Jose State did well to keep USC from completely unloading on them and covered while Ohio let us down as the drop from Kurtis Rourke to CJ Harris was too steep. Notre Dame got off to a great start by shellacking Navy. However, Jacksonville State and UMASS made us look foolish betting against them.
Overall: 2-3 (2-3 last week)
South Florida at Western Kentucky (-11.5)
We kick it off with an AAC vs Conference USA matchup! This year will be just the eighth time these two will face off. USF leads the all-time series, 4-3 but WKU won in 2015. The Hilltoppers have had an impressive run over the last few years, so a two-score spread seems too good to be true.
There is one thing for certain: Western Kentucky can sling it. Since 2014, WKU has had a quarterback lead the nation in passing four times. No other school has more than one. Over the last two years, The Hilltoppers have had the second-best (2022) and best (2021) passing attacks in the nation. Austin Reed returns after passing for 4,746 yards and 40 touchdowns. This is an offense that even teams like Ohio State are taking note.
South Florida struggled last year. The Bulls managed just one win over an FCS foe and that’s it. Last year, they allowed a whopping 516.6 yards per game, by far the worst in FBS. 282 of those came through the air, the eighth-worst in FBS. They replaced their defensive coordinator and will be looking to add pieces. However, matching up an atrocious defense with an explosive offense spells trouble for the Bulls. Unstoppable force meets movable object.
Toledo (+9.5) at Illinois
We can’t go a week without some good old-fashioned #MACtion. For the first time in history, the Fighting Illini and Rockets will battle it out on the gridiron. In each of the last 16 years, a MAC team has beaten a Big Ten team. Could Toledo be the one to do so in 2023?
Last year’s MAC Champions are primed and ready for a repeat. DeQaun Finn is one of the top quarterbacks in the conference and the Group of 5 as a whole. Finn comes into the season with 5,469 total yards and 59 touchdowns in his two years as a starter. This offense was the only one in FBS that had a whopping FOUR players with over 100 rushing attempts…and they’re all back in 2023.
However, one area Illinois was proficient in was defending the run. They were the 10th-best rush defense, only allowing 99.8 yards per game. They lost their star running back to the NFL but Reggie Love III has what it takes to carry the offense. Illinois will be a solid team and is one of the many who have a legitimate shot of winning the Big Ten West.
Illinois may get this win but Toledo should cover. The Rockets have what it takes to win outright, however.
West Virginia at Penn State (-20.5)
Less than three hours’ drive separates these two programs which have met 59 times in history. That last meeting? A Penn State victory in 1992. It’s been over 30 years since these teams faced off. The Nittany Lions own a 48-9-2 lead in the series which includes a four-game win streak by Penn State.
West Virginia’s program is not in a great spot. The Mountaineers went 5-7 last year which included a thrilling Week 1 loss in the revived Backyard Brawl. On offense, they return each of their starting offensive linemen…and that’s it. According to a rival coach in the Big 12 via Athlon’s season preview, this WVU roster is devoid of much talent and they’re expected to finish towards the bottom of the league.
Penn State, on the other hand, have legitimate CFP aspirations. Drew Allar is (expected) the next man up at quarterback and he’s the most hyped-up signal caller they’ve had in a long time. In limited time last year, it looked like Allar was the real deal and he has all of the weapons to succeed. The Nittany Lions have two of the best running backs in the conference and his receivers aren’t slouches, either. Keep an eye on Dante Cephas, the transfer from Kent State. He tore it up in the MAC and he’s talented enough to continue the trend.
Colorado (+20.5) at TCU
This is a pick that we are not even close to being confident about but who can resist betting on Coach Prime’s FBS debut? These two programs were ships in the night when the big Big 12 realignment took place in the 2010s. Colorado went west, TCU jumped up from the MWC. The two have played just once in history, a 38-13 TCU win last year.
The Colorado Buffaloes are going to be a must-watch each and every week. Even if they double last year’s win total, they’ll be the most-watched two-win team in history. Shedeur Sanders is the new quarterback and was one of seemingly 200 incoming transfers. Likely the biggest star will be Travis Hunter on defense, the infamous five-star recruit who spurned all of the power programs for Sanders’ FCS program.
Has a team ever suffered as massive a loss in a title game as TCU did? If you listen closely, Georgia scored again. All jokes aside, TCU is still a solid Big 12 program but it’ll take a bit to recover the talent losses they did. Only three starters return on offense and Chandler Morris has some massive shoes to fill.
While Colorado may have the talent disparity overall, this matchup reeks of an upset. The Buffaloes and all hyped up for 2023 and TCU is just looking to get its feet back under it. Even if the Horned Frogs win, it won’t be by three touchdowns.
LSU vs Florida State (+2.5)
Finally, the biggest event in Week 1! A top-10 matchup between a pair of CFP hopefuls looking to end the reign of their respective conference’s kings. This will be just the 11th meeting of these two programs with FSU leading the series, 8-2. Last year, these two teams met up for a thrilling 24-23 FSU win in New Orleans, LSU’s preferred “neutral site.” Now, this year’s matchup is in Orlando, Florida for a “neutral site” game.
Is LSU back? After a few incredibly disappointing years after fielding the greatest college football team known to man, Brian Kelly came in and promptly won 10 games and won the SEC West. Jayden Daniels returns to lead this prolific Tiger offense. Don’t sleep on this LSU defense, though. Harold Perkins, Jr. is likely the next great SEC defender and he’s only a sophomore.
Where LSU may tote a Heisman Trophy dark horse, Florida State does also. Jordan Travis had a coming-out party last year against LSU where he threw for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As a team, this is Mike Norvell’s most talented FSU roster. Travis gets back Trey Benson as a running back and adds Michigan State transfer, Keon Coleman, out wide.
This is going to be a good one. Last year’s game was decided by just one point. Don’t be surprised if this year’s is the same either way.
Main Image: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports