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Texas A&M Aggies vs. UCLA Bruins†Odds - Prediction

Texas A&M Aggies (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. UCLA Bruins (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
TV: Fox
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: TAM +4/UCLA -4
Over/Under Total: 56.5

The UCLA Bruins host the Texas A&M Aggies to kick off the season for both teams on Sunday at the Rose Bowl. This matchup might seem familiar, as both teams opened last season with this same pairing at College Station. In that one, UCLA seemed to undermine themselves, losing in overtime, 31-24. But again, the Aggies wasted a great beginning to the season, falling apart after a 6-0 start. For the Bruins, it started bad and stayed bad, with a pitiful 4-win season that saw almost everything go wrong. Who can get this season off to a fast start?

Losing QB Josh Rosen halfway through the season and having a back-up who stunk it up only explains part of how things got so sideways for the Bruins last season. Needless to say, the administration wonít accept much more of that, meaning Jim Mora and the entire staff and team should be feeling some urgency this season, as the team has been showing some regression the past few seasons. While not an easy matchup, at least they get this one at home. A win over a typically fast-starting Aggies team would mean a lot.

A lot of the Bruinsí hopes rest on whether Rosen can recapture the sparkle that had many feeling he was a shoo-in as a high future NFL draft pick. This is a key season for him. His three picks in this matchup last season were a big part of why the Bruins didnít win. A better line that returns over 80 starts should be more-adept at protecting Rosen. Whether they can make a pedestrian run-game more serviceable remains to be seen. They simply need to have more of an overall impact from backs Nate Starks, Soso Jamabo, and Bolo Olorunfunmi. Last year, they werenít very good. UCLA should, however, have pretty capable receiving from experienced pieces like Darren Andrews and Jordan Lasley. There are some young burners who could also manifest at some point in the season.

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The Bruins fielded a pretty tough defense last season, despite a failed 4-win campaign. There are some gaps they will need to plug with a lot of playmaking ability having moved on to the NFL. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and young Jaelan Phillips need to somehow find the wherewithal to make up for the losses of Takkarist McKinley and Eddie Vanderdoes. Voids also exist in the middle and with the losses of Fabian Moreau and Randall Goforth in the secondary, thatís a lot of production out the door. Top recruit Darnay Holmes needs to hit the ground running, as does a real good safety in Jaleel Wadood, along with Adarius Pickett, and Nate Meadors.

If UCLAís Jim Mora is feeling heat, then Aggiesí head coach Kevin Sumlin is really feeling the burn. Over the last 3 seasons, fast starts have evaporated into dashed dreams and thatís an especially painful way to see things unfold in multiple consecutive seasons. With the rash of college teams keeping the identity of their starting QB a secret, the Aggies have followed suit. As of press time, weíre supposed to guess if it will be the experienced Jake Hubernak, the pro-style Nick Starkel, or the dual-threat talents of Kellen Mond.

The A&M offense has some nice pieces in place to help whichever QB ends up getting a bulk of the snaps. Leading the way offensively are a pair of dynamic backs in Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams. They add a lot of pop with Ford the power-guy and Williams the speed-option. There isnít a ton of experience in the pass-catching corps, but Christian Kirk is a gem who is back in the mix. They have top youngsters like Jhamon Ausbon and are known for developing playmakers in this category ahead of schedule. Helping it come together is an offensive line that returns three versatile veterans who should make it easier for a pair of unproven tackles to get their feet wet.

For the Aggies to allow 192 yards on the ground per game in 2016 with guys like Daeshon Hill and first overall NFL draft pick Myles Garrett up-front speaks volumes about who was on the field last season. Zaycoven Henderson, Daylon Mack, and Kingsley Keke should help shore up the run-defense, but a wait-and-see approach will need to be taken, especially as they start to face the stronger running teams in coming weeks. Look for a couple freshmen to thrive in the middle, with Buddy Johnson and top recruit Anthony Hines. They lost their best defensive back. Itís time for S Armani Watts to fulfill his potential. Itís also time for big-contract defensive coordinator John Chavis to start living up to his billing. Sure, he needs to have the horses, but he was brought in two years ago to whip this ďDĒ into shape and that simply hasnít occurred in any real measurable way.

