NCAAF Betting Picks for Thursday (8/29/19)

Al Walsh
Al Walsh Chief Sports Writer

UCLA Bruins @ Cincinnati Bearcats

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ #1 Clemson Tigers

14 Utah Utes @ BYU Cougars

UCLA Bruins @ Cincinnati Bearcats

Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Chip Kelly and his UCLA Bruins travel East to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats in an opening-week interconference showdown. Kelly’s return to college didn’t go as planned last year, as UCLA turned in a disappointing 3-9 record. On the other hand, Cincinnati finished 9-2 but will have a lot of production to make up in lieu of losing some key players. 

Moneyline – UCLA @ Cincinnati (-3 spread at -145)

In last year’s meeting between the teams, UCLA was a 14.5-point favorite against Cincinnati. That’s a far cry from the four-point opening spread we saw the Bearcats take in this game before dropping down to three. The question, though, is how much can just one year make a difference?

UCLA Betting Form

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will look to take a huge leap forward under Kelly in 2019. While Cincinnati’s defense is a strong unit, their stout defensive line will look to regroup after losing three defensive linemen. Look for running back Joshua Kelley to take advantage of those losses and set the tone for the Bruins’ offense.

All in all, we all know what a brilliant coaching mind Kelly is. The game certainly did not pass him by, and these Bruins’ players will certainly benefit from a year’s experience with him. After all, UCLA did score 34 points against USC and 42 against Stanford in each of its last two games to end last season.

Cincinnati Betting Form

Cincinnati’s offense will be led by Michael Warren II, who rushed for 1,329 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2018. UCLA’s defense was not great at all last season, but they did limit plenty of big plays and return with a wealth of starters. Quarterback Desmond Ridder was not the starter in last season’s game against UCLA, but he did enter in relief to get the win. Ridder tossed 20 touchdowns to only five interceptions last season, so we’ll see how 2019 plays out with him having the entire offseason as the incumbent starter.

The Bearcats’ defense lost some talent upfront but this is a good matchup against a new-look Bruins offensive line. If Cincy has any chance of covering the spread (and winning), that’ll be the key to victory.

Betting Pick: UCLA +3

UCLA brings back 19 of a possible 22 starters from last season, and it seems like the oddsmakers failed to realize that. With Kelly having another year in his scientist lab, look for the Bruins to come out revitalized and win this one on the road.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ #1 Clemson Tigers

Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Defending-champion Clemson Tigers begin their quest of a national-title repeat with an ACC showdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Clemson has a great deal of expectation on its plate this season, and kicking off with a convincing win at home would certainly put some minds at ease. 

Moneyline – Georgia Tech @ Clemson (-37)

Clemson beat Georgia Tech by the score of 49-21 on the road last season, so the massive 37-point spread in this year’s contest shouldn’t come as any surprise. Although the Tigers only won three of their 15 games by 37+ points last season, there’s plenty of reasons to believe they’ll cover the large number. 

Georgia Tech Betting Form

There’s absolutely no chance for Georgia Tech to go into Death Valley and win this game and covering the massive 37-point spread even seems like a headscratcher. After all, the Yellow Jackets’ run-first offense is now a thing of the past under new head coach Geoff Collins, who will now be running the spread attack with all option-offense personnel. While it’s probably a good thing for the program, in the long run, this “dress rehearsal” on one of the biggest stages has the potential to be a complete disaster.

Clemson Betting Form

Clemson is led by Heisman-hopeful and its offense could potentially be one of the most prolific in college football history come the end of the season. However, tonight could very well be one of the more-vanilla offensive game plans we’ll see from Dabo Swinney & Co.

Next week, Clemson will be facing Texas A&M and there’s not a lot of things they’ll want to put on film. Look for the Tigers to have an effective, yet simple, type of offense that downs the Yellow Jackets.

Betting Pick: Under 60

Clemson’s first three wins against Power-5 opponents last season came by 30 points or fewer, with two of them actually coming by four points or fewer. The Tigers’ regrouped defense will handle the new-look Yellow Jackets’ offense with ease; it’s just a matter of how hard Clemson will step on the gas offensively. As we mentioned, that big matchup next week with Texas A&M looms large and it’s likely that Clemson will take it cautiously with play-calling and personnel if they go up early.

14 Utah Utes @ BYU Cougars

Time: 10:15 p.m. EST

Moneyline – 14 Utah (-6.5) at BYU

Utah won last year’s game by the score of 35-27 in November, despite trailing 20-0 at halftime. While this could play either way, as a detriment or psychological advantage, Utah clearly has the better personnel in this game.

Utah Betting Form

Utah’s offense got a new offensive coordinator in Andy Ludwig, who is supposed to lead this offense to great things this season. After all, he’ll have quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss, who missed the end of last season with injuries, to work with – and who wouldn’t love that? Not to mention, there are a ton of receiving weapons that’ll give opposing defenses fits all season. 

BYU Betting Form

BYU will be led by quarterback Zach Wilson, who is coming off a ridiculous performance in the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl as he completed all 18 of his passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns in a blowout win over Western Michigan. He’ll be the catalyst to the Cougars’ chances this evening, considering the rest of this roster doesn’t match up to the Utes.

Betting Pick: Utah -6.5

Last year’s massive comeback win might persuade bettors to take BYU on the vengeance route, but Utah’s roster is just way too talented. The Utes’ skill players are going to be the main difference in this one, winning by a healthy margin.