The collegiate football season's kickoff has officially launched. And if two schools that I probably couldn't find even with a GPS can make the inaugural game thrilling, it can only mean that a fascinating fall awaits!
Adding to the excitement is the return of an occasion that we have not experienced since the madness of March: betting on games!
And there are indeed some killer matchups.
Although some top teams chose a creampuff dessert as their first meal, there are three games between ranked teams in Week 1: No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 21 Texas A&M, No. 12 Georgia vs. No. 16 Clemson and No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 LSU at a neutral site in Houston.
No. 21 Texas A&M vs. No. 9 South Carolina
South Carolina (-10), Over/Under 58
Pick Against the Spread: The Gamecocks are home and will cover in their house in the season opener. Why? Their defense is simply too good, and Texas A&M has failed to cover the spread in its last four games on the road. And, well, it's South Carolina's house in a season opener.
Boise State vs. No. 18 Ole Miss
Ole Miss (-10), Over/Under 54.5
Pick Against the Spread: Ole Miss will show who's the ranked team with a win and also cover. The offense has too many weapons, and the D will keep the Broncos from racking up the rushing yards. On top of that, Boise State is only 2-5 in its last seven games, while Ole Miss is a legit 19-7 in its last 26 nonconference games.
No. 1 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State
Florida State (-17.5), Over/Under 63
Pick Against the Spread: Florida State wins big and covers, as it will dominate on both sides of the ball. In their last six nonconference games, the Seminoles have covered five times.
West Virginia vs. No. 2 Alabama
Alabama (-26.5), Over/Under 55.5
Pick Against the Spread: A spread of 26.5 points is a lot to give, but add T.J. Yeldon plus the Tide defense, and Alabama will win and cover. WVU has failed to do just that in its last six nonconference games.
Arkansas vs. No. 6 Auburn
Auburn (-21), Over/Under 57.5
Pick Against the Spread: Auburn will extend its streak of covering the spread in its last eight SEC games. Last season, the Tigers beat Arkansas by 18 points, and that game was on the road.
No. 16 Clemson vs. No. 12 Georgia
Clemson (+7.5), Over/Under 57.5
Pick Against the Spread: Interesting betting trends pick Clemson to win this game, which it will. The Tigers have covered the spread in eight of their last 11 road games, while Georgia is only 1-4-1 ATS in its last six home games. Vegas Insiders' conference betting odds for Georgia to win the SEC is 7/2 this year, but how it plays in the first four weeks will be telling to how the season will pan out for the Bulldogs.
No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 LSU
LSU (-4), Over/Under 50
Pick Against the Spread: While it has only covered the spread in two of its last seven nonconference games, LSU's new talent will carry the squad to a win against Wisconsin and cover the narrow spread to boot.
SMU vs. No. 10 Baylor
SMU (+33), Over/Under 73
Pick Against the Spread: To the surprise of few, SMU will not win, but it will cover. The Mustangs are 0-4 ATS in their last four nonconference games, but last season they lost by 29 points against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. In perhaps a slight moral victory, expect a similar result against Baylor.