Last Updated: 2017-08-30
As we’ve talked about, the college football timeline has been accelerated so much in recent years. Just one week after the National Championship trophy was handed out, 5Dimes Sportsbook was looking ahead to the future. We talked about some of the College Football Playoff National Champion futures odds last week and now we have Week 1 lines to look at and consider. Obviously, it’s hard for a lot of people to tie up money more than seven months in advance, but line value is line value regardless of what the date on the calendar says.
Let’s see how oddsmakers are viewing some of these teams and see if we can find some early Week 1 best bets (games at neutral sites noted; all lines -120 unless noted):
Friday August 25
Stanford (-32.5) vs. Rice in Sydney, Australia
Saturday August 26
Portland State at BYU (-29.5)
South Florida (-10) at San Jose State
Thursday August 31
Ohio State (-18.5) at Indiana
Friday September 1
Washington (-29.5) at Rutgers
Saturday September 2
Florida State vs. Alabama (-3.5) in Atlanta, Georgia
Virginia Tech (-2) vs. West Virginia in Landover, Maryland
NC State (-7) vs. South Carolina in Charlotte, NC
Colorado State vs. Colorado (-6.5) in Denver, Colorado
BYU vs. LSU (-14) in Houston, Texas
Florida vs. Michigan (-7.5) in Arlington, Texas
Texas A&M at UCLA (-2.5)
Temple at Notre Dame (-10.5)
Maryland at Texas (-15)
California at North Carolina (-10)
Monday September 4
Tennessee (-3.5) vs. Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA
It’s always interesting to get some kind of idea on how the oddsmakers are viewing these teams. A lot of things are going to change between then and now. Players will invariably get hurt during spring camps and spring games. Position battles will carry over well into the fall. Some of the teams lined have experienced significant losses to the NFL Draft or have lost head coaches. There’s a lot to consider and probably some high variance will some of these specific games.
That being said, there are a couple of best bets that can be isolated for these games.
South Carolina +7 vs. NC State – The Gamecocks will be very well-represented in Charlotte, which is just a couple of hours up I-77 from Columbia and very close to Rock Hill, where a lot of USC grads live from working in the Charlotte area. It’s a split South Carolina/Clemson fan base, but Gamecock fans tend to travel well.
Will Muschamp picked up some additional practices thanks to making a bowl game, which was enormous for the youngest team in the country last season. True sophomore Jake Bentley will have an entire offseason to prepare as the starting quarterback and the defense was one of the most impressive in the SEC. NC State smashed Vanderbilt in its bowl game, so they’re riding a little bit of a wave. Also, they had close losses to Clemson and Florida State that are getting a lot of respect. In a game that should have a fairly low total, points will be at a premium and the Gamecocks have been able to hit the recruiting trail a lot harder with the new regime than they did under the past regime. It’d be a stunner if this line was +7 come game week. It’ll probably be closer to a pick ‘em or maybe NC State -2 or 2.5. If that’s the case, we’re getting some key numbers with a push on 7 and a win at 6, 4, and 3.
Ohio State -18.5 at Indiana – Former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson is now the Ohio State offensive coordinator and his debut will come against a team that he knows inside and out. Things shouldn’t change a ton under new head coach Tom Allen, at least not on defense, so Wilson should know which areas he can exploit. The Buckeyes lost a ton on defense to the NFL and lost Curtis Samuel and some offensive linemen, but JT Barrett and the Buckeyes come in after the embarrassing shutout loss to Clemson and they’ll be looking to make a statement.
Colorado -6.5 vs. Colorado State – The Rams were one of the hottest teams in the country to wrap up the season, but couldn’t get off the field against the Idaho Vandals in the Potato Bowl. Head coach Mike Bobo has Colorado State going in the right direction and they should be a formidable foe in the very strong Mountain Division, but they are not on Colorado’s level. Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre has really built that program up in impressive fashion and a spot in the Pac-12 Title Game should get some decent JUCO transfers interested and will give Colorado the opportunity to sell the university as a football school instead of just a basketball school or a pretty place to go to college.
Colorado rolled 44-7 in the rivalry game this season. They outgained the Rams 578-225. It’s a stretch to see things changing that quickly in the span of a year, even if Colorado has some notable losses to the NFL and to graduation.
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