Week 1 College Football Betting Picks


First, to introduce myself… My name is Ben, and I’ll be posting weekly previews and a short list of betting picks for the weeks Pac-12 games, along with other national games of interest. Never blogged before, but Shaan asked and I figured I’d give it a shot. Bear with me as I get the hang of it..

A few quick thoughts about my betting philosophy:

1) I don’t mind betting on (or, in the occasional case, against) my own team. Simple reason… I know more about my team than Vegas does. If I can’t take that knowledge, mix it with some objectivity, and use it… my loss. Case in point.. Cal in 2006 and 2007. There was a big overreaction to the 06 Tennessee game (and if you watched it… and weren’t a Cal fan who knew the talent on the team… how could you now?), and lines were extremely generous to Cal for almost 2 months. *ching* A year later we were in full-on collapse mode facing Stanford, and yet were favored by 14. We weren’t 14 points better than my high school that day, and a straight up bet on Stanford (wonder how many readers I just repelled…) paid almost 6 to 1. It hurt, but it was simply the most egregiously out-of-whack line I’ve ever seen.

2) I don’t like big spreads, generally. Once you start getting into the 3-4 TD region, you can be right about a pick but still lose if your backups don’t show up in garbage time, a unit gives up, etc.

3) Being a Cal fan since 2003… I’ve learned the difference between home and away cannot be understated.

4) I have no idea my actual record the last few years.. this blog will be a good way to find out. Feel free to keep me honest 🙂

My CFB Picks for Week 1 after the jump.

Pac 12:
Oregon @ LSU (LSU -2). In the marquee game of the weekend, I sense trouble for Oregon. LSU has two things on their side that have trouble Oregon over the last few years… time to prepare and a combination of speed and size on defense that few teams can match. Effectively reading and reacting to Oregon’s read option can only really come with time, and in recent history those teams who have had time to prepare (Boise and Ohio State in 2009, Auburn in 2010) have had success against it. The other key… depth and speed on defense, in particular the D-line. The above three teams all enjoyed that advantage, as did Cal in 2010, and LSU might be the deepest and fastest of the bunch. LSU’s all-around depth also seems to favor them, given the… ahem… legal situations both teams generally find themselves in. LSU to cover.

[i]ASU[/i] (-35) over UC Davis. Big early season spread, some pressure on ASU. Wouldn’t bet it – but UC Davis to cover.

[i]Arizona[/i] (-27.5) over Northern Arizona. Foles returns Criner and they should simply be too much for NAU. The major differences between this game and the ASU pick is that a) ASU has struggled against some non-FBS competition early in recent seasons, and b) I think its more likely that the UA offense, with tons of experience and skill, gets untracked in a big way in game 1.

[i]Utah[/i] (-28) versus Montana State. Utah is getting some hype as a potential Pac12 South Champ in its first season (and I’ve seen them beat Cal in recent years)… while I’m not sure I’m on board with that, just yet, I know nothing about Montana State and have little interest in learning. We’ll find out more next week. Not a bet, but Utah covers.

[i]USC[/i] (-21) against Minnesota. USC should come out firing out of camp… no reason to think they’d struggle here. The question is down the line when injuries start depleting their probation-thinned roster. USC covers.

[i]Houston[/i] (-3) versus UCLA. Tough game here. I tend to think – and yes, it feels like I’ve said this the last few years only to be laughed at near season’s end – that UCLA cannot be this bad for long, given the talent in Westwood. Then again… Houston has its QB healthy, is at home, and should be a solid team on its own. I’ll take Houston to win a squeaker, but UCLA covers (which is probably the least likely outcome overall), and no bet.

[i]WSU[/i] (-28) over Idaho State. Alright Jeff Tuel, lets see it. I think his arm could cover this spread. Wait… this is WSU?

[i]Stanford[/i] (-28) vs San Jose State. I tend to think Stanford will be good this year… but not the top 5-10 team some seem to be projecting. I guess we’ll see how good this Luck kid really is, and just how thoroughly Harbaugh changed the program before leaving. No bet, but I’ll pick the Cardinal.

[i]UW[/i] (-18) over EWU. EWU, I hear, was, FCS champion. UW, is replacing Locker… who you’d think was a Joe Montana/Tom Brady lovechild if you listened to Ted Miller and the rest of the press. Doesn’t matter, UW covers.

[i]Oregon State[/i] (-??) over Sac St. Not seeing a line. Doesn’t matter, probably wouldn’t bet it unless it was Sac State +50 or Oregon State -14.

[i]Hawaii[/i] (-7) over Colorado. That Colorado team we saw last year was bad. And they were playing what ended up being a bad Cal team (although with Riley we’re certainly not as hapless as we seemed late in the year). I saw quit, I saw athletes that couldn’t keep up, and in general got a much different vibe than I did when say… Hawaii played USC and gave them all the Trojans could handle. And its in Hawaii. Hawaii covers.

Cal (-10) vs Fresno State. Technically a neutral field… if the location wasn’t awful it’d be a Cal crowd, at the moment it looks like it could be a Fresno crowd. I’ll be doing an in-depth preview of Fresno in a few days, but they do have a very promising QB (Carr… name should sound familiar) and some speed at RB and WR. While I don’t mind Hill as a coach, and he does get some good talent… Fresno State hasn’t beaten a top 25 team in years, and Cal… in theory… should simply have too many horses here.

It’ll be interesting to see how Cal fares as it starts its year away from home. Whether it was the consistently-underrated home crowd, the fast turf, or the abysmal visitor locker rooms that may have left teams feeling like they were taking a weekend trip to a gulag… there has been some magic in Memorial since 2004. Whether that translates to Candlestick and AT&T remains to be seen.

However, this is the game that Cal would eat up in past years. At home (or close), reasonable margin against a team that we should simply be better than… since 2004, thats generally a resounding a win. On the road against a team with equal talent (Tennessee)? Mid-season once injuries start biting and pressure builds? Different story. But if Cal doesn’t win this game big, I see a struggle in conference play.

Cal wins big.

To summarize, I’m taking:
LSU, Arizona, USC, Cal, UW and Hawaii to cover here.

Enjoy week 1!