Top College Football Games
by Trevor Whenham - 08/11/2007
College football doesn't start for a few weeks, and we don't know much about how things are going to play out over the season yet, but it's way too tempting to resist to look ahead at the schedule to spot the must-see games that are coming up. Thanks to some aggressive sportsbooks we can not only look at these games, but also bet on them now. It doesn't matter that some of the games are three months and 11 games away - odds have already been set for selected high profile games.
As a general rule, betting on a game weeks or months before kickoff is a terrible idea. There are so many factors that are unknown and out of your control that it usually wouldn't make sense to tie up your money before you have all the information you may need. As with all general rules, though, there are exceptions. Sometimes, the lines will have such value now compared to what you anticipate them to be at kickoff that they are at least worth a look. Here's a look at five of the games of the year from Sportsbook.com to see if there are any bargains to be had:
Boise State (-3.5) at Washington, Sept. 8 - I honestly don't understand what is happening here. Sure, The Huskies are a major conference team, but they are a terrible one right now. Boise State was phenomenal last year, and anyone who was paying attention knows that it was no fluke. They lost some players, but nothing crucial, and they have the pieces to fill the gaps. You have a program in top form traveling to visit a once-proud team that now resides in the national gutter. The Broncos were disrespected when they were left out of the preseason Top 25 by a lot of organizations, and they are disrespected by this line. If the public has sense then this is the lowest it will be, so if you like Boise State then you should jump on it now.
Tennessee (-1) at Alabama, Oct. 20 - I don't love the Volunteers this year, but I think that they are going to be considerably more stable and established early in the year than Alabama. QB Erik Ainge should finally live up to his potential and shine this season. Nick Saban will draw public money to the team because of his profile, but his reputation will exceed his success early on while he attempts to implement his system and work with players he did not recruit. I think that Alabama's odds will be inflated early on because of that, and this seems like a decent spot to take advantage of it.
Ohio State (+7) at Michigan, Nov. 17 - I'm the biggest Michigan fan that there is, so if I'm saying that Ohio State deserves a look then that's really something. Michigan has struggled mightily against the Buckeyes, and we have yet to see whether their defense can hold up after some significant losses to the NFL. Ohio State also will have a lot of fresh faces on the field. Both teams are question marks, but I would be very hesitant at this point to proclaim that Michigan is currently a full touchdown better than their hated rivals. That makes Ohio State a potential value play, though I would hate myself if I put my own money on it.
Nebraska (-3.5) at Colorado, Nov. 23 - I don't trust Bill Callahan very much, but even he can't mess it up for the Huskers this year. His division is incredibly weak, and that especially includes Colorado. Dan Hawkins struggled mightily in his first year with the Buffs, and I see no way that that won't continue this season. The team just isn't very good. In fact, I'm hard pressed to see where the third win on their schedule could come from. Nebraska should obviously be favored, and they still have to prove that they have a workable offense, but I suspect that this spread could jump up to low double digits by kickoff.
UCLA (+13) at USC, Dec. 1 - This spread was a real surprise to me when I saw it. UCLA beat USC last season, stayed close in 2004, and they are a much-improved squad this year. Sure, Jim Harbaugh says that the Trojans are the best team ever, and they are unquestionably going to be very good, but this is a bit much. Until we see what UCLA has to offer when it matters, giving them this many points seems like a bad idea. Based on the relatively easy schedules both teams face, there is at least a chance that both will be undefeated for this season ending clash. If that's the case then there is no way the spread stays so big. If you like the Bruins you may want to jump now while there are still a few extra points available.