Top Selections On College Football Opening Saturday

Stanford Coach

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 6:37 PM GMT

Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 6:37 PM GMT

The 2017 College Football season kicks off on Saturday with the typical Non-Conference openers and includes potential blowouts in the Portland State-BYU, South Florida-San José State and Rice-Stanford games.

Let’s look at some of the key numbers and trends for these three games and offer up picks with final scores expected to be extremely lopsided.

Portland State at BYU

LaVell Edwards Stadium · Provo, UT · 3 pm ET

Independent BYU (9-4 SU, 9-3 ATS in 2016) gets a cupcake opener when Big Sky member Portland State (3-8, 2-6 in Big Sky) comes a calling in a Week 1 meeting from Provo Saturday afternoon. Second-year HC Kalani Sitake and the Cougars are currently big 33-point favorites with the Total at 58½ for the season lid-lifter which will be played under really Sunny skies and a game where players will truly be tested by the from the heat and the sometimes brutal physical realities of it being that first game. BYU has lost just 1 of its L10 Season Openers SU—19-16 at Virginia in 2016—and the Cougars have gone 7-2 in their L9 lid-lifters, W3 straight ATS. So 3rd-year Portland State HC Bruce Barnum, Senior QB Josh Kraght and the Vikings—losers of 5 of their L6 games SU by an average of 12.8 ppg and allowing 50+ ppg in 3 of their L5—will definitely have their hands full in the Beehive State.

BYU (#3 in Red Zone) lost much on Offense with QB Taysom Hill (Packers) and RB Jamaal Williams (Packers) gone to the NFL and the Cougars broke camp with Junior Tanner Mangum as their starting QB. TB Squally Canada and redshirt sophomore Riley Burt expected to get the bulk of the carries in the BYU backfield and with that experience gone with some key Skill Position players, it may take some time for Mangum and his receivers to get used to each other. But the BYU Defense (19.5 ppg, #14) should be strong enough to carry the load until that happens and trying to score points against the Vikings will be a completely different thing for Mangum this week brutal immediate schedule horizon which sees #13 LSU, Utah and #9 Wisconsin coming to town. The Cougars were a remarkable +31 in TO gained last season, #2 in Division I FBS behind Washington (33) and should get off to a strong start in the 1st Half with the Site and Situation weighing heavily and have two great specialists in junior PK Rhett Almond (17/21 FGs, 39/40 XPs) and senior Punter Jonny Linehan (42.0 ypp).

Final Score Prediction: BYU 55 Portland State 10NCAAF Saturday Pick: BYU -33 -120 Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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#19 South Florida at San José State

CEFCU Stadium · San José, CA · 7:30 pm ET

QB Quinton Flowers and #19 South Florida (11-2 SU, 7-5 ATS in 2016) head three Time Zones and 2,864 miles west to sunny San José, California to face San José State (4-8 SU, 5-6 ATS) at CEFCU Stadium (FieldTurf) in an NCAA Football Week 1 interconference affair as the Brent Brennan Era begins for the host Mountain West Conference school Saturday (CBSSN). The Point Spread in this game has moved up since its opening, going from 18½ to its current 21 (5Dimes) with the Total currently from 68 (BetOnline) at 69 (5Dimes) and the favorite Bulls -1,400 on the Money Line (5Dimes) and look for the line to close above 21 with likely more chalky action to come in on Flowers and the Bulls between now and kickoff.

The Spartans (16-20 ATS in Non-Conference games since 2004) will be going to an Air Raid Offense under former UCLA WR Brennan, and although the OL is experienced, SJSU (5-6 ATS Home Underdog since 2014) was the worst in the nation allowing Sacks last year (50) and lost much from last year’s Offense including QB Kenny Potter, all-MWC WR Tyler Winston, WR Terry Crawley and all-MWC TE Billy Freeman. And the Defense is also a very big question mark, having allowed 34.6 ppg last season (#100 in FBS), being the second-worst team in the land in 4th Down Conversion Pass Defense and losing DL Isaiah Irving Sr. and LB Christian Tago hurt this squad which ranked #122 in Red Zone Defense (93.7%), even in a conference with Fresno State (1-11 SU), Utah State (3-9 SU), Nevada (3-5 SU) and UNLV (4-8 SU).

