NCAA Football Predictions: Week 1 Opening Line Report and Picks
Welcome. Back. College. Football.
After 229 days without college football on our televisions, one of the best sports around returned on Saturday. I couldn’t be happier. We were treated to one really good (sloppy) game that saw Illinois upset Nebraska as seven-point underdogs. The other four games on the docket were blowouts and essentially wrapped up by halftime. Nonetheless, football is football, and I soaked up every minute of it.
The return of football also means that the days of mass speculation and debate about which teams restocked, retooled, or are flat out rethinking their entire program are gone. Teams can just go out there and play and execute their game plans without any second-guessing. There will also be no more debates -- for now -- about the expansion of the College Football Playoff until we are into November and teams from the Group of 5 conferences are unbeaten and are having their appeals for a high ranking ignored by the media and playoff committee.
I will be here every Monday throughout the season to give you my first thoughts on the opening lines for the upcoming week. I’ll give you as much insight into the games as possible and will offer up my best selection on that specific game. So, without me rambling anymore, let’s get to the games.
Doc’s Sports offers college football picks for every game on our college football predictions page.
Oklahoma at Tulane +26.5, 69.5 – There should be no intrigue about who is going to win this football game. Oklahoma is nationally ranked and has aspirations of getting back to the College Football Playoff and winning this National Championship this season. So why am I writing about this game? Well, this is the Sooners first game of the season, and the spread opened up at 21.5 and has since been bet up to 26.5. That tells me that people are very excited about what the Sooners’ offense can be this season, and getting off to a fast start against a middling Tulane side will be just what the Sooners need to get going. Typically, laying nearly four touchdowns on the road is a bad idea, but the Sooners need to make a statement here. And with Tulane offering little by way of offensive firepower, the Sooners should hang 60 and win this game comfortably.
Pick: Oklahoma -26.5
Michigan State @ Northwestern -3, 45 – This game is a rematch of last season’s affair in which Michigan State won. This year, Northwestern figures to take a massive step back on offense as they lost a ton of talent are now one of the most inexperienced squads in the entire country. I have Northwestern tabbed to finish under their season win total, and it starts here with a game against Michigan State. Look, Sparty is not exactly Alabama, but the only place to go for them is up considering they finished dead last in the Big Ten in points and yards last season. This game opened up with the Spartans getting seven points, but sharp money has come in on them, forcing the books to settle on Northwestern -3. I see Michigan State’s offense being the difference here and getting the job done outright.
Pick: Michigan State +3
Stanford at Kansas State -2.5, 53 – This spread is one that jumped out to me at first glance. The opening line was listed as Stanford -2 but has since jumped the fence and now the Wildcats are favored by 2.5 points. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. The first reason being that the Cardinal simply don’t have enough talent to justify opening up as a road favorite in the opening week of the season. Sure, they averaged 29.3 points per game last season, but much of that production is gone, and that left head coach David Shaw scratching his head and wondering where he’s going to get production from. The defense was also terrible last season, giving up almost 32 points per game. And with limited returning starters, the defense will once again be a liability. The second reason the line has jumped to K-State is because they have good returning pieces on both sides of the football. Snd after a down year last season (4-6), a bounce-back season looks to be in the cards.
Pick: Kansas State -2.5
Texas Tech @ Houston +1.5, 65.5 – This is one of the weirder lines of the opening week. The line opened up with Texas Tech laying seven points on the road, but the sharp money has pushed this spread down to 1.5. To that, I say “thank you”. I believe Texas Tech will win this game and win by double digits. The Red Raiders are loaded with returning talent on offense, including a potential first-round pick at quarterback in Tyler Shough. The only question is if the defense consistently get stops. Against Houston, who is going to be in a rebuilding season, we see the Red Raiders defense holding up their end of the bargain and the offense pulling away late.
Pick: Texas Tech -1.5
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