MetroBet dives into Thursday night’s college football action looking for a pair of plays.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Clemson Tigers (-36.5)
Moneyline: Yellow Jackets +8500, Tigers -23000
Betting Total: 59.5 points
Time (Eastern), TV: 8 p.m., ACCN
The defending champions of college football, the Clemson Tigers, face a cupcake opponent in Week 1 of their 2019 season in the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Thursday night. Dabo Swinney’s squad should win handily.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a preseason Heisman Trophy contender, should lead his fourth-rated scoring offense from a year ago down the field at will against Georgia Tech’s 79th-ranked scoring defense from 2018 that returns just one starter from the front seven. Lawrence’s top two targets from a year ago, Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins, are back in the fold, as is top-tier running back Travis Etienne.
Georgia Tech will be trying out an entirely new offensive system under first-year head coach Geoff Collins. They’ll attempt to run a pro-style spread offense with players recruited for the triple option attack employed by Collins’ predecessor, Paul Johnson. Whoever drops back to throw for the Yellow Jackets could be playing with fire against Clemson corner backs A.J. Terrell and Derion Kendrick, a converted wide-out.
The play: Clemson spread
Utah Utes (-5) at BYU Cougars
Moneyline: Utah -210, Cougars +175
Betting Total: 48 points
Time (Eastern), TV: 10:15 p.m., ESPN
The Utah Utes return every key cog from their 2018 offense that led them to a Pac-12 South title as well as several important defensive players. They will be a force to be reckoned with this year, and they should start their season with a victory in Provo against in-state rival BYU.
The Utes’ offense suffered at the tail-end of last season due to injuries knocking out quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss. The latter was well on the way to a outstanding year in 2018 (1,096 yards on 171 carries, career-high 11 TDs) before hurting his knee. The Cougars were 18th in total defense last year but have to replace linebacker Sione Takitaki and defensive end Corbin Kaufusi, which could open things up for Utah’s balanced attack.
Utah is poised to win the battle in the trenches on defense with linemen Leki Fotu and Bradlee Anae back in the fold. Manny Bowen, a graduate transfer from Penn State, should be a difference-maker at linebacker. The Utes were the second-best team in the nation in rushing yards against in 2018. It’s also worth noting that their secondary forced 15 INTs last year. BYU’s 76th-rated offense by yards per play last season will be hard-pressed to move the football effectively here.
The play: Utah spread