College football is back, which means college football gambling is back. Usually, I’d pick 10 games but there aren’t that many FBS games this week. Going forward I’ll pick 10 national games here, and pick games involving Flyover teams on the Flyover Football Board.
The first FBS game arrives Thursday night. Let’s make some money and improve on last year’s 59-59-4 record. All lines are from Bovada.lv
South Alabama at Southern Miss (-14.5)
Southern Miss had double-digit losses from its roster to the NCAA Transfer Portal, including several veteran players in their defensive front. That won’t be an easy fix for Golden Eagles head coach Jay Hopson, who enters his fifth season as head coach at Southern Miss.
South Alabama isn’t much of a force to fear, though. The Jaguars check in at 119th in ESPN’s SP+ rankings, while Southern Miss at 92nd. USM should be able to get through this, but if Central Arkansas versus Austin Peay taught us anything, it’s that these early season games might be a little sloppy.
Fun fact: Jeffrey McCulloch’s younger brother, Joshua, figures to be a part of the USA offensive line this year.
Middle Tennessee State at Army (-3.5)
The option style of play that prevents the other team from accumulating possessions usually bodes well toward Army, Navy, or Air Force staying inside the number. The same idea can be applied to the over/under total.
Army brings back Jabari Laws to run their option offense, providing valuable experience in a unique system. They’ll be going up against a Blue Raider defense that SP+ has ranked 121st out of 130 teams heading in to the season.
Preparing for the option on defense could have taken up most of MTSU’s preseason camp. Army has been preparing with the option for at least a decade, if not more. One team will have things ready to go, and it’ll be the team that hails from West Point.
SMU (-22.0) at Texas State
SMU has a lot to prove this year, led by senior QB Shane Buechele. James Proche may not be around anymore for the Mustange, but Sonny Dykes has brought in transfer talent to bridge the gap to his recruited talent in his offensive system .
Texas State was a total rebuild for Jake Spavital, who went 3-9 in his first season. The rebuild should show some progress, but the Bobcats will be hard-pressed to show that progress against an SMU team with American Athletic Conference title aspirations.
Buechele isn’t the only former Longhorn on the field. JP Urquidez is on the Texas State roster as well.
Arkansas State at Memphis (-19.0)
Even without Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis will still run a potent offense led by new head coach Ryan Silverfield. Memphis is another team with AAC title aspirations, while Arkansas State is trying to break through and return to the top of the Sun Belt.
There’s a marked difference in talent level between the two teams separated by about an hour drive. 19 points means the Tigers have to be three touchdowns better. They are.
BYU (-1.5) at Navy
I know I usually say service academies cover, and that should hold true at home. But BYU has a weapon in QB Zach Wilson, a.k.a. “Mormon Manziel.”
Wilson’s numbers are nowhere near as prolific as the Aggie Heisman Trophy winner, but he’s a solid passer. He failed to complete 60 percent of his passes in just two games he played.
Plus, the 1.5 point number essentially makes this a pick-em. If any team should be ready for Navy’s option attack, it’s a BYU team with grown men who have no problem getting dirty in the trenches. BYU will be able to score, and I think they cover with relative ease.