Let’s roll with some underdogs on Thursday night

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Week 0 is done and dusted (thank goodness). Moving on to a full list of college football betting picks. The action kicks off on Thursday with some interesting matchups, but only a couple have my attention.

Here’s what I like:

West Virginia +7.5 at Pittsburgh (-110)

The Mountaineers have been my favorite fade road team over the last two seasons, going 3-7 ATS. That was the case with quarterback Jarett Doege, who had some of the most lopsided splits I’ve seen in college football. He had a 33-to-7 touchdown-interception ratio at home, but was 10-to-9 when traveling. Doege is gone and in comes JT Daniels from Georgia. Daniels brings a higher ceiling to this offense after throwing for 4,840 yards in his college career.

West Virginia coach Neil Brown walks on the field during the spring football game April 23, 2022, in Morgantown. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Pittsburgh is coming off an 11-3 season with coach Pat Narduzzi on a contract extension through 2030. Kenny Pickett is now in the NFL with USC transfer Kedon Slovis starting at quarterback. With both teams starting new quarterbacks, I have to look at the defense. Pitt was first in quarterback pressure last season and returns the entire defensive line. The problem is, the Panthers were 119th in pass defense. Now, Daniels isn’t exactly CJ Stroud, but he has a career 7.9-yard completion average with a 64% completion percentage.

The Mountaineers had a top-50 defense that also has a load of returning production and should be an improved unit in terms of yardage allowed. This could be more of a competitive defensive battle with West Virginia having a huge advantage (top 60 in pass defense last year) compared to Pitt. I like Daniels bringing a new spark to this road offense. Slovis certainly still has some question marks coming off a season with eight interceptions and 11 touchdowns. Am I ready to call for the +240 underdog? Not exactly. It’s only week 1 after all. Let’s take things slow and ease into the new season.

Penn State at Purdue +3.5 (-110)

Could Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell be better than Penn State QB Sean Clifford? Clifford ended the 2021 season on a bad note, throwing two interceptions and completing 44 percent of his passes in a 24-10 loss to Arkansas. Clifford had his best production last year despite being sacked 30 times. O’Connell threw for more yards, higher yards per completion and more touchdowns than Clifford with a higher completion percentage. Can the Nittany Lions rebound after losing six of their last eight games last season?

Penn State’s offense ranked in the bottom 30 in yards per game and lost its leading wide receiver in Jahan Doston, who accounted for half of the receiving scores and nearly 1,200 receiving yards. The defense for Penn State wasn’t much either, ranking 81st in sacks. Although ranked in the top 40 in total defense, the Nittany Lions lost their top two linebackers and top cornerback.

I like O’Connell to do some damage on this Penn State defense. In six games last season, he threw for at least 370 yards, including 375 with two touchdowns against a stout Iowa defense. Getting +140 is worth the risk on a team that seems to have the best offense. I’m going to be conservative and grab the points, though I also like over 53. This game features two pass-only offenses with questionable defenses.

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