College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 8/27/22

After a long six months, football is finally back. Fans won’t be treated to the full buffet yet, as NFL is still a couple weeks away and no ranked teams play in Week 0, but meaningful football will be played, nonetheless. At this point in the year, bettors are starving for football, and although the slate isn’t great, we’ll break down a couple of our model’s best bets as we get primed for what should be another exciting season of college football.

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110-spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for this weekend with guidance from our model.

Please note that lines are subject to change after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. Please check here to make sure you are seeing the most updated information.

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Northwestern Wildcats

Nebraska -11.5 (-110): 5 Stars

The Cornhuskers had a truly wild season last year. Their record was 3-9, but every loss was within single digits.

That Nebraska squad was probably the best 3-win team of my lifetime, and it was enough for Scott Frost to keep his job as the head coach. Frost remains on the hot seat as the expectations have risen for the ‘Huskers, but they begin the season with a manageable matchup against Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland.

It’s unlikely that Nebraska will turn it around enough to win the Big Ten, but it’s reasonable to predict them starting the season off strong before a gauntlet in their final three games: at Michigan, vs. Wisconsin, and at Iowa.

Nebraska doesn’t have a staggering amount of returning production by any means, but they might be looking at an upgrade at quarterback

Adrian Martinez, who transferred to Kansas State after four seasons with the Cornhuskers, has always been limited by interceptions. Martinez threw for 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while newcomer Casey Thompson, who previously played at Texas, threw 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. It’s not a major difference in turnovers, but Thompson’s ratio shows more upside.

Northwestern typically has a stout defense, relatively speaking, and there’s no reason to doubt anything different this year on that side of the ball. However, they lack the offensive firepower to hang with some of the stronger teams in the Big Ten.

Nebraska should be able to take care of business in their opener with Thompson behind center and a defense that held every team on their schedule last season to 35 points or fewer (that includes Ohio State, Michigan, and Oklahoma, all of whom ranked in the top ten in offensive FEI according to Football Outsiders).

Our model projects the Cornhuskers to cover the spread with a whopping 78.4% probability, giving this bet a five-star rating.

Connecticut Huskies vs. Utah State Aggies

Utah State -26.5 (-110): 4 Stars

Another favorite our model likes this week is Utah State. This is probably the last time these teams will appear in this space as we try to discuss the games with the highest stakes and potential for excitement on a weekly basis.

For Week 0, though, this appears like a great bet. Randy Edsall, the Huskies’ all-time leader in wins, retired from the head coach position midseason last year and Connecticut hired Jim Mora -- of all people -- to take over the program. Their lone win came against Yale, one of two FCS teams on their schedule. The other was Holy Cross, whom they lost to 38-28.

Coming into this season, one could argue that Connecticut is the worst team in Division I FBS.

Utah State, on the other hand, isn’t a powerhouse, but the Aggies did receive a smattering of votes in both preseason polls. They won the Mountain West last season, and with a bowl win over Oregon State, earned a spot in the final AP Poll.

The Aggies aren’t the favorite to repeat as conference champions (that honor has been bestowed upon Boise State, per FanDuel Sportsbook), but they should be able to take care of an awful program in their home opener.

Utah State has a projected 69.7% probability to cover the hefty spread, according to our model.