Most Interesting Week 1 College Football Lines
It is, finally, almost here. The first week of the college football season is always an interesting one. There are tight games between big rivals with high stakes. And total mismatches as top teams schedule virtual preseason games to ease into things. But regardless of what kind of game it is, we finally have something to bet on. And here are the games I find most interesting at this point in the first week of action.
Utah (-5) at BYU, August 29: The Utes have a chance to be really good. Like, perhaps the best team in the Pac-12. We know how strong the coaching is - that has long been a given - and they have good talent on both sides of the ball. BYU is struggling to find an identity lately, and this is the first game of a pretty tough schedule. Both teams will be fired up for a rivalry game that really matters, but the Utes will also be looking to deliver a message to their conference rivals. I look for a pretty decisive road win in this one - and a comfortable cover.
Boise State (+5.5) at Florida State, August 31: This is such an interesting matchup. The Broncos are going through a few key personnel changes and have struggled to travel against major conference teams. But Florida State has struggled to do absolutely everything the last couple of years, and it is far from certain that they will break out of their funk this time around. It feels like this is too many points to ask the Seminoles to give up right now, so I am looking to gamble and take the underdog.
Oregon (+3) at Auburn, August 31: If the Tigers were a stock, I would be shorting it like crazy right now. I am just not buying in. Gus Malzahn feels like a coach who is subconsciously determined to get fired, and I just have too many questions in too many places about the teams. Oregon has a very experienced and impressive quarterback - as compared to a true freshman making his debut for Auburn - and they are going to be fired up for this one. Again, I am taking the underdog making the long trip east - to a neutral site in Dallas in this case - in an attempt to make a statement and define their season.
Nebraska (-36) vs. South Alabama, August 31: Scott Frost is a heck of a coach. We know that. But he took on a massive job when he returned to his alma mater. He started to turn a bit of a corner late last year, it seemed, and expectations are high now. This is obviously a massive mismatch. But what the Huskers have not had almost since Frost starred for them was swagger. They have not gone onto the field like they feel like they deserve to be feared. They have forgotten their own history, it seems. Frost is trying to restore that swagger, and coming out and absolutely clubbing South Alabama here would be a good a good step in that battle. I have faith in him, so I am taking the Huskers here.
Michigan (-33.5) vs. Middle Tennessee State, August 31: It feels like it is almost now or never for Michigan this year - at least in the Harbaugh era. Last year ended in truly humiliating fashion with a total destruction at the hands of hated rivals Ohio State. That led to a total overhaul in offensive coaching staff, and in offensive philosophy. We obviously aren't going to see the whole new playbook rolled out in this one - no reason to get that on tape for future opponents against a mismatched foe. But what we really do need to see from Michigan here is a sense of offensive competence. Confidence. Almost cockiness. And if we see that, and if the defense is where it typically is, then this will be a massacre. Maybe it's just the fan in me, but I am confident that the home squad will cover here.
Memphis (-5.5) vs. Ole Miss, August 31: Memphis is really good. They have good coaching, a strong quarterback, and talent on both sides of the ball. They could be the best mid-major in the country right now. And they have a chance to make a statement against an Ole Miss team that is really struggling to overcome their recent past. I'll take what should be a very motivated Tigers team at home in this one.
Other Games of Note
Leaning to the Favorite:
Alabama (-35) vs Duke
Georgia (-21) at Vanderbilt
Texas (-20.5) vs. Louisiana Tech
Leaning to the Underdog:
Oklahoma (-24.5) vs. Houston
Notre Dame (-20.5) at Louisville
Clemson (-36) vs. Georgia Tech
Wisconsin (-13.5) at South Florida
Ohio State (-27.5) vs. Florida Atlantic
Stanford (-6.5) vs. Northwestern
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