Fallica and Coughlin’s best Week 1 CFB bets

ranked opponents under Kevin Sumlin. Alabama Crimson Tide

Note: Against the spread (ATS) and total picks are in bold. While they went on to have a great season each time, none of those teams were great off the bat. Odds are courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Fighting Irish are one of five teams in the country to return two QBs that beat a Power 5 team last year. If you look back at 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015 — the four previous times the Tide started with a first-year QB under Saban — those QBs combined for three TDs and six INTs, along with six total sacks. With that feeling, I see A&M coming out with a huge effort at home in front of one of the best home crowds in the country. Maybe it’s also the reason they haven’t won a national title outright since 1989. Navy Midshipmen

We know how good Sooners RB Samaje Perine is, as he needs only 1,054 rushing yards to become No. wouldn’t trade them for anyone else,” makes me think that that he feels more confident in this defense than he did last year.

The pick: Notre Dame 20, Texas 13 (under the total of 60 points)

North Carolina Tar Heels ( 3) vs. The FPI calls for Alabama by five, so it too thinks this one could be closer than most might think.

Pick: Oklahoma 49, Houston 24 (over the total of 68 points)

UCLA Bruins ( 3) at Texas A&M Aggies

Coughlin:?This is my favorite matchup of experienced quarterbacks in the opening weekend. Yes, Nick Chubb is ready to go, but the Georgia QB situation scares me.

Oklahoma Sooners (-11.5) vs.? Houston Cougars

After an impressive 2015 season, “Stanford Steve” Coughlin of SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt, and Chris Fallica of ESPN Stats & Information and College GameDay are back. Texas Longhorns

2014 season record:

Fallica: 44-40 ATS (52.4 percent)

Coughlin: 45-28-1 ATS (60.8 percent)

Fallica: I am well aware of the success that Nick Saban has had at Alabama in season openers — for those who aren’t, he’s 9-0, winning each of them by double figures (by an average margin of victory of 27.3 PPG). 1 on the all-time Oklahoma rushing list; he starts the season in 10th. We kind of know what we have with Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey, so will Jacob Eason be ready to play and match UNC point-for-point in his first college game? The Bulldogs also have some concerns on the front seven and that’s not good, as UNC possesses one of the more underrated backs in the nation in Elijah Hood, a deep WR corps and QB Mitch Trubisky.

ATS pick: Texas A&M 31, UCLA 23


Coughlin: My partner, Chris “The Bear” Fallica, on the Behind The Bets: The College Years podcast last week, brought up the question of who among all of the SEC Coaches is under the most pressure in Week 1. That is a sizable difference from the Vegas line, and I have to simply trust our power ratings here. The trend of coaches facing the school they left in Week 1 continues with this game, as Aggies offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone faces the Bruins. And, in what might be the most important factor, they have senior quarterback Kevin Anderson, who threw for 3,183 yards and 32 TDs last year. Take the Rams to cover.

Do you think Bob Stoops and his staff have been drilling those things into the minds of the Oklahoma players? Yeah, I do too. There also isn’t a better coach to handle multiple QBs, at least to me, than Brian Kelly. Three of those season openers were against Power 5 teams, and two of them were a pair of 10-point wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia, to go along with the 18-point win over Wisconsin last year.

I know UNC couldn’t stop Baylor’s running game in the bowl game last year, but I’m willing to think the Tar Heels will use that as a motivation this week, knowing they must improve vs. Ohio is breaking in an almost entirely new secondary, and it could be susceptible to some big plays. I also think all of the intangibles favor OU here. Georgia Bulldogs

I think the Crimson Tide will play it fairly safe on offense and USC has enough skill on both sides of the ball, despite having a new starter of its own, to hang around. Week 1 and you’re picking Fordham? Really?

ATS pick: Oklahoma 38, Houston 20 (Confidence 8/10)

Fallica: I like the Tar Heels in this game. 1 target, Sterling Shepard, and how well he adapts without Shepard is the biggest determining factor in whether or not Oklahoma has a successful season.

ATS pick: North Carolina 36, Georgia 27 (Confidence 7/10)

Fordham Rams ( 26.5) vs. Many have answered with Les Miles, which I can’t argue with, but I’d have to say it’s Aggies’ head coach Kevin Sumlin. Head coach Brian Kelly has said Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer will both play in this game, which I love, and here’s why; both guys throw the ball accurately, both guys have great field presence and awareness and both guys have playmaking ability, if things break down. The only big question is whether or not the UCLA offensive line can hold its own against Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall. I think the Bruins go into College Station, win and set themselves up for a run at the College Football Playoff.

ATS pick: Ohio 40, Texas State 24 (Confidence 5/10)


That means something to me because I think “Chief” is the best at what he does in the country. I see a big day for the A&M wide receivers — gig ‘em and lay the 3 points.

