Amid the chaos of Last week’s reshuffle bombthere was a faint memory that college football season is fast approaching: Week 1 bets were released.
From the handful of games from week 0 to the end of week 1 on Labor Day, there are now over 50 games available to bet on BetMGMincluding marquee matchups like Oregon vs. Georgia and Notre Dame vs. Ohio State.
These numbers are sure to change in the coming weeks, some very significantly, so we looked at them all to see what was surprising and whether there are any games worth betting on now.
Here are some of the lines that stood out.
It’s a new era at Notre Dame, and it begins in Columbus against one of the best teams in the country. Formerly the team’s defensive coordinator, Marcus Freeman takes over as head coach following Brian Kelly’s departure to LSU and has inherited a strong roster, especially on defense. The offense also has a lot of experience, but needs a new quarterback to break in. The QB competition is expected to come down to Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne, who both came into action last season.
Ohio State, meanwhile, saw three receivers go into the first round of the draft but wouldn’t see much of a drop-off with Jaxon Smith-Njigba back in the fold with QB CJ Stroud, a 2021 Heisman finalist. The Buckeyes are definitely reloaded and his 17-11-1 ATS as a double digit favorite under Ryan Day.
Still, this feels like a big number. Notre Dame was an underdog of 14 points or more only four times during the Brian Kelly era. The Irish lost all four of those games, but went 3-1 ATS.
Is the state of Florida on the rise again?
After a run of five consecutive double-digit win seasons (including a National Championship) from 2012-16, FSU stands at just 26-33 combined for the past five seasons. It was tough for the Seminoles, but last year there were signs of life under Mike Norvell. In Norvell’s third year, FSU can make a strong statement by ruining Brian Kelly’s LSU debut in New Orleans.
The FSU coaches have tried to upgrade the roster with transfers, a strategy Kelly also used for his first year with the Tigers. LSU’s transfer group includes ex-Arizona State QB Jayden Daniels, who will battle senior Myles Brennan for the runway. If Kelly wants a mobile option, Daniels is probably the man. Kelly’s QB pick could hint at what the offense will look like.
Dan Lanning helped Georgia win a national championship, but he will be on the other side when UGA begins its title defense. Lanning has been Georgia’s defensive coordinator for the past three seasons and is now the head coach at Oregon. He will make his head coach debut against his former team.
Georgia lost a ton of talent to the NFL, but is still a 17.5-point favorite in this one. That’s a credit to the talent recruited to Athens, but there are still some questions about this team. Will the defense be dominant again? How explosive will the offense be with Stetson Bennett back at QB?
The wide spread also points to the changes in Eugene. In addition to Lanning’s hire, Oregon added ex-Auburn QB Bo Nix through the transfer portal. Nix’s career has been up and down, but he’s no stranger to big environments after three seasons as an SEC starter. After Nix, Oregon has a lot of talent returning, including the entire offensive line and several key defensive starters who were lost to injuries last season.
This point spread opened closer to 14 on some books, but has continued to move as gamblers like to support Georgia. Lanning’s familiarity with the UGA staff makes the underdog a game worth considering, especially if the numbers keep rising.
Florida has not been an underdog at home to a non-conference opponent since it was a five-point dog against the state of Florida in 2017. And according to ESPN’s Chris Fallica:the last time the Gators were home underdogs in a non-conference game against anyone other than the state of Florida was way back in 1986 vs. miami.
However, to open up the Billy Napier era, the Gators are 2.5-point underdogs in Gainesville against Utah, the reigning Pac-12 champions.
The Utes played as a top-10 team in the second half of the 2021 season, while the Gators collapsed in the closing days of the Dan Mullen era. How soon can Napier make his mark on the way Florida plays? His teams in Louisiana were creative and physical at the same time. In Florida, he has an electric quarterback in Anthony Richardson, so that’s a good place to start.
Nebraska as a double-digit favorite in a neutral site game? That number feels a bit big, especially when you consider the tendency for the Huskers to lose games they expect to win.
Under Scott Frost, Nebraska is 9-15 ATS as the favorite, although all three times it was a double-digit favorite in 2021. Those were the only three wins of the season for the Huskers, and one was a 56-7 blowout over Northwestern as an 11-point home favourite. That was Nebraska’s only conference win in a season with a 0-8 record in single-possession games.
Will Nebraska finally have a breakthrough in 2022? Many thought it would come last year. Instead, the season got off to a disastrous start in Week 0 with a road loss to an Illinois team playing its first game with a new coaching staff.
After an off-season of change, there is tremendous pressure on Nebraska to start the 2022 season much better. It’s really hard to trust Nebraska to cover such a large number, even though Northwestern was terrible last season. Pat Fitzgerald-coached teams tend to bounce back after bad seasons.
How good is it to see the Backyard Brawl on the schedule again? These two haven’t played each other since 2011, and, oddly enough, the revival of this rivalry will feature two former USC quarterbacks.
Pitt is on the heels of an ACC title run that saw Kenny Pickett jump into QB prospects in a first lap. With Pickett now on the Steelers, Pitt brought in ex-USC QB Kedon Slovis to take the reins of the attack. But it’s a violation that might look a little different after offensive coordinator Mark Whipple left for Nebraska (Frank Cignetti Jr. replaces Whipple) and All-America receiver Jordan Addison transferred to, you guessed it, USC.
On the West Virginia side, JT Daniels is expected to become the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback. Daniels, whose injury at USC paved the way for Slovis’ start, won a National Championship in Georgia but did so in a backup role behind Stetson Bennett. Can Daniels and new coordinator Graham Harrell give some life to a WVU offense that under Neal Brown underperformed in three seasons?
With two new offenses installed, this is a tough week 1 game to handicap. I tend to lean towards the underdog, so waiting for a possible line move past the key number of 7 feels like the right move here.
Cincinnati defeated Notre Dame on the road during its run to the College Football Playoff last season. The Bearcats were actually minor favorites in South Bend but find themselves as 7-point underdogs to open the 2022 campaign in Arkansas.
Cincinnati, with stars like Desmond Ridder and Sauce Gardner now in the NFL, should still be among the favorites in the AAC, but a point so spread shows the oddsmakers are expecting a bit of a drop-off from the program by Luke Fickell.
It also shows respect for Arkansas, which under Sam Pittman has emphatically turned things around. Fayetteville is a tough place to play (just ask Texas), especially for a UC team that will be breaking in with a new quarterback and offensive coordinator. I’m strongly considering putting the points to the Hogs.
Speaking of coordinator changes, there hasn’t been much talk about it nationally, Manny Diaz of Penn State. Brent Pry was one of the most underrated defensive coordinators in the country, and now he is the head coach at Virginia Tech, opening the door for Diaz, the ex-Miami head coach, to lead the defense in Happy Valley.
The week 1 test of PSU is a tough one. Under Jeff Brohm, Purdue has always been able to pass the ball and Diaz’s defenses have been amenable to allowing big plays. Additionally, the Boilermakers have enjoyed the underdog role during Brohm’s tenure, with 19-8 ATS since Brohm’s first season in 2017.
This is going to be a tough opener for Penn State after disappointing consecutive seasons, and the spread of just 3.5 points shows a lot of respect for Purdue. You can look at this in two ways. Purdue is ready to take another upset at home, or you’ll get Penn State on a really good number that could climb closer to a touchdown by the time Week 1 rolls around.