It’s obviously very difficult to know what to expect from any team in the first few games of a season in any sport, but especially college sports because of the amount of turnover you see year-to-year. So, one of the most important statistics for the first couple of week’s is going to be looking at teams’ returning production.
Charlotte at Appalachian State -17, o/u59 – Saturday, NOON on ESPN2
Both of these teams are in the top 30 overall with offensive returning production. Both teams still have their dual-threat QBs and still have their main receiving corps. Appalachian State is a team that went 13-1 last season with the 9th overall scoring offense averaging 39 ppg. Charlotte is a team that averaged 30 ppg last season and runs a spread offense that really started to click by the end of the year where they won their last 5 conference games.
On the flip side of this, both of these teams are in the lower half of returning production on defense. While App State only allowed 20 ppg, they did lose nearly half of their defense so I expect them to take a step back. Charlotte lost nearly 60% of their defense including their schools all-time leading tackler as well as their all-time sack leader. A team that allowed over 32 ppg last season could see an even larger number this year. I see the over hitting pretty easily, the only thing I could see getting in the way is some rain in the forecast to cause some issues in the passing game.
My Pick: OVER 59
Duke at Notre Dame -19.5, o/u54.5 – Saturday, 2:30PM on NBC
This is the only game on my card that will have fans in attendance – around 15,000. Notre Dame isn’t known as a particularly tough place to play, so I don’t see the attendance being a factor; but I still thought it was worth noting. These two teams faced off last year and Notre Dame won handily 38-7. Last year, Duke was a sub .500 team at 5-7 and has seen a pretty big shake up overall, a new QB and 3 new coaches paired with limited time to prepare with coronavirus. They do have a lot of returning talent on the defensive end, but for a team that gave up 30 ppg, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Notre Dame is on their best stretch of football in recent memory and most importantly they’re 24-14-1 ATS in their last 3 seasons. They have a heisman candidate QB in 5th-year-senior Ian Book who will be working behind 6 returning offensive lineman. Notre Dame is a playoff hopeful who I can see going 11-1 this year (losing to Clemson). I’m taking Notre Dame minus the points and expect a similar score to last years matchup. Some rain in the forecast as well – maybe take a peak at the under.
My Pick: Notre Dame -19.5
Clemson -33 at Wake Forest, o/u60 – Saturday, 7:30PM on ABC
Clemson was 8-1 ATS in conference games last season which includes a 52-3 win over Wake Forest. A 33 point spread is scary enough, but – something to ease your mind – Clemson was 5-1 ATS last season when the spread was over 30 points. Clemson is a team that is in the lower-tier of returning production, but of those returning you have the best QB in the nation in Trevor Lawrence, you have Travis Etienne who is probably the best back in the nation and Clemson’s entire defensive line is back. Wake Forest is the polar opposite. They lost their quarterback, running back, top 3 receivers and almost their entire offensive line. If the score wasn’t so outrageous in last years contest I would say to expect an even better showing from the Tigers. I’m taking Clemson -33 and I’m going to take the first half line as well.
My Picks: Clemson 1H -21 and Clemson -33