After months of build and anticipation, the 2019 college football season has finally arrived! Week 1 features only a pair of games at the Football Bowl Subdivision level (leading some people to refer to it as “Week 0”), but each game has its own unique draw. More importantly, we’ll be giving you our free betting picks for both.
ACC vs SEC – Miami Hurricanes vs Florida Gators
First, in the marquee matchup of the weekend—and not just because of the limited options—the ACC’s Miami Hurricanes take on the SEC’s Florida Gators in Orlando, Florida. The Gators earned the No. 8 spot in the preseason Associated Press rankings as they enter their second season under head coach Dan Mullen. Florida promises to battle for the East Division’s spot in the SEC Championship Game this season, but the Hurricanes should offer a decent challenge to open their campaign.
Miami is coming off of yet another disappointing season that started with high hopes, as the Mark Richt-led Hurricanes posted a mediocre 7-6, 4-4 ACC record in 2018. Richt left during the offseason, and the Canes promoted from within to replace him. Now entering his first season running the team, Manny Diaz will need to ensure that the Hurricane offense steps up to match the strong defense he had commanded since 2016.
Diaz and Mullen are incredibly familiar with one another, as Diaz served as Mullen’s defensive coordinator in 2010 and in 2015 at Mississippi State. Mullen’s Gators will enter Saturday’s showdown heavily favored to win. If Florida can manage the win, it would mark just the Gators’ second win against the Hurricanes since 1985—a stretch that has seen Miami win seven out of eight meetings. The teams are 3-3 all-time in neutral-site games.
Moneyline: Miami +235, Florida -290
Pac-12 vs MWC – Arizona Wildcats vs Hawaii Warriors
In the only other FBS game of the weekend, the Arizona Wildcats make the trip out to the Hawaiian Islands to take on the Rainbow Warriors. The Pac-12’s Wildcats feature one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the nation heading into the 2019 season, as Khalil Tate has both shown signs of brilliance and significant issues in his career. Tate will be the key not just in their game against Hawaii in Week 1, but for their season as a whole. The Pac-12 South Division is wide open, and having a player like Tate live up to the Heisman-level expectations he had one year ago would go a long way.
If Tate isn’t on right from the start, it seems highly unlikely that Arizona will be able to pull away from the Warriors enough to cover the double-digit point spread.
Hawaii boasts a decent offense of their own and could create a bit of a shootout for Week 1. Head coach Nick Rolovich led the Warriors to an 8-6, 5-3 MWC performance in 2018, including a bowl loss to Louisiana Tech. Coming on the heels of a disastrous 3-9, 1-7 record the year prior that saw Hawaii lose five straight games and nine out of 10 to close out the season, it was quite the turnaround.
It remains to be seen if the Warriors can match the Wildcats’ offensive production in Saturday’s game, but they did score 40+ points five times in 2018. This one could be fun for those willing to stay up late enough to watch it… The game kicks off at 4:30 PM Hawaiian, or 10:30 PM for those of you in the Eastern Time Zone.
Moneyline: Arizona -420, Hawaii +320