I know that June is a little too early to start thinking about college football picks against the spread. But college football championsh ip odds were out within 24 hours of Clemson claiming the national title last January. And several sportsbooks currently have Week 1 college football betting lines posted.
College football season is infinite in the United States in the year 2017. And three weeks ago South Point Sportsbook was the first Las Vegas sportstbook to post odds on 77 of the biggest games of the season. The books claimed to have taken in over $70,000 in wagers - with a $1,000 limit on each game - within the first 24 hours. So clearly football betting never sleeps.
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Here are odds and analysis for 10 of the biggest games of the 2017 college football season:
Alabama (-6) vs. Florida State (Sept. 2)
This is a monster game to open the season in the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Over the course of the last six years these two teams have combined to go 144-21 and win four National Championships. The spread on this game actually opened at -4.0. But Nick Saban's record in season-opening games at Alabama - a perfect 10-0 with a ton of blowouts - will have the general betting public all over the Crimson Tide as this game gets closer. However, Florida State will be able to match the size and strength of the Tide. And FSU is a stellar 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games against teams from the SEC.
Florida (+4) vs. Michigan (Sept. 2)
This game is on the undercard on college football's opening Saturday. But Florida is the two-time defending SEC East champions and Michigan will likely open the season in the Top 10. The Wolverines are still hungry for their first college football playoff appearance. But unlike Jim Harbaugh's first two seasons, the Wolverines will be somewhat of a dark horse in the Big Ten this year behind favorites Ohio State and Penn State. This game is a rematch of the 2016 Citrus Bowl. Michigan dismantled the Gators 41-7 in that meeting, and I'm sure Jim McElwain has reminded his team of that fact about 250 times already this summer.
Oklahoma (+8) at Ohio State (Sept. 9)
Bob Stoops' somewhat sudden and shocking departure from the Sooners dominated summer discussions about Oklahoma football. But replacement Lincoln Riley will have to keep his team focused for this early-season revenge match with the Buckeyes. Last year Urban Meyer's Ohio State squad rolled into Norman and hammered the Sooners 45-24. They were two-point favorites in that game, and I think they could be laying double-digits by the time this return game kicks off in The Horseshoe.
Pittsburgh (+19) at Penn State (Sept. 9)
There might be other college football Week 2 lines that take more action. But this is absolutely a game that casual and sharp bettors should keep on their radar. This is a humongous amount of points for a long-standing rivalry game featuring two teams residing in one of the best football states in the country. Pitt's 42-39 upset win last year may have kept the Nittany Lions out of the College Football Playoff last year. And while I know that revenge and home field account for a lot, the Panthers were just 3.5-point underdogs in last year's contest. And only once in the past 30 years (11 meetings) has more than 20 points decided this game. And that one time came all the way back in 1992.
Clemson (+2) at Louisville (Sept. 16)
Last year's Week 3 meeting gave us one of the best college football games of the 2016 season, with DeShaun Watson barely edging out Lamar Jackson in a 42-36 shootout in Death Valley. Jackson is back to defend his Heisman Trophy and attempt to get Louisville over the hump in the ACC. A win over the defending National Champions would go a long way to accomplishing both goals.
Texas (+12) at USC (Sept. 16)
Again, there will be other college football Week 3 lines that get more attention. But this one jumped out at me for a variety of reasons. USC will likely start the season in the Top 5, and Sam Darnold is getting a lot of hype in regard to Heisman Trophy odd s. But Texas has a ton of talent. And new head coach Tom Herman is going to make them one of the most intriguing teams in the country heading into the 2017 season. Yes, this is a true road game. But Herman's squad will be playing with house money, and I could see them throwing a scare into a USC that has flopped in a lot of big games over the last decade.
USC (-6.5) at Notre Dame (Oct. 21)
The Trojans have one of the most difficult schedules in the country. And a midseason trip to South Bend, smack in the middle of conference play, is no small task. The home team has won four straight in this series. And both the Irish and Trojans have split the last eight meetings, alternating wins each of the past four years. Notre Dame is coming off a massively disappointing 2016 season. But they have more talent and experience than last year's 8-4 record indicates, and they will have two weeks to prepare for this tilt. If you like the home underdog, bet them now because I expect this spread to come down between now and October.
Georgia (-3) vs. Florida (Oct. 28)
The SEC East really has been a pretty pathetic division over the last five years. But both Georgia and Florida appear to be on the rise. And this game - the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party - is one of the most crucial games in one of the best conferences in college football. I was surprised that Georgia was installed as a favorite here. Florida has won three straight in this series and is a dominating 21-6 over the last 27 years.
Oklahoma (-1) vs. Oklahoma State (Nov. 4)
Oklahoma State is one of those second- or third-tier college football programs that simply can't get over the hump and onto the national stage. However, people said the same thing about Clemson for years before Dabo Sweeney and DeShaun Watson elevated them to greatness. Now that Stoops is out of the picture, maybe the Cowboys can take advantage and fill the void at the top of the Big 12. Oklahoma is 12-2 in the last 14 meetings and has dominated the Cowboys each of the last two years. But this game has decided the Big 12 champion in four of the last six years. And with a new Big 12 Championship Game being played this year, the league decided to move this game to the beginning of November rather than risk these two playing in back-to-back weeks.
Ohio State (-8) at Michigan (Nov. 25)
Finally, we have what may be the greatest rivalry in college football. This spread is pretty eye-catching considering the game will be played in Ann Arbor this season. And there is the little fact that the Wolverines got screwed in last year's meeting, losing 30-27 in double-overtime in a game marred by several controversial calls for the Buckeyes. But the big number is indicative of the fact that Ohio State has dominated this series as of late. They have won five straight over the Wolverines, and they are 12-1 in the series dating back to 2004. Regardless, it is still a load of points considering Michigan's three losses last year came by a combined five points and they have just one defeat by more than a touchdown in the young Harbaugh Era.
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