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Ryan’s Ramble: Let’s get the ball rolling

Welcome to the new weekly article for all your college football betting needs.

NCAA Football: Liberty Bowl-Navy vs Kansas State Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

College football has finally arrived, and after watching a few teaser games like UAB vs Central Arkansas, I’m ready for a (relatively) full slate of Saturday games. This is a start of a new series, and once a week I will be guiding you through the most appealing betting lines and odds this season. Whether you choose to follow my picks or not, that’s up to you. I am not promising an undefeated record, we are going to win some and lose some, but I can promise you we will have a hell of a time this season.

Placing bets early in the college football season can be tricky as a lot of times teams might have a new head coach or even lose half their offensive starters. Basically what I am saying is don’t rely on a teams reputation from last season because they could be an entirely different squad in 2020.

I won’t lie, none of the games this Saturday are super appealing but that’s not the point, let’s start this season off with some wins.

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

Game 1: SMU @ Texas State

  • Spread: SMU -22.5, TX St. +22.5
  • O/U: 69
  • Money Line: SMU -2000, TX St. +950

Pick: SMU -22.5, Under 69

Why: I’m taking SMU -22.5 because let’s be honest, Texas State can not hang. The Bobcats have a second-year head coach and are in a bit of a transition phase with new Memphis transfer Brady McBride at QB. On the opposite end, SMU is returning a name we are all familiar with: Shane Buechele. Buechele and company should have no problem moving the ball against a lackluster Bobcat defense. SMU is only traveling about 220 miles so I wouldn’t worry about road-game jitters.

My reasoning for taking the under is simple, once the ponies pile up a decent lead, they would most likely pull their starters to rest them for next week’s game in Fort Worth, halting their scoring. The TCU game every year is equivalent to the Super Bowl for SMU, and I don’t expect them to take any chances heading into next Friday. Expect the scoring to slow down in the second half of this one.

Game 2: Middle Tennessee @ Army

  • Spread: Army -4, MTSU +4
  • O/U: 55
  • Money Line: Army -185, MTSU +150

Pick: Middle Tennessee +4

Why: I never thought I would be excited for a Middle Tennessee game but here we are. The Blue Raiders are returning 9 offensive starters, including dual-threat QB Asher O’Hara, compared to Army’s measly 5 returners. I expect this to be a close game throughout, but I love the matchup of O’Hara vs Army’s defense that struggled against the pass last season. It’s always tricky going against a military academy offense, but MTSU has had over a month to prepare for this one. On top of that, Army had a shorter training camp than expected due to COVID-19 restrictions. My honest prediction is that Army wins by a field goal, but that still cashes MTSU +4.

Game 3: SFA @ UTEP

  • Spread: UTEP -7.5, SFA +7.5
  • O/U: 54.5
  • Money Line: UTEP -280, SFA +225

Pick: SFA +7.5

Why: I don’t mean to be blunt, but UTEP has been one of the laughing stocks of the college football world for a few years now. The Miners have won 2 games over the last 3 seasons, 2 games! The Lumberjacks show some promise in this game as they return their starting QB, two senior RBs, and an All-American WR. UTEP ranked 129th out of 130 FBS teams in returning production for this season, and even have a new QB under center. When I lay out all the information, I am tempted to take the SFA money line at +225, but I’m gonna play it safe at +7.5. I don’t see any scenario where the Miners win by more than one possession.

Game 4: BYU @ NAVY (Monday night game)

  • Spread: BYU -1.5, Navy +1.5
  • O/U: 50
  • Money Line: BYU -125, Navy +105

Pick: Navy +105, Under 50

Why: This season isn’t off to a hot start for the Midshipmen, they have lost a decent amount of players to graduation as well as COVID-19 opt outs. The most notable departure is that of stand out QB Malcolm Perry. BYU isn’t all there either though they do return their starting QB. Navy famously runs the triple-option offense, and in this match up they line up against the 107th ranked defense in stuff rate from last season. I love this matchup, the only question is will Navy’s defense be able to hold a strong BYU offense the entire length of the game. Regardless of offseason hype, Navy is the better program (recently at least) and they play in the comfort of their own stadium.

My main reasoning for taking the under is simply Navy’s triple-option offense. This play style chews up clock like no other. All it takes is for Navy to grab an early lead and run the clock as much as they can; Navy arguably does this better than anyone. I expect this to be a good game throughout, but I don’t see this matchup putting 50 points on the board.

Hammer time pick of the week: SFA +7.5

  • Inspired by MC Hammer himself, this is where I will give you my favorite pick of the upcoming week. When I say hammer a pick, you just hammer it! I don’t make the rules.
  • HAMMER it, lock it in, blow a candle and make a wish, I don’t care what you do this is a LOCK.

Waluigi’s why not pick of the week: Memphis -18

  • Inspired by the obscure sounds Mario character Waluigi makes, this is where I give you a pick I have done no statistical analysis on, its just a true gut feeling. Hence the “why not” portion of the title.
  • Memphis made the Cotton Bowl last season, you’ve never heard of Arkansas State winning anything, enough said take the Tigers.

In the future, you can expect more (and better) picks from me as the season progresses. I had to get the ball rolling somehow, and I’ve got a good feeling this weekend.

I am sending good vibes to all of your picks this weekend, together we will beat those Vegas oddsmakers.