The opening week has just about every team in the nation seeing action. It’s whole lot to sort through. So, we’re going to just hit the Top 25, plus a few others I see a lot of potential in.
First, the lines:
Top 25 College Football Odds
Thursday, August 30
No. 21 UCF (-23.5) at UConn
Friday, August 31
Utah State at No. 11 Michigan State (-23.5)
Western Kentucky at No. 4 Wisconsin (-35.5)
San Diego State at No. 13 Stanford (-14)
Saturday, September 1
Oregon State at No. 5 Ohio State (-38.5)
Florida Atlantic at No. 7 Oklahoma (-21)
No. 23 Texas (-13.5) at Maryland
Austin Peay at No. 3 Georgia (No Line)
No. 6 Washington at No. 9 Auburn (-2)
Appalachian State vs. No. 10 Penn State (-24)
Tennessee at No. 17 West Virginia (-10)
UNLV at No. 15 USC (-26.5)
No. 22 Boise State (-10) at Troy
No. 14 Michigan at No. 12 Notre Dame (-1.5)
Louisville at No. 1 Alabama (-24.5)
Bowling Green at No. 24 Oregon (-32)
Sunday, September 2
No. 8 Miami (-3.5) at No. 25 LSU
Monday, September 3
No. 20 Virginia Tech at No. 19 Florida State (-7.5)
WATCH, BUT DON’T BET:
LSU vs. Miami is a game between two teams which are frankly ranked where they are based on their jerseys. Miami may surprise me, but it’s not a Top 10 team as of today. This will be ugly, low-scoring, probably filled with turnovers. And in that kind of matchup, you give LSU more than a puncher’s chance — they could win this game and still finish .500 though. Malik Rosier is going to turn the ball over elebenty times — he’s literally been on the roster since Blake Sims was starting at Alabama. And Jake Burrows is likely going to stumblebum into completing 50% of his passes while the ‘Canes linebackers tee off on him. The race to failing expectations begins!
Purdue -3.5 vs. Northwestern. This is a sneaky good game to open the season in B1G play. Purdue is a lot of fun to watch, while jNW is usually good for 7-8 wins. The Wildcats are under the radar and this isn’t a particularly daunting road venue. The ‘Cats could win, but I give the nod to Brohm at home. Coin toss.
Auburn could be a field goal better than Washington. The inverse is just as likely true. People are sleeping on the Huskies’ defense (and the fact most of this core group were in a similar building 20 months ago.) People are also overlooking 60% of an Auburn offensive line that has to be rebuilt and the loss of Kerryon Johnson, the criminally underrated engine that made Auburn’s offense run. Two much-hyped quarterbacks are probably nullified here, so are two excellent coaching staffs. So you give the nod to the best player on the field. And, whether that’s Myles Gaskins, Jarrett Stidham, or Jake Browning, my hunch tells me it’s a player in purple. I don’t gamble on hunches, y’all.
That’s a huge number for UCF to cover on the road with a new coach, a new scheme, and a UConn team that can put up points...and a conference opener. It’ll likely be a beating, but that spread is toxic. So is UCF’s secondary.
You can say the same about the ghastly Penn State line. They do an unholy number on OOC teams at home. This isn’t Akron though. App. State has visited plenty of powerhouses at their house the last decade, and the last two years especially. The defense should be quite good for a G5 team. The offense will not be so good. So, even if PSU struggles as it tries to make its way in a post-Saquon world, the other Mountaineers may not have enough in the tank. That said, man, -24 is a huge number. Too big for me.
Utah should win. But...you get the feeling this one will be close. The altitude won’t bother the Wildcats, and they are the defending Big Sky champions. Oh, and they were FCS quarter-finalists — they lost by a FG on the road to the national champion. So, they don’t suck. At all. But the Utes’ talent and physicality is just in another realm. 31-10 seems about right...certainly enough to cover 23 for Utah. Then again. Weber could make this a 27-20 kind of scare-game too or a 21-20 upset. For the Utes it’s just another opener. For the in-state ‘Cats, it’s a chance to literally make their program, and vault HC Jay Hill to the bigs. There’s too much at stake for WSU, with 9 months to prepare, for me put a dime on it.
