College Football Betting: Best Games of First Week of NCAA Season
by Trevor Whenham - 8/25/2014
When the first week of the college football season finally rolls around, I am not picky about what I watch. I am so starved for the action of our greatest sport that I would watch absolutely anything. There are, though, obviously some games that are more significant and important than others. From a betting perspective there are six games in the opening weekend that really stand out as being particularly significant. From watching them we can learn a lot about one or both teams that can be useful - and profitable - the rest of the way.
Thursday, August 28
Texas A&M at South Carolina: The Aggies are ranked 21st and the Gamecocks are No. 9, so both teams come into the season facing serious expectations. They also face some serious questions. Both teams have lost superstar players. Both teams will be starting quarterbacks who have limited experience - more so in the case of the Aggies. This game will be a very good early measuring stick for both teams. Are they going to be good enough to compete at a high level, or are they likely to need to reload before their next big charge? This is just the kind of game that South Carolina has found a way to lose in recent years. Will we see more of the same, or is this a team more ready?
Boise State vs. Ole Miss: This is our first look at the new regime for the Broncos, and after so much success under the previous leadership we can never be certain how things will go. If they look good early then they could provide some value because they have fallen off the public radar a bit since they are not included in the Power 5 conferences. Ole Miss faces big expectations, and this is when the fruits of their huge recruiting haul two years ago should really start to pay off. They need to make an early splash to prove that they are for real and to gain confidence for what is a brutal SEC schedule - as always. Bo Wallace is entering his third season as the starter at QB for Ole Miss, and the Broncos were terrible against the pass last year, so Wallace should be able to make an early statement here.
Saturday, August 30
Ohio State at Navy: A couple of weeks ago this game would have been an afterthought. Now it is must-watch football. With the loss of Braxton Miller we really can't have a good sense of how much of an impact it will be for Ohio State until we see them in action. We already had concerns about the Buckeyes offensive line, so this is a good chance to get a sense of that as well. Navy provides a unique test for the Buckeyes because of their relentless commitment to the triple option. They will really test the poise of a Buckeyes team that has been under mental siege.
Appalachian State at Michigan: Partly we need to watch this game just because of the potential for another soul-crushing train wreck. The last time the teams met, Appalachian State pulled off one of the bigger shockers in recent memory. While that isn't likely to happen again, it could - and that makes it interesting. More significantly, though, in the suddenly wide-open Big Ten, Michigan has the potential to be a real threat, but only if they can find a way to be much better on the offensive line than they have been - and how they look to be on paper. This isn't likely to be a massive test for that line, but if they struggle here then we know it could be a very long season. If they shine, though, then perhaps there is reason for hope.
Clemson at Georgia: Both teams are facing change at quarterback, and it could be rough. Both teams have been spoiled with stars in Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray and are now forced to make a change. They both have decent options, but nothing is certain until we see things game-tested. Though this is obviously a nonconference game, it is still a huge test for both teams because a loss will be a big blow to the public perception of the squad - especially if it isn't close. New guys under center facing that pressure are going to be interesting to watch.
Florida State vs. Oklahoma State: I frankly couldn't care less about the Cowboys this year. They aren't particularly relevant. What makes this game interesting, though, is all about the Seminoles. On paper they are the best team in the country - and it isn't close. We won't know until we see them, though, just how well they are going to handle the pressure. Jameis Winston has a massive target on his back, and everyone is out to get every other player on the team, too. If they are as good as they could be then they should make this game look simple. If it doesn't look that way then it is going to force us to do some thinking.
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