Ranked Schools Playing At Home Are Thursday's Must Grab Week 1 Bets

Louisville Cardinals team running into the field

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 10:08 PM GMT

We have two heavy favorites in the 19th ranked Louisville Cardinals and the 9th ranked Tennessee Volunteers and I don't expect any surprises this Thursday. Join us for Week 1 NCAA Football Picks of the Day.

Appalachian State Mountaineers vs Tennessee Volunteers
The name Appalachian State brings a feeling of caution to people as we know the huge upset that the Mountaineers pulled off on the Michigan Wolverines. It was one of the biggest upsets in recent times. Don't expect "lightning to strike in a bottle twice" as that game is ancient history and Appalachian State is a team coming into this season losing some key players at key offensive positions.

"Stop Cox"
This game is taylor-made for Tennessee as they have one of the best defensive lines in the country and with Appalachian State losing a handful of their best receivers on last season's roster, the Mountaineers will be looking for running back, Marcus Cox, to shoulder the offensive load.

Least season, Cox was a beast on the ground, rushing for 1423 yards and 9 TD's. This senior looks to improve upon those numbers, but it won't be easy in week 1 as Cox didn't face a team the caliber of Tennessee. Look for Cox to be productive, but the lack of balance in the Appalachian State offense will make them more predictable and Tennessee's defense should have an easy time against a team that's simply not on the Vols level. Regardless, I look for the Mountaineers to attempt to bleed the clock with their running game in their attempt to make this game competitive.

Stacked
The Volunteers offense will face a very formidable Appalachian State defense, but Tennessee is simply loaded. Senior quarterback, Joshua Dobbs, can not only throw the football, but can run with it. Last season, Dobbs rushed for 671 yards and 11 TD's. He's also not a quarterback that will force the football. Look for star running back, Jalen Hurd, to play a major role in this game until it becomes a blowout. Hurd rushed for a team-leading 1288 yards and 12 TD. The guy is a grinder.

We may also see the wide receiver, Josh Malone, be featured in this game as he's a big play receiver. Malone only caught 31 passes for 405 yards and 2 TD's as this is a Volunteers passing game that spreads the football around, but Malone is a big play guy. Tennessee has many resources in this game and I expect them to put away Appalachian State early and let some of their starters sit. Look for the Volunteers to cover for your NCAAF pick.

Free NCAAF Pick: Tennessee Volunteers -20.5 -110
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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Charlotte 49'ers vs. Louisville Cardinals

The Outcome is Already Decided
When I say that the outcome is already decided I mean it's not a matter of who wins this game, it's a matter of how many points will the Louisville Cardinals win by as they face a team in Charlotte which is coming off of 2-10 season and in the developmental process.

Junior transfer, Kevin Olsen, and brother of Carolina Panthers Greg Olsen, will be getting his first taste at quarterback for the 49'ers after leaving Miami and his job will be to feed feature back, senior Kalif Phillips. Phillips was on the verge of a 1000 yard junior senior, but a season-ending injury put an end to that goal as he finished the year with 961 yards and 5 TD's.

Although Charlotte's program hasn't been in existence for a long period of time and they're not in the class of Louisville, the Louisville defense will need to focus on Kalif Phillips or he could make this game more competitive than people expect. Olsen will be looking to develop an immediate bond with Charlotte's top receiver, Austin Duke. Duke's senior leadership can assist in helping Olsen get acclimated with the 49'ers passing game.

Double Threat QB
Louisville head coach, Bobby Petrino, called quarterback, Lamar Jackson, electrifying. Jackson, in his sophomore season, is an emerging star and game changer. Last season, he ran a respectable passing game, but this player can fly as he's a double threat in his ability to run with the ball also. Jackson ran for 960 yards and 11 TD's last year and in the biggest game of the season, he came up huge. In the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Jackson passed for 227 yards and 2 TD's and ran for 226 yards and 2 TD's. He should be coming into this game with a ton of confidence and it appears that the Charlotte defense could be in for a long day.

All Returnees
10 players who caught at least 10 passes last season all return for the Cardinals and I expect Jackson to mature where the passing game is concerned in his second season.

On the defensive side of the football, 17 starters return except for NFL 1st round draft pick, DT Sheldon Rankins. Louisville is stacked at linebacker led by first team all-conference linebacker, Keith Kelsey. Kelsey finished the season with 107 tackles. With almost all of their stars returning, Louisville is only going to get better and possibly move up the AP Top 25. Look for the Cardinals to crush the 49'ers as the NCAAF odds indicate.

Free NCAAF Pick: Louisville Cardinals -39.5 -110
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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