One of the longest-tenured opening week systems for college football took it on the chin last year, as bowl teams from the previous season who lost outright as 7-point or larger favorites turned in a dismal 0-3 record in 2013 after going 34-16 between 1990 and 2012. While the system is still a solid 34-19 (64%) over the years, last season’s effort does give a little bit of a pause, especially when you look at the lines for the teams that fall into the pattern this season.
There were an amazing five teams who were favored by a touchdown or more in the bowl games last year that were defeated straight up, with Alabama and Baylor being the two biggest. Georgia, Arizona State and Ball State also fit the pattern, although ASU plays Weber State in a non-lined this week and Ball State opens play with Colgate, another game with no line.
The premise behind the system makes sense, as you have a good team that was embarrassed its last game and has been waiting since December or January to get out on the field and take their frustrations out on somebody, but neither Alabama, Baylor or Georgia look that enticing this week. They may cover the spread, but I certainly wouldn’t want to lay more than a touchdown to Clemson in a rivalry game, or give West Virginia 26.5 or 27 points. Baylor will score plenty, but their depleted defense will also allow a few points, making the Bears-33 a bit too much for my liking.
Instead, we’ll look at an offshoot of the system and look for a good team out to make amends, not just for a bad bowl game, but for an entire season and that is the Florida Gators-36 over the Idaho Vandals.
To say last season was a disappointment for the Florida Gators would be a huge understatement, as quarterback Jeff Driskel was injured early and the team had nobody to replace him. While he was no Tim Tebow running the Gators’ offense, he was a competent, which is more than be said of his backups.
Will Muschamp’s job is on the line so one of the things he did was bring in a new offensive coordinator in Kurt Roper, who will likely open things up more than the Gators have done in the past. Florida typically doesn’t score much, having scored a season-high of 31 points last season, but this is Idaho they are playing, a team which allowed 47 points a game last season.
Florida’s defense is underrated and played well last season considering they were on the field quite a bit and often trying to defend short fields. They shouldn’t have any such problems against the Vandals. Laying more than five touchdowns isn’t ideal, but the talent disparity between these two schools is huge, so lay the points and look for the Gators to gallop in The Swamp.
Allen Moody is a sports bettor and author who has been immersed in the betting scene for more than 30 years and has worked with some of the biggest names in sports handicapping. Using historical anaylsis and betting market trends, he is able to uncover solid value plays on a consistent basis.