On one hand, Texas A&M has issues to address. But theyíve also been a team that is ready to go in week one, having done well and covered the spreads in these week one Pac-12 battles the last few seasons. Not that weíre all hung up on UCLA being 4-8 last season or neglecting the difficulty of a week one game at the Rose Bowl for A&M , but this game looks to be a veritable toss-up. When thatís the case, Iím inclined to take the points.

Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Texas A&M Aggies plus 4.5 points.

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NCAA Football Week 5 Betting Previews

Here are some additional game previews from this week's college football card.

Free Picks

Editor's Picks - Each weekend our very own in-house All-American Editor makes his NCAA point spread predictions in an attempt to force fumbles, sack and intercept your bookie!

Expert College Football Picks - Free premium college foots plays against the spread from expert handicappers from around the web from week 1 through the National Championship.

Underdog of the Week Pick - We sort through it all and find out which University is getting "too many points" this week. If there was a Heisman Trophy for picking underdogs, we'd be a frontrunner. Expect a 57%+ winning percentage with these picks as we've got a keen ear for loud barking dogs.

Line Movement - NCAA football lines open early in the week and often times move up or down based on wagering activity, injuries to key players and weather. We decipher whether it's square or wiseguy action and predict the point spread winner based on value.

College Football Consensus Picks - We assess the public perception each week and let them pick the winners for us as we fade their selections which provides us with many trips into our bookies endzone.

Computer Picks - We enter them into the computer and the machine makes it's picks. This is a great guide especially when betting totals! These are available after the first few weeks of the season.

Trends - Despite what you have been told or read on tout sites, the trend ain't your friend. We however turn the tables and fade the almighty trend for what should be some great profits over time.

2017/2018 College Football Predictions - Bob gives his picks to win each major conference. At the end, he gives his prediction on who thinks will win the 2018 National Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8th.

2017 Heisman Trophy Predictions - USC QB Sam Darnold is a heavy pre-season favorite to win college football's most coveted award, but Jay isn't buying it. In fact, he's passing up the top (3) favored players in favor of a QB who he's confident will be NCAA football's best player in 2017.

2017-2018 College Football Championship Predictions - NCAA football experts have the Alabama Crimson Tide running away with the National Championship this season and who can blame them? Roll Tide is LOADED! It never happens that easy though. The USC Trojans (+825), Florida St. Seminoles (+850) and Ohio St. Buckckeyes (+875) all have a legit shot. Oddsmakers have Oklahoma (+1300) on the bubble and everybody looking from the outside in at 20/1 or higher. Jay gives his pick to win it all along with how his top 15 rankings for season's end. Get your bets in early before your favorite team's line drops!

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Heisman Trophy Betting Odds - USC QB Sam Darnold starts the season off as a heavy favorite at +350 odds. Sooners QB Baker Mayfield is second on the list at +700 but can he keep his nose clean? Louisville QB Lamar Jackson should dominate this season but will Louisville be taken seriously? Oregon Ducks RB Royce Freeman is worth a pop at 60/1 if he gets the carries. Bama WR Calvin Ridley brings experience and big-time playmaking ability and will be featured on National TV a bunch, giving him a legit darkhorse shot. But will they throw the ball enough with a QB who likes to run? Missing from this year's list of odds is a defensive player.

Odds to Win the 2017 College Football Championship - The Alabama Crimson Tide are heavy favorites to win the National Championship this year at 5/2 followed by Ohio St. at 13/5, USC at 7/1 and FSU at 17/2. Things drop off a bit with the Oklahoma Sooners coming in at 12/1, Auburn Tigers at 14/1 and Michigan Wolverines at 16/1. Check out your favorite school's odds here!

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