Three picks for Saturday’s slate

Week 1 is offering up just one Top 25 matchup (LSU-Florida State) but entertaining debuts litter the slate.

Deion Sanders leads his Buffaloes on the road against TCU, Houston begins its Big XII journey in a projected shootout against in-state UTSA, and Penn State’s Drew Allar will be launching his Heisman campaign in a renewed rivalry against West Virginia.

As for the best plays, we get things started in Charlotte for the Duke’s Mayo Classic, head to Norman to check in on Brent Venables’ Sooner rebuild, and call for an upset in Philly.

North Carolina vs. South Carolina

Over 64.5 (BetMGM)

The rivalry dates back to 1903 and in their 59 meetings, these two have never combined for more than 59 points.

That will change on Saturday.

North Carolina is an over bettor’s dream.

Last season, UNC consistently popped big plays offensively, finishing 10th in plays of 20-plus yards.

And when it came to stopping the big play, the Tar Heels were powerless.

Gene Chizik’s defense allowed 72 plays of 20 yards or more (114th, 5.1 per game).

With the new first down clock rule now working against Overs, it’s more important than ever to target teams that generate and allow big plays.

South Carolina was middle-of-the-road in generating and defending big plays, but it came alive down the stretch.

Spencer Rattler
Spencer Rattler
Getty Images

The Gamecocks averaged 44 points per game across their final three contests, all coming against ranked opponents.

South Carolina returns its starting quarterback and leading receiver.

Against an undermanned North Carolina defense, which lost two star cornerbacks, quarterback Spencer Rattler could be primed for a massive game.

If UNC is forced to play from behind Drake Maye will be more than comfortable.

The preseason AP All-American should shred a Gamecocks defense that took heavy losses during the offseason (-5 defensive TARP, a measure of transfers and returning players).

Cam Smith and Darius Rush will be particularly missed in the secondary after hearing their names at the NFL Draft.

Arkansas State at Oklahoma

Oklahoma -35.5 (BetMGM)

Jeff Lebby, the Sooners’ offensive coordinator, has run it up with gusto when facing overmatched teams as a play-caller.

Dating back to 2019, Lebby’s offenses have averaged 47 points per game when favored by double digits.

His teams have posted an 11-5 mark against the spread in those games. And Lebby has the perfect triggerman for his offense this season.

Dillon Gabriel accounted for three or more touchdowns in seven starts last fall and exceeded a QBR of 80 in five of those games.

Dillon Gabriel
Dillon Gabriel
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Arkansas State finished 124th in terms of allowing big plays through the air last season (30+ yards).

The Red Wolves will get picked apart here and also face an Sooners defense retooled via the portal.

Keep an eye on Oklahoma’s five-star freshman Adepoju Adebawore who could be a terror off the edge on Saturday and help the Sooners hold Arkansas State to single digits.

Akron at Temple

Akron +300 on the moneyline (FanDuel)

The Zips were a lowly 2-10 in Joe Moorhead’s debut season in the Rubber City, but they were feisty, dropping six one-possession games by a combined 23 points.

Akron returns a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in DJ Irons, a former Florida Gatorade Player of the Year at running back (Lorenzo Lingard), and All-MAC wide receiver Alex Adams on the perimeter.

Betting on College Football?

The issue has been their offensive line, which was horrendous last fall.

I’m banking on an improvement up front as Joel Rodriguez takes over as Akron’s offensive line coach.

The well-traveled assistant has worked magic in the past and has experienced players to work with.

If Irons has time to operate this offense will pop and the Zips will be a live underdog against Temple on the road.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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