This article is part of our College Capper series.
A predictably mixed bag in Week 1 where I forced myself to pick every game. A still limited slate will have some additional forced picks here, but hopefully I can find some selective success.
Miami -14 vs. UAB (Thursday)
Annual reminder to readers I'm a Miami homer, and an eternal optimist. This year's optimism comes from their move to a spread offense. Miami is going to play fast, hoping to run 80 plays when possible. I expect there will be hiccups here in the first half, but still big plays with greater frequency. UAB's defense is legit, and the points they allowed last week were the result of short fields from offensive mishaps. This will be close early, but I expect Miami to be focused and pull away in the second half.
North Carolina -22.5 vs. Syracuse
There's no reason North Carolina's offense won't be firing on all cylinders out of the gates, returning it's quarterback, top two RBs and top three WRs, all of whom shined in 2019. Syracuse returns some skill players too, but they didn't shine. They have major questions along the offensive line, and their depth chart doesn't include their two top returning rushers, who status remains a mystery. The UNC defense remains a question, but the Orange offensive line woes should allow for enough pressure/negative plays to result in multiple stops, and an easy win.
Over 59.5 Appalachian State vs. Charlotte
Last week, I admitted to not being a totals guy, yet here we are. I have a hunch on Appy State (-17) too, especially when seeing it opened at closer to (-20), but expect points to come freely here. These two teams have faced off each of the last two years, and the Mountaineers have averaged 50.5 points. They return QB Zac Thomas, a plethora of offensive linemen, and three of their top four receivers. ASU should do enough to where they only need to allow a few scores for this total to fly by this number.
Wake Forest +33 vs. Clemson
I'll likely regret everything I type after this, but doesn't this just seem like too many points to give in a road, conference opener? Yes, Clemson crushed Wake last year, and return Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. But there seems to be enough uncertainty at receiver to at least pause here. If this game were in South Carolina, and in October or later, sure, take it at anything under five scores. But I'll take Wake to find 10 points and the Tigers to go through the motions.
Last Week: 2-3; Season 2-3
Not a great start to the season, but as I pointed out, these early season games are tough to predict. Throw in the pandemic and everything that goes with it, and suddenly, things get even tougher. Just one winner in four last week and that came with the under in the Army game, which hit with ease. The big favorites, Southern Miss and Memphis failed to get enough separation and the under in the Navy could have hit, if Navy could tackle at a 5th-grade level.
As for this week, we have a short slate once again, so tread lightly. As we get more games under our belt and the slates get larger, we'll start to see some more value.
UAB (+15) at Miami
Perhaps this is a huge sucker bet, but when the coach of a team says his team isn't anywhere near being ready, it would seem that the other team is the play. We saw what happened this past week with a team that wasn't ready (Navy) and if Miami is anywhere near that level of ineptitude, it will struggle to not only cover, but win this game. UAB meanwhile is ready to play as it not only has a game under its belt, but a win at that. Miami struggled as a favorite last season which is generally a mentality that a team adopts and if any of that is still lingering from this past season, the Hurricanes will struggle to put UAB away.
Over (55.5) Louisiana-Monroe at Army
Army proved this past week that even though it was breaking in a lot of parts on the offense, it wasn't planning on slowing down. Its defense played well last week as well, which made the under hit with ease. It might not be as easy this week though as UL Monroe bring a better offense than that of Middle Tennessee St. Throw in a week of film for the Warhawks to figure out how to attack the Army defense and I think we have the makings of an over play here.
Syracuse (+23) at North Carolina
This game has seen a large movement since the news of Syracuse's starting backfield essentially being out, but I'm not sure that's worth three points. Honestly, in college football, the backfield is generally where team reload the easiest. Syracuse is coming off a poor season, but there is some talent there that remains from its 9-3 season two years ago. North Carolina had a breakthrough season last year, but the Tarheels won't be able to sneak up on anyone this year. There is a lot of talent there on offense, but even with that talent, they struggled to get much separating from anyone last year. Perhaps they'll be better this season or maybe they struggle out of the gate with the higher expectations.
Clemson (-33.5) at Wake Forest
It's always fair to question the motivation of a high powered team early in the season, but considering how Clemson's season ended this past season, I'm expecting the Tigers to be highly motivated to get back on top of the college football world. Wake Forest had a decent season last year, but all-everything QB Jamie Newman has moved on and with him goes most of its offense. Heck, even with Newman the Demon Deacons got trounced by this same Clemson team 52-3 last year. It's certainly a big number on the road, but if this Clemson team is anything like the ones we've seen the past couple seasons, then the Tigers will simply wear down their opponent and open up in the second half.
Last Week: 1-3-0, Season: 1-3-0