The 2019 college football season begins for real this week with nearly every team taking the field for the first time. There were a few games last weekend to whet our appetites and get us ready for what is sure to be a thrilling ride to the national championship game in January. Most of the top dogs in the sport like to pencil in a body bag game early in the season to chisel away the offseason rust and we can see that in a number of opening college football betting lines, which have crossed over the 30-point mark at offshore sportsbooks.
Six games that are on the board have spreads north of 30, and all six favorites are ranked among the preseason top-25. The top two teams in the country headline the list of huge favorites. No. 1 Clemson opened at -33 against Georgia Tech and the betting public jumped all over the defending champions pushing the line up a field goal. There’s no reason why Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and a solid defense shouldn’t cover in this one.
I really don’t want to be David Cutcliffe this week. He’s built a solid program at Duke but this is a rebuilding year after losing a number of players, including quarterback Daniel Jones to the NFL. And the Blue Devils open against an angry Alabama squad hitting the turf for the first time since enduring Nick Saban’s worst loss as the program’s head coach. The Tide opened as a 30-point favorite with the line steadily wagered up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it climb even higher at top online sportsbooks before kickoff on Saturday.
A quick look at how this week’s CFB is shaping up
Biggest Line Move- NC St. -22 to -16.5
Most money on a game- UCLA vs. CIN
Most lopsided game- V. Tech (93%) vs BC (7%)
Most evenly balanced game- UCLA (50%) vs CIN (50%)
Biggest need for house- Miss. St. -20 and u60.5
— Official Bookmaker (@bookmaker_eu) August 27, 2019
Huskers (-36) vs South Alabama
On top of the two games mentioned above there are four others this week with a spread over 30. Many feel Nebraska, under second-year coach Scott Frost, is a sleeper in the Big Ten. The Huskers checked in at No. 24 in the AP Poll and have talented quarterback Adrian Martinez leading the attack. A stunning loss to Troy was part of Nebraska’s 0-6 start last year, but they finished strong winning four of their final six to inspire hope. They are favored by 36 over South Alabama, which is a lot of points after two 4-8 campaigns. I’d stay away from this one until the Huskers prove they are worthy of being ranked and favored by five touchdowns.
Wolverines (-34) vs Middle Tennessee
After opening at Notre Dame last season and being put behind the eight-ball early, Michigan took a different route this year. The Wolverines host Middle Tennessee on Saturday as they begin their quest to reach the Big Ten title game for the first time under Jim Harbaugh. UM has the personnel and even though they were pounded at offshore sportsbooks causing the spread to climb to -34, I like the maize and blue to prevail.
Aggies (-33) vs Texas State
Jimbo Fisher was given a lot of money to make the Texas AM squad a contender in the SEC West, not a nine-win team with a Gator Bowl invite. The Aggies could be Alabama’s biggest threat in the division and they are favored by 33-points to take care of Texas State in the opener. Washington State is spotting New Mexico State 32-points in their Saturday night tilt.
Our Week 1 Upset Picks
Oregon (+3) vs Auburn
The marquee game of the weekend pits two ranked teams at a neutral site. Oregon has its sights on a CFP berth led by Heisman Trophy candidate Justin Herbert, who elected to return to Eugene instead of opting for the NFL draft. And the Ducks will look a lot like the team that ran around opponents during the Chip Kelly days with an abundance of talent and speed. Herbert gives OU a big edge at quarterback over Auburn true freshman Bo Nix and I like the Ducks to win this game outright as a 3-point dog.
Wake Forest vs Utah State (+2.5)
Being in the SEC has its advantages. Wake Forest opened as a 2.5-point favorite over Utah State and the number was wagered up a point. The Aggies won a program record-tying 11 games last season and have Mountain West player of the year candidate Jordan Love quarterbacking the offense. This is a team that went into East Lansing last year and had a late lead against the Spartans before falling. Can a top team from the Group of Five beat a bottom club from a Power 5 conference? I think so and I’m throwing down on Utah State.
Our Week 1 Lock Pick
Army (-21.5) vs Rice
There are no guarantees in life, but Army covering the 21.5-point line against Rice is one of them. The Middies have a number of players back from their 11-2 team a year ago and Jeff Monken has built a powerhouse with a 21-5 record the last two seasons. Army averaged over 312 yards rushing in 2018 while the Owls struggled to stop opponents. I see this one playing out in a similar fashion and will back the Middies as my Week 1 lock.
Check out the latest college football betting odds.