The college football season gets rolling this weekend, and there’s a loaded slate of games bettors can look forward to. Here, we offer college football picks and parlays to consider for Saturday, Sept. 2.
Most of the top teams in the country are facing soft opponents this week, but there are several intriguing games from a betting standpoint. Here are a few of our favorite college football Week 1 picks and parlays for Saturday. Check out our NCAAF odds page for the weekend’s entire card.
College Football Odds and Picks: Week 1
East Carolina Pirates (8-5 SU, 8-5 against the spread in 2022) vs. Michigan Wolverines (13-1 SU, 8-5-1 ATS in ’22)
This game is relatively easy to figure out from a pure talent perspective. Michigan has one of the better quarterbacks in the country (J.J. McCarthy), the best running back tandem (Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards), and plenty of NFL-caliber talent ready to step up at several positions.
But the Wolverines will not have Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore on the sideline (or in the booth). Both will be serving suspensions. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter will serve as head coach this week, and quarterbacks coach Kirk Campbell will call the plays.
East Carolina’s run defense will get put to the test. While the stats say it was good last year, it helped that teams were too busy throwing the ball against one of the worst secondaries in the country to bother running it much.
Michigan may be without its two starting safeties this week, which could be the break East Carolina’s pass game needs. If the Pirates can generate some offense and the Wolverines focus as much as expected on the run game, the final score will be closer and lower than expected.
Our Pick: East Carolina
North Carolina Tar Heels (9-5 SU, 6-7-1 ATS in ’22) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (8-5 SU, 7-6 ATS in ’22)
North Carolina lost some of its wide receiver talent from last season to the NFL. But some solid players are returning, and they’ll have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation throwing to them, Drake Maye.
But if the Tar Heels are going to make a run at the ACC title this season, the offensive line has to do a better job of protecting Maye. It would help if one of the running backs could lead the team in rushing, not the quarterback.
However, while the offense had a lot of firepower last season, the defense struggled.
South Carolina also has one of the best quarterbacks in the country and a legitimate Heisman hopeful behind center in Spencer Rattler. Like North Carolina, the offensive line needs to do a better job of protecting him.
Our Pick: Over, . Since both teams have a Heisman-hopeful behind center and will face a lackluster defense, expect a ton of fireworks throughout the game.
UTSA Roadrunners (11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS in ’22) vs. Houston Cougars (8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS in ’22)
Frank Harris is back (for a seventh season) at quarterback for the Roadrunners, giving UTSA a significant experience advantage at the position. With four starters returning, the offensive line should be better this year. While the team lost a few playmakers to the transfer portal, there is more than enough talent for the offense to be just as explosive as last year.
Houston has a lot of holes to fill from last year’s squad, including at quarterback, with Clayton Tune now in the NFL. The team filled that hole with former Texas Tech QB Donovan Smith. Smith will have a talented room of receivers to work with, but the offensive line has to get rebuilt after losing players to the transfer portal.
Neither team has a standout defense. Don’t be surprised if both offenses move up and down the field throughout the game like they did when these teams played last season (787 yards of offense in a 37-35 3OT win for Houston).
Our Pick: Houston
Houston must get off to a good start, something the Cougars did not do a good job of last season. But even if they struggle to get on track, the talent level is good enough to stay within reach of UTSA. Then it will take one or two big plays late (something Houston specialized in last year) to secure the win.
College Football Parlays: Week 1
The house’s edge is even greater when it comes to parlays, but it is still fun to play a few from time to time as long as you are careful. You are more likely to lose a parlay than win, so do what you can to reduce the risk and increase your chance of winning.
So, keep them short (two or three legs). Let’s take a look at a few college football parlays and same-game parlays (odds via FanDuel):
Parlay No. 1: UTSA-Houston, North Carolina-South Carolina
- Houston +102
- UNC-SC Over 64.5 -110
- Parlay Odds: +286
Houston-UTSA will be a close game, but the Cougars were a solid, clutch team last season and probably will be this year, too. If UTSA has the lead late, expect Houston to make one or two big plays and pull ahead late to secure the win.
There is nothing impressive about North Carolina or South Carolina’s defense. Drake Maye and Spencer Rattler will carve up the other’s defense like a Thanksgiving Day turkey.
A $100 wager will result in a $386 payday, your stake plus $286 in winnings.
Parlay No. 2: Colorado-TCU, East Carolina-Michigan
- TCU -20.5 -115
- East Carolina +35.5 -105
- Parlay Odds: +265
If you looked at your social media accounts during the offseason, chances are you saw a clip or heard about what Deion Sanders was up to at Colorado. In a nutshell, he gutted a program that needed a drastic change.
It will not be hard for Deion to improve upon last year’s pitiful 1-11 mark, but the team has a long way to go, which will be apparent against a good TCU squad.
Michigan will beat East Carolina, but with Jim Harbaugh and Sherrone Moore serving suspensions, we are not confident they’ll cover the spread.
A $100 wager will result in a $365 payday, your stake plus $265 in winnings.
Parlay No. 3: Nevada-USC, Ohio State-Indiana, North Carolina-South Carolina
- Nevada-USC first half total Over 33.5 points -120
- Ohio State-Indiana first half total Over 31.5 points -105
- North Carolina-South Carolina first half total Over 31.5 points -110
- Parlay Odds: +557
Caleb Williams diced up the San Jose State defense last week for 21 first-half points. He should be able to match that and possibly record another touchdown against Nevada. The Wolfpack does not have the kind of defense that can slow down the Trojans, but USC doesn’t have one that can stop Nevada’s rushing attack. Nevada will likely score at least one touchdown, if not two, in the first half.
Ohio State should blast a rebuilding Indiana program that lost most of its talent to the transfer portal. The Hoosiers may get lucky and record a touchdown or field goal before halftime, but don’t be shocked if the Buckeyes explode for 35 points in the first half.
With North Carolina and South Carolina, you have two great quarterbacks facing defenses they can shred. Both teams will score early and often.
A $100 wager will result in a $657 payday, your stake plus $557 in winnings.
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