If you’re looking to get your 2015 wagering campaign off to a solid start, then you’ve come to the right place! Thanks to this MyBookie.ag college football betting breakdown, you’re going to get three expert Week 1 college football quick picks that are sure to please.First, we’ll get started with an interesting pairing between two teams that both won seven games a year ago and are looking to take the next step toward being legitimate title contenders in 2015.
Analyzing the Best Week 1 NCAA Football Odds and Free Picks Trio
UTEP +34.5 at Arkansas
Analysis: The UTEP Miners (7-6 SU, 9-4 ATS) won seven games to earn a bowl berth in head coach Sean Kugler’s second season at his alma mater and will be even better in 2015 behind a stellar rushing attack that ranked 34th in the nation in 2014 (209.8 ypg). Sophomore quarterback Mack Leftwich will likely get the bid as the starter in 2015 to take over from the graduated Jameill Showers. If Leftwich plays competently in the passing attack, the Miners could really soar this coming season. Thankfully, the Miners have four returning starters on the offensive line.
Second-team all-conference running back Aaron Jones rushed for an impressive 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago and looks primed for another huge season. UTEP will need to address their porous run defense, but I believe they look like another seven-win team at the very least this coming season.
The Arkansas Razorbacks (7-6 SU, 10-3 ATS) made a big leap in Bret Bielema’s second year and finished the 2014 season by winning four out of its final half-dozen games. I expect the Razorbacks to be even better in 2015 thanks to the continued maturation of quarterback Brandon Allen and a powerful rushing attack that ranked 26th in the country last season (218.0 ypg).
Allen will become Arkansas’ first three-year starting quarterback since Matt Jones (2002-04), but he’s working on his fourth offensive coordinator in five years with the arrival of Dan Enos. Still, I expect the Razorbacks to lean heavily on running back Jonathan Williams (1,190 yards, 11 touchdowns) and perform more efficiently in close affairs a lot better than they did last season. Having said all of this, let me also say that, I really like the direction that the Razorbacks are heading in as they get set for the upcoming 2015 season, but I also like they way UTEP is rebuilding their gridiron program as well. No matter how hard I try to envision it, I just can’t see a huge blowout win for the Razorbacks in this contest.
The Pick: UTEP +34.5 Points
BYU +6.5 at Nebraska
Analysis: Although their 2015 schedule is a lot tougher than it was a year ago, I believe the return of superstar quarterback Taysom Hill makes the BYU Cougars (8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS) a team that everyone had better watch out for in 2015. Bronco Mendenhall’s team was a perfect 4-0 and ranked 18th in the nation when Hill broke his leg in the second quarter against Utah State. The Cougars then lost their next four games as their 2014 season fell far short of their early season expectations. Still, the Cougars won eight games and will undoubtedly be better because of the return of their Heisman Trophy candidate.
The multi-faceted Hill had completed 66.7 percent of his passes in five games last season while rushing for another 460 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. If Hill plays anywhere near the level he’s capable of, then BYU’s 15th-ranked scoring offense (37.1 ppg) could explode on their opponents even more in 2015. The Cougars’ September schedule includes this affair against Nebraska along with dates against Boise State, UCLA and Michigan. Mendenhall wants to make his Cougars a legitimate national title contender by playing as many elite teams as possible. “We’re playing our way into contention and national recognition through the best opponents on the biggest stages, mostly away from home,” he says.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-4 SU, 8-4-1 ATS) won nine games in 2014, but apparently school officials wanted to go in a new direction moving forward so they fired head coach Bo Pelini at the end of the 2014 season. Now comes former Oregon State coach Mike Riley and he’s charged with keeping the Huskers relevant when it comes to national title contention. Riley however, has only been able to reach the 10-win plateau once in his career (2008) while Pelini won nine or 10 games in each of his seven seasons at Nebraska. Nebraska will need to overcome the loss of running back Ameer Abdullah and will need quarterback Tommy Armstrong to improve on his unimpressive 53.3 percent completion mark, but let’s not forget, this team managed to put up a whopping 37.8 points per game to rank 13th in scoring.
If the Huskers can find a suitable replacement for Abdullah and play the same kind of defense they did in finishing 60th in points allowed (26.4 ppg), they could very well reach nine wins in Riley’s first season. For this contest however, I like the BYU Cougars to not only cover the spread, but take down the Cornhuskers for the outright win, thanks mostly to the efforts of Taysom Hill.
The Pick: BYU +6.5 Points
Texas +13.5 at Notre Dame
Analysis: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS) have won at least eight games in each of Brian Kelly’s five seasons, but that may not cut it for a Notre Dame fan base looking for a national title. Besides, Notre Dame’s 2014 season looks a lot worse when you consider they got off to a stellar 7-1 start a year ago. After losing four of their final five games and losing quarterback Everett Golson, the Irish are looking to rebound and improve under sophomore signal-caller Malik Zaire. The Irish will need to improve a defense that gave up 29.2 points per game last season (84th) but there’s plenty of talent on the roster, even if the Irish aren’t as experienced as Kelly would like, particularly at quarterback.
The Texas Longhorns (6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS) managed to win six games in head coach Charlie Strong’s first season and I believe that things can only get better for the Longhorns moving forward. Still, I believe Texas will only go as far as young quarterback Tyrone Swoopes takes them in 2015 – if he keeps a hold on his tenuous starting position that is. Last season’s more traditional offense has been replaced by an up-tempo, spread attack that should allow the multi-faceted Swoopes to make more plays in the open field. Swoopes however, has competition in the form of redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard and incoming freshman Kai Locksley. Swoopes went 5-7 as the starter in 2014 with 13 TD passes and 11 INTs, but reports out of Austin say that Heard had “really closed the gap,” according to head coach Charlie Strong.
Quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson said the development of Heard was “the single-most important thing” that happened to the team in the spring. There’s a chance coaches will play both quarterbacks early in the season until one becomes the clear-cut starter. Senior Johnathan Gray will lead a running back-by-committee approach (again) for the Longhorns that I don’t believe is in the team’s best interest. Gray will be pushed by redshirt freshman Donald “Duke” Catalon and sophomore D’Onta Foreman. If the Horns can improve their offensive line play and overcome the loss of All-American defensive lineman Malcolm Brown, they could surprise.
Texas managed to win three of its last four regular season games and finished 5-4 in the Big 12…so clearly, this team is not as bad as many believe. With Notre Dame having its own issues with an inexperienced quarterback, I believe the Longhorns are the pick to cover the nearly two-touchdown spread in this regular season opener.
The Pick: Texas Longhorns +13.5 Points