The college football odds-makers released a few of lines over the weekend and, I have to admit, I found a few of them very intriguing—particularly as an admitted follower and supporter of the Georgia Bulldogs. That said, I perused a few of the prognostications by both Vegas and those who offer some offshore action and decided to pick a few games that favor you, the bettor, if you are the gambling kind.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I will say that I do not proclaim myself to be an expert in the game of betting on college football. In fact, my knowledge is probably about as extensive as any novice, but I do know a little something about college football and I feel pretty confident in saying that I’ve won more than I’ve lose where picking a game is concerned.
That said, dispute me if you’s like, but I’m going all-in on these five teams during the week one of the college football season:
1. UL-Lafayette at Georgia (Georgia -28)
The Georgia Bulldogs are not a team that one can usually bet on with a lot of confidence. In 2009, they were 5-7 against the spread (ATS)—often losing when favored. However, they return 16 starters, 10 of which are on defense and, although mixed results will be expected of the new-look defensive unit, there is still enough talent on that side of the ball to feel confident that they’ll be fighting hard in week one.
UL-Lafayette will come in with an offense that will be mediocre (at best)—returning only five starters. Furthermore, the Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t prove to be stout in their games against upper-tier opposition last season; losing by a total margin of 83-points to both LSU and Nebraska, for an average margin of defeat of 41.5 points.
The last time Georgia faced a Sun Belt opponent was 2007 when they won a 44-34 squeaker over Troy in Athens. Don’t expect it to be anywhere near that close against UL-Lafayette. Look for Georgia to take control early and win their opener by better than four touchdowns.
2. Washington State at Oklahoma State (Oklahoma State -14)
This game is dangerous. It’s a risky proposition to be too bold in choosing either team to do anything but disappoint you this season. Oklahoma State lost the hear of it’s offense, defense, and special teams in Zac Robinson, Perrish Cox, and Keith Toston. So, it’s a rebuilding year in Stillwater—no matter what Mike Gundy tries to tell you.
However, a rebuilding Oklahoma State is still 10 times better than a Washington State Cougar team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2004 and has won increasingly less games since 2006—culminating in a one-loss stinker in 2009.
The Cowboys will be playing in the friendly confines of Boone-Pickens stadium and still have Kendall Hunter to run the ball for them on offense. They won’t have to fight too hard for this one as the Cougars return a unit that not only was dead last in total defense, but ranked near the bottom of the FBS in offense as well.
Easy (Boone) Pickens…if you ask me. Take the Cowboys.
3. Washington at BYU (BYU -3)
I’m confused by this one, but I’m going to presume that the Cougars are getting a lot of love for simply playing at home—right?
The Huskies are the sexy Pac-10 pic for this season and they are led by probable Heisman candidate, Jake Locker. Many are expecting Steve Sarkisian to lead his squad to a bowl berth this season and, possibly, challenge the Pac-10 for a spot in the championship. High hopes abound for this Seattle bunch.
On the other hand, BYU lost most of their offense–most devastatingly Harvey Unga (RB) and Max Hall (QB). Even more, that front seven that made Oklahoma look like a high school football team in their 2009 opener has only one returning starter to speak of…uh-oh.
BYU might be formidable in Provo, but they are also the same team that managed to lose to an inconsistent Florida State squad in week three, so they aren’t invincible by any stretch.
Call me crazy, but I like the Huskies in this one.
4. LSU at North Carolina (North Carolina +1.5) “UPSET SPECIAL”
I expect this game to be ugly, close, and down-to-the-wire. It’s not that I think North Carolina is amazing, but rather my thinking that the Tar Heel defense is phenomenal. I believe it’s good enough to make life for LSU (who lost every significant ball carrier at the end of 2009) very difficult on offense.
Too bad North Carolina’s offense isn’t nearly as impressive.
Even though the Tar Heels will bring back eight offensive starters—including quarterback T.J. Yates—they are still not going to shock the world by putting up major point totals. So, if LSU plays even a little bit competent on defense, they will have no problem shutting UNC down.
That said, this game will be about field position and special teams. I give the slight edge to North Carolina here as LSU lost its two leading return men in both Trindon Holliday and Chad Jones while the Tarheels, who were ranked near the top of the FBS in special teams defense last season, return the bulk of their special teams unit.
I’m calling for an upset by the Tar Heels in week one…assuming the NCAA doesn’t dismantle the defense in short-measure. If that happens, well, it’s going to be LSU in a walk.
5. Connecticut at Michigan (Michigan -3.0)
While I can understand the desire to bet on a team that stands 5-0 ATS on the road (UConn), this is still a Michigan team that has a ton of talent on offense and a lot of expectations riding on the success of the program, under Rich Rod, this season.
The Huskies are as stout as they come on defense and this game will, no doubt, be a big one for Randy Edsall’s bunch this season, but the Huskies sustained some important losses with the departures of not only Andre Dixon (1,093 yards rushing and 14 TD’s) and Marcus Easley (48 receptions, 893 yards, and 8 TD’s), but in big legged punter, Desi Cullen (42.8) as well.
Even more, there has to be some hesitation as to how much pressure the Husky defense will get up front minus all of their starting linebackers from last season.
No pass rush means a lot more time for Tate Forcier, or Denard Robinson, to pick apart or just plain run circles around that front seven and find their receivers.
The Wolverines may have a lot of questions coming into this season (including whether or not the defense can find a playmaker or two), and Rich Rod could find a pink slip in his box come season’s end, but this game will be won by the Wolverines—bringing the UConn ATS streak to an unceremonious end.