College football picks are back - thoughts on the opening weekend of the ACC and Big 12
Folks, the long, national nightmare is over. After nine months and about a million "will they play or not" arguments, major college football returns this weekend. That's right, after Central Arkansas, Austin Peay, Army, Navy and BYU whet our appetites the last few weekends, the big boys return on Saturday. Welcome to the 2020 college football season Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Texas - with the SEC set to join the party a few weeks from now.
And with that, you know what that means: The return of the college football picks.
That's right, for those of you who've been following my work for years, you already know that I've been making weekly college football picks since before most of America even knew what a point spread was. Last year I began posting them here at Aaron Torres Online, and we began working with MyBookie, which we are again doing this year.
Well this year the picks are back, and with a twist. One, we'll post them on Wednesday, instead of Thursday going forward. The reason being that I'll have a friend on mine writing up NFL picks, and I want to get those up on this site on Thursday mornings.
So make sure to bookmark the page, and by the way, if you are betting college football, also make sure to use MyBookie. Use the promo code "TORRES" and you can double your first deposit - meaning that for every dollar you spend, they give you a free dollar in return. So if you put $25 into your account, they give you $25 free to play with as well.
Anyway, let's get to the picks, but before I do, one quick caveat: If you're new here, just know that I go ahead and give my favorite picks of the week, but they don't necessarily come from the biggest games. Now admittedly, some weeks I do pick the biggest games. But others - like this week - there are a lot of smaller, off the radar games that have caught my interest, while the Clemson and Notre Dame games are largely stay aways for me. I explain why below, and that could change going forward. But just be warned: There are a whole lot of random bets, with random teams going on below.
But hey, it's like my great aunt Mildred once said: Betting on random college football games is better than having no college football to bet on at all.
Either way, here are the picks. And again, if you're wagering this weekend, go to MyBookie.Ag and use promo code "TORRES" to double your initial deposit.
UAB (+14.5) at Miami (UNDER 54.5): Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network
It's Thursday night, and while most of America will be busy watching Texans-Chiefs, you're a degenerate and college football junkie. So flip over to ACC Network (wait, what's the channel number again?) for the first Power 5 team to take the field of the season.
It's Miami hosting UAB, and you gotta bet the Canes, right!!
Turnover chain, baby! The U is back!
Sorry, I'm not so sold.
Now look, I think Miami is fine, and I certainly think that the arrival of D'Eriq King is going to help the Hurricanes offense be more dynamic than its been. At the same time, this is still a team finished 98th nationally in total offense last season, 120th in rushing and went 6-7 with losses to Florida International and Louisiana Tech along the way.
Nope, these ain't exactly your father's Miami Hurricanes.
Beyond that, here is the other thing: This UAB team is actually really good. This is a team which was picked to win Conference USA in the preseason and brings back nine starters off a team which finished Top 10 nationally in defense a season ago. Yes, they struggled to put away Central Arkansas last week, but if you look at the box score closely, that was more because they struggled offensively to hold onto the football, which led to three Central Arkansas scores off turnovers. Two other scores came late when the game was in hand.
I know that sounds worrisome, but to me, that sounds like a sloppy team which was simply forward to looking to their biggest game of the season in Week 2. This line actually opened closer to 17 points and was already bet down to 14. Therefore, I'll take UAB and the UNDER to open the season here.
Charlotte (+17) at Appalachian State: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Honestly, this might be my favorite bet of the entire first weekend. And yes, those are words that I never thought I'd ever type or say about a Charlotte-Appalachian State football game. Yet in these uncertain times of 2020, we're all doing and saying crazy things. And this might be the craziest one of them all.
Still, the bottom-line is this: While Charlotte's 7-6 overall mark from a year ago might not seem all that impressive, trust me, it was. First off, they got to the school's first bowl game ever last year, coming in the first year that new coach Will Healy arrived. More importantly, it came after the 49ers became one of the hottest teams in college football down the stretch, winning its final five regular season games to clinch that bowl berth. They did it by averaging nearly 30 points per game on the season, and return starting quarterback Chris Reynolds this year.
More than just MY Charlotte 49ers, there's Appalachian State too.
Look, the Mountaineers have become one of the great stories in college football, going 13-1 last season, with victories over North Carolina and South Carolina in the process. Yet at the same time, they are now on their third head coach in three years. Remember, Scott Satterfield left for Louisville, then Eli Drinkwitz bolted for Missouri, and now Shawn Clark takes over. By the way, yes, I still can't believe there is an actual SEC head coach named "Eli Drinkwitz."
Beyond that, as explosive as App State's offense was a year ago, and it was explosive, they also lost essentially their entire defense. In total, the top six tacklers off last year's team all graduated, and seven starters overall.
