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College Football Week 1 Predictions: Ohio State, USC, Iowa & More

Last Updated: October 6, 2023

This article originally appeared at FanDuel Research.

Get set for the weekend’s action with the latest betting insights from FanDuel — let’s college football picks Week 1 style.

This is not a drill. Week 1 of the new college football season is upon us! I repeat; this is not a drill.

To up the ante, we will see FBS games played on Thursday through Monday. Of course, many of the contests in these first couple of weeks are staggering mismatches. However, there are still plenty of lucrative markets we can play to start the season in the green.

With an eye on September 2nd, let us survey the slate for the first full Saturday of college football’s 2023 campaign. Spoiler alert: I am confident in the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes early on. In a different contest, I’m eager to see if the No. 25 Iowa Hawkeyes will return just as stout on defense.

Keeping in mind that all odds and spreads are subject to incremental movement, let’s go through our Week 1 college football predictions and betting insights, including the USC Trojans’ clash with Nevada in LA.

2023 College Football Picks Week 1

All college football odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

Away TeamHome TeamHome SpreadTotalImplied Road TotalImplied Home Total
Fresno St.Purdue-4.547.521.526
Arkansas St.Oklahoma-36.558.51147.5
Ohio St.Indiana+29.559.544.515
Boise St.Washington-14.558.52236.5
Texas-San AntonioHouston+1.559.530.529
New MexicoTexas A&M-38.548.5543.5
North CarolinaSouth Carolina+2.564.533.531
West VirginiaPenn St.-20.550.51535.5
Middle Tennessee St.Alabama-39.551.5645.5

Fresno State Bulldogs @ Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time: 12 p.m. ET
  • TV: Big Ten Network
  • Spread: PUR -4.5 (-105)
  • Moneyline: FRES +160/PUR -194
  • Total: 47.5 (-105/-115)

As the cream of Mountain West football, the Fresno State Bulldogs are entering 2023 after winning their fourth conference title in the current grouping last season. However, since head coach Jeff Tedford took over the program in 2017, the Bulldogs have twice risen to the top of the Mountain West.

Eagerly awaiting Fresno State on Saturday will be the Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue was not as successful as Fresno in 2022, but naturally, the Big Ten offers challenges that the Mountain West does not. Still, the Boilermakers went 8-6 last year. However, they will be going forward without Jeff Brohm, for he returned to Louisville to lead his alma mater. That brings in Ryan Walters as head coach at Purdue; Walters played safety for the Colorado Buffaloes two decades ago.

Naturally, Fresno, California and West Lafayette, Indiana aren’t exactly bordering towns. That means the Bulldogs will endure a 2,000-mile flight before Saturday’s game at Purdue.

According to ESPN’s final SP+ Preseason Rankings, the Bulldogs and Boilermakers actually matchup quite closely. Out of 133 FBS schools, Purdue comes in at 58th while Fresno State is ranked 63rd. Candidly, this contest should be the closest competition that Saturday has to offer.

Best Bet: Fresno State +4.5 (-115)

For FRES-PUR, I will be taking the points with the underdog Bulldogs. Coach Tedford has been one of the most underrated leaders in college football for some time now. From Aaron Rodgers with the California Golden Bears to Jake Haener in Fresno, Tedford has always had a way with quarterbacks. I think that transitions to current Bulldog starting signal-caller Mikey Keene, who transfers in from the Central Florida Knights.

The game projections at numberFire support my ATS play on Fresno State. Per their model, the Bulldogs are showing a winning estimated score of 31.57-30.89. Genuinely, I don’t mind taking it a step further for a Fresno play on the moneyline — especially since Purdue is now under a rookie Division I head coach.

Let’s start simple in Week 1. Give me 4.5 points with the Bulldogs.

College Football Picks Week 1: Utah State Aggies @ No. 25 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time: 12 p.m. ET
  • TV: FS1
  • Spread: IOWA -23.5 (-104)
  • Moneyline: USU +1160/-2800 IOWA
  • Total: 42.5 (-115/-105)

As alluded to in the introduction, the No. 25 Hawkeyes boast one of the best defenses in the nation year in and year out. In 2022, Iowa suffocated opponents into scoring just 13.3 points per game, which was the second-best clip in FBS.

Iowa will host the Utah State Aggies in Week 1 this year. Utah State won the MWC as recently as 2021, but they experienced a major fall from grace last season behind a 6-7 overall record. Heading out to Iowa City, do the Aggies have any chance of getting by the Hawkeyes?

2023 will mark a quarter-century since head coach Kirk Ferentz took over as Iowa’s head coach. Last year, Ferentz notched his 10th bowl win in school history by shutting out the Kentucky Wildcats in the Music City Bowl. Simply, all signs point to the Hawkeyes staying consistent this season.

