NCAA Football Betting Odds: Week 1 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
Bovada has a prop up on the first coach to be fired this season, with the favorite being UCLA's Jim Mora Jr. at +300. He should be favored after his Bruins slid to 4-8 last year, although that was in large part because star QB Josh Rosen didn't play much due to injury. That program is trending the wrong way. Mora's teams were 10-3 his first two seasons, 8-5 in 2015 and then last year's huge disappointment.
So what other coaches in Power 5 Conferences are on the hot seat? Staying in UCLA's Pac-12 South, Arizona State's Todd Graham (+900) and Arizona's Rich Rodriguez (+1000) both need big seasons. The loser of the Territorial Cup game to close the regular season might be out regardless. Tough to win consistently in football at those schools; Arizona is a basketball school. I think everyone else in the Pac-12 is on safe ground.
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In the Big 12, Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury (+1200) is really the only guy. He has been given a long leash because he's a very popular former QB at the school and ladies love him. But while the Red Raiders put up points every year, they are an embarrassment on defense annually. In the Big Ten, I don't really see anyone in trouble. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio (+2000) is on the Bovada list, but he has earned a long leash despite some serious off-field problems surrounding his program this offseason. I'm not sure I see Sparty winning the Big Ten East anytime soon, though, with the rise of Michigan and Penn State and Ohio State being Ohio State (the Big Ten needs to realign).
In the ACC, the only coaches on the list are Boston College's Steve Addazio and NC State's Dave Doeren, both at +2000, but those aren't major powers. I will say watch out for the Wolfpack this year as they are loaded on defense and could be a major surprise.
The SEC is likely to have the most turnover this offseason. Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin (+1000) better not have another late-season fade or he's a goner. Tennessee's Butch Jones (+1200) should have won the SEC East last year with all that talent and probably needs at least nine wins. Auburn's Gus Malzahn (+1000) saved his job last year with an 8-5 mark but that won't cut it again. And Arkansas fans are getting tired of Bret Bielema (+1000).
Lot of good jobs listed above, but the most glamorous one to potentially open would be at Notre Dame, where the act of Brian Kelly (+1200) is wearing very thin. Kelly seems to blame everyone but himself for the Irish's problems. Kelly had the audacity to blame his obligations for fundraising as partly the reason why Notre Dame was 4-8 in 2016. Keep in mind that some big-name coaches like Les Miles, Bob Stoops and Chip Kelly are all currently out of work.
Here are some news, notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games (unless noted) around the country, in no particular order.
No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 1 Alabama (-7, 49.5): At the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This opened with Bama at -5.5 and a total of 53. This is easily the biggest Week 1 game in college football history, the first time the nation's No. 1 played another team in the Top 3 in the opener for both. Three legit Heisman contenders in Tide QB Jalen Hurts and RB Bo Scarbrough, and Noles QB Deondre Francois. Arguably the two best NCAA coaches going Nick Saban and FSU's Jimbo Fisher, a former Saban assistant. You can find props at all of Doc's listed sportsbooks on whether a two-loss team makes the College Football Playoff for the first time. "No" is a heavy favorite as it should be. I only give one school a chance this year, and that's the loser of this one - if it's very close. Then another close loss against a highly-ranked team fairly early in the season might be overlooked as long as said team goes on to win its conference title. I don't see Alabama losing again in the regular season, but FSU probably will with an incredibly tough schedule. In season openers under Saban, the Tide are 10-0 and have outscored opponents 411-120. I'd probably take Bama here, but any spread at 7 is just asking for a push. Buy it down to 6.5.
No. 12 LSU vs. BYU (+15, 47): I see two reasons why this line jumped so high after an opening of 10.5. First, BYU looked terrible last week in beating FCS school Portland State just 20-6. I think that's a tad misleading as the Cougars' defense played very well and they probably were looking ahead to this game - in fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the coaches put in the LSU game plan ahead of Portland State. The second reason would be that this is now essentially an LSU home game, moved to the New Orleans Superdome from Houston because of all the flooding in that city. Clearly the right decision, although now Tigers fans will probably fill 90 percent of the building as opposed to something closer to 50/50 in Houston (I won't make any jokes about Mormons traveling to New Orleans). The Cougars won't have to deal with one of the nation's best defensive players as Tigers end/linebacker Arden Key, a potential No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft, is out as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. He set the LSU record with 12 sacks last year and added 14.5 tackles for loss. It's the first meeting between these programs.
Texas A&M at UCLA (-3.5, 56.5): The line has stayed steady in what we will call the Hot Seat Rose Bowl on Sunday night (yes Sunday night) between the Aggies' Sumlin and Bruins' Mora. The loser is in big-time trouble, especially if it's Mora as I could see the Bruins losing Week 3 at Memphis and then Week 4 in the Pac-12 opener at Stanford. He could be fired before October. A&M should win its next four games before hosting Alabama on Oct. 7. Sumlin had an open competition in fall camp at quarterback and the apparent winner is redshirt freshman QB Nick Starkel in a minor surprise. Most thought that Jake Hubenak, the only QB on the roster with college experience, would win it. Incidentally, A&M's offensive coordinator is Noel Mazzone, who was in that role at UCLA before leaving ahead of last season. These two opened last year against one another in College Station and the Aggies won 31-24 in OT. Then-Aggies QB Trevor Knight threw for a score and ran for two, including the winner. Rosen threw for 343 yards and a TD but was picked off three times.
No. 25 Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech (+3, 56): Week 1 concludes on Labor Day night back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This opened at Vols -6 and a total of 61. Tennessee is going to be without one of its better and most experienced defensive players in linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. He recently had meniscus surgery so clearly will miss more than one game. Kirkland Jr. is coming off a sophomore season that was limited by a high-ankle injury. It was thought that WR Josh Smith would miss the game after suffering a collarbone injury in early August, but it now looks as if he will play. Smith played in 25 games the past two seasons for the Vols. He had 13 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown last season. As for who replaces current Pittsburgh Steeler Josh Dobbs at quarterback? Jones is keeping mum between junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano. Both could play. Meanwhile, Tech's top running back from last season, Dedrick Mills, was kicked off the team in August. The B-back rushed for 771 yards and 12 touchdowns in just nine games in 2016.
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