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Georgia, Miami Lead 3 NCAAF Week 1 Favorites to Cover Spread

The 2024 college football season is coming fast – though not fast enough for some – and we’re going to get another opening week full of big point spreads as non-conference play gives us some big mismatches. But not all of the season openers are going to be laughers, with college football odds that show a competitive game is expected.

Of course, not every game is going to go as planned, either. Favorites don’t always cover the spread, especially in the opening contest of a season.

NCAAF Week 1 Favorites to Cover Spread
Kendall Milton #2 of the Georgia Bulldogs - Rich Storry/Getty Images/AFP

With that in mind, let’s take a look at three favorites that will definitely cover in their season openers as well as give you one that won’t.

 

3 Favorites to Back in NCAAF Week 1

1. Georgia Bulldogs (-13½) vs Clemson Tigers

The Georgia Bulldogs are expected to be among the elite in college football again this season as they try to rebound from last season when they lost … once. Georgia has had a few months to stew over the fact that it came up just short of the College Football Playoff, falling to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game to finish short of its goal of a third straight national title.

Now the Bulldogs are ready to get back to business, and pity the Clemson Tigers for sitting in their way for the season opener to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Georgia is going to be looking to get off to a fast start to re-establish itself as the team to beat, so it will be trying to light up the scoreboard against the Tigers.

Quarterback Carson Beck is back as the starter for the Bulldogs, looking to build on his 2023 campaign that saw him throw for 3,941 yards and 24 touchdowns. Georgia lost some talented receivers from last year’s team, but players like Dominic Lovett, Dillon Bell and Rara Thomas are ready to pick up the slack.

Clemson is trying to rebound from a disappointing 9-4 campaign in 2023, but coach Dabo Swinney hasn’t been using the transfer portal as much as other coaches to restock his roster. Instead, he’s relying on recruiting to get the Tigers back to national prominence. That may work as the season goes on, but in the opener, Clemson will be trouble against the favored Bulldogs.

 

 

Minnesota Golden Gophers (-2) vs North Carolina Tar Heels

In 2023, the North Carolina Tar Heels dominated their non-conference contest with the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers, routing them 31-13. Quarterback Drake Maye had 414 yards and two touchdowns through the air in the contest.

Now, the two teams square off again, but this time the game will be in Minneapolis and Maye is with the New England Patriots preparing for his rookie season. Needless to say, the Gophers are feeling confident in their chances of reversing the result of last season’s contest.

Coach P.J. Fleck’s team is looking for better fortunes in 2024 after it went 6-7, which included four straight losses to end the regular season and a bowl game win despite a sub-.500 record. Minnesota will have a new quarterback in New Hampshire transfer Max Brosmer (3,498 passing yards in 2023) and an established receiver in Daniel Jackson (59 catches, 831 yards, eight TDs in 2023), so it will be the Gophers putting up some points in this one.

North Carolina isn’t going to be as high-scoring as it was with Maye at the controls, facing its first season with a new starter under center in three years. The Tar Heels are still trying to determine who that new starter is going to be, so expect a slow start in the opener, allowing the Gophers to cover the NCAA football odds at home.

 

 

Miami Hurricanes (-3) vs Florida Gators

An in-state battle in Florida is always going to be competitive, but the Miami Hurricanes should have an easier time than a field goal margin against the host Florida Gators in their opener. Miami coach Mario Cristobal has been raising the talent level on his squad, bringing in both recruits and transfers, and the Hurricanes are aiming for a run at the College Football Playoff field.

Quarterback Cam Ward had 3,735 yards and 25 touchdowns at Washington State last season, and he’s considered the starter for the Hurricanes heading into the campaign. Ward will run what has potential to be a high-powered offense, and the Hurricanes will be aggressive in going after the Gators’ defense, which ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring defense in 2023.

Florida will be a better team than it was in 2023, with Graham Mertz in his second season as the starter at quarterback after transferring from Wisconsin. But Mertz isn’t going to have enough against a swarming Hurricanes defense in this one.

Miami is looking to re-establish itself on the national scene, and a big win on the road against any SEC team, much less an in-state rival, is one way to do it. Look for the Hurricanes to open up a big lead in this one and cruise to the opening victory.

 

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Underdog Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+1) vs Texas A&M Aggies

One of the better matchups of the opening weekend of the 2024 season has the Notre Dame Fighting Irish visiting the Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies are one of the more interesting college football picks in the season’s first set of games, giving one point at home to an Irish team that is in most prognosticators’ preseason top fives.

Duke transfer Riley Leonard is expected to be the starter for the Fighting Irish, which should give a jolt to the offense. Notre Dame will also get a lift from former offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock returning to the team after running the high-flying LSU offense the last two seasons.

Texas A&M will be better than its 7-6 record of a season ago, but it’s not quite to the level that the Irish are at this point. Quarterback Conner Weigman is back after playing in just three-plus games in 2023, throwing for 979 yards and eight touchdowns before suffering a season-ending injury.

The Aggies will put up a fight against the Irish, especially with the 12th Man of Kyle Field making its presence felt. But we like the Irish to win this game by at least one touchdown, going against the college football spreads with an upset on the road.

 

 

Odds and information are accurate at the time of writing. Please check with official sources for the latest updates before placing any bets.

 

Questions of the Day

Who won the college football national championship in 2023?


The Michigan Wolverines defeated the Washington Huskies in the national championship game to take the 2023 title.

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