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Ryan’s Ramble: Let’s try this again

Your favorite college football bettor is back with another set of picks for Saturday.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Army Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Well the unofficial week 1 went just about as expected, but hey that was a practice week… right? There was a small selection of games to choose from let alone games worthy of gambling on. This week is different. We finally have a somewhat full college football Saturday and I couldn’t be happier. It’s truly a beautiful site opening the ESPN app to see 19 glorious games scheduled for Saturday.

Things can only go up from here (I hope). Shoutout to SMU and Texas State for hitting the under and salvaging the last bit of pride I had after a rough day at the office. I mean come on, nobody in their right mind would have predicted BYU to embarrass Navy by 52, but this is college football; anything can happen.

My man MC Hammer let us down last week. Thinking of SFA blowing a 10 point lead to lose the spread has haunted me throughout this past week. Truly astonishing if you ask me.

Let’s get into the first, and hopefully last, redemption week of the season:

All odds are taken from Friday, 2:00 p.m. CST based on DraftKings sportsbook

Game 1: Syracuse @ North Carolina

  • Kickoff: 11:00 a.m. CST
  • Spread: UNC -23, Syracuse +23
  • O/U: 65.5
  • Money Line: UNC -2000, Syracuse +950

Pick: UNC (1H) -12.5, UNC -23

Why: There has been a decent bit of hype surrounding the Tar Heels entering the 2020 season and I am buying in now before it’s too late. UNC returns the majority of their offense including last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year and eventual Heisman hopeful quarterback Sam Howell. The Tar Heels also bring back an experienced front-seven on the defensive side of the ball which ranked top-45 in stuff rate last season. As far as the media knows, UNC had a successful offseason and has had no complications or delays due to COVID-19. Syracuse will be breaking in a brand-new 3-3-5 defense this year and had only three spring practices to get it installed into their gameplan. Though the 3-3-5 can be deadly if run efficiently, the Orange’s defense will need more time to adjust. Lining up against Sam Howell in game 1 is just bad luck for coach Dino Babers and crew. There are many question marks for Syracuse’s offense as well. The Orange brought in a new offensive coordinator this year and will be without their top two running backs due to opt outs.

Overall, UNC is a program headed in the right direction while Syracuse seems to be fading away over the last couple years. I’m splitting this game’s spread with a small play on the first half as well.

Game 2: Louisiana-Monroe @ Army

  • Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. CST
  • Spread: Army -22, ULM +22
  • O/U: 54
  • Money Line: Army -3335, ULM +1150

Pick: Army (1Q) -6.5

Why: A simple explanation for this pick is that Army already has their season opener in their back pocket while this is the first game for ULM, and a road game at that. ULM will have the furthest distance to travel of any college football team this Saturday. Not only is it the first game of the 2020 season for the Warhawks, it’s also their first game under a new defensive coordinator going up against a team that put 42 points on the board and over 300 yards rushing a week ago. I like Army to cover the full game spread here, but I think the safer play is to take the first quarter line as it will take some time for ULM to get into rhythm. The last time the Warhawks lined up against a triple-option style offense was a 22 point loss vs Georgia Southern in 2019. No disrespect to Georgia Southern, but Army runs the triple option at a much higher level. Expect the Warhawks to struggle against the run early on in the game. I learned my lesson last week, take the Black Knights to cover early on.

Game 3: Georgia Tech @ Florida State

  • Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. CST
  • Spread: FSU -12, GT +12
  • O/U: 52.5
  • Money Line: FSU -530, GT +380

Pick: Under 52.5, FSU -12

Why: Even though FSU has struggled relative to their standards the past couple seasons, they have quietly had one of the most explosive offenses in the country. The Seminoles ranked 6th in rushing explosiveness and 5th in passing explosiveness last year. After losing stud running back Cam Akers to the NFL draft, the Seminoles will look to fourth year starting quarterback James Blackman for veteran leadership. It’s been a tough few years, FSU has gone through four different head coaches since 2017 and they are hoping Mike Norvell will be the one to last. FSU’s defensive line is a solid unit, though there are some concerns surrounding their secondary. This doesn’t worry me too much, the defensive line should play a bigger part in this game against a team that’s known for ground and pound offense. Georgia Tech ranked 117th last year in defensive stuff rate and will be lining up against an offensive line with an average weight of 305 pounds. Not a great recipe for the Yellow Jacket’s defense. Geoff Collins is a great coach, but I think he will need another season or two before returning the Yellow Jackets to their winning ways.

