NCAA Football Betting Odds: Week 1 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
Normally in this spot, I'll try and address any major NCAA line moves and perhaps why that happened, but it's not really something that can be done in Week 1 because these lines have been up for weeks and, depending on the sportsbook, months.
I will point out that the biggest home dog of Week 1 is Rice getting 26 points against Houston and Heisman Trophy contender Ed Oliver on Saturday. And that was my segue: On Monday, I gave my projected four teams in the College Football Playoff. Today, it's an early Heisman pick.
Oliver probably will be the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft because as of now there's no projected franchise quarterback available in what looks to be a rather weak class of signal-callers. Every team in the NFL needs a disrupter up front like Oliver. It's rare you find a defensive tackle who can also pile up the sacks - those are left to ends and outside linebackers. Oliver, a rare-five-star recruit to not land at a Power 5 school (he committed to Houston when Tom Herman was there), had 16.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks a season ago in being named AAC Defensive Player of the Year. Oliver is being compared to reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.
Do I realistically think any defensive player can win the Heisman? No. Do I think any player from a non-Power 5 school can win it? Also no. Oliver is a +8000 long shot at 5Dimes. What that site also offers, though, is a prop on players just getting an invitation to New York. Oliver at +950 might be worth a bet there. Coach Major Applewhite says he plans to use his star a bit on offense a la Refrigerator Perry of the Bears. In last season's Hawaii Bowl, Applewhite gave us a glimpse by giving Oliver a carry at the goal line, and he punched it in. If Oliver can put up his usual defensive numbers while also scoring, say, four TDs then he should get an invite. It also benefits him that he does play in a major media market. The Heisman is all about popularity. My winner? West Virginia's Will Grier at +1100 .
Here are some notes for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
Stephen F. Austin at No. 18 Mississippi State (-41, NT): This is one of those "extra" games that not all books offer because it's an FBS vs. FCS matchup. The only reason I'm mentioning it is because the Bulldogs' Heisman candidate, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, was suspended for a violation of team rules. Fitzgerald is one of the top returning QBs in the SEC as last year he threw for 1,782 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 984 yards and 14 touchdowns. I do think it's interesting that new head coach Joe Moorhead, the former Penn State offensive coordinator, waited this long to announce it even though it happened in March. And did you really think that Fitzgerald was going to get two games? Uh, no because MSU has a losable game next week at Kansas State. Don't overlook MSU this year as Dan Mullen built a nice team there before leaving for Florida.
Washington State at Wyoming (+1, 45): This has the lowest total among Saturday's games as both schools are replacing quarterbacks who were drafted: Washington State's Luke Falk in the sixth round by the Titans and Wyoming's Josh Allen at No. 7 overall by the Bills. The Cougars had Falk's replacement set in Tyler Hilinski, but he shockingly committed suicide in January. An autopsy unfortunately showed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in his brain. Coach Mike Leach, who was set to accept the Tennessee job this offseason before the UT president called back the AD to fire him before Leach signed a deal, hasn't announced his starter. Funny guy Leach had four starters listed on his first depth chart. It probably will be East Carolina graduate transfer Gardner Minshew, who has by far the most experience of them all as none of the other guys have thrown an FBS pass. The Cowboys were one of a few FBS teams to play in Week Zero, winning 29-7 at New Mexico State. Allen's replacement, freshman Tyler Vander Waal, was just 13 of 22 for 137 yards.
Cincinnati at UCLA (-14.5, 64): This line I can say did drop two points or so this week following the news that new Bruins coach Chip Kelly suspended six players for the typically vague violation of team rules. They are: Running back Soso Jamabo, tight end Devin Asiasi, defensive back Mo Osling, center Boss Tagaloa and defensive linemen Osa Odighizuwa and Moses Robinson-Carr. Jamabo also will be suspended for UCLA's game against Oklahoma next week, and Asiasi and Tagaloa will miss the first three games. None of them are too huge on their own, although Jamabo was the Bruins' second-leading rusher last season. The Bruins are replacing first-round draft pick Josh Rosen, and Kelly has decided on Michigan transfer Wilton Speight. In four games last year before getting injured, Speight threw for 581 yards and three touchdowns while completing 54.3 percent of his passes.
No. 8 Miami vs. No. 24 LSU (+3.5, 46.5): In my opinion, this will be the lowest-scoring major game of the weekend - it's the only scheduled Sunday night matchup of the regular season and from Arlington, Texas. The Hurricanes rode their defense and the "Turnover Chain" to a 10-0 start last season and a No. 2 ranking the CFP Top 25 before QB Malik Rosier really fell off and UM lost its final three. Rosier had to re-win his job in camp but may not have a huge leash. LSU is always one of the nation's top defensive teams and will be again, led by two Top 10 NFL Draft prospects in linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams. Embattled coach Ed Orgeron has decided on Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow as his QB. If the Tigers lose this one, Orgeron's seat immediately gets boiling hot. I'll be going 'under' here.
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