Before we get potential game of the year Georgia-Clemson on Saturday, there are a few Friday night college football games to take in.
And it's also Sam Howell's first chance this season to impress NFL scouts.
The North Carolina quarterback has the potential to be in the top 10 of next year's draft. He'll lead the Tar Heels into their season opener against Virginia Tech in a game that will be on ESPN. North Carolina is a 6-point favorite against the Hokies at BetMGM.
Last season when these teams met, North Carolina won 56-45. The Tar Heels have a lot back, including Howell and are coming off an Orange Bowl appearance. Virginia Tech was 5-6 last season and should be better this season, but probably isn't on North Carolina's level.
There's a reason North Carolina is No. 10 in the country. There's a lot of hype and expectations for this season, and while that can be a burden, it speaks to its returning talent. It's a tough opener, having to travel to Blacksburg and the first Hokies sellout crowd since 2019, but I'll trust the Tar Heels' talent to win and cover.
Then we can get ready for a fun college football weekend.
What about the other games on Friday?
Like Thursday, there are a lot of games that you'll need to be a diehard college football fan to get excited about.
Here are the other games, with spreads from BetMGM:
Duke (-6.5) vs. Charlotte
Old Dominion vs. Wake Forest (-31.5)
St. Francis (Pa.) vs. Eastern Michigan (-32.5)
South Dakota vs. Kansas (-13)
Michigan State vs. Northwestern (-3)
Northern Colorado vs. Colorado (-38)
South Dakota State vs. Colorado State (-3)
Unless you're really excited about Kansas potentially getting a win, there's not a ton there. The Big Ten game is moderately interesting, and I'd take Michigan State since Northwestern has almost nothing returning.
What about the weekend?
Yahoo Sports' Sam Cooper has you covered and then some in his excellent Week 1 viewing guide. Check it out. But as a bonus, I'll be on Georgia and the points and look out for San Jose State putting USC on upset alert.
Who cashed tickets on Thursday?
Ohio State-Minnesota is why you have to get the best of the number. You could have found that spread between 14.5 and 13.5 depending on when you bet it. Ohio State won by 14 (Minnesota bettors have to feel like they were on the right side). Always get the best number possible to avoid a disappointing push or a harsh half-point beat. In the other highlight college football game of the night, UCF rallied to win 36-31 but Boise State covered the 6-point spread.
What's up with baseball?
The San Francisco Giants won the series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers, setting up a great NL West weekend series. The Dodgers and Giants are tied for first place. The Dodgers are -130 favorites and it's hard to bet against them, given how hot they have been.
There are a couple of other series between a some teams jostling for playoff spots or positioning (Blue Jays vs. A's, Astros vs. Padres) that are worth keeping an eye on.
What's the best bet?
I might be underestimating Northwestern's ability to reload, but the Wildcats rank 126th of 127 teams in returning production according to ESPN.com's Bill Connelly. I might be overrating how much that should guide my betting, but it's a tough ask for Northwestern to open in a conference game against Michigan State with so many new starters. I'll take Michigan State +3 and think they could cash a moneyline bet too (+125 odds).