Once known for its staunch Defense, new HC Charlie Strong and South Florida still have some work to do on that side of the football but the Bulls (23-14 ATS Non-Conference since 2014) do return their entire DL and Secondary. The USF Offense (42.8 ppg, #4 Scoring)—which ranked #5 in Rushing in 2016—should be dynamite again and have little trouble here scoring 5-6 TDs or more against CB Andre Chachere and San José State, with AAC Offensive Player of the Year Flowers (2,812 Yards passing in 2016, 27 TDs), RB D’Ernest Johnson (1,000 yards, 9 TDs) and Preseason all-AAC WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (66 Receptions, 953 yards, 6 TDs) all likely having big numbers days on the fast-track FieldTurf surface.

The versatile Flowers (40/1 to win Heisman Trophy, 5Dimes) had six 100+yard Rushing games last year and one 200+ (Memphis) game, so expect the 6-0, 215-pound Senior to run when he can and when he has to and to also find the open receivers against a suspect SJSU team. South Florida (135/1 to win 2017 CFP Championship, BetDSI) has covered its opening Road game ATS 6 straight seasons now and with SJSU going 0-3 ATS last season in its three Non-Conference FBS dates (@ TULSA, UTAH, @ IOWA ST), losing by an average of 28.7 ppg, picking Flowers and the Bulls is the call, both for the full game and the First Half which should see them up by between 14 and 21 points. Note: USF Overs are 10-3 L13 and USF is 10-17 ATS L27 as a Road Favorite, but 10-8 ATS L10 years as chalks of 20 points or more in that Road Favorite betting situation.

Final Score Prediction: South Florida 47 San José State 17Free College Football Picks: USF -20½ -122, USF 1st HalfBest Line Offered: at BetOnline

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Rice vs. #14 Stanford

Allianz Stadium · Moore Park, Sydney, Australia · 10 pm ET

These two teams just met in the last games of their 2016 Regular Seasons with Stanford (10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS) rolling to a 41-17 win over Rice (3-9 SU, 6-5 ATS) in Palo Alto but failing to cover ATS as big 33½ favorites—the same Point Spread (STAN -33½) this meeting opened up at before being bet down to its current 30 (Bookmaker) by Sharps at sportsbooks offshore for this 2017 Sydney Cup from Allianz Stadium (Grass) in Moore Park, Sydney late Saturday night (Sunday in Australia). With RB Christian McCaffrey (Panthers) gone to the NFL, the Cardinal (110/1 to win 2017 CFP Championship, 5Dimes) will look for RB Bryce Love to spearhead the Rushing attack but with QB Keller Chryst (10 TDs in 2016) still not totally 100% after an Injury sustained in the Sun Bowl, #19 Stanford, much like BYU, will look to its Defense to hold the proverbial fort down while the new Offense (26.3 ppg in 2016) evolves. And the Cardinal Defense was rock solid again for HC David Shaw (48-31-1 ATS), allowing just 20.4 ppg (#20) and allowing an average of 368.1 ypg while dwelling in the relatively high-scoring Pac-12.

The biggest thing here seems to be the Point Spread still seeming too high for Stanford (45-22-1 ATS L68 Grass) who beat nobody by 30+ points last season—25 points was its largest margin of victory (@ OREGON)—as even with the Owls (15-5-2 ATS L18 Non-Conference games) so poor on Defense last year (37.2 ppg, #114), Rice (5-2-1 ATS L8 overall) returns all five OL and have a couple of solid RBs in Samuel Stewart (59.9 ypg, 3 TDs) and Austin Walker (28.6 ypg, 4 TDs) but look to have a nervous Freshman QB (Sam Glaesmann) at the helm. Still, 31 seems a TD or so too high on a Neutral Site in the first game of the season and one in which Stanford might want to return to the mainland with a Win and a healthy team.

Final Score Prediction: Stanford 37 Rice 13Free College Football Pick: Rice +31 Best Line Offered: at Intertops

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