Finally. College football begins. Finally. The wait is over. Life is better. College football begins. Finally. The college football opening point spreads have been out for a few weeks now. Our college football odds page is the place to compare lines from various sportsbooks. Lots of early action has moved some spreads around. Let’s take a look at some of this week’s most intriguing match-ups along with the spreads.
Seven lined games are slated for Thursday night, the official start of college play. South Carolina and Southern Miss kick things off. Pundits are predicting Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks to make a splash in the SEC East this year. Against the Golden Eagles the Gamecocks opened as 13 ½ point favorites, with the line moving up to 14 points in most books.
Big 10 preseason favorite Ohio State welcomes Marshall to the Horseshoe. The Buckeyes started as 24 point favorites, but heavy betting has pushed that line up to 28 or 28 ½ points.
The Utah Utes host the Pittsburgh Panthers in what looks to be the best game of the night. Pittsburgh is one of the Big East favorites, while Utah is one of college football’s most successful programs over the past several seasons. Utah opened as 1 point favorites, but that line has gone up as high as 3 points and seems to be settling around 2 ½ points at most sites.
In the late game, USC travels to Hawaii to battle the Warriors. Lane Kiffin and NCAA sanctions have been hot topics for USC this past off-season. The Trojans have another talented team, though post-season play is out the proverbial window. USC opened as an 18 point favorite with the line having moved to 21 points.
Saturday is set to entertain with a multitude of lined games. The Florida Gators welcome Miami (Ohio) to Gainesville. The Gators opened up as 30 point favorites but the line has shot up to 35 points in most books. The loss of Tim Tebow should be irrelevant in this game.
Illinois and Missouri do battle in St. Louis with the Tigers having opened as 12 ½ point favorites. The line has moved down slightly to either 11 ½ or 12 points depending upon the book. Mizzou welcomes back 18 returning starters including quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Illinois head coach Ron Zook needs a good season if he hopes to remain in Champaign.
Colorado and Colorado State play in their annual rivalry game in Denver. The Buffs opened as 13 ½ point faves and the line has remained mostly steady. Like Zook, Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins must be successful this season or he’s looking for a new job.
The Texas Longhorns start off with the Rice Owls. After opening as 32 ½ point favorites, the Longhorns are currently being played at either 28 ½ or 29 points, despite being bet at nearly an 80% clip.
Notre Dame and new head coach Brian Kelly welcome the Purdue Boilermakers to South Bend. The Fighting Irish began as 12 ½ point favorites, but now the line is scattered between 11 and 12 points. Some of the week’s heaviest money appears to be on the over; the total started at 51 ½ and has gone up to 54 or 54 ½ point. Bettors are obviously aware of Kelly’s offensive philosophy and the Boilermakers’ offensive abilities (and defensive inabilities).
Another coach on the hot seat is Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. The Wolverines host the Connecticut Huskies at the Big House. Michigan opened as 2 ½ point favorites and is currently listed at 3 points. Both teams have 15 returning starters.
Kentucky and Louisville clash in their in-state rivalry game. The road Wildcats started as 2 point faves and have moved up to 3 or 3 ½ points. Rick Neuheisel and UCLA travel to Manhattan, Kansas to take on Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats. The road Bruins opened as 2 ½ point favorites, but the line has swung to Kansas State. Now the Wildcats are either 2 ½ or 3 point favorites, depending upon the sportsbook.
In what might be the weekend’s most forgotten about game, the Washington Huskies travel to Provo to take on the BYU Cougars. Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian has 18 starters back, including 10 on offense with Heisman hopeful Jake Locker. Even without quarterback Max Hall the Cougars opened as 3 ½ point favorites, though the line has moved down slightly to 3 points.
Alabama begins its national championship defense with an easy week 1 match-up against the San Jose State Spartans. The Crimson Tide opened as 38 point favorites with the line currently at 38 ½ or 39 points.
The Oklahoma Sooners look to improve on last year’s 8-5 campaign as they open up with the Utah State Aggies. The Sooners began as 28 point favorites, but now most books list the game at 32 points.
One of the week’s best games will take place in Arlington, Texas where the TCU Horned Frogs are set to do battle with the Oregon State Beavers. The Horned Frogs are expected to have another stellar season. TCU started as 14 ½ point favorites but the line has dipped to 13 ½ points. The Beavers’ Rodgers brothers playing against the Horned Frogs’ defense should be fun to watch.
North Carolina and LSU play in Atlanta, Georgia in one of the week’s most anticipated match-ups. A potential academic scandal has rocked Chapel Hill and leaves some of the Tar Heels’ top defenders in doubt for the game. The line was originally listed as a pick, but the uncertainty surrounding North Carolina players’ eligibility has caused some books to remove the line. Other sportsbooks are listing the game as LSU by 1 or 1 ½ points, with a couple putting the Tigers as 4 ½ point favorites.
The Wisconsin Badgers head to Las Vegas to play UNLV. The smash-mouth Badgers opened as 18 ½ point favorites and now are listed at 20 ½ points by most sites.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers host Western Kentucky in Lincoln. The line has seen considerable movement. Nebraska opened at 31 points but now is being set at 35 ½ points. The Huskers return 16 starters and one of the nation’s elite defenses. The Hilltoppers counter with 18 returning starters.
Sunday and Monday have 4 lined games for action. Tulsa travels to East Carolina for a pivotal, early-season Conference USA battle. The road Hurricanes opened as 4 ½ point road favorites, but the line has seen a lot of movement. Books are favoring Tulsa by anywhere between 8 and 9 ½ points.
Former Auburn head coach Tommy Tubberville replaces Mike Leach at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have a tough match-up with June Jones’ SMU Mustangs. Tech opened at 10 ½ points but is currently favored by 13 to 14 points.
Maryland and Navy play Monday afternoon. The Midshipmen are expected to have another fine year. However, after opening as a 10 ½ point favorite Navy is now a 7 point favorite with most sportsbooks.
Schedule-makers saved the best game of the week for last. Boise State and Virginia Tech will be a good one. If the Broncos hope to play in the national championship game (or even a BCS bowl game), this is a must-win. With 21 returning starters – the most in the country – Boise State is looking to run the table again. But Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, and company will be no pushover. The Broncos opened as 2 ½ point favorites over the Hokies, and now most books list Boise State at 3 points.
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