We’re back for another year of betting excitement. When I dusted off last year’s results, I was surprised to see a 43-31-1 record a season ago. Perhaps basketball was so bad, I forgot I had a pretty decent football season. Let’s see if we can ride that into 2023. As is usually the case, I’m going to exclude games against FCS teams as they’re a crap shoot, especially this early in the year. If you haven’t already, check out DraftKings Sportsbook and get into the action.
To open the week, Virginia fans get a sneak peak at the Brennan Armstrong era at NC State. I’m predicting it will be very frustrating for us Hoos to watch as I felt last year, Armstrong never bought into what Coach Tony Elliot wanted to do and that had a real impact on the team as a whole.
I never liked his post game interviews nor his body language on the field, but expect him to revert back to 2021 production under Robert Anae. This pick is probably a frustrating emotional hedge, but with Armstrong at the helm, the Wolfpack offense will be much improved and the defense is still very good. I think they roll in their opener against the Huskies.
Pick: NC State -14
Miami Redhawks @ Miami Hurricanes
Miami -16.5; Over/Under 45.5
Speaking of disappointments, the Miami Hurricanes have entered the chat. I’m not sure any program does less with more than the Hurricanes. But, they still have the ability to beat up on lesser competition. Losing to Middle Tennessee State last year was a surprise, but that was a good Blue Raiders team and it was a bad spot for Miami coming off a physical game against Texas A&M. This is still a team that beat Southern Miss 30-7 early in the year and I expect much of the same against Miami.
Pick: Miami -16.5
Louisville was a team last year that I could never seem to get right. And when I got them wrong, I got them really wrong. I’m bullish on them for the season, but think they have a little rust getting out of the gate. This is a new-look Cardinals squad, so on the road, in-conference, 7.5 is a lot of points. Georgia Tech finished the year strong last season, but I still expect them to finish in the bottom half of the ACC. Still, a Friday night, home opener, I think they can hang.
Pick: Georgia Tech +7.5
This is a tough spot to handicap. We generally have question marks around teams entering a season, but this Virginia team is a real unknown. I think the ‘Hoos will be better than they were a season ago, but does that mean four wins? five wins? Tennessee is very explosive, but how will the transition from Hendon Hooker to Joe Milton go? Virginia’s defense is the strength, and it’s hard to imagine the offense being worse. Given that, I think Virginia can keep the game within four TDs
Pick: Virginia +28
Northern Illinois Huskies @ Boston College Eagles
Boston College -8.5; Over/Under 50.5
I don’t love this Eagles team heading into the season. Phil Jurcovec is at Pitt, while Zay Flowers is a player I’m targeting in Fantasy this year. Northern Illinois will want to get the game going on the ground which should limit possessions. Boston College should come away with the win, but it will be a slog.
Pick: Under 50.5
This may be too simple, but offenses good, defenses bad. I think it’s a shootout in the battle of the Carolinas, and I like North Carolina to win it, but mostly I like for points to be aplenty between Drake Maye and Spencer Rattler.
Pick: Over 64.5
I don’t love it, but I’m taking the Hokies to cover this one. Last year’s upset win in Norfolk was a complete fluke. Sure, VaTech was bad, but so was ODU. I don’t see a repeat this time around, especially in Blacksburg. The Hokies can out-athletic, out-physical Old Dominion and pull away late.
Pick: VaTech -16
After a full Saturday we get a showcase Sunday game before the NFL takes center stage next week. There’s a ton of excitement in Tallahassee this season and this is their chance to prove they’re ready to jump into the SEC. I like the Seminoles getting the points, but the play is going to be on the under. These two teams are physical, and while they’ll both score and the game could be back and forth, I think they take a while to get out of the gate. 56 is a lot of points for powerhouses of this caliber.
Pick: Under 56.5
Clemson will be better than they were a season ago. Cade Klubnik will get the full season at the helm, but the highlight of this squad is their defense. Earlier this week, Paul Wiley gave a great stat on the Speaking the Lawn podcast. He noted the Blue Devils were +1 per game in turnover margin last year after being -1 per game the year before. Water will find its level and I have a hard time believing they’ll replicate that. To score on the Tigers, Duke will need a turnover or two to get some short fields. I don’t think they get em. Clemson’s will win, but I don’t expect them to blow the doors off a good Blue Devils defense. Again, I’m taking the under.
Pick: Under 55.5