College Football Marquee Match-ups
by Trevor Whenham - 08/24/2006
If you're like me, you are counting the seconds until college football starts next week. Even though there are some decent match-ups coming up in week one, there are some even better ones that will take place all throughout the season. The first week of the season isn't very interesting as most teams tune up with patsies. What really gets my blood pumping is looking forward to some of the huge showdowns that are coming up later on in the season.
For me, Michigan-Notre Dame in week three, Texas-Oklahoma three weeks later, West Virginia-Louisville to kick off November and the rivalry games on Nov. 18 already have me foaming at the mouth. Thanks to the Marquee Matchup odds that Pinnacle has set, you don't have to wait until the week of the game to bet on them. Pinnacle Sportsbook has set odds on 23 games during the season. Here's a look at some of the more interesting match-ups they are already accepting action on:
Sept. 9 - Ohio State at Texas (only moneyline available) - This game couldn't be more perfect. Two highly regarded teams meet in the second week of the season and a National Championship run likely ends for one of them. Ohio State has a potent offense filled with experienced weapons, but they lost two linebackers in the first round of the NFL Draft, bringing up serious questions on defense.
Texas has a ridiculously tough defense and a great running game, but the Horns also have a quarterback that has never seen real action. That leads to a possible wide-open contest that either team could win. Oddsmakers can't put their fingers on this one, either - there is no spread. Ohio State is listed at -108 and Texas is -102 on the moneyline.
Sept. 16 - Michigan at Notre Dame (-6) - Notre Dame has a tremendous amount of hype to live up to and Michigan has the shame of a pathetic season to climb out from under. Both teams return very similar lineups from last year, but Michigan will be under pressure to reach their potential, while Notre Dame needs to keep doing what they were doing up to their bowl disaster last year. Notre Dame has been listed as a six-point favorite.
Oct. 7 - Oklahoma vs. Texas (-2.5) - For the first time in a few years, the Red River Shootout could actually be competitive. Oklahoma is a vastly improved team, even without a QB, and they will be riding Adrian Peterson all season. Texas also has to prove that they can operate with a new face taking snaps. Oklahoma has some badly dented pride that they will be out to salvage in this game. At this point bookmakers give Texas the edge, as they have listed the Horns as 2.5-point favorites. They think this will be a close game and so do I.
Oct. 21 - Texas (-3.5) at Nebraska - I don't mean to dwell on Texas. I don't even particularly like them. I just find this line a bit odd. Texas is just a 3.5-point favorite. Does that mean that we are supposed to believe that Nebraska is finally going to get their act together? Is Coach Callahan finally going to get his team to buy into the West Coast offense? I don't buy it. They will be improved, but I don't believe that they are at the same level as Texas, or as close as this line indicates.
Nov. 4 - West Virginia at Louisville (-4.5) - You can call this one the Hype Bowl. Both of these teams have people tripping over each other to jump on the bandwagon. Both teams have explosive young quarterbacks that scouts are drooling over. Both have easy schedules (though West Virginia has it a little easier because they dodge Miami). Louisville's QB Brian Brohm has more experience than West Virginia's Pat White, and Louisville's defense is improved while West Virginia might have lost a step. Therefore, it makes sense that Louisville is a 4.5-point favorite. This line could definitely tighten if both teams live up to expectations, however.
Nov. 18 - Michigan at Ohio State (-6) - The biggest rivalry in college football has been painful for Wolverines fans of late, but this game has the potential to be much more interesting. On paper today the Buckeyes should win, as the 6-point line indicates. There is a lot that can go wrong -- or right -- however, for both teams between now and then that could make this spread a bargain on either side.
Nov. 18 - California at USC (-6) - USC has made the Pac-10 their personal playground for years. Cal is the one team that has been consistently respectable during that time, actually posing a threat to the Trojans more than once. Cal wants nothing more than to finally rule their conference, and this game will be crucial to their dreams. USC will be much improved on defense, but the offense is a bit of a wild card as they work in a new QB, and some guy named Reggie Bush isn't there to walk on water. If you don't believe USC can get it together, then you will be thrilled to take California and 6 points right now.
Nov. 25 - Notre Dame at USC (-2) - Remember this game last year? It was an all-time classic. Pick your team and throw down your money. USC is the favorite, but the 2-point spread isn't scary for either side. If this game is half as good as it was last year it will be one of the five best games of the season.