It was only seven games on the Week 0 slate, but we got a glimpse into a new college football, one that had the clock running like it was an NFL game.
With the change in game clock this season, the clock will only stop on first downs inside of two minutes of each half, we saw a slower pace in an admittedly small seven game sample of Week 0. Teams played about two fewer possessions on average while there were about five fewer total plays per game.
So there was a drop in total plays, as expected, but I'm still not overreacting to this and rushing to bet unders. The market knows this and have adjusted accordingly as the Week 1 lines have sat out in the open for several months.
In truth, four of the seven games went under, not an egregious number that shows some market inefficiencies. Even if many will look to the Navy-Notre Dame snoozer that stayed under the total of 49 with the Irish winning 42-3 in one of the slowest games in recent memory, each team had less than 60 snaps, I still find myself eyeing a handful of overs in Week 1.
Here are three I'm grabbing now.
If you are looking to line your sports betting account with some extra money, don't miss out on this DraftKings Sportsbook promo! All you need to do is use the link below, deposit $5 and bet on ANY college football game this weekend, and you'll get $200 in bonus bets instantly! That's it!
College Football Week 1 Best Bets
- Ball State vs. Kentucky OVER 48
- Coastal Carolina vs. UCLA OVER 64.5
- Oregon State vs. San Jose State OVER 54.5
Ball State vs. Kentucky Prediction and Pick
Kentucky had a futile offense last season, the team scored more than 31 points just once despite playing three Group of Five or below schools, but this should be a revived offense under returning offensive coordinator Liam Coen and transfer quarterback Devin Leary.
Coen was the OC in Lexington in 2021, a far better season for the Wildcats. The team was far more successful then, but also played at a faster tempo, averaging about three plays per game, 85th overall, outpacing the 2022 version that was stuck in the mud, 116th in plays per game at about 65 snaps per game.
In 2021, Kentucky checked in as an above average offense, 11th in success rate and 47th in EPA/Play. The reason for Will Levis hype as an NFL Draft prospect is from this version of the Wildcats, not the 2022 version that was 105th in EPA/Play.
The team gets an opening week matchup against an outmatched Ball State team. I expect Kentucky is going to want to set the tone for a revived offensive attack with some points and a downfield attack against a Cardinals defense that won't have an answer.
The Wildcats are laying 26.5 points, I envision the team will find the end zone at least five times and get into the high 30's, if not 40's.
Ball State passed the ball at a top 15 rate last season and now integrates in transfer quarterback Layne Hatcher. I don't expect much of a fight from the Cardinals, but if Kentucky is going to do most of the heavy lifting, I may need only one score to get over this total.
PICK: OVER 48.5
Coastal Carolina vs. UCLA Prediction and Pick
UCLA will start veteran Ethan Garbers in this one instead of highly touted freshman Dante Moore, but I don't expect the Bruins to struggle against a porous Coastal Carolina defense.
The Chanticleers defense loses its best player in Josiah Stewart, who had 10.5 sacks as a true freshman and 10 tackles for loss last season before transferring to Michigan, and will struggle to improve from a unit that was 115th in EPA/Play and 121st in yards per play.
UCLA's offense scored 30 or more in all but one game last season, I expect against an outmatched defense the team puts up a big number on the scoreboard with the weapons on the outside, including J. Michael Sturdivant.
Meanwhile, the Coastal Carolina offense should be able to hold up nicely against a UCLA defense that struggled all season long, bottom 10 in success rate allowed. While the visitors lost head coach Jamey Chadwell to Liberty, the team was able to hold onto one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country in Grayson McCall, who anchored a top 35 offense on an EPA/Play and success rate basis.
The Chanticleers offense was explosive, but methodical last season, outside the top 100 in plays. However, against a UCLA defense that is prone to playing in high scoring affairs, I expect McCall and co. to hold up its end of the bargain.
Don't be scared off by the clock moving in this one, both offense should push into the mid 30's.
PICK: OVER 65
Oregon State vs. San Jose State Prediction and Pick
San Jose State was part of the Week 0 slate, losing (but covering) to USC 56-28 on the road despite not having projected No. 1 target Justin Lockhart. However, I liked what I saw from the Spartans offense under veteran quarterback Chevan Cordeiro as the Spartans graded out with an above average EPA/Play mark, per gameonpaper.com.
However, SJSU couldn't stop the vaunted USC offense and I doubt it will get much better on Sunday at home against Oregon State. The Beavers bolster an offensive line that returns four of five starters after allowing only 12 sacks last season in addition to budding star running back Damien Martinez, who averaged over six yards per carry last season.
The Beavers play incredibly slow, 94th in offensive plays per game, but given that the Spartans are replacing its top two defensive linemen from last season Viliami Fehoko and Cade Hall, I expect the Beavers to stay ahead of the sticks and pile up scoring opportunities. I also expect Oregon State to try and integrate in transfer quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei with some easy passing opportunities throughout the game. Given that he's in a new system with a favorable matchup, the Beavers may be more aggressive on offense than typical game states, helping our cause to the over.
As noted above, SJSU was able to string together some solid drives against a porous USC defense, and while the Beavers were stout last season, there's a ton of regression looming in 2023. First, the defense must replace two NFL cornerbacks in Alex Austin and Rrejzohn Wright and its leading tackler in Omar Speights. This was a unit that was elite against the pass, 14th in explosive pass rate allowed, and shut down foes in close, allowing a touchdown on only 50% of red zone opportunities. For a unit that doesn't rush the pass well, the team only had 16 sacks in 2022, bottom 10 in the country, Corderio might be able to get the Spartans into the 20's despite limited possessions with the Beavers slow tempo.
Oregon State should score with ease, but its the team's questions on defense that have me wanting to go over on this rare Sunday college football game.
PICK: OVER 54.5
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
Track Reed's bets here!