A brand new season of college football gets underway the weekend with most of the 120 programs that make up Division IA in action over the extended Labor Day Holiday. It is also a brand new chance to put your college football handicapping skills back to work to try and generate a positive return on your investment this year.
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After pouring over the current point spreads and total lines for all the listed games, Bang the Book has come up with a couple of ‘best bets’ for this weekend to help you get off to a solid start.
TCU (-6) at Baylor Over/Under 56
The Texas Christian Horned Frogs are riding a 13-game winning streak into this season opener and have only lost a total of four games in the last four seasons combined. While they lost quite a bit of talent from last year’s No.2 ranked team, they still have a powerful running game and a defense that has traditionally been one of the best in the nation. Baylor is coming off one of its best seasons in quite awhile after winning seven games for the first time since 1995. The Bears have a quality quarterback in Robert Griffin, but are still lacking the talent in the skill positions to fully utilize his talents.
TCU is 3-0 both SU and ATS in the last three meetings including a 45-10 victory last season as a 21-point home favorite. The Horned Frogs come into this game ranked No.14 in the AP preseason poll and will need an impressive win against a program from a major conference to continue to catch the eyes of the voters. This all adds up to a dominating debut for TCU.
The Pick: TCU 28 Baylor 10
Appalachian State at Virginia Tech (-25.5) Over/Under: OFF
The first thing to keep in mind in this matchup is that Appalachian State is a very good Division IAA program out of the Southern Conference. The Mountaineers are coming off a 10-3 record in 2010 in a season they made it to the second round of the playoffs before losing to Villanova 42-24. The year before they were 11-3 and lost to Montana in the IAA semifinals, so they are more than capable of holding their own against a major program like Virginia Tech.
Here is why they won’t. Last season, the Hokies opened their season with a hard-fought 33-30 loss to Boise State as a 1.5-point favorite. The following week at home against D-IAA James Madison, they were completely embarrassed in a 21-16 loss as a 33-point favorite. The loss completely derailed any chance of making a run towards a BCS title and despite going a perfect 11-0 before losing to Stanford 40-12 in the Orange Bowl, an otherwise successful season was marred by this loss. You know that head coach Frank Beamer has been talking about this all week long, so the Mountaineers will have Virginia Tech’s full attention come Saturday.
The Pick: Virginia Tech 42 Appalachian State 13
Marshall at West Virginia (-20) Over/Under 52
The Thundering Herd of Marshall have been a mere shell of their former selves the past few seasons, including a sub-par 5-7 straight-up record last season, and a middle-of-the pack contender in Conference-USA. You can throw all of that out in this game as it presents an opportunity to topple the top dog in the state in what has become a renewed rivalry between these two West Virginia schools.
Last season, Marshall had the Mountaineers on the ropes late into the fourth quarter with a commanding 21-6 lead, but a series of mishaps and bad mistakes down the stretch allowed West Virginia to escape with a 24-21 overtime victory as a 12.5-point road favorite. It was its fifth-straight victory since the annual series between the two was renewed in 2006, but Marshall has kept things close by covering the spread in four of the last five games. With last year’s meltdown still haunting their memory, look for the Thundering Herd to keep things close enough to cover again this year.
The Pick: West Virginia 24 Marshall 14
Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.