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Some things...

Some things ... to look for in Week 1 of College Football. 

In all seriousness, I have had a ton of questions regarding putting pen to paper regarding some college football stats, trends, facts etc each week regarding the college football slate. Very similar to the famous(depending on how loosely you want yo use that word) "newsletter" from a past life. 

Two quick things before we start. A- let's all take a moment to be thankful to have college football back to it's pure unfiltered form (knock on wood- delta variant) for this season after a watered down version last year. 

2- This week's newsletter will be way less stat oriented than the one's in the future. Why you ask ? Because it's week 1, and there's no sample set of finding angles of which team runs well vs a defense that can't stop it. Same with finding teams who play at a fast tempo etc. For week 1, I'll focus on some things related more to experience returning from last year and situational spots. 

Every week, I plan to incorporate some questions on Twitter regarding the week like this

Tons of interactions on that one. If you have a question you think should be asked - feel free to send it over to me. The interaction of college football fans and responsible gamblers is what makes this whole thing worth while. 

Regarding those questions... here's my quick takes. 

The week 1 game I’m looking forward to the most is_________

- There's a few ways to go here that could all be runner's up, but never top the big one- and that's Clemson vs Georgia. Let's be serious how often do you get two legit playoff contenders in Week 1? The storyline here is can Georgia make the leap from playoff team to championship team. Kirby Smart and JT Daniels are for sure a capable duo to deliver on that promise. The second storyline is "Can this guy be as good as the last guy ?" . Trevor Lawrence is out, D.J. Uiagalelei is in. He looked great in limited time last year, but a full season is a different task. 

My play on this one is the Over 51 . I get it, two great defenses littered with pro talent. However, I think that means the run game for each side will be limited, which results in some throws to get offensive momentum, as well as both teams taking  (hopefully more than a few) shots down field for big plays. Lastly, I'll always assume offensive playmakers find a way vs even the best defenses. Daniels, Uiagalelei , Dixon, Ross, Gilbert, White ... etc etc. I'll take the over. 

- The game I want to watch that no one is talking about is _________

Tons of possibilities here. I think while it's going to be ugly- Kansas State Stanford will be a very close matchup of two programs who are nowhere near what they were a decade ago, and are both essentially desperate to start the season off with a win. Stanford's win total on the barstool Sportsbook is 4 . 4 !!!!!! This is a team you used to set your watch to 9-10 wins (as well as 7-8 punts a game in positive territory). 

Kansas State is a version of Groundhog's Day. Bill Snyder and Collin Klein used to be the scrappiest team in America with their half shotgun snap to a QB who hopped in place for 2-3 seconds before finding a hole, and running for 17 yards a clip. Head Coach Chris Klieman and QB Sklyar Thompson look very similiar to Snyder and Klein, in the sense they do very little to put themselves out of a game (mistakes, turnovers). Additionally, Klieman may have some of that magic mojo in Snyder's old windbreaker- because they always seem to score on special teams. I think this may be the beginning of the end for David Shaw. I love Kansas St with a healthy QB, and I think hold on here for a win in Jerry World- which will be a very pro K State crown by the way. My pick is Kansas State -3 as it currently sits on Barstool Sportsbook. 

My answer to this question however is Nevada at Cal. No one has pumped up Nevada harder than me this offseason (except maybe Big Ev - the Mountain West king). Quarterback Carson Strong has potential first round talent. The Wolfpack WR Romeo Doubs hasn't seen a DB he can't run past, and RB Toa Taua is a bowling ball who averages 5.9 yards a carry. Additionally, Devonte Lee averages 5.2 a carry. 

On the flip side, Cal was a victim of last year's late Pac 12 start and I think this team is better than the 1-3 record it showed last season. Justin Wilcox is a fantastic coach, and QB Chase Garbers is a real difference maker when he's healthy. 

As a 10:30 kick on a Saturday night to get to watch a resurging Cal program host a non power five team with a first round talent under center ? Sign me up. 

I'm also on Nevada here +3.5 and I think they can win the game outright. There's been some practice issues as a result of the wildfires (link), however I love Carson Strong. I think Doubs is someone who can take over a game, and I think Nevada has a real chip on their shoulder. 

- is on upset alert

This one's easy. It's Duke. I took their season win total under 3.5 this year. I think this team is very bad, they lose Chase Brice at QB and are going with a new offensive coordinator. Charlotte has a veteran QB in Chris Reynolds under center , and a chance to win at home vs an in state rival - that's enough motivation. Add in the 53-19 beating from Duke last year and it's ultra motivation. Take the +6.5 because it's available but responsibly place +185 MoneyLine bets on the 49ers here because Charlotte can very much win this game. 

- vs _ is going to be a points factory 

Who doesn't love the over  ? 

via GIPHY

The answer here for me on this one is Kent State vs Texas A&M and the over 67. Kent State was #1 in scoring offense last year (49.8 ppg) and returns 10 Starters including QB Dustin Crum- who is very good. The D was a different story allowing 38 ppg and ranking 112th. They return 10 starters as well, but you have to almost worry can that defense turn a corner with the same personnel. 

A&M transitions from Kellen Mond to Haynes King so their could be a downtick in offense. However, Isaiah Spiller galloped for 1036 yards last year at 5.5 per carry vs SEC defenses. What will he do versus a MAC defense? 

Lastly , in Jimbo Fisher's last 5 opening month games vs non power 5 conference opponents his teams have put up : 41,59,52, 59, and 37. I like A&M to get their 45-50 and Kent State be pesky enough for the 20 to hit the over.

Returning Production 

So a big thing in Week 1 is who can I trust ? Well returning production (% of yards amassed offensively  is a decent way to judge that. 

Here's the top 10 teams based on percentage of returning production :

Georgia St 98%

FAU 96%

UCLA 95%

Iowa St 94%

Nevada 94%

UTEP 94%

Eastern Michigan 93% 

Boston College 92%

Liberty 92%

Louisiana 92%

UTSA 92% 

Wyoming 92% 

The worst returning offensive producation teams are : 

NIU53%
Duke52%
Ohio State52%
Texas52%
Clemson50%
Notre Dame47%
Texas A&M47%
Navy46%
Stanford44%
Florida43%
Alabama34%
Northwestern32%

There will be plenty more to come each week including teams on back to back road games, situational spots (look ahead , let down etc), stats, and trends as we progress each week into the season. 

For my full card and the most wild and entertaining podcast around the globe you can tune into Barstool Pick Em 

Any questions, advice, feedback or merch - send em over @Return_of_RB

Happy Football!