The 15 Most Surprising Point Spreads in Golden Nugget's Early CFB Game Odds
It is never too early to begin breaking down college football point spreads, looking either for games in which the oddsmakers made a mistake or games to avoid at all costs.
Sportsbook Golden Nugget has released early point spreads for the top 250 college football games of the year. While some are accurate, others are quite surprising and make you wonder what these guys are thinking.
A lot of the surprising spreads can be found in marquee games where the predicted margin of victory is close. But there are also a few underrated matchups in which the oddsmakers appear to have thrown out an incorrect line.
Georgia at Clemson
Spread: Georgia -2½
Date: Aug. 31
This is one of those games that bettors should be going back and forth on. Uh, take Georgia, because it is the most balanced team. But wait, Clemson has an offense that is capable of scoring a touchdown every 15 seconds. Man, this is confusing.
The team that scores last will likely win this game, which is a good enough reason for this spread to be a pick 'em. No team should be given any points. Just pick the team you believe is going to win straight up, because, truthfully, these teams are identical. Both have offenses that can score at the drop of a hat, but questions linger defensively.
This spread is likely biased in favor of the SEC, but the edge should go to the home team, and that's Clemson.
Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (in the Georgia Dome)
Spread: Alabama -17
Date: Aug. 31
This spread is likely going to increase once we inch closer to kickoff. That's great news if you are willing to take a shot against Nick Saban and back the Hokies.
Many folks are going to be shy about betting against Alabama, especially with the coaching staff having all offseason to prepare. However, you shouldn't sleep on a Virginia Tech team that returns nine starters, has a quality quarterback in Logan Thomas and a head coach in Frank Beamer, who isn't too shabby in his own right.
There is no question Alabama should be the favorite, but giving the Hokies more than two touchdowns is a stretch. Virginia Tech should be able to match the physicality defensively and help keep things close as long as the offense avoids turnovers.
Florida at Miami
Spread: Florida -2
Date: Sept. 7
With Florida supposedly a national championship contender and Miami stuck in mediocrity the last few seasons, as long as Michael Irvin, Ray Lewis and Clinton Portis aren't returning for the Hurricanes, there should be no reason the spread is this close.
Sure, the game is being played in Miami, but that's not saying much if you have seen the attendance at Sun Life Stadium recently. There will also be plenty of Gator fans in the building, which will help balance things out. Florida does struggle offensively, but that Miami offense should have more problems than it can handle against a nasty Gators defense.
Under a field goal is an absolute steal for Florida supporters.
Alabama at Texas A&M
Spread: Alabama -6
Date: Sept. 14
This size of this spread is hard to figure.
Texas A&M is the only team that beat Alabama last season. It has the most explosive quarterback in the country in Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. It is the home team. The Aggies also have an easy schedule leading up to this game (Rice and Sam Houston State), while Alabama is coming off a physical matchup against Virginia Tech.
Besides being the defending national champions, there aren't enough reasons that would justify giving the Aggies nearly a full touchdown.
USC at Arizona State
Spread: Arizona State -1
Date: Sept. 28
It shouldn't be a secret that Arizona State is going to be the surprise team in the Pac-12 this season. The Sun Devils have eight defensive starters returning from a unit that finished last year with 51 sacks. There are also legit offensive weapons such as quarterback Taylor Kelly, who threw for more than 3,000 yards.
But it is shocking to see USC the underdog in this game. Simply off name recognition alone, the Trojans would usually be the favorite in this spot. When you add that USC has won 12 of the last 13 meetings against the Sun Devils, forget about it.
Arizona State has a solid shot to win this game, but the early betting line is still surprising.
LSU at Georgia
Spread: Georgia -7
Date: Sept. 28
If you needed any more proof that LSU wasn't getting any preseason respect, here you are. Despite everything the Tigers have accomplished in the SEC, it seems like they are taking a backseat to some of the flashier teams that have come along.
LSU returns eight offensive starters, the defense should remain respectable and that smashmouth style of play is still there. Georgia has become the sexy pick in the SEC, but has had a hard time winning the big games and has lost the last two meetings against LSU.
Maybe the Bulldogs are getting the love because they're the home team, but the spread shouldn't be seven points.
Wisconsin at Ohio State
Spread: Ohio State -10
Date: Sept. 28
This spread is a result of media hype over Ohio State's undefeated season a year ago. Yeah, the Buckeyes did go 12-0, but six of those games were decided by one possession. The style of football wasn't as dominant as the record indicates, as they could have lost several games.
Wisconsin was one of those teams that played Ohio State tough, sending the game into overtime. Although there is a new coaching staff in place, the Badgers do return 15 starters, including a deep group of linebackers and a talented offense. Wisconsin could win this game, especially with the last two meetings coming down to the wire.
