College football opening weekend best bets: Don’t mess with Texas…El Paso

Praise Amaewhule of the UTEP Miners
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon


Show Bio

Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The college football season is here. No it’s not an especially intriguing slate for what we will call Week Zero (we have to wait until Labor Day Weekend for most of the big boys to take the field), but it’s the college football regular season nonetheless. Let’s get things started by taking a look at some of Saturday’s best bets.

UTEP Miners -10 over New Mexico State Aggies

The Miners will travel less than an hour to take on rival New Mexico State. UTEP played 8 games last year and was victorious in 3 of them, whereas NMSU cancelled its season entirely due to COVID-19. The Aggies did play in 2 games this spring, going 1-1 against FCS competition. And while the Miners certainly aren’t Alabama, they are definitely an upgrade from what the Aggies saw in those outings. UTEP defensive end Praise Amaewhule has a legitimate shot to play in the NFL and will probably wreak havoc on a fairly inexperienced New Mexico State offensive line. Returning QB starter Gavin Hardison is also better than anything the opposition has to offer. Given that NMSU hasn’t played a real game in two years, UTEP should be on its way to a season-opening win — and probably in convincing fashion.

Check out our full game preview

UCLA Bruins -18 over Hawaii Warriors

UCLA went 3-4 last season in Chip Kelly’s third year as head coach, but you chalk that up to to COVID and also some extremely bad luck. Heck, the Bruins could have gone 7-0; losses were 48-42 to Colorado, 38-35 to Oregon, 43-38 to USC, and 48-47 in double-overtime to Stanford. UCLA is one of the teams we think could be in line for major improvement this year. Kelly is returning 20 starters and will have a strong veteran presence on both offense and defense. Dorian Thompson-Robinson returns for his fourth year; he will likely keep the offense scoring points with a strong receiving corps in support. Leading receiver Greg Dulcich is back, as are all 5 starters on their offensive line. The Bruins averaged 35.4 ppg in 2020. Hawaii, on the other hand, is only returning 7 starters on offense.

Check out our full game preview

Illinois Fighting Illini +7 over Nebraska Cornhuskers

Last week the NCAA announced that it was opening an investigation into the Nebraska football program over practice violations, putting into question whether or not head coach Scott Frost will be on the sidelines for the Cornhuskers’ opener. Despite that off-field news, the Cornhuskers are still -7 road favorites and they return 8 players on defense plus senior quarterback Adrian Martinez. They may have enough to get a win, but this team probably isn’t that good even when it isn’t dealing with distractions so a touchdown should be enough for the Fighting Illini to cover. Bret Bielema is beginning his tenure at Illinois with a roster that features a ton of senior experience. For example, the offensive line that has a combined 132 starts. An experienced backfield will have plenty of time to go to work and keep up with a mediocre at best Nebraska offense.

Check out our full game preview

At Pickswise we offer free expert College Football Picks and College Football Predictions for all games in the Power Five conferences and the top 25 teams outside of Power five, including our College Football Parlay picks each week.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook


No Sweat First Bet up to $3,000 - Guaranteed

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $3,000!

Get refunded up to $3,000 in bonus bets if you lose

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at



Virginia Bettors- Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.



Bet $1 and Get $200 in Free Bets at bet365!

Register for a new bet365 account

Place qualifying bets of $1 or more

Get $200 in free bets - no matter if your bet wins or loses

New Customer Offer. Deposit required. Free Bets added to Free Bet Credits balance. Free Bet risk excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits, and exclusions apply. Must be physically located in VA.



Get a $500 Risk-Free Bet

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF



Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets Instantly

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Make your first deposit and bet $5 on any sports market

Receive $200 in bonus bets instantly, no matter what!

Gambling Problem? Call 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (CO/IL/IN/LA/MD/MI/NJ/PA/TN/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS), 888-789-7777/visit (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA). 21+ (18+ WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/KS/LA(select parishes)/MD/MI/NJ/NY/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Void in OH/ONT. Eligibility restrictions apply. Valid 1 per new customer. Min. $5 deposit. Min. $5 bet. $200 issued as free bets that expire 7 days (168 hours) after being awarded. See terms at



Get $100 in Free Bets, for 5 Days Straight starting

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook


Your First Cash Bet Is On Caesars Up To $1,250

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account and Place your 1st wager of $10 or more

If you lose, you get 100% of your stake back as a Bet Credit - up to $1,250.

AND win or lose, you’ll also get 1,000 Reward Credits® and 1,000 Tier Credits.

21+. Terms and conditions apply.



Get $1,000 Paid Back in Bonus Bets, if you Don't Win

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000!

Get refunded up to $1,000 in bonus bets if you don't win

21+. Terms & conditions apply.



Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.



Get up to $2,000 in Free Bets

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight


Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.



Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.



Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

Underdog Fantasy


First deposit is 100% matched up to $100 with Underdog Fantasy

Sign up for a new account with Underdog Fantasy

Make your first deposit

Every dollar (up to $100) will be matched! Deposit $25, get $50; deposit $100, get $200, etc

Must be 21+ to play. Terms & conditions apply