2024-25 College Football odds: Early Week 1 best bets, including Colorado to cover

Maybe it’s my post NFL Draft football brain spinning forward, or maybe I’ve been watching too much UFL. 

Either way, I’m getting super antsy looking forward to the start of the 2024 college football season, and I’m ready to make some wagers.

Thankfully, sportsbooks are on the same page and have released some early lines for Week 1 of the upcoming season.

Here are three games I’m looking at during that first full weekend of college football. 

Let’s dive in.

Fresno State @ Michigan 

Yes, I’m fading the Wolverines in this one, so let’s jump into the why.

First, let’s look at the starters on the field. 

Fresno State ranks 52nd in overall returning-starter production heading into 2024, which includes returning quarterback Mikey Keene. He’s a solid athlete who runs the Jeff Tedford offense well. Also, the Bulldogs return multiple starting offensive linemen, their top two rushers and their second-most productive wide receiver. 

On the flip side, the defense isn’t returning many starters, but that unit was poor last season, so that’s probably for the best. 

Now, let’s take a look at the Michigan side.

Michigan ranks 128th out of 134 FBS teams in returning production. This is no surprise, as the national title team was back-loaded with tons of NFL players, including multiple athletes who got selected in the first three rounds. 

The Wolverines have to replace their quarterback and six offensive linemen. Their top two returning receiving targets had a total of 35 catches last season. 

Fortunately, Michigan does return some strength on defense, with its interior defensive line and one of its top corners coming back. However, I think the lack of returning production is a concern, which is why I don’t think UM will cover the spread in this first game. 

I’m worried — and I think Michigan is also — about quarterback play after JJ McCarthy’s departure for the NFL. It might take some weeks for a starter to entrench himself in that position, so as a bettor, I would take advantage of that in Week 1.

We could see an emotional let-down in this game as Michigan comes off its national championship. The bulk of the team left, and the head coach is gone. 

No, I do not believe Michigan loses this game; Big Blue is more talented and can out-physical Fresno. But give me the points.

PICK: Fresno State (+22) to lose by fewer than 22 points (or win outright)

Expectations for Ohio State, Colorado this upcoming season

Expectations for Ohio State, Colorado this upcoming season

LSU Tigers vs. USC Trojans

USC is going through a roster rebuild, and the Trojans are looking at having another tough season.

They have to replace star QB Caleb Williams, and while SC doesn’t have a Williams-type stud on the roster, I do expect Lincoln Riley to get production from either Miller Moss or transfer Jayden Maiava. 

My concern continues to be its offensive line, which is just average. USC doesn’t have the skill position talent that Riley had at Oklahoma and that limits the explosiveness of the offense now that Williams isn’t there. The Trojans are facing an LSU defense that was poor last season but returns lots of production, with some additional depth that the Tigers got through the portal. LSU’s defense will make things difficult for USC’s offense in this game.

So how does LSU cover the touchdown in this game? It does this with its offensive line. That unit is elite. 

It has two tackles that will be drafted in the top 50 in 2025. Yes, they have to replace Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr., but when your offensive line is that good, it makes the transition much easier. 

Remember, USC’s defense was embarrassingly bad last season. I don’t think it will be quite as bad in 2024, as the Trojans have beefed up their staff and added players at the linebacker and defensive back positions through the portal. 

But SC’s defensive line continues to be small with no pass rush. That will not bode well against a team like LSU. 

I like the Tigers to win by at least a touchdown. 

PICK: LSU (-6) to win by more than 6 points

Ohio State, Michigan, Utah highlight Joel Klatt’s post spring top 25

Ohio State, Michigan, Utah highlight Joel Klatt’s post spring top 25

North Dakota State Bison @ Colorado Buffaloes

Plenty of people are going to make this their upset special of Week 1, and I’m here to throw water on that flaming take. 

A common trend is that FCS teams like North Dakota State beat FBS Power 5 teams when the FBS team is awful on offense. 

Stanford lost to Sac State last season, Northwestern to Southern Illinois in 2022, Washington was embarrassed 13-7 at home by Montana in 2021 and so on. The recipe is usually a lower-scoring game controlled by the FCS team, while the FBS team just can’t get on the board. 

But Colorado can score against North Dakota State. 

The Buffaloes are too talented at quarterback and at their skill positions to have the Bison defense slow them down. There’s not a single person on that defense who can track Travis Hunter around the field. State returns nine starters on defense, including several defensive linemen who led them in sacks last season. But that won’t be enough because Shedeur Sanders is that good, and he alone will make it hard for the Bison.

On the flip side, I have no idea what Colorado’s defense will be, but we know that whatever that unit looks like, it will be more athletic than the Bison offense. 

Give me the Buffs to cover.

PICK: Colorado (-7) to win by more than 7 points

Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

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