It’s the start of another college football season, which means there are some golden opportunities out there this week to make some serious cash. While there are several games that I like this week, I am going to focus my attention on three key matchups that literally jump off the page as my most solid plays of the week.
Heading into any new college season, defense always seems to be a few weeks ahead of the offense as it often takes a few games before quarterbacks and their receivers begin to click with one another. This is especially the case when you have a fresh, new signal-caller like junior Joe Southwick taking over the helm at Boise State for the departed Kellen Moore, who is now on Detroit’s roster in the NFL. The Broncos are on the road this Friday night as seven-point underdogs against Michigan State. Not only does Boise State have to worry about replacements picking up the slack for Moore and departed running back Doug Martin, but they are playing a Spartans’ team that probably has the best defense in the Big Ten. Michigan State returns eight starters to a unit that ended last season ranked 10th in the nation in points allowed. Back is a pair of all-conference linebackers in Denicos Allen and Max Bullough, and, all told, this season’s squad boasts five all-Big Ten players from last year’s roster. Add in Le’veon Bell pounding the ball into the Broncos defense all night long and there is no way Boise State is able to keep this game close enough to cover.
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What is not to like about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish opening their season in Ireland? They will face Navy on Saturday afternoon in Dublin as 16.5-point favorites. Everyone knows what kind of fits that the Midshipmen have given Notre Dame in the past, but with team entering its third season under the direction of Brian Kelly as head coach, this is the season that the Irish finally start living up to its past reputation. Does that mean I am circling Notre Dame as a favorite to win a national title this season? Not at all. However, it has more than enough talent to handle a team like Navy this week. Getting back to defense as the deciding edge this week, the Irish appear to have some issues in the secondary. However, that should not factor into Saturday’s game considering that all Navy likes to do is run the ball out of its triple option formation. This will play right into Notre Dame’s strength on defense: its front seven, which returns six starters from last year.
Going back to the Big Ten, the game that everyone has circled on the college football schedule for this week is the Cowboys Classic between No. 8 Michigan and No. 2 Alabama this Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The defending National Champions have been opened as 13-point favorites, but that has more to do with the perception of the betting public than the actual personnel on each team. The Tide lost 10 starters from that team, including running back Trent Richardson on offense and six starters on a defense that was probably one of the best in recent memory. We all know that Alabama’s Nick Saban always recruits enough top-notch talent to fill most of the holes year in and year out, but Michigan brings one of its best teams in recent memory to this opening day showdown. The Wolverines are rock-solid up front on both sides of the ball and have one of the best playmakers in all of college football at quarterback in Denard Robinson. I am not saying that Michigan wins this game straight up, but bank on the Wolverines to stay in the game for all four quarters to cover with the points.
I would like to leave you with one final thought for the week when it comes to the Big Ten as far as my sleeper team to win the conference title this season. The Illinois Fighting Illini have been opened at 18/1 to win the Big Ten this season, but this team has a quality starting quarterback in Nathan Scheelhaase and is loaded with enough talent on defense to make a serious run at the four other teams that are more highly ranked. I liked Ron Zook as a head coach, but it became painfully obvious that he did not know how to finish games. In his place is Tim Beckman, who put together a solid track record at Toledo and is now primed to do it again on a much bigger stage in the Big Ten.
That’s it until next week. Be sure to take advantage of our full-season Early Bird special for football picks for just $695 as the price will go up soon. Click Here for more info.