College football predictions, picks, odds: Florida State over LSU among value plays in Week 1

Finally, with nearly every program in the U.S. playing in Week 1, college football is all about coming. With so many games on the board, the savvy gambler’s chances quickly jump off the leaderboards.

The entire opening week of the season can be chaotic as bookmakers and gamblers try to get a feel for the seemingly random lines. For example, No. 2 Ohio State is 17 points ahead of No. 5 Notre Dame, despite the Irish Combat Team’s high ranking. Florida State, on the other hand, is still three points behind against LSU despite entering its 3rd year under coach Mike Norvell. By the time Tuesday arrives, the national rankings could be very different.

For discerning bettors, the search for value comes in many forms. Finding a loser who has the potential to win with an exaggerated money line victory is the gold standard. But identifying teams that can finish late screens or favorites that can push their lead well beyond the baseline can also lead to wins. If the time is right, we might even delve into the over/under game with upside.

Heading into Week 1, the map is full of lines and many favorite opponents are playing. That doesn’t mean that valuable games can’t be found. Let’s take a look at five games where some unexpected money can be made.

when: Friday 8pm ET | where: Memorial Stadium – Bloomington, Indiana

Featured Games | Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana vs. Illinois, Illini

The Illinis defeated Wyoming 38-6 in Week 0 thanks to 151 yards and two touchdowns by running back Chase Brown. At the same time, the defense kept the Cowboys 30 yards passing, so something felt good. Indiana probably won’t be as bad as last season’s terrible 2-10, thanks to a solid transfer class that could help turn the program around. However, Illinois is a physical, worker-like project that seems ready to take it a step further. Perhaps most importantly, Illinois has ironed out all of its problems with Game 1. Indiana, on the other hand, must find its edge against teams that have already won. Hoosiers is just a small family favorite, and the line has shrunk, so do whatever you can to get any extras. Pick: Illinois ML (+110)

when: Saturday 3:30 PM ET | where: Snapdragon Stadium – San Diego, CA

Featured Games | San Diego State Aztecs vs Arizona Wildcats

Might as well start Saturday’s value game with the spiciest picks for the weekend. It’s hard to ignore coach Jedd Fisch’s build in Tucson. The Wildcats brought in former Pac-12 Rookie of the Year quarterback Jayden de Laura from Washington State, as well as UTEP transfer receiver Jacob Cowing, who Receiving yards in 2021 are 1,354 yards. Additionally, the Wildcats have added several top-five defensive transfers and a handful of elite Southern California recruits. Granted, the Aztecs will open a new stadium on Saturday, and after last year’s Mountain West championship game, the mood will be high, but the Wildcats could be in the spotlight enough to spark one of the biggest upsets of the opening weekend. I will do my best. Pick: Arizona ML (+196)

when: Saturday at 4 p.m. ET | where: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, FL

Featured Games | South Florida Bulls vs. BYU Cougars

It’s counterintuitive to look for value in a double-digit favorite, but BYU may be the most underrated school in the preseason AP top 25, and the 12-point line barely captures the difference between the two teams. The Bulls are 2-10 in seven losses in 2021 by more than 10 points. BYU, on the other hand, has a 21-4 record over the past two seasons and leads the country in return to work. What exactly is screaming about this game? More than 30% of that money goes to pay South Florida, and the line has actually moved in the Bulls’ direction since it opened. Getting $100 back on your $110 investment in BYU is one of the safest bets you can make this weekend. If you can get bigger odds in the under-20 line, jump on it. Select: BYU Cover (-110)

when: Saturday 8pm ET | where: JMA Wireless Dome – Syracuse, NY

Featured Games | Syracuse Orange vs. Louisville Cardinals

The Cardinals are heading into a make-or-break season under head coach Scott Satterfield, but the Orange are the perfect appetizer to start the year. Syracuse was an embarrassing 41-3 with a 5-7 loss to the Cardinals last season and is heading in the wrong direction. However, Louisville is still not a popular one. Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham totaled just 25 touchdowns and five touchdowns against Syracuse last season. Looking forward to fireworks and covers. Pick: Louisville Cover (-110)

Louisiana State University Florida State University

when: Sunday, 7:30pm ET | Where: Caesars Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana

Featured Games | LSU Tigers vs Florida State Seminoles

LSU ranked 8th in the newly released 247Sports Talent Composite with a championship-level blue chip ratio. But hidden from all these recruiting stars for bettors is a process that is still in the early stages of finding its identity. There’s a new quarterback in town, a new second-line player and 10 NFL draft picks from a 6-7 team that can’t afford to lose. Florida State, on the other hand, has a huge advantage, having already played a warm-up game with Duquesne, winning 47-7. Quarterback Jordan Travis looked sharp as three different running backs rushed for 100 yards. Over 85% of the money goes in the direction of LSU, but the Florida Helicopter is one way to make a decent coin. Pick: Florida State University (+130)

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