I envision FSU will have a good day on the ground which will help chew the clock. I will be using the FSU money line (-530) as a parlay piece this week. Even if they don’t cover the spread, I expect the Seminoles to get the W in Tallahassee.

Game 4: UTSA @ Texas State

  • Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. CST
  • Spread: TX St. -7, UTSA +7
  • O/U: 57.5
  • Money Line: TX St. -275, UTSA +215

Pick: Texas State (1H) -4

Why: To my surprise, Texas State looked significantly improved from last year in week 1 against SMU. They hung with the ponies the entire game. I like the Bobcats in this game based on last week’s performance as well as the fact that this is UTSA’s first game of the year. There really isn’t much to say about either team here. The Roadrunners have a new head coach this season so I have a feeling it will take a week or two to get their feet underneath them. Bobcats quarterback Brady McBride had an excellent outing in game 1 and I expect him to lead his team to victory this time.

I will be using Texas State money line (-275) as a parlay piece this week. I believe they will cover the full game spread, but I think it’s a safer pick to take the Bobcats in the first half while the Roadrunners are trying out their new gameplan.

Game 5: Missouri State @ Oklahoma

  • Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. CST
  • Spread: OU -44.5, MSU +44.5
  • O/U: 68.5
  • Money Line: N/A

Pick: Oklahoma -44.5

Why: Lincoln Riley is back for his fourth year leading the Sooners with the same goal in mind as any other season: a Big 12 championship and playoff contention. As much as it hurts me to say, the Sooners are poised for another season as one of the nation’s perennial powerhouses. Now I know a 45-point win margin is a lot, but you have to realize that Missouri State is a team that finished 1-10, yes 1-10, in the Missouri Valley Football Conference last season. The Bears will essentially be a warm up/scrimmage for Oklahoma and I expect Spencer Rattler and co. to light up the score boards. I wouldn’t be surprised if Oklahoma hits the over for this game themselves based on their history against cupcake opponents. For example, the Sooners obliterated South Dakota 70-14 in week 2 last year as well as a 63-14 win against FAU in 2018. Dominating inferior opponents in nothing new for the Sooners and I don’t see that changing this week. Sharp action has moved this line from -42.5 to -44.5, take the Sooners.

Hammer time pick of the week: Army (1Q) -6.5

  • I know we slipped up last week but this is the one. God bless our military and God bless the Black Knights, to victory we ride! I said it last week and I’ll say it again, this is a lock.

Waluigi’s why not pick of the week: LA-Lafayette @ Iowa State under 56.5

  • This game is projected to be a battle of ball control. I wouldn’t put my life savings on it, but a little bird tells me the under is going to cash. You never ignore the little bird, take the under.

Purple Rain parlay of the week: KSU -530, FSU -530, TXST -275 (+107 odds)

  • Inspired by the man himself, Prince. When I listen to Prince, I always get good vibes so every week I plan to play Purple Rain on repeat while determining an absolute LOCK of a parlay for you each Saturday.
  • Three money lines for the first Purple Rain parlay of the year which end up giving you + money odds. I feel like these are all safe picks individually, so why not compile them together to raise the stakes?

I am sending positive vibes to you and all of your college football picks this weekend. #BeatTheBookie

List view:

  • UNC (1H) -12.5
  • UNC -23
  • Army (1Q) -6.5, Hammer time pick of the week
  • GT @ FSU u52.5
  • FSU -12
  • TXST (1H) -4
  • Oklahoma -44.5
  • LA-Lafayette @ ISU u56.5, Waluigi’s why not pick of the week
  • Parlay: KSU -530, FSU -530, TXST -275 (+107 odds), Purple Rain parlay of the week