College Football 2023: Group of 5 Teams to Watch and Pro Bettor Insights

FairwayJay chips in college football insight with a pro bettor contact along with sleeper teams, most improved and Week 0 kickoff matchups and lines.

Five college football sleeper teams to bet in 2023

The 2023 college football season has arrived, and seven games are scheduled in Week 0 on Sat., Aug. 26. That includes some Group of 5 teams, and others to watch as sleepers and most improved who can provide value when betting and often early in the season or when live betting.

NCAA Conference teams to watchI've added some of those teams below with added insight from pro bettor and handicapper Brad Powers, who I talk with throughout the season. He's made more than 150 NCAA football bets ahead of the season on Week 0/1, season wins, futures and more. His bets are posted each Monday during the season in his newsletter and he's a market influencer with early week line moves.

Navy vs Notre Dame kicks off the 2023 NCAA Football season from Dublin, Ireland with top online sportsbook BookMaker reporting the Midshipmen and Irish game to be the most bet game of the week. 

- Navy vs Notre Dame (-20)
- UMASS at New Mexico State (-8)
- Florida International at Louisiana Tech (-11)
- San Jose State at No. 6 USC (-30)
- Ohio at San Diego State (-3)
- UTEP (-1) at Jacksonville State
- Hawaii at Vanderbilt (-16.5)

The Week 1 lines and totals have been posted for months, and there is just one AP Top 25 matchup when No. 5 LSU (-2.5) tackles No. 8 Florida State on a neutral field in Orlando on Sunday, Sept. 3. I'll be chipping-in college football Top 25 Picks again this season and adding Opinions and Leans with added insight and information you can bet on for the biggest and most bet games each week at the leading online sportsbooks. That includes Power 5 conference games like Northwestern at Rutgers in Big Ten action Week 1. 

Group of 5 Sleeper Teams

These teams are ones to watch and consider when betting for value, not necessarily to contend for the conference title or even make a bowl, although more will this season. 

American (AAC)

AAC NCAA football preview- Navy 
- Temple

Navy won 4 games last season, but major improvement is expected as the Middies also play a much easier schedule outside of Week 0 vs Notre Dame. Defensive coordinator Brian Newberry take over as head coach with 17 returning starters. 

Temple won just 3 games last season and the Owls will also be improved with 16 returning starters. Note too that the AAC's top 3 teams are no longer in the conference with Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida moving to the Big 12. 

Mid American (MAC)

- Eastern Michigan
- Miami, Ohio

MAC Conference preview picksBoth these teams have top-rated special teams units in the MAC. Eastern Michigan won 9 games last year, including a win 30-21 at Arizona State as a 20'-point underdog. An Idaho Potato Bowl win as underdog gave the Eagles a 6-1 ATS record as underdog in 2022. The Eagles have strength at running back and defensive back, but watch how they hold up in the trenches in their Sept. 9 game at Minnesota out of the Big Ten.    

Miami Ohio is one of the most experienced teams with 16 returning starters, including senior QB Brett Gabbert. The Redhawks are experienced and strong along the defensive line, and could improve their run defense again after allowing just 136 rushing YPG last season. 

Mountain West

- Colorado State
- Nevada

MAC sleeper team NCAA  football  2023Both Colorado State and Nevada will be improved after winning just 3 and 2 games last season. Both teams have second-year coaches with Jay Norvell at CSU after leaving Nevada, where Ken Wilson took over.

The CSU Rams have top-5 skill position groups in the Mountain West on offense at QB, RB and most strength at WR. Both teams will be underdogs more often and Colorado State does play the projected top teams Boise State, Air Force and San Diego State at home. Nevada does not play Boise State or Air Force and the schedule is easier.  

Conference USA

- Louisiana Tech

Sun Belt

- Appalachian State

Appalachian State won't surprise many as a favorite to win the Sun Belt, but the Mountaineers will return to a bowl after missing out last year and are a bet to go 'over' 6.5 season wins. App State has the top offensive line in the Sun Belt and finished last season as a 200 Club offense, both rushing and passing for at least 200 yards per game. The Sept. 9 game at No. 21 North Carolina is one to circle as the Tar Heels will be coming off the most intense and intriguing Week 1 game vs South Carolina. Last year, North Carolina escaped at Appalachian State in Boone, NC with a 63-61 win with the teams combining for 66 first downs and more than 1,100 yards offense. 

Most Improved Teams

The number of improved teams this season will be many, including some of the Group of 5 teams above. But Brad Powers also mentions power conference teams Miami, Colorado and Texas A&M as three most improved teams to watch as well.

Miami has upgrades at offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator under second-year head coach Mario Cristobal after underachieving last year with just 5 wins. The Hurricanes buried their betting backers with just one ATS win vs FBS teams last season. But Powers have given the 'Canes a huge power ratings boost and expects much better this season. 

Texas A&M is expected to be one of the most improved teams in the country following a most disappointing season and just 5 wins last year. 

Of course, Deion Sanders is creating quite the buzz in Boulder as the Buffaloes new head coach with his son Shedeur Sanders now the quarterback. The stampede of Buffaloes only has one way to go after winning just one game last season after playing the toughest schedule in college football, according to Phil Steele's ratings. 

You can bet on it. 

FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and loves college football. He's been handicapping and betting college football for more than two decades and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. FairwayJay chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at and on X (Twitter) @FairwayJay for more sports and betting insights.

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