Week 2 of the college football season is finally upon us — and it has a lot to live up to.
After a stellar Week 1 that featured incredible matchups from Thursday through Monday, our staff dove right back in and came through with 17 best bets for this week, including three for the early kickoff window (Noon to 2:30 pm ET).
Our staff loves a home Sun Belt underdog against a North Carolina team that went down to the wire with another Sun Belt team in Appalachian State last week.
A little bit later, we turn our attention to South Bend, Indiana, as Notre Dame takes on Marshall in what could be a low-scoring showdown.
Read on for all three of our best bets for Saturday’s early college football games below, and be sure to check out our other 14 picks for the afternoon, evening and late-night slates.
Saturday College Football Week 2 Best Bets
Early Afternoon Kickoff Window (Noon – 2:30 pm ET)
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
North Carolina vs. Georgia State
Georgia State catching a touchdown or more is one of my favorite bets on the board this week. Not only do I show value on the number compared to my projections, but I also like the situational spot and matchup.
The UNC defense has not fixed any of its issues, which means Georgia State should have no issues controlling the clock and time of possession with its run-first attack. Keep in mind that App State ran for 6.7 yards per carry last week.
For Georgia State, it starts with quarterback Darren Grainger and a very dynamic backfield that spearheads a rush-first offense with a very strong and experienced offensive line.
The 3-4 defense is also super experienced and can generate plenty of pressure on passing downs.
On the other side of the ball, I think Georgia State can generate enough pressure to force UNC quarterback Drake Maye into a few key mistakes. And while the freshman has been tremendous in two starts and certainly looks the part, opposing teams now have some film to work with.
The Panthers have shown in the past that they can compete with P5 teams. They won at Tennessee in 2019 and almost pulled off a major upset at Auburn last year. This veteran bunch should bounce back from last week and has a very good shot to pull off this upset.
pick: Georgia State +7.5 (Play to +7)
By Action Analytics
Georgia State had a rough weekend against South Carolina despite being a trendy underdog. Even though it didn’t cover last weekend, we’re going back to the well.
The Panthers are ranked top-15 in TARP and will have a big advantage on offense when it comes to Success Rate and Finishing Drives (according to 2021 data).
If Georgia State crosses North Carolina’s 40-yard line, it’s going to end up in the end zone. UNC is allowing over six points per opportunity in the 2022 season and allowed App State to get into scoring position 11 times. This will be necessary for an offense that struggled against South Carolina, scoring only 2.8 points every time it crossed the 40.
I’m looking at Georgia State to slow the ball down this game, play keep-away from Drake Maye and take advantage of its red-zone opportunities. Give me the Panthers to keep it close (as they should have last week).
pick: Georgia State +7.5 or Better
Marshall vs. Notre Dame
By Doug Ziefel
The Fighting Irish answered a lot of questions on the offensive side of the ball in their matchup against Ohio State.
In a game where they were outmatched in firepower, Notre Dame used quarterback Tyler Buchner to turn the game into a slugfest. He led the team in rushing attempts and dropped back to pass only 18 times.
Keeping the ball on the ground and trusting its defense to contain the opposition will likely be its plan of attack moving forward since it was effective against the best offense in the country.
However, Marshall is well equipped to compete at this pace, and it may even stifle the Irish offensively. The Thundering Herd rank 18th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and are also 37th in Defensive Finishing Drives.
On the other side of the ball, Marshall will also likely opt to run the ball more often than not. In its season opener, we saw it run the ball 51 times, dominating the time of possession with methodical drives.
Although, Notre Dame is a massive step up from Norfolk State. The Irish rank seventh in Defensive Finishing Drives, and their rank of 93rd in Rushing Success Rate Allowed is due to come down. Its front seven should overwhelm the Thundering Herd’s offensive line.
I got this number at open, but given the strengths of each defense, their play-call tendencies, and the ability of each defense to limit scoring drives, this is playable down to the key number of 48.