College Football Game of the Year Odds Released: Expert Predictions
This week has marked one of my favorite times of the summer as a diehard college football fan. This week some of the sportsbooks started to post lines for the biggest games of the year. That means we are getting close. However, with a full, glorious summer between us and the first game, I don't want the season to get here too fast. When these numbers are posted, my favorite thing to do is to pick out a few of the more interesting ones and do a first-reaction take on them. There is lots of time for breaking them down and handicapping the games properly. What we are looking for here is a first sense of where the value lies (All odds are from BetOnline):
Auburn (-3) at Oregon, August 31: This is a very interesting game for two teams that really need this to be a good season. Oregon has gone through too many coaching changes and too many QB issues as they have tried to move on from the Chip Kelly era. And going 5-4 in the Pac-12 last year is just embarrassing given the state of the conference. Auburn was very relevant recently, but you would never guess it after going 3-5 in the SEC last year. Both teams need to be much better. My gut tells me I like this Oregon number here because I am really struggling to believe in the coaching genius of Gus Malzahn.
LSU (-3) at Texas, September 7: I don't think this is anything close to a must-win game for Tom Herman. But after a season that showed a lot of promise, getting a win over a top SEC team would certainly set a tone for another step forward this year. LSU won 10 games yet again last year, but they felt vulnerable the whole way along, and Texas at their best can make this very interesting. I like the home team as an underdog again here.
Texas A&M (+15) at Clemson, September 7: This reinforces what we already know. Texas A&M is a team that a lot of people like in the second year of the Jimbo Fisher era. So, 15 points is a big number in this one. But, of course, Clemson has a QB that walks on water leading an offense that can do no wrong. Expectations are almost impossibly high for the Tigers this year. This is a very good early opportunity to see if things are a bit out of control on that front or if they really are in the driver's seat for another title. I like the dog here at this price, but I am naturally a little skeptical about massive hype - unless it is concerning a thoroughbred trained by Bob Baffert.
Oklahoma (-11.5) at UCLA, September 14: Wow, this number gives Chip Kelly a lot more credit than I would be looking to give him. Oklahoma has been great for a couple of years and has another high-level QB to step in and keep things rolling. Kelly's team was a disaster last year, and he recruited horribly. He has a nice QB to work with but not nearly enough else. If they had forced Oklahoma to give up another nine points, I wouldn't have blinked an eye. I like the Sooners here right now. A lot.
USC (+11.5) at Notre Dame, October 11: It will be very interesting to see what this game looks like by the time it arrives. It really feels like both of these teams really have the potential for their wheels to fall off. They have upside - Notre Dame much more than USC given the inept coaching the Trojans insist on sticking with - but they could easily fall into a really dark place and it wouldn't be surprising. Given the uncertainty on both sides, this feels like a completely unbettable number right now.
Miami (+1) at Florida State, November 2: This number is the oddsmakers way of just shrugging. They have no idea what to do with this game right now. And how could they? Miami took a step back last year - a big one - and then went through an odd coaching change. Florida State has been a mess for a few years now, and the first year of their new regime last year wasn't exactly inspiring. What are either of these rivals right now? Who knows. I guess I have a bit more faith in Miami, but not by much.
Ohio State (+3) at Michigan, November 30: I have two thoughts about this one. I love the fact that my beloved Wolverines are favored in their biggest game of the year right now. And, man do I hope it's true. Last year was a tough year for Michigan fans. We got our hopes up through 10 games only to get kicked in the teeth. Again and again and again. You can't be a Michigan fan if you aren't used to inflated hopes and disappointment, but that Ohio State debacle last year was a new low. We should be improved after a big overhaul of the coaching staff. And Ohio State could easily take a step or three back. But I won't breathe a sigh of relief until the final whistle blows in this one. But how would I bet it now? All in on Michigan. Obviously.
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