Top Three Best ATS Picks For Saturday's Early College Football Games

Matthew Jordan

Friday, September 2, 2016 8:14 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 2, 2016 8:14 PM UTC

Anyone can preview a prime-time national TV game between ranked teams! But here are three top non-ranked picks with Heritage NCAA odds for games Saturday that kick off before 5 p.m. ET.

Georgia Tech vs. Boston College 
The first Saturday of the season gets off to an early, early start with a 7:30 a.m. ET kickoff from Dublin, Ireland, on ESPN2 as ACC foes Georgia Tech and Boston College, square off. Both head coaches, the Jackets' Paul Johnson and Eagles' Steve Addazio, enter on the hot seat. In 2014, the Yellow Jackets nearly upset defending national champion Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. Tech finished 11-3 after a blowout of a good Mississippi State team in the Orange Bowl. With a lot of key players back, Tech was a preseason Top-25 team last year but collapsed to a 3-9 mark. But that's misleading somewhat as Tech was really banged up and six of Georgia Tech's nine defeats came by eight points or fewer. Nearly everyone of note on that triple-option offense returns, led by fifth-year senior QB Justin Thomas. Tech has scored at least 21 points in 21 straight ACC games, the longest streak in the conference. 

Boston College, meanwhile, went 7-6 and reached a bowl in Addazio's first two seasons but slipped to 3-9 last year and was winless in the ACC. Boston College's defense was the nation's best last year in yards allowed but lost coordinator Don Brown to Michigan. The offense was one of the country's worst and welcomes a new starting QB in Kentucky transfer Patrick Towles. The Eagles and Jackets haven't played since 2012.

Tech is 7-1 under Johnson in season openers and will cover this spread. The Jackets are 13-6 ATS in their past 19 September games. BC is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 neutral-site games.

Free NCAAF Pick: Georgia Tech -3 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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Missouri vs West Virginia 
A noon kickoff on Fox Sports 1. This game is interesting in that when the SEC poached Missouri a few  years back, West Virginia was the Tigers' replacement in the Big 12. These teams haven't played since 1998. It's the Missouri head coaching debut of Barry Odom. The Tigers' former defensive coordinator was promoted to the top job last December when Gary Pinkel announced he was stepping down. Mizzou shockingly played in the SEC Championship Game in 2013 & '14 but slipped to 5-7 last year, the school's worst mark since joining the SEC in 2012. Sophomore QB Drew Lock, who started the last eight games of last season and had his struggles, will start under center for Missouri. Redshirt sophomore Marvin Zanders pushed Lock and apparently will see the field in some role against WVU. 

Another coach on the hot seat entering this season is West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers were 10-3 in Holgorsen's first season in 2011 and their last year in the Big East, but things have been much tougher in the Big 12 as WVU is six games under .500 in Big 12 play. The Mountaineers must replace Big 12 rushing leader Wendell Smallwood but bring back QB Skyler Howard. He was the MVP of the Cactus Bowl win over Arizona State, throwing for 532 yards and five TDs.

Many books have this at 10 so grab it at 9.5 and give the points. Missouri is 1-4 ATS in its past five road games. WVU is 5-2 ATS in its past seven in September.

Free NCAAF Pick: -9.5 (-110)
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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Louisiana Tech vs Arkansas
Kickoff at 4 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. This line opened as low as 20. At a quick glance, this might look like way too many points to give considering that Tech has won nine games and a bowl the past two seasons  under Coach Skip Holtz (whose father Lou was a former Hogs coach). But the Bulldogs bring back just nine starters from last year, among the fewest in the nation. The three big losses were quarterback  Jeff Driskel, running back Kenneth Dixon and defensive tackle Vernon Butler, a first-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers. Senior Ryan Higgins was expected to start at quarterback but he was recently arrested and charged with DWI so won't start but will be available. Freshman J'Mar Smith, who was third string in the spring, is being thrown right to the wolves. 

The Razorbacks have improved their record in each of the past two seasons under Bret Bielema and were 8-5 last season following a Liberty Bowl victory Kansas State. But that game's MVP, running back Alex Collins, is gone. As are one of the best quarterbacks (Brandon Allen) and tight ends (Hunter Henry) in school history. Just five starters are back on offense but the defense should be strong with nine back. Replacing Allen at QB his is younger brother Austin, who saw limited action in eight games over the past two seasons. Allen's top target likely will be Keon Hatcher, the Hogs' best receiver in 2014 who was lost in Game 2 last year to a broken foot.

Give the points here before it rises further. Arkansas is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 non-conference games. 

Free NCAAF Pick: Arkansas -25 (-110)
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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