When perusing through ESPN’s 2023 College Football Power Index, Iowa shows up at 38th overall out of 133 institutions. For Utah State, they land all the way down at 118th. Transparently, I am not ruling out Iowa pitching their second consecutive shutout.

Best Bet: Under 42.5 (-105)

As usual, the Hawkeyes take the field with a hyper-athletic defense. Linebackers Nick Jackson and Jay Higgins play the game with sideline-to-sideline speed, which should thwart the Aggies for most of the day. Iowa’s secondary also features star players, such as Cooper DeJean and Xavier Nwankpa.

I like under 42.5 total points in this contest rather than banking on the Hawkeyes to cover an expansive spread of 23.5. On offense, Iowa does not do a ton of scoring, producing just 17.7 points per game last year. So, even if they were to defeat Utah by three scores, let’s say 21-0 (which is entirely possible), that still would not cover.

Everything considered, under 42.5 is my best play here.

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No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes @ Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Spread: OSU 29.5 (-115)
  • Moneyline: OSU -10000/IU +2200
  • Total: 59.5 (-105/-115)

As per usual, the Ohio State University is champing at the bit for football season to return. Head coach Ryan Day is preparing to commence his fifth full season leading the Buckeyes, and make no mistake: they have authentic national title aspirations in Columbus this year. At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Buckeyes’ odds to win the next CFP National Championship are +700, which are currently third-shortest in the market.

No. 3 Ohio State will begin 2023 with a conference clash against the Indiana Hoosiers. Last season, the Hoosiers were quite awful on the gridiron, playing to a 4-8 record (including 2-7 in Big Ten games). In their 2022 meeting with the Buckeyes, Indiana was flattened by a score of 56-14.

Frankly, we know what Ohio State is looking to do. Behind starting quarterback Kyle McCord, the Buckeyes’ spread option scheme will produce many astronomical point sums this year. Considering McCord’s offensive skill group, which is headlined by star receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, I think there is a high probability of a blowout in Bloomington this Saturday.

Ohio State enters the upcoming season ranked tops overall on ESPN’s CFPI while also showcasing the very best offense according to the SP+ scale. Simply put, I don’t think the Hoosiers have much of a chance in Week 1; that is reflected in FanDuel Sportsbook’s moneyline prices in this contest of -10000/+2200.

Best Bet: Ohio State -29.5 (-115)

There have already been a few games through Week 0 and Week 1 this season when my ATS interest was deterred due to imposing point spreads. Well, that is not the case this week with Ohio State. Laying 29 points with a hook, I am all over the Buckeyes at Indiana.

In 2022, Ohio State trounced the Hoosiers by 42 points at “The Shoe.” The season prior, the Buckeyes won in Bloomington by 47 points, so give me Ohio State in a major way.

I can hear my next-door neighbor yelling it now: O-H! I-O!

College Football Picks Week 1: Nevada Wolf Pack @ No. 6 USC Trojans

  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: Pac-12 Network
  • Spread: USC -38.5
  • Moneyline: N/A
  • Total: 66.5

The No. 6 USC Trojans are back for their second contest of the season. In Week 0, USC did well to outduel the San Jose State Spartans by a score of 56-28. Despite the lopsided victory, the Trojans failed to cover a 30.5-spread. Now in Week 1, Southern Cal faces the Nevada Wolf Pack and another daunting spread. This time, they’ll 38.5 points. Go big or go home?

Obviously, Nevada is not in the same talent tier as Lincoln Riley’s Trojans. Not only is USC returning last year’s Heisman winner, Caleb Williams, but they embark on 2023 with the second-best offense in the nation via the final preseason SP+ rankings. Additionally, the Trojans are currently operating with the fifth-best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus.

When surveying the Wolf Pack in 2023, there really is not a ton to feel great about. Reflecting back on the SP+ rankings, Nevada is slotted at 106th overall, but their offense is even worse. The unit is ranked 113th out of 133 schools.

Nevada closed out 2022 on a 10-game losing streak, so don’t expect any historic upset in this contest against USC. It won’t be a grueling flight from Reno to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Pack, but it has the potential to be a very long trip back home if they lose by 40 — or more.

Best Bet: USC -38.5

I stayed away from USC laying 30.5 in Week 0 against SJSU, but I like this matchup with Nevada much more for the Trojans. Frankly, I don’t think San Jose State’s offense got their due respect in Week 0, which is why they easily put up 28 points versus USC while losing — but covering. Simply, I don’t see the Wolf Pack scoring that much this Saturday in L.A.

Williams and the Trojans did well to score 56 points against the Spartans last week. I think they can eclipse that number this week against Nevada and would not be surprised if USC crosses the 60-point threshold this week — something they last did in Week 1 of 2022 against the Rice Owls. Remember: the Trojans were the second-most prolific scoring team last year, producing 41.4 points per game.

It’s ambitious, but I am on USC -38.5 this week.

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