Week 1 College Football Free Pick - LSU vs. BYU

By Frank Brank @realfrankbrank


FREE PICK: BYU +16 vs. LSU
(Covers 56.4%)

Newly official head coach, Ed Orgeron, will take on BYU in the opening game at Death Valley. The Tigers are 16-point favorites, but they have a lot of question marks.

First off, the offense gets a facelift with Matt Canada taking over the reigns as coordinator. LSU will remain a relatively run-heavy offense with a few quirks. Canada does his best to create confusion up-front and stretch out the defense. Though it may look different, the approach will remain relatively the same. The biggest question mark for this LSU team won't be any coaches or coordinators though; it will be the run defense. There are a number of young players with little experience that are going to be thrown into the thick of SEC football. As many as eight starters could be new this season. Defensive coordinator, Dave Aranda, has even admitted to dumbing down the schemes a bit until the younger players get the basics.

Those youngsters will be tested right away as BYU is returning four-fifths of their offensive line, led by Tejan Koromo. In their first game against Portland State, an FCS school, BYU attempted 34 rushes compared to 27 pass attempts. They know their strengths and will stick to it. The Portland State game wasn't overly exciting for BYU, winning just 20-6, but the defense shined as we would have expected. There were nearly no defensive breakdowns as Portland State didn't land any big offensive plays. Matt Canada will need to get creative and likely throw more than he wants to coming into this matchup.

A lot will be made of the fact that BYU only managed 20 points in their first matchup against an inferior opponent, but let's not kid ourselves. The Cougars were fully aware of their upcoming matchup with LSU, and as is often the case in college football, BYU ran their vanilla offense in order to not give much away headed into this week. We don't expect BYU to light the lamp by any means, but with their defense, the Cougars shouldn't be more than two touchdown underdogs here.

According to 50,000 games played our simulation engine at PredictionMachine.com, LSU beats BYU 86.1% of the time by an average score of 30.9 to 19.4. As a 16-point underdog losing by an average margin of 11.4 points, the Cougars cover the spread 56.4% of the time, which would justify a $42 wager for an average $50 bettor.

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College football gets underway this week and as we look back on previous seasons using our ResultsFinder tool, we uncover some excellent results. Our strongest ATS pick each week in college football is a whopping 69-40 (63.3%) ATS all-time. Playable college football picks last season alone were a banner 296-243 (54.9%) ATS, producing $1,178 in profits for an average $50 bettor, while "normal" or better totals are 58% all-time and have been profitable in five of the previous seven years.