By Chad Cooper
We started off hot last week going 3-0, so let’s keep the $$$ flowing. A full slate is upon us including a Sunday night game between Oklahoma and Houston, which we have a play on. Here are our Degen’s Dozen for Week 1.
Friday, Aug. 30
UMass @ Rutgers (-16.5, 54.5)
TV: Big 10 Network
Scoop: This line opened -11 for Rutgers & has consistently gone up. Rutgers has a slew of starters back and UMass has a new coaching staff. Though the Scarlet Knights only won 1 game last year, I think they get off to a strong start. If they don’t, they may not win a game.
Pick: Rutgers -16.5
Rice @ Army (-23, 47)
TV: CBS Sports TV
Scoop: Rice won 2 games last year but went 7-3 ATS as a dog. Army has won their last 3 openers by more than 30 points per game, but do have a big game with Michigan on deck. Army spanked Rice two years ago in Houston, 49-17, and I see that happening again. I think Army can score 35+ on their own. Over may be a good spot too.
Pick: Army -23
Oklahoma St (-14, 73) @ Oregon St.
Scoop: Expect a ton of points here as these 2 teams play for the first time ever and neither should have trouble scoring points. I love a good home dog, so I may also sprinkle cheese on the Pesky Beavers.
Pick: Over 73
Saturday, Aug. 31
#11 Oregon vs. #16 Auburn (-4, 55)
Scoop: Big time Week 1 matchup in Dallas at Jerry World. Auburn has one of the top defense’s in the nation and that’s scary because Oregon struggled last year in the Rose Bowl vs. Michigan State. Going with the Ducks to keep it close.
Pick: Oregon +4
Boise St @ Florida St (-6.5, 54.5)
TV: ESPN News
Scoop: I don’t trust the Seminoles, at all… But, didn’t Boise struggle with Virginia and Oklahoma State last year? FSU’s defense is loaded, but their offense scares me. It’s time for Willie Taggert to prove doubters wrong.
Pick: FSU -6.5
Ole Miss @ Memphis (-5.5, 65)
Scoop: SEC team going to Memphis. The Tigers probably have the better team here, but Ole Miss will play them very close. Memphis is 18-4 over the last 3 seasons. Only concern is a backdoor Memphis cover. Let’s see if the SEC can flex muscles as an underdog.
Pick: Ole Miss +5.5
Middle Tennessee @ #7 Michigan (-33, 53.5)
TV: Big 10 Network
Scoop: I am so sick of the Jim Harbaugh college experiment, but this is the Big 10 vs. Conference USA. The Wolverines collapsed again late in the season, so we are hoping for them to make up for that against MTSU, who sucks as a double-digit dog. Hopefully Big Blue passes the ball around in this new offense.
Pick: Michigan -33
Akron @ Illinois (-18, 61)
TV: Big 10 Network
Scoop: I am treading on thin ice here. Illini have struggled the last 2 seasons against the MAC but it’s put up or shut up time for Lovie Smith. Illinois should run the ball down Akron’s throat especially with a unit with not many starters back.
Pick: Illinois -18
Georgia Southern @ LSU (-27.5, 52.5)
TV: SEC Network
Scoop: Georgia Southern is 8-1 as a double digit dog while LSU is 0-6 as a 20-point favorite. LSU has Texas on deck.
Pick: GSU +27.5
Mississippi St (-19, 60) @ UL-Lafayette
Scoop: MSU rolled last year in this game 56-10. The Bulldogs did lose some studs on defense, but UL is bad against the run and I expect a full on running assault. The game is in New Orleans, but MSU is better.
Pick: Miss St -19
Sunday, Sept. 1
Houston @ #4 Oklahoma (-23.5, 80)
Scoop: The last time these 2 played, Houston upset Baker Mayfield under Tom Herman. Now that the lame duck Major Applewhite is gone, Houston spent tons of $$$ on Dana Holgorsen. Houston has a great QB in D’Eriq King as does OU in former Alabama star Jalen Hurts. UH lacks defense, so I will definitely hammer the over.
Pick: Over 80
Monday, Sept. 2
#9 Notre Dame (-18, 54.5) @ Louisville
Scoop: I’m not a fan of either team, but it’s a Monday Night Primetime matchup, so we are going to play it, unfortunately. UL stunk it up last season but do have a lot of their defense back. While many expect this to be close, I am praying for an Irish cover.
Pick: Notre Dame -18