Ohio State should have the slight edge considering the game is in Columbus, but 10 points is a lot to be giving up to a deep Wisconsin squad.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss
Spread: Texas A&M -4
Date: Oct. 12
Maybe it's the recruiting surge that has helped Mississippi earn a little bit of buzz entering the season. Or it could be that last year's meeting was decided by three points and this year's game is being played in Oxford.
Regardless the excuse, Texas A&M should be favored by more than four points. Ole Miss doesn't have the horses to keep up with the Aggies, a team that many are picking to win the SEC. Are the Rebels national title contenders? Not hardly.
Unless you believe a young Ole Miss squad can hang with the big boys, betting on the Aggies at this cheap price is an absolute steal.
Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas)
Spread: Texas -1½
Date: Oct. 12
Maybe the bookies don't watch college football. But Texas hasn't been on the winning side in the Red River Rivalry since 2009. The last two meetings were decided by a combined 80 points. Oklahoma has raised questions about whether this year's historic rivalry is even worth watching.
But the Longhorns are the favorites? Uh, whatever floats your boat.
It can be argued that the Longhorns are the better football team. They return 19 starters, while Oklahoma only returns 11 and has questions defensively. However, the images from the last two meetings are hard to forget.
This is either an Oklahoma bet or a no-play altogether.
LSU at Ole Miss
Spread: LSU -1½
Date: Oct. 19
Do oddsmakers really believe that Ole Miss is going to be this good? At this point, it wouldn't be too insane to throw a little bit of pocket change on the Rebels to win the SEC. Seriously, if they are expected to keep things close against Texas A&M and LSU, why can't they make a run if a few bounces go their way?
Unless you are one of the few who truly believes Ole Miss can make an incredible jump and actually beat LSU, this spread is one to bet the house on Les Miles and his boys. LSU has won nine of the last 11 against Ole Miss.
West Virginia at Kansas State
Spread: Kansas State -9
Date: Oct. 26
Last season's 55-14 Kansas State beatdown over West Virginia certainly doesn't help the Mountaineers' case, but would you really be willing to put money on the Wildcats? They lost their superman quarterback in Collin Klein, while losing all but one starter defensively. It is going to take a good month just to remember the starters on this young team.
West Virginia lost key pieces as well, but six returning defensive starters is a lot better than one. There is also a potential starting quarterback in Clint Trickett, who transferred from Florida State. West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen doesn't need much to get this offense up and running.
This game could go either way, but nine points is a lot for a team that lost a ton of bodies.
USC at Oregon State
Spread: Oregon State -2
Date: Nov. 1
It's being made pretty clear that USC is expected to have a down season. Well, at least expectations have been lowered considerably after what happened a year ago.
But does that mean the Beavers should be the favorite over the Trojans? USC still has a respectable defense, elite offensive weapons and a group of quarterbacks more than capable of getting the job done. Although last season was a complete disaster, the Trojans kept things close throughout the schedule.
Oregon State has a tough defense and returns eight starters offensively, but seeing USC play the underdog role so many times is a shocker.
Miami at Florida State
Spread: Florida State -7
Date: Nov. 2
So Florida State has a better chance to knock off Miami than Florida does (see Slide 2)? Is home field advantage really worth five points?
The Seminoles are young across the board defensively and have concerns on offense, particularly quarterback, with a raw Jameis Winston expected to lead the way. Miami returns 19 starters and has an offense that can light up the scoreboard. It is also worth mentioning that this in-state rivalry has been decided by single digits in 10 of the last 12 meetings.
Florida State is getting a few more points for winning six of the last eight against the Hurricanes, but that doesn't mean much in this year's meeting.
LSU at Alabama
Spread: Alabama -11½,
Date: Nov. 9
Forget that seven of the last nine meetings were decided by single digits, including a four-point Tide victory last season that LSU probably should have won. Oddsmakers are going to continue to overrate Alabama and beg for that LSU money.
The smart thing to do is pounce on this juicy line right away and feel confident taking LSU. The Tigers' defense may take a slight step backward after losing so much talent, but that physical and relentless running game is still in Baton Rouge. The offense should also finally blossom with Cam Cameron in town.
With the emotions and competitive spirit of this rivalry, there's no way this year's meeting results in a blowout.
Clemson at South Carolina
Spread: South Carolina -4½
Date: Nov. 30
Trends and past history obviously play a big role in putting these lines together. South Carolina has won the past four meetings against Clemson, so most are going to lean in the Gamecocks' favor. But which team is more complete is the question you should be asking yourself.
Clemson returns 13 starters, including seven from an offense that averaged more than 500 yards a game. The defense also showed a few bright spots in last year’s bowl game against LSU. South Carolina will get love because it’s an SEC program, but only five starters return defensively, and there have always been question marks offensively.
The Tigers are the better team on paper, and that's all there is with the season not even underway.
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