Hello, and welcome to Oddschecker. I’m Alex Kirshner, formerly a longtime college football writer and editor at SB Nation and now at Moon Crew. Let’s pick some games together for the first (relatively) full weekend of the 2020 season. I got off to a 4-2 start with something of a trial run last weekend, and I’m excited for us to break open the vault together this fall.
*All bets are wagering 1 unit unless otherwise noted.
Georgia Tech vs. Florida State
PICK: Georgia Tech +13 @ -110
I am not excited at all about first-year coaches who had their first offseason in charge of a program severely interrupted by a pandemic. It’s always hard to install a new system and get a team of 100 teenagers and early-20-somethings on the same page. It’s even harder when you’re taking over a job like Florida State, where you have to deal with a ton of extracurriculars and pressure and rebuild a genuinely terrible offensive line on the fly.
But that’s the situation new FSU coach Mike Norvell is in. He may succeed in this job (he did at Memphis), but I don’t think we’re going to see excellent immediate results. That’s just a lot to ask. On the other sideline, I don’t think Georgia Tech is going to be good this year, but I think they’re a better team than their 3-9 record from 2019 suggests. Depending on your sportsbook, you might be placing this bet at +12.5 or +13, and I’d feel comfortable taking a gamble on either.
Georgia Tech +13 @ -110
UAB vs. Miami (FL)
PICK: Under 53.5 @ +100
Last year, these were two bad offenses and two good defenses. Both offenses should be better, but I’d like to see that happen for a few weeks before I start picking those offenses to score a lot of points. Plus, SP+ expects this game to land in the low 40s.
Western Kentucky vs. Louisville
PICK: Louisville -11.5 @ -110
I have been on the Louisville bandwagon since the spring. Scott Satterfield is one of the best coaches in FBS and has all the talent he needs to make a big jump in his second year. Tutu Atwell is one of the country’s best receivers, and I don’t think WKU has anyone who can cover him reliably for an entire afternoon without freeing up QB Micale Cunningham and his other weapons to score a lot of points. Particularly given the game is in Louisville and that U of L beat WKU by 17 at a neutral site just last year, I love the Cardinals at -11.5.
Louisville -11.5 @ -110
PICK 1: Army -19.5 @ -110
PICK 2: Over 54.5 @ -110
I’ve gone back and forth on this pick, and maybe it’d be best to sit it out. On the one hand, I don’t think Army is quite as dominant as it looked against an overmatched, unprepared Middle Tennessee last weekend, when the Black Knights won 42-0.
On the other hand, ULM has every reason to be similarly unprepared. In the last month, the program had a COVID-19 outbreak, Hurricane Laura hit the team’s region, and the Warhawks’ defensive coordinator resigned. Now they’re going to play Army’s flexbone option on the road. That sounds like the exact opposite of fun, and like Army could run wild again.
PICK: Campbell +34 @ -110
GaSo runs a version of the triple option, which keeps the clock moving and shortens the game. 34 points is a lot. Let’s roll the dice on that big number, even against a so-so FCS foe.
PICK 1: West Virginia -40.5 @ -110
PICK 2: Over 55.5 @ -110
EKU is bad. The Colonels lost 59-0 to Marshall last weekend, and I think even if they score zero points again, WVU has a real chance of getting to 56 on its own. EKU’s just really, really bad. They’ve had a good bit of turmoil lately, including at least one player quitting the team because, in his view, the program wasn’t following COVID protocols well enough.
Against Marshall, EKU’s pass defense was overwhelmed. WVU has much better athletes than Marshall. This is going to be ugly, and I suspect it will be ugly enough to make a couple of blowout-centric bets look good.