Boise State (-10) at Troy. This would be a fantastic bowl game. Why Neal Brown was not deep in the coaching carousel is beyond me. The Trojans are a very good G5 team. But, Boise State is probably the best one. Are they 10 points better than Troy on the road? Could be. But I wouldn’t put money on it. The weather will affect Boise. Count on it. Central Alabama? First week of September? LOL. I grew up down here and I want to crawl in a hole and die for five months out of the year. That said, Boise has the clear talent advantage.
LOL. OSU could go all “rally round the Script I”, and they could become typical Urban Meyer headcases too. In either event, there’s too much uncertainty in C’bus to take -38.5...even against the playing-dead Beavers (SWIDT?)
Virginia Tech has blown two decades worth of talent, and especially did so last season. Cam Akers is going to go nuts, and a healthy Deandre Francois gets the hype train rolling. I don’t think either one of these teams is special — marginal Top 25 — but FSU has a brute force talent advantage and the best player on the field. That’s good for a 27-17ish kind of win. If not, then the most overrated coach in America will feel immediate pressure in Tallahassee.
Wake (-7) at Tulane. I love this spread. I don’t think the Green Wave can score enough on the Deacs, or certainly not enough to keep this a touchdown game when the final whistle blows. Tulane has been better at home lately, including beating three bowl teams last year. But there’s a difference between bullying Army, FIU and Major Applewhite and then what Dave Clawson is building in Winston-Salem. I like the Deacs’ to nickel and dime them death and then smother Tulane’s triple option — an offense they prepare for and see every third season in ACC play. Tulane gets a few big runs, but not enough drives.
Louisville vs. Alabama. That this line has fallen to -24.5 makes this a buyers’ market for real. Alabama’s average SEC victory is 25.5 points the past three seasons. Operate under the assumption that Louisville is as decent as an average-to-below average SEC team, plus throw in the offseason motivation, that bad Luhvl OLine, a new QB for the Cards, and Saban’s penchant for crushing Petrino, and this one could be a laugher. 45-6 kind of stuff.
Michigan vs. Notre Dame: I am very high on both of these teams, especially the Irish which return almost as many guys as Michigan. I’m not sure in his first start, under Touchdown Jesus’ hostile arms, against that secondary, that Shea Patterson can get it done. The Irish line play gets just enough done to eke out the win. -1.5 seems about right. Call this one a 20-17 ‘Domers victory and the playoff expectations will start to go wild. Neither outcome would surprise me between these two bitter rivals, but sometimes you gotta take a chance.
Tennessee vs. West Virginia (-10). The maiden voyage of the HMS Fulmer-Plots-To-Be-Coach-Again begins against one of the nation’s best passing offenses, with maybe its best QB-WR tandem. Meanwhile, the Vawls have a great offensive line but little skills players to capitalize on it. If it’s a scoring race, and I suspect it will be, the Vawls will have to do it on the ground to exploit WVU’s most glaring weakness. Evil Holgo’s team will struggle with Tennessee’s blitzes at times, but that first year of learning the 3-4 is always rough on the secondary. Expect a lot of UT miscommunication as the ‘Eers smoke the Vawls in the most hillbilly-ass game you’ll ever see. Evil Holgo will run it up on you if given the chance. He’ll get the chance.
Texas should cover two touchdowns against Maryland, a program in absolute disarray. The Terps could rally around and all that. But the Horns remember falling flat against this same team last year. It doesn’t happen — this year it’s Maryland’s turn to fall apart. There are just too many distractions for 85 eighteen-year olds to process...on top of the death of a teammate. And it’s not like this was a talented, well-coached team to begin with. Texas may not be well-coached — Herman’s not really shown me much the last two years — but it has oodles of talent. Track meet in College Park and the Terps lose it.
FINALLY, THE DREAMY LANE KIFFIN/JOEY FRESHWATER SHOUTOUT/WILD THROW AT THE DARTBOARD.
FAU has the nation’s best offense. Period. Oklahoma tends to get got at home and early. Also its defense is putrid. Also, Kyler Murray is...well...Kyler Murray. This game may hit 100 points if the Sooners RTDB 80 times. But, Lane’s team will put up a lot of points too. Enough to cover 21 and gain some national respectability? Why not. Let’s call it 48-31 Sooners. This is my fanboy/going out on a limb pick.