College football officially kicked off last week with Cal and Hawaii playing in Australia, but the real action starts on Thursday night. Thursday night boasts a handful of entertaining games headlined by some powerful offenses including Tennessee, Louisville, and Western Kentucky. Our top play from this slate is Tennessee covering their 21 point spread against App State, but it didn’t make our week one locks.
Our 2016 college football record against the spread was one of our better season’s to date at 136-110-8. Let’s build on that momentum with a perfect slate in week one. As our readers from last season know, the number of picks we share week-to-week will vary, we ‘lock’ our favorite plays and then share some picks from other popular games.
Our 2015 Record
Our Week One College Football Locks
SMU (-9.5) at North Texas
Who doesn’t want to start the 2016 season with a road dog that went 2-10 last season? I initially thought I would be taking North Texas when I looked this line up. Adding Alec Morris and hiring Seth Littrell will dramatically improve this team in 2016. However, North Texas went 1-11 in Conference USA, this is their first game under Seth Littrell, and SMU brings back 16 starters including some serious firepower in Matt Davis, Xavier Jones, and Courtland Sutton.
I fully expected the line to be over 2 touchdowns. I know SMU has been bad, but this group of players went through an impossibly tough schedule last season under Chad Morris and return a tested group poised to have one of their better seasons in recent memory. SMU leads this series 29-5-1, and beat North Texas 31-13 last season.
San Jose State at Tulsa (-5.5)
Both Tulsa and San Jose State are extremely well coached programs, coming off from 6-7 seasons that didn’t see either team pick up a quality win. Tulsa returns 14 starters including senior quarterback Dane Evans, and senior All American candidate receivers Keevan Lucas and Josh Atkinson. San Jose State returns 15 starters, but loses 3/4 starters in the secondary and All American RB Tyler Ervin.
Tulsa has won their last 4 home openers, including a 47-44 thriller against FAU in their opener last season. In their sole game facing a Mountain West opponent in 2015, Tulsa won 40-21 in New Mexico, a team that would later lose to SJSU by 10 in San Jose. We got this game at -4.5 which, with the game in Tulsa, is essentially a pickem. We love the senior QB, with an absolute plethora of weapons around him, at home.
BYU vs Arizona (Neutral Site) – Over 61
With Vegas setting so many lines in the 65-70 range, I’m not sure how this one slipped down to 61. Collectively, these two teams went over 61 points in 16 of 26 games in 2015. Both teams bring back 8 starters on defense, however BYU lost their top 2 defensive players and head coach Bronco Mendenhall. The Arizona Wildcats have gone over 61 in well over half of their games, and will have their hands full with Taysom Hill and company.
Our models have BYU winning this game 37-34, covering the 61 point total by 10 points, and also making BYU +1.5 an intriguing play as well.
Picking Other Popular Week 1 Games
App State at Tennessee
Our Pick: Tennessee (-21)
UCLA at Texas A&M
Our Pick: Texas A&M (-3)
North Carolina at Georgia (neutral)
Our Pick: North Carolina (+3)
USC at Alabama (neutral)
Our Pick: Alabama (-10.5)
Clemson at Auburn
Our Pick: Auburn (+8)
Notre Dame at Texas
Our Pick: Notre Dame (-3.5)
Ole Miss at Florida State (neutral)
Our Pick: Ole Miss (+4.5)