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2020 CQ Best Bets: Week 1

Best. Bets. Back.

World Series Of Poker - Final Table Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

CQ’s Best Bets are back. Last year we finished the non-bowl season a cool 94-81-1, with an ROI of over 10%, which means that you should dip into that 529 college savings plan and do yours kids some real favors by betting along with us this season. (Disclaimer: do not do that.)

Onto the picks!

HOOSIER SPECIAL: Indiana (-17) at Ball State (N) (60)

KYLE’S BET: Indiana -17 (1 unit)

Still too shy to go too heavy on Indiana in a game against an in-state school. But I do think they win comfortably and last year’s score seems an appropriate enough prediction. Indiana 38, Ball State 10

ALEX’S BET: Indiana -17 (3 units)

I’d be all-out on Indiana -17 or on the over if this was Week 2. Penix getting the starting nod is all I need to be convinced that this game won’t be particularly close. But since it’s Week 1, you never know when an offense might not be quite ready to click. I’m still on Indiana, and they’ll win comfortably, but I’m not going with a 5-unit max bet. Indiana 41, Ball State 17

GAME OF THE WEEK: Oregon at Auburn (N) (-3.5) (55.5)

KYLE’S BET: Auburn -3.5 (2 units)

I think both of these teams are overhyped early in the year and I’m fully prepared for that hook to haunt me, but I’ll trust Bill C.’s SP+ in this one. Auburn 24, Oregon 18

ALEX’S BET: Over 55.5 (2 units)

I hate Week 1. Vegas gets the spreads and the totals in spots that make me more uncomfortable in Week 1 than in any other week. That means another small bet for me here. But something tell’s me we see a lot of points in Jerry’s world, even if our first game of the week does feature an SEC defense. Auburn 35, Oregon 28


KYLE’S BET: South Dakota State at MINNESOTA (-16) (5 units)

Row the dang boat! South Dakota State is a pretty good squad, making the FCS semifinals last year, but that was largely on the shoulders of Taryn Christion, who leaves as the school (and conference’s!) all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, and total offense. In his place? A redshirt freshman who has never taken a snap in college. The Gophers were really good down the stretch last year and return almost all of that very young team. I think this line is off by several points. Minnesota 41, South Dakota State 13

ALEX’S BET: EASTERN MICHIGAN (-6) at Coastal Carolina (3 units)

Christ Creighton’s crew can play. This simply isn’t the Eastern Michigan we’ve come to know in years past. And according to SP+, Coastal Carolina is one of the worst 10 or 12 teams in the country. Six isn’t nearly enough in this one. Eastern Michigan 31, Coastal Carolina 13


KYLE’S BET: FRESNO STATE (+13.5) at Southern California (4 units)

USC is gonna be big trash this year before they hire Urban Meyer this offseason. Even the most generous analytics give USC hardly a touchdown edge over the Bulldogs. Will I be throwing a cheeky unit on the moneyline? Yes I will be. USC 28, Fresno State 24

ALEX’S BET: OLE MISS (+5.5) at Memphis (1 unit)

There are probably some safer bets out there this week. Any game with a 30-point line is a ton for Week 1. But this is the one underdog on the board that I think wins outright. I know the Rebels have struggled lately and Memphis is a Group of Five darling, but on talent alone, Ole Miss is better. Ole Miss 41, Memphis 38


KYLE’S BET: Florida Atlantic at Ohio State (o63.5) (1 unit)

This game is gonna be fun as hell and the Buckeyes might get the over by themselves. Ohio State 52, FAU 21

ALEX’S BET: Florida Atlantic at Ohio State (o63.5) (3 units)

Lane Kiffin against Kevin Wilson? Not the most stable matchup, but we should definitely see a lot of points. Ohio State 48, Florida Atlantic 21


KYLE’S BET: South Carolina at North Carolina (u63) (1 unit)

The Gamecocks should have a fine defense while playing patented WILL MUSCHAMP GRITBALL and UNC is gonna be real bad. South Carolina 30, North Carolina, 14

ALEX’S BET: Tulsa at Michigan State (u47.5) (3 units)

This is all about Michigan State. Per usual, I expect their defense to be good and their offense to be abysmal. I’m putting that theory to the test in Week 1. Michigan State 28, Tulsa 10.


Last year, it was fun throwing some 30-point or more spreads to the fire and seeing if those huge favorites could cover enormous lines. This year I’m switching things up. I’ll be picking a moneyline upset or two each week that I feel at least somewhat confident about.

This week’s moneyline pick: Boise State (+180) over Florida State

FSU is favored by 4.5 or 5 points depending on where you look, which seems awfully optimistic for a Seminole team coming off one of its most abysmal seasons in years. The game has been moved from a primetime kick in Jacksonville to a nooner at FSU due to Hurricane Dorian, but this doesn’t change my line of thinking all too much. Despite what will now be an FSU home crowd, Boise has a history of doing well in these season-opening contests. Also, FSU QB James Blackman (no relation to the former IU hoops player) did not inspire a ton of confidence last season, nor did his offensive line. Willie Taggart might get it together in Tallahassee, but I don’t see it happening this weekend. Boise State 28, Florida State 24.

I’m not advising this, but if you want to go real crazy with a moneyline bet, Fresno State (+435) at USC is right there for the taking.


Please do not wager large amounts on these. Or if you do and they hit, paypal in bio.


Not enough noon games in week 1 for a true nooner, but here’s a teaser anyway. 7 points, even money.

  • Indiana -10
  • Kentucky -5
  • South Carolina -3.5
  • Pittsburgh +9.5


  • South Carolina at North Carolina (u63)
  • Auburn -3.5
  • Fresno State +13.5
  • Louisville +20

Good luck, cash tickets.