The 5 best bets you can make this weekend in the NFL and college football

Thursday night’s seesaw battle between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys was just the opening course of a jam-packed betting weekend with the first full slate of college football and the NFL.

You’re probably giddy just thinking about watching football on Friday night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday and Monday night.

I’ve been selective with my picks so far this season (1-0-1), and I’m still trying to figure out how Minnesota (+14) went from a surefire cover to a near non-cover in the second half against Ohio State last Thursday. Oh, well.

Here are my best bets for this weekend, with lines courtesy of FOX Bet:

Coastal Carolina (-26, -110) vs. Kansas

Let’s begin the weekend with a blowout on Friday. Coastal Carolina could easily win this game by 30-plus because it's a better football team in every single facet.

Plus, there’s a reason this line is dramatically different than last season’s number – Kansas -6 – in Lawrence. Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold needs time to build his program.

PICK: Coastal Carolina (-26) to win by more than 26 points at FOX Bet

Illinois (+10.5, -110) at Virginia

The Illini continue to ride the numerical roller coaster in 2021. They upset Nebraska as seven-point home underdogs, then opened around a seven-point home favorite against UTSA and lost outright.

Now Bret Bielema’s bunch heads to Charlottesville, and they’re catching 10.5. That number is too high for an Illinois offense that will be noticeably healthier on Saturday.

PICK: Illinois (+10.5) to lose by fewer than 10.5 (or win outright) at FOX Bet

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South Alabama (-13.5, -118) at Bowling Green

I love that FOX Bet is giving us one of the best numbers in the world on this game. The market is mostly Jaguars -14 right now, and I expect it to close in the -15/-16 range.

South Alabama quarterback Jake Bentley tossed for 269 yards and two touchdowns last week, and he’ll be even better against a Bowling Green team that allowed almost 500 yards to Tennessee.

PICK: South Alabama (-13.5) to win by 14 or more points at FOX Bet

Iowa State -4 (-110) vs. Iowa

The Cyclones didn’t show much against Northern Iowa, so we’re getting a really good number here against an Iowa squad that steamrollered Indiana 34-6.

Go figure, the Hawkeyes morphed from the unwanted favorite to the public underdog in just one week, and that’s always a cause for concern.

I’ll take Matt Campbell and Brock Purdy in a big game any day.

PICK: Iowa State (-4) to win by more than 4 points at FOX Bet

Pittsburgh Steelers (+6.5, -110) at Buffalo Bills

Buffalo is one of the sexiest teams to bet heading into this season, and bookmakers tell me the bets haven’t stopped in Week 1 or the futures market. But you’re paying a tax on the Bills because of past performance.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s defense is well-rested and ready for the opener, and I expect an added jolt with the return of TJ Watt to the front seven.

Big Ben will do enough to keep this game close ‘til the very end.

PICK: Steelers (+6.5) to lose by fewer than 6.5 points (or win outright)

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Sammy's 2021 football picks: 1-0-1

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He'll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.

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