Georgia quarterback JT Daniels
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

NCAAF Best Bets, Sept. 4

Saturdays like this, where from 10 AM to midnight there will be attractive college football matchups all day, is a degenerate’s paradise. This betting slate is stacked to the brim with action and contains 36 games on FanDuel to roll in some dough with. Although it’s hard to choose between all the great week one bets, there are four plays in particular that are teeming with value. Here are my locks from big name games along with some picks that are flying under the radar this Saturday.   

(Bama -19.5)
Starting in South Beach, the Crimson Tide roll to Miami to play the Hurricanes in a heated non-conference affair. This contest opened up with Alabama as 18 point road favorites, but since then, their listed win margin has grown to 19.5. The defending champion Crimson Tide’s biggest threat to cover against the Hurricanes is their Heisman candidate QB, D’Eriq King. Although most analysts say this is a foolish amount of points for Vegas to give Miami, in a game they think will be competitive, I believe the perennial hype surrounding “The U” coming into their first game of the season clouds their judgement. Essentially, this is the same Miami team that lost to North Carolina at home last year by 36 points. On the other hand, three Alabama offensive lineman turned down the NFL to continue playing under Saban, notably the #1 rated offensive tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft. Most of their defense is returning, especially at the D line position where they are so dominant and poised to get after D’Eriq King. Watch for Miami to compete early but ultimately will be unable to live up to the hype.    

(WVU -2.5)
Next, in College Park, Maryland, the Terps will play host to the West Virginia Mountaineers of the Big 12. The line opened up at WVU -3.5 but has since shifted towards Maryland with the current spread favoring West Virginia by two and a half-points. Neither team made too much noise last season, but the Mountaineers had the better W/L ratio at 6-4. A big reason for West Virginia’s partial success last year was their defense and it will be the main focus of this contest. They were the best defense in the Big 12 last year by only allowing 20 points per game, and they pose a similar threat this year with many of the same personnel. Maryland has come a long way in recruiting this past year, where they ranked as a top 20 recruiting class of 2021. Although he has the name of a great college football quarterback, Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa does not present even near the challenge his brother Tua showed at Alabama. This gives Maryland a lot of publicity by association with Tagovailoa and the hype is reflected by the generous points spread. Take the Mountaineers and the points.                       

(Georgia ML)
In the prime time slot is a thrilling ACC/SEC matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and Clemson Tigers. This game opened with the Tigers as four point home favorites, but now they are favored by a slim two and a half-point margin. For about the past 5-10 years, Georgia has been painfully close to becoming the top dog in the SEC against Alabama and LSU, which would give them a shot at the national championship. Top to bottom, the Bulldogs have had arguably the second best roster in that time period except for the constant mediocrity at quarterback. That all changes with Georgia’s Heisman favorite, QB JT Daniels. Although he only appeared in a small sample size of games, he held the 4th highest QBR in the country, which is a vast improvement from any quarterback they have had in the past 10 years. Where Clemson lacks in experience and depth for this year, the Bulldogs are a top team to make the playoffs. Take the dogs in a statement win.   

(Kent State +28.5)
The last pick of this slate involves a potent Power Five school in Texas A&M versus a worthy Group of Five opponent Kent State. The Flashes come into this one as a whopping 28.5 point road underdogs, whereas the opening line had Kent +30. With pro quarterback Kellen Mond and a savage defense, last year Texas A&M was second in the SEC but was knocked out of a playoff spot by Notre Dame. However, while most of the Aggies stars have moved on to the NFL, the Golden Flashes star quarterback and draft hopeful, Dustin Crum, is returning and looking to build off his success from last year. They had one of the best offenses in the country where their 49 ppg was number one in the country. Although they played with an adjusted schedule and only went 3-1, expect their fast-paced offense to keep stride with A&M just enough to cover.

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