CFB Betting Odds: Back Underdogs Central Michigan & Purdue on Thursday

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Bettors got their first taste of college football last Saturday with the abbreviated Week 0, but the majority of teams will kick off their 2022 season this weekend.

Thursday afternoon offers the next slate of action with over a dozen games and a couple top-25 programs making their 2022 debut.

With a few marquee matchups and non-conference bouts, there are some great spots for bettors to win in Week 1. There will be new faces all across the field, but these are the best bets on Thursday’s college football games.

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CMIC Central Michigan vs OKST Oklahoma State Odds NCAAF Odds

NCAAF · Thu (9/1) @ 7:05pm ET

CMIC Central Michigan at OKST Oklahoma State
Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma

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Central Michigan +21.5 at Oklahoma State (DraftKings)

The No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys finished last season as one of the best teams in the country, but they have routinely gotten off to slow starts. They were favored by over 30 in last year’s ugly 23-16 Week 1 win over Missouri State and struggled in their 2020 opener against Tulsa.

With Central Michigan in town, they’ll try to avoid a slow start this year, but the Chippewas will keep it close down in Stillwater. The Cowboys will try to continue their upward trajectory after narrowly missing the college football playoffs last year with a strong 12-2 record.

Central Michigan RB Lew Nicholls III led the nation in rushing yards last season. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)

They’ll be without the architect of their elite-level defense, coordinator Jim Knowles, who left this offseason to coach at Ohio State. The Cowboys also lost several leaders and key players in the secondary to the transfer portal.

On the offensive side of the ball, they’ll be without their leading receiver and rusher of last year. There are too many holes that need to be filled on the field and in the coach’s room for Oklahoma State to be laying three touchdowns in this matchup.

Central Michigan had a solid finish to its 2021 season, winning seven of their last eight games and beating Washington State in the Sun Bowl.

Central Michigan was also struck hard by the transfer portal, but  returns a few key pieces on an offensive unit that finished 29th in passing.

The Chippewas went 4-1 ATS as an underdog last season and should keep the game within one or two scores behind returning quarterback Daniel Richardson. Lew Nicholls III, the nation’s 2021 rushing yards leader, is one of the best backs in the country and a good game from him will keep the ball out of the hands of the Cowboys’ offense.

Slow starts have plagued OK State before, and although it should still come out victorious in the end, the Chippewas won’t make it easy. You can get the right side of a key number at several sportsbooks with Central Michigan at +21.5, making it one of the best bets of Week 1 in college football.

BALL Ball State vs TENN Tennessee Odds NCAAF Odds

NCAAF · Thu (9/1) @ 7:00pm ET

BALL Ball State at TENN Tennessee
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Ball State at Tennessee Under 68 (PointsBet)

Tennessee starts its season against the visiting Ball State Cardinals for the first-ever contest between the two squads. The Volunteers are heavy favorites over Ball State and should come away with a comfortable victory.

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The high total is reflective of a potent Volunteers offense, which averaged 37.9 points per game last season.

Head coach Josh Heupel and returning quarterback Hendon Hooker look to build upon last season’s success. The Vols would have to do the bulk of the scoring for this total to hit, which is a tall task for a team that lost a couple of top playmakers in Velus Jones Jr. and JaVonta Payton.

The Vols will still score several touchdowns themselves, but it won’t be enough to cover the total which is why under 68 is one of the best picks for college football Thursday.

Ball State is coming off its second-straight bowl appearance after winning the MAC behind a 9-1 record during the COVID 2020 season. They took a step back last season, going 6-7, and now have a nearly completely different roster from the championship-winning season.

Most notable is new quarterback John Paddock, who replaces three-year starter Drew Plitt. Paddock makes his first-ever start Thursday and has attempted fewer than 40 passes during his scarce appearances over the years with the program.

Tennessee’s secondary is a weakness, and Ball State has a few playmakers at the receiver position. But the Vols front seven should be able to get in the face of the first-time starter at quarterback.

There is a lot of hype and expectations for the Volunteers, and they should have no problem scoring and controlling the game against Ball State. Tennessee will get out to a quick lead, but its attention will be on a key matchup next week against 17th- ranked Pittsburgh.

Ball State would have to contribute a lot of points to hit a total this high, and the offense lacks the experience and firepower to get it done. This game may be out of reach by halftime and the scoring will slow down, making under 68 a great bet for Thursday’s college football games.

PSU Penn State vs PUR Purdue Odds NCAAF Odds

NCAAF · Thu (9/1) @ 8:05pm ET

PSU Penn State at PUR Purdue
Ross Aid stadium, West Lafayette, Indiana

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Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Penn State at Purdue +3.5 (FanDuel)

In one of the first Big 10 matchups of the year, Purdue kicks off its season Thursday as a home dog to Penn State. Both teams enter the season with high expectations, and hope to challenge the stalwarts at the top of the conference.

Even though it’s early in the year, this matchup will be a huge indicator of how these two programs’ seasons go. The best college football Week 1 bet to make in this Thursday matchup is on the home team getting points.

The Boilermakers were a strong team at home last season (8-5 ATS) under head coach Jeff Brohm in West Lafayette. Purdue is led behind center by returning quarterback Aiden O’Connell and a passing attack that ranked second in the Big 10.

Controlling the clock on the offensive side of the ball will be the key to ending a streak of nine straight losses to the Nittany Lions. Brohm has had this opening matchup circled all offseason, and will have his Boilermakers playing with a chip on their shoulder.

This is one of his best teams yet, and Purdue finished with impressive wins last season over Michigan State and Iowa. If the Boilermakers play up to their potential in front of the home crowd, this has all the makings of a Week 1 upset.

Penn State has had Purdue’s number in recent years, but the team is bound to regress this season. Penn State’s defense was its strength last season and finished sixth-best in scoring defense.

Six of their starters on that side of the ball left for the NFL, and they have a new coordinator after Brent Pry took the head coaching gig at Virginia Tech. Despite having a few promising recruits, there’s bound to be some growing pains expected for this Penn State defense.

Purdue has found a favorable spot to finally end its losing streak to Penn State. The Boilermakers play well on their own field and over the past 10 seasons, home underdogs have gone 19-11-2 ATS in Week 1 when playing conference opponents.

So long as this Purdue team doesn’t get rattled by a stout but young Penn State defense, it should keep the game close down the stretch and be in a position to win late.

Also read: BetMGM Bonus Code: $1,000 Risk-Free Bet for NCAAF Week 1 | Liberty vs. Southern Miss Odds & Pick: Point Spread Off Mark

About the Author
Ken Bates

Ken Bates

Ken Bates is a contributor to Gaming Today. With years of experience in the sports betting industry, he’s covered several sports and is always on the lookout for an angle to bet. He resides in upstate New York and, as difficult as it may sometimes be, roots for the Jets, Mets, and Islanders.

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