Week 1 college football predictions and previews for Thursday August 31

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com Managing Editor) 

August 29, 2023 06:20 PM

Week 1 Thursday games include Florida vs. Utah, Nebraska vs. Minnesota

We will be writing separate weekday college football previews for VSiN.com this season, as our past best bets articles and the deadlines oftentimes missed out on the games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Instead, we’ll be isolating those games separately and I’ll be responsible for that, as many are typically Group of Five conferences and that seems to be my niche here at the site.

Thursday of Week 1 does bring us some Power Five participants, with the big game of the night between Florida and Utah, however we also have Nebraska vs. Minnesota and NC State will be in action against UConn. Kent State and UCF round out the card.

Week 1 Hub | College football odds | College football betting splits

(Odds as of August 29, 4:15 p.m. PT)

Best Bet: Nebraska Cornhuskers at Minnesota Golden Gophers (-7, 43.5)

My favorite play of Thursday night is Nebraska getting a touchdown in new head coach’s Matt Rhule’s first Big Ten matchup. Minnesota lost a lot from last season, including seasoned veteran Tanner Morgan and star running back Mo Ibrahim. Ibrahim rushed for 1,665 yards, which was nearly three times what the highest wide receiver garnered in receiving yards. Backup RB Trey Potts transferred out, so the Golden Gophers could be looking for a feature back, along with a QB. Athan Kaliakmanis takes over with a negative TD/INT ratio of 3/4 last season and a completion percentage of just 54.1%.

On the Nebraska side, Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims will start at QB for a roster that has a lot of talent, but underperformed under Scott Frost. Nebraska rarely paid close attention to the details, as the Cornhuskers were generally poor on special teams and also failed to take good care of the football.

My Power Ratings show -4 on Minnesota, so I think this is a good grab and an even better one if +7.5 pops up again.

Pick: Nebraska +7

Other Week 1 Thursday Games

Florida Gators at Utah Utes (-6.5, 44.5): Uncertainty can be a bettor’s best friend, but maybe not so much in this case. This line would imply that Utah QB Cameron Rising is not going to play. Florida will roll with Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz, while Utah will either go with Bryson Barnes or Nate Johnson. With a healthy Rising, this number is probably in double digits, with many in the market skeptical of Billy Napier and this season for the Gators. We may not know whether or not Rising will play until close to kickoff, so keep an eye on this one.

Kent State Golden Flashes at UCF Golden Knights (-37, 55.5): A soggy field should be expected here, as Hurricane Idalia is forecasted to drop a lot of rain in Orlando on Wednesday and lingering instability in the atmosphere is likely to create more storms on Thursday. Wind may be a factor in the evening if the forecast changes as well. I do have this line at -31.5 in my Power Ratings, but Kent State brings back virtually no returning production on offense, so it’s possible that I simply didn’t make them bad enough. UCF also brings back John Rhys Plumlee, who threw for 2,586 and was the leading rusher with 862 yards last season while accounting for 25 total touchdowns.

NC State Wolfpack (-14.5, 46.5) at UConn Huskies: Virginia transfer Brennan Armstrong didn’t go far and opted to stay in the ACC because former offensive coordinator Robert Anae found his way to Raleigh and Armstrong did as well. With a bad Cavaliers team last season, Armstrong regressed and had a 7/12 TD/INT ratio just one season after throwing for 4,449 yards with 31 touchdown passes in Anae’s offense.

UConn turns to former Maine QB Joseph Fagnano, who beat out former Penn State recruit Ta’Quan Roberson and last year’s starter, Zion Turner. The Huskies were one of the best stories of last season with six wins and a bowl berth, but they lost 41-10 to NC State and got outgained 492-160. Turner was 10-of-12 passing for 39 yards. With a low-scoring expectation, we’ve seen some UConn money, but haven’t gotten down to 14 yet.

back to news

Related News

Live On Air

Streaming Now: A Numbers Game

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


Sharp Money: If you like an underdog of under a field goal, it is worth looking at the moneyline. Because of the plus price you don't have to win as many over time and it's closer to a coin flip than people think. View more tips.

Brad Powers: Ohio ST (-3) at Notre Dame, Saturday. View more picks.