Over/under: 68

ATS pick: Alabama 31, USC 21 (Confidence 6/10)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-3.5) vs. As big as the perception that Kyle Field is a big home field advantage is, keep in mind that the Aggies are 1-6 there vs. Larry Fedora has had some early-season struggles in Chapel Hill, but I get the sense that this game might be different. Take the over.

2015 season record:

Fallica:?53-40-3 ATS (55.2 percent)

Coughlin:?38-29-3 ATS (54.3 percent)

The Cougars lost a larger number of key contributors than one may realize. and not transferring.


ATS pick: UCLA 28, Texas A&M 24 (Confidence 8/10)

USC Trojans ( 11.5) vs.

Fallica: I think the UCLA defense has a chance to be very good this season, and the Bruins have a huge edge in the QB position in this matchup. With talk of past preseason disappointments, along with hearing about Houston both potentially joining the Big 12 and being ready for a stage like this, Houston has become a trendy College Football Playoff pick.

With all that said, they are going to get all they can handle from a hungry and energized Longhorn squad. The Rams come into this game with first year Head coach Andrew Breiner, but he is in his fifth year on the Fordham staff after serving as the passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach in his first four years. Why does this matter? Under Breiner’s tutelage, the Fordham offense has ranked at the top of the NCAA FCS in each of the past four years. the number. I’m really interested to see the development of Sooners QB Baker Mayfield without his No. I’d be surprised if this was close in the fourth quarter.

Yes, I am serious. I don’t think this will be an issue with the team chemistry either, because when both guys are out there, they will be trying to be better than the other guys and, last I checked, athletes are best when they are competing… I see Texas having some issues with their QB play and see the edge Notre Dame has at the position as the difference in a low-scoring game. That’s not an entirely bad thing, as it means that starters could be playing a lot longer, even if they’re well behind. Just think about some of the names on that list. The Rams have the firepower to stay within striking distance in this game, and Navy returns only one starter on offense, which hopefully means the Midshipmen will be a little rusty with the ball in their hands. I hear Josh Rosen loves the new offensive scheme — note that former offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone is now at Texas A&M — and I don’t think there will be a drop-off at all at the RB position with Texas native Soso Jamabo replacing Paul Perkins.

Over/under: 60

Fallica:? The Football Power Index sees a ton of value here, expecting a 19-point win for Oklahoma. Take the under.


The last time we saw Trevor Knight, he was 5-of-16 with an interception as the Sooners nearly coughed up a huge lead last year vs TCU, when Baker Mayfield was sidelined with a concussion. Every week during the college football season, they’ll give their best bets for picking the weekend’s top college football games and, as a bonus, give one pick apiece free of charge. Withers has seen a lot of turnover on the team for a variety of reasons, so the roster numbers are a bit low. The combination of defensive pressure and the life of the 12th man, it seems like it’ll be too much for Sophomore QB Josh Rosen. There are a couple of reasons to like Texas State here; QB Tyler Jones returns, and the defense can’t help but be better with Withers on the sideline. So why am I so hesitant now to lay the 11.5? I guess the uncertainty at QB for the Tide has me a little concerned, at least right off the bat. one of the best backs in the country. Take into account that the Sooners have Ohio State and a trip to TCU within the first four games of the year, and it’s easy to see how the Cougars will have Oklahoma’s full attention. If it falls to the Sooners, they won’t get talked about until November. They also have junior running back Chase Edmonds, the 2016 Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. In looking back at last year, Houston kind of had a perfect storm: It caught Louisville early in the year when the Cards’ QB situation was a mess, it had a couple of home comeback wins and held a huge emotional edge over Florida State in their bowl game.


PickCenter . Not to put any more pressure on Cougars QB Greg Ward Jr., but no other team in the country has more to lose than Houston. To hear defensive coordinator John Chavis this past week at his press conference saying, “We’ve got the best pair of DEs in the country … After the season Houston had last year, you can bet that Tom Herman’s crew has the full attention of Mike and Bob Stoops too. I trust the UNC offense more than any other unit on the field here.

Fallica: The Everett Withers era begins in San Marcos, and that alone should give a boost to a program that took a step back last year, going 3-9 and just 2-9 vs.

ATS pick: Navy 42, Fordham 21

Texas State Bobcats ( 21) at Ohio Bobcats

Coughlin: I know what you’re saying. FPI projects this to be a 13-point win for Ohio, so I’ll put some faith in our power ratings and show some love for the underdog.

Coughlin: Notre Dame is playing a true road game in a season opener for the first time since 2006 — something only the Irish could pull off. I see both offenses having big days and see a bunch of points being scored. Houston led the country in takeaways, and they are going to have to create numerous turnovers to hang around in this game

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