Anyway, this is a long-winded way of me saying that I think App State very likely wins this game. But with a new head coach and an almost entirely new defense, this is wayyyyy too many points to be giving here.
Georgia Tech at Florida State (UNDER 52): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Remember how I said above, that 2020 will not give us "your dad's Miami Hurricanes." Well take that, multiply it by 1,000, and I present you the 2020 Florida State Seminoles.
Yes, I get the excitement over Mike Norvell at Florida State. He did great things at Memphis. But the reality is that he walks into a program that is an absolute mess offensively. The Seminoles had arguably one of the worst offensive lines in major college football last year, which led Florida State to have essentially no run game. And James Blackmon - in large part because of that offensive line - was a turnover machine, with 11 INT's while splitting the starting job under center.
So yeah, incase you haven't figured it out I don't have much faith in Florida State's offense, and yet somehow, Georgia Tech's may be worse. Remember, this is a program that tried to transition out of the triple option last year, but didn't have the personnel to do it, leading them to have the worst offense of all Power 5 teams. To their credit, the Yellow Jackets did play hard all season though, and pulled a few upsets late.
Take two really bad offenses, and at least one defense that you know will play hard (Georgia Tech's) and points will be at a premium. Which is why I love the under here.
UTEP at No. 14 Texas (-21.5, first half): Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network
As of right now, MyBookie hasn't officially released first half lines, but when they do, my plan is to jump all over Texas.
Why, you ask: Because UTEP might be - and I'm not exaggerating when I say this - the worst team in FBS football.
For those of you who haven't paid much attention to Miner football the last few years, one, shame on you. And two, here is what you need to know: Last year they went 1-11, with their one victory coming against an FCS school in a Week 1. That was followed by 11 straight losses to close the season, and those 11 losses came by an average of almost three touchdowns per game. And now, UTEP has to replace their starting quarterback, leading rusher and leading receiver off last year's team. And again, that's.... OFF OF A 1-11 team!!!! They struggled to hold on and beat Stephen F. Austin last weekend, another FCS team and I just don't see it much getting better Saturday.
Therefore, while the game total feels a little high (who knows if Texas pulls their starters, or gives up a garbage touchdown late) I love the first half line here. UT is coming off a tumultuous off-season and wants to prove to America that they aren't as bad as they were last year, and are a legit Big 12 title contender. In other words, they want to prove... Texas is back (hint: They aren't).
I think they roll early, and pull their starters early in the third quarter. I'll bet this as soon as the line is posted, and I set it at -21.5 because that's about what it would be right now. If it goes up between now and when it's posted, I would play this line up to -27.5 for the first half.
Finally, since I picked some of the most random games possible, I figured I'd discuss a few of the other big games and why I am personally staying away.
No. 1 Clemson (-32.5) at Wake Forest: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Look, I love Clemson and I love Dabo. They are my preseason national championship pick. But I just don't see any value in this game. Clemson is going to win, but Wake Forest is also a really good team, that had a really explosive offense last year. And even though they lost Jamie Newman at quarterback, the guy replacing him was actually the starter two years ago.
So I bring all this up to say that in the end, Clemson might win by 21 or 40, They might hold Wake Forest to 10, or 21. Meaning that I don't love the line of 32.5 or the over/under of 60.
Clemson is going to win, but there is no real edge here in my opinion.
Duke at No. 10 Notre Dame (-20): Saturday, 2:30 ET, NBC
Out of everyone in the national media I think I've probably defended Notre Dame more than just about anyone. The Irish have quietly become one of the most consistent programs in college football, and won 10+ games in each of the last three years. And while yes, I know they've struggled on the big stages against the elite teams, this is a really solid group.
Still, I just don't see what all the excitement is about this year. Like, I think Notre Dame is a fine team. But they have basically lost their entire receiving corps and have big holes to fill on defense.
The Irish are, in my opinion, a Top 20-ish caliber team. I just don't see them as the Top 10, playoff contender some seem to think they are. Because of it, I will probably be staying away from their games until they prove otherwise to me.
Louisiana at Iowa State (-11.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you listen to my podcast, you know I spent a good part of Tuesday's episode gushing over Iowa State as maybe the second best team in the Big 12. Here's the thing though: Louisiana is really good too, a team that won 11 games last year and was No. 8 nationally in total offense.
Point being, both these teams are good and I will be betting each a lot in the future.
Just not in this particular game.
And remember, if you're going to wager on these games or any others, make sure to use MyBookie. Put in the promo code "TORRES" at checkout, and you automatically receive a 100 percent sign-up bonus.
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