Are you all revved up and ready to go for the 2013 college football season? Week 1 is here, and that means it’s time to break down all of the NCAA football odds that you have in front of you to sink your teeth into!
Five days of action are going to be surrounding this week’s festivities, and we are going to look at some of the best games of the bunch on each day.
On Thursday, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the North Carolina Tar Heels are going to go to war. The Gamecocks are the No. 6 team in America, and this is clearly the showcase game in an otherwise lackluster night of marquee matchups. South Carolina is giving 11 in this one, though the game might be a bit more intriguing than you think, knowing that North Carolina is one of the dark horse choices in the ACC this season.
Our favorite game of the night on Thursday is the clash in the Beehive State between the Utah State Aggies and the Utah Utes. The Utes have historically owned this season, but over the course of the last few years, USU has clearly caught up. The potential is there for a lot of points to hit the board in this one, and the Aggies know that they could pull off the upset. They’re getting 2.5 in this one, but it is clearly going to be the most entertaining game of the night.
Honorable mention goes out to the Ole Miss Rebels and Vanderbilt Commodores, both of which could be teams capable of pulling upsets in the SEC this season. The Rebs are laying 3.5, but no one would be surprised if this game went either way. The winners should find themselves in the Top 25 next week.
Friday only features a pair of FBS vs. FBS games, and since no one is the Sunshine State is going to care about the game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Atlantic Owls (Miami is laying 32.5 if you care), we should gloss over it, too. Instead, the ESPN game pits the Texas Tech Red Raiders against the SMU Mustangs. The Red Raiders are laying 5.5 in this one, but this is a very dangerous game. Head Coach June Jones hasn’t beaten many teams that have finished above .500 in his tenure in Dallas, but this could be one of those games.
As always on the first Saturday of the season, there is plenty of chalk to choke on if you care to go that route. The ultimate chalk-choking experience is the Oregon Ducks laying nine touchdowns against the Nicholls State Colonels, but we’ll stick to FBS vs. FBS games. The Massachusetts Minutemen are one of the worst FBS teams in the game, but they are going to give it a shot in a pay-for-play game against the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisky is laying 44.5 at home in spite of the fact that the total is only set at 52.5.
The Texas Longhorns (-42 vs. New Mexico State), Ohio State Buckeyes (-35.5 vs. Buffalo), Michigan Wolverines (-31.5 vs. Central Michigan), Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-30 vs. Temple) and Nebraska Cornhuskers (-28 vs. Wyoming) are also giving obscene numbers.
There are however, some great games that deserve some more discussion on Saturday, and not surprisingly, they all involve SEC teams. We’ll start with the No. 1 team in the country, the two-time defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide are rolling into their first game in Atlanta against the Virginia Tech Hokies as 18.5-point favorites, and they are definitely deserving as such. However, is Alabama really ever capable of laying enough in games like this? It is 7-1 in its last eight games played at neutral sites, and it is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games played outside of the SEC.
Earlier in the day, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who could be a 10-win team in their own right this year if they can pull off a couple upsets, will take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. This is a huge game in Houston, and one that is critical for the Big XII. If the rest of the conferences in America want any respect in regards to the SEC, one of the top teams in the Big XII had better beat what might be the eighth, ninth, or maybe even 10th best team in the SEC. Okie State is giving a dozen, but there aren’t many out there that have to be all that confident any time a team from any other conference is giving that many points against a good team in the SEC.
Elsewhere in the Lone Star State, the TCU Horned Frogs are going to take their aim at an SEC scalp of their own when they take on the LSU Tigers in primetime in Arlington. This is arguably the biggest regular season game in the history of TCU football, as it is the first time that the club is going to have the national spotlight in a de facto home game against a team this big. Head Coach Les Miles and the crew have a great history of winning games like this one, including two seasons ago against Oregon right here at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. This might be no exception whatsoever, and it is way that Bayou Bengals are laying four points.
But of course, the game that we are all looking forward to is the second game of the double dip in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. The Georgia Bulldogs are going to have the home field advantage for sure against the Clemson Tigers in another one of these statement games for the SEC. If UGA can pull this one off, we really have no doubt whatsoever that at least one of the conference’s teams are going to be in the National Championship Game. If the Tigers can pull off the upset though, their coast is relatively clear for a while to stay in the BCS hunt. These two have been going back and forth all offseason long as to which one is the favorite in this game, but it looks as though QB Aaron Murray and his Dawgs are going to go off the board as slight favorites over QB Tajh Boyd and his Tigers, as the boys in red are laying a deuce. Remember that last season, Boyd stated his case to be the 2013 Heisman Trophy frontrunner when he tore up LSU right here at the Georgia Dome at the Chic-Fil-A Bowl, so anything is possible.
On Sunday and Monday, there are a few games on the docket that might lack in national intrigue, but are certainly going to be respectable games. The Louisville Cardinals are fringe National Championship contenders in their own right, but they have a tough game against an Ohio Bobcats team which has pulled off some big upsets of late (remember last year at Penn State?). Ohio is legit. Should it be getting three TDs in this game? We aren’t all that sure whether that is the case or not.
We’ll briefly mention the fact that the Colorado State Rams are favored by 2.5-points in a neutral site game in Denver against the Colorado Buffaloes, but this is a game of little concern to most. What is worth noting? The underdog in this game is 12-5 ATS in the last 17 meetings.
Finally, the Florida State Seminoles and the Pittsburgh Panthers wrap up Week 1 with the annual Labor Day classic between a pair of ACC teams. It’s still odd to think of U-Pitt as an ACC team, but this is the first time that the ACC banner will waive in Pittsburgh. This is a typical Florida State game to lose, as it fits the mold perfectly just like that game last year against the NC State Wolfpack. It’s a nationally televised game on the road in primetime against a team that is going to be giving everything that it has to the cause. The Panthers could be great upset picks, especially at +10, and certainly now that FSU has named QB Jameis Winston, a redshirt freshman, as its starting quarterback.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.