Gambling on college football has come on lightyears. One no longer has to wait until the week of a game to place a wager. Those bets can be made at any moment—even right now.
Yes, we have access to point spreads on college football’s most significant games of the season. And we plan to take advantage of this glorious luxury before the season kicks in.
While Locks of the Week will return to its normal, weekly routine for Week 0, we’re finding our footing by picking winners in some of the sport’s most noteworthy matchups of the year.
Here’s to winners. Here’s to college football.
All odds courtesy of DraftKings and current as of Wednesday, Aug. 17.
Texas (+2.5) vs. Oklahoma
Last year, Texas absolutely unraveled in the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns led 35-17 midway through the second quarter; they ultimately lost that game 55-48. I know this because I bet Texas.
And with that, let’s never speak of that game again.
This year’s game is a neutral-site matchup, per usual. Although we have plenty of time before this game is played, I really believe this Texas team will be a completely different group by the time these two meet on October 8.
The Longhorns will be seasoned by this point. Playing Alabama in Week 2 can and will grow this team, no matter how that game unfolds.
More than anything, however, I am betting on this Texas offense. Quinn Ewers or Hudson Card will be in a position to thrive at quarterback. It's a similar situation for superstar Bijan Robinson at running back and Xavier Worthy at wideout.
The injury to transfer WR Isaiah Neyor is a big one, although that isn’t deterring me. I still expect to see major strides. And with Oklahoma undergoing significant changes with the coaching staff and on the field, this feels like a quality spot for the Longhorns.
USC (-3) vs. Notre Dame
Oh, this one will be mighty hyped come November 26.
It doesn’t matter what both teams have done up until that point. Two new coaches at two storied programs should make for a delightful matchup between two enormously popular and polarizing programs.
The fact that this game will be played in California certainly plays a significant role in my selection. Although I would classify my USC hype as “measured,” this matchup feels like a challenging one for the Irish.
By this point in the season, USC’s Caleb Williams will likely be established as one of the elite quarterbacks in college football. (Perhaps you already feel he’s there. You might not be wrong.) Throw in the additions of wideout Jordan Addison and running back Travis Dye and the USC offense could really thrive.
Make no mistake about it; Notre Dame has a ton of talent. The Irish will be a very good team.
But playing on the road against an offense with this many weapons feels like a bit of a mismatch at the moment, especially as Notre Dame looks for explosive players outside of tight end Michael Mayer.
There are legitimate concerns about USC that can be lost in the anticipation of Riley’s debut, and there will be bumps in the road along the way. This just won’t be one of them.
Michigan (-8.5) vs. Michigan State
Remember this game last year? I certainly do.
I bet Michigan, and the Wolverines led this game 30-14 halfway through the third quarter. Then, Kenneth Walker III became a superhero. A quarter-and-a-half later, Michigan lost by four.
The rematch will take place in Ann Arbor on October 29. The outcome, this time around, will be much different. (It might sound like a revenge bet, although that is not the case. Well, mostly.)
Mel Tucker deserves the utmost credit for turning around the Spartans last season. The issue, however, is that Walker is no longer on the roster. While I don’t expect the Sparty offense to suddenly fall off a cliff in terms of production, I do expect a bit of a dip.
Michigan, of course, has plenty of production to replace as well. The Wolverines must also name a starting QB. Whether it’s J.J. McCarthy or Cade McNamara doesn’t matter to me at this point.
The Michigan roster is still loaded, and the offense should actually be improved given the assortment of running backs and wideouts returning. That spells trouble for Michigan State, which got the best of its rival in emphatic fashion a season ago.
Not this time.
Oklahoma State (+7) at Oklahoma
Yes, we’re fading Oklahoma again.
Yes, this could be a bad idea.
Oklahoma, of course, is plenty capable. New quarterback Dillon Gabriel has a wealth of potential. The Sooners have largely flown under the radar this offseason once the hiring process and transfer portal movement calmed down. That could change soon.
This pick is more of a belief in Oklahoma State than anything else. The departure of some quality defensive player—along with Jim Knowles, the superb defensive coordinator from last year—will undoubtedly hurt.
But the return of QB Spencer Sanders is massive. His second-half performance against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl showed what he is capable of, and we should expect to see that more this year.
Although Bedlam has not been kind to the Pokes over time, Oklahoma State delivered a 37-33 win in November of last year. While we’ll save the game prediction for the week of November 19, getting a touchdown is an opportunity we won’t pass up.
Alabama (-16.5) vs. LSU
The good news for LSU is that the game will not be played on the road. Tiger Stadium is one of the best environments in all of college football, and home field will certainly aid the Tigers.
But it just won’t be enough.
Brian Kelly will be fine at LSU. In fact, he will be better than fine once he gets settled. Given the roster turnover, however, I don’t expect it to be this year.
By November 5, when LSU welcomes Alabama into town, Kelly should be settled in. The task at hand will simply be too much, which is something we’re going to say about pretty much every team Nick Saban’s crew plays this year.
With Bryce Young powering the offense at QB and Will Anderson Jr. patrolling the defense, Alabama will trot out a deeply talented roster. And while LSU certainly has a tough environment, it hasn’t exactly been tough on ‘Bama of late.
In the last two games at LSU, Alabama has outscored the Tigers 84-17. This won’t be that bad, but it won’t be great.
Florida (pick ‘em) vs. Florida State
The point spread for this longtime rivalry feels appropriate.
Both proud programs are searching for themselves. One coach, Billy Napier, is trying to turn some early recruiting wins into on-field success. The other, Mike Norvell, is trying to save his job.
By the time this game is played on November 25, the day after Thanksgiving, the narrative will be mighty different. As we sit here now, however, the Gators look mighty tempting at pick ‘em.
This is a bet on quarterback Anthony Richardson, first and foremost. The flashes for Florida last year, when healthy, were significant. Given all the uncertainty for both of these teams entering this season, his presence is mighty intriguing.
Secondarily, this is a bet on Napier. His addition was lost in the robust hiring process this offseason, although he could wind up wildly successful.
This is not a long-term bet on either team, so we can slow the roll for now. As for where both teams are by Thanksgiving, Florida should have a decisive edge.
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