We survived! College football is back for the 2023 season, and the Michigan Wolverines start off with a doozy hosting the East Carolina Pirates. Jim Harbaugh may not be on the sideline, but that doesn’t stop the Wolverines from being heavy favorites heading into Saturday’s action.
There is plenty of other action across college football this weekend, including some heavy hitters in cross-power five conference battles. Let’s take a look at some of the action with some odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
No. 2 Michigan Wolverines vs. East Carolina Pirates
- TV: Peacock
- Time: Noon ET
- Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Weather: 77 degrees, partly cloudy
- DraftKings Odds: MICH -36, O/U: 51.5
- Best Bet: MICH -36
Jesse Minter gets his first head coaching experience, navigating the Wolverines without Jim Harbaugh thanks to his three-game suspension. Quarterback coach Kirk Campbell will be calling plays on the offensive end, with Sherrone Moore serving a one-game suspension too.
That doesn’t seem to worry oddsmakers, who have Michigan as a 36-point favorite in their season opener. Cause let’s face it, the players on the field are going to be the largest difference in this matchup.
The Wolverines are extremely talented. They’re the No. 2 team in the country, returning most of their production on offense including two Heisman candidates in quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Blake Corum. Defensively, several stars remain from a top-five unit last year. Will Johnson, Kris Jenkins, and Junior Colson are all veteran stars who should help this unit be just as successful as they were last year.
On the other end, the Pirates are going through a bunch of turnover. ECU had a top-25 offense last season, averaging 32.8 points per game. However, the 2023 version of this team looks a lot different. Mason Garcia takes over at quarterback with only 38 passing attempts under his belt and the Pirates lost star running back Keaton Mitchell to the NFL. To make matters worse, only one offensive lineman returned from the starting unit last season.
The East Carolina defense also allowed a staggering 292.2 yards per game through the air last season, the second-worst in the country. And, they lost their best corner, Malik Fleming, to the transfer portal. With Campbell calling plays, I expect McCarthy to air it out early and often in this one.
I really like the Wolverines covering the 36 points in the opener. I think the East Carolina offense is going to struggle to move the football against a Michigan defense whose coordinator will be acting as head coach. Minter wants to prove he should be doing this permanently somewhere in 2024 or beyond, so I suspect his unit will shine even without Harbaugh and Moore on the sidelines.
Colorado Buffaloes at No. 17 TCU Horned Frogs
- TV: FOX
- Time: Noon ET
- Location: Fort Worth, Texas
- Weather: 90 degrees, sunny
- DraftKings Odds: TCU -20.5 O/U: 64 ML: COL +700, TCU -1100
- Best Bet: O64
Get your second TV out to watch the Coach Prime era of Colorado football begin with a matchup against a TCU squad coming off a National Championship appearance last season. The Horned Frogs won this contest a year ago in Boulder before Heisman finalist Max Duggan even became the starter. Kendre Miller, the Horned Frogs' best back last season, only had eight carries for 52 yards and a score.
Even without their two best performers from last season on the offensive end, TCU should be around a 21-point favorite at home. Chandler Morris, the sophomore quarterback who beat Duggan for the starting role in Week 1 of last season, will be heading the team in 2023.
For Colorado, Shadeur Sanders brings a lot of FCS experience to the Power 5 level. He had 7,000 total yards and 70 touchdowns in his career at Jackson State and should be a lightning rod on offense for the Buffs. Travis Hunter, the No. 1 recruit from the 2021 class, also projects to be a problem on both sides of the ball for Colorado.
As much change as Deion Sanders has brought to Boulder, I don’t know if it will be enough to completely turn around a Colorado defense that allowed 513.8 yards per game last season. That was the second-worst in all of college football. And, despite being the runner-up in the College Football Playoff, TCU also allowed a stunning 415.9 yards per game last year.
What I see here is two teams going through a lot of change, with players who have big-play abilities. Even with a high total at 64, Colorado games hit the over all six times they were road underdogs in 2022. The Horned Frogs also went over on five of their six games at home last season; I like the chances that this one follows suit.
No. 5 LSU Tigers vs. No. 8 Florida State Seminoles
- TV: ABC
- Time: 7:30 PM ET (Sunday, Sep. 3)
- Location: Orlando, Florida
- Weather: 88 degrees, partly cloudy
- DraftKings Odds: LSU -2.5 O/U: 58.5 ML: LSU -142, FSU +120
- Best Bet: O58.5
This will be the best game of the weekend in the Week 1 slate. Two teams that have their sights on a College Football Playoff appearance facing off in the opening weekend. Can’t ask for much better.
Also featured in this game are two of the best quarterbacks in the country. LSU’s Jayden Daniels is one of the Heisman favorites after throwing for 2,913 yards in 2022 and rushing for another 885. He was one of the most electric players in the country, scoring 28 touchdowns and leading the Tigers to a massive win over Alabama. He should have a massive game in his second year under head coach Brian Kelly.
On the other end is Florida State’s Jordan Travis who has a similar story arc. He really came to his own late last season as he tossed for 3,214 yards and had 31 total touchdowns. In the last game of 2022, Travis accounted for over 450 yards of offense in a 35-32 win over Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl.
If both of these quarterbacks play to their peak level, I just don’t see how the over doesn’t hit on this game. As Daniels came on last season, LSU hit the over in seven of their last eight contests. The same can be said with Florida State who hit the over in five of their last seven. Continuing on with that trend, and the fact that I liken this to a College Football Playoff game being played at a neutral site in Week 1, I like the over to hit at 58.5.