The complete slate of Week 1 college football betting lines hit BetOnline.com on Saturday. More than three months and countless shifts separate the release and kickoff, but there’s no harm in examining a few of the more intriguing point spreads. Check out the complete list here.
Fresno State -8.5 vs. Rutgers
The trek from Piscataway, N.J. to the Valley is arduous, particularly in late August when temperatures promise to be grueling. The Scarlet Knights must weather much more than triple-digit heat when Derek Carr leads arguably the best Bulldog team since the early 2000s into action.
Fresno State is an undercover BCS buster in 2013, and the tone for its season will be set against a defending co-Big East championship winner.
Vanderbilt -4.5 vs. Ole Miss
Last season’s showdown in Oxford went to the wire, with James Franklin’s Commodores escaping 27-26 victors. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace threw for over 400 yards in the loss.
Vanderbilt and Ole Miss like like two of the SEC’s second-tier teams entering 2013, but the pecking order for bowl invitations begins early.
Arkansas -14 vs. La.-Lafayette
Arkansas’ ill-fated 2012 season derailed against a Sun Belt Conference opponent in the early non-conference docket. Bret Bielema is transitioning into running the Razorback program must more effectively than interim predecessor John L. Smith when Smith led Arkansas in an overtime loss to La.-Monroe.
Still, this Week 1 match-up isn’t quite the typical two-touchdown point spread pairing of SEC and Sun Belt would might expect. La.-Lafayette took Florida to the brink last November, won its second straight New Orleans Bowl, and returns an experienced roster in 2013.
UCLA -13 vs. Nevada
I attribute the gap in this line more to Nevada’s adjusting to a new head coach than anything else. After all, the Wolf Pack opened 2012 with a win in Pac-12 Country over the Cal Golden Bears, and came seconds shy of book-ending the campaign with wins against the conference.
Brett Hundley and Cody Fajardo are two of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college football, which should make for a fun Week 1 showdown.
Florida -21.5 vs. Toledo
Florida got all it could handle from Mid-American Conference member Bowling Green in last season’s opener, before pulling away for a 13-point win in the final quarter. Toledo has been one of the MAC’s most consistent teams in recent years, and returns nine starters from an offense that scored 31.5 points per game in 2012.
The Gators have Toledo out-muscled in the talent department, and playing in the Swamp is never a welcoming proposition. However, more than three touchdowns and extra points is a lofty line. The 11-win Gators surpassed that benchmark three times in 2012.
Western Kentucky +3 vs. Kentucky (in Nashville)
The Mark Stoops Effect is already evident in Lexington. The Wildcats are preseason favorites against in-state Sun Belt foe Western Kentucky, a team that knocked off UK last year on the road. New Hilltoppers head coach Bobby Petrino has extra motivation to begin his tenure with a new over an SEC opponent — particularly one that past on interviewing him for its own vacancy this off-season.
Washington -3 vs. Boise State
Washington gets a mulligan on its Las Vegas Bowl loss, this time hosting Boise State in the revamped Husky Stadium. The old adage say home field can account for a touchdown’s worth swing, and the betting odds support that logic. Boise State escaped Sin City as 28-26 victors in December.
Oklahoma State -6.5 vs. Mississippi State (in Houston)
Only two SEC teams are underdogs in Week 1. One is Mississippi State, which has added motivation to beat trendy Big 12 Conference pick Oklahoma State. Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy leveled criticism against the SEC, adding some salt to the wound that is MSU’s underdog status.
The customary “S-E-C” chants that emanate from almost every non-conference win could be especially boisterous should Dan Mullen’s ‘Dogs overcome their ‘dog status.
Georgia +1 vs. Clemson (in Atlanta)
The other SEC Week 1 ‘dog is another ‘Dog — or Dawg. Home standing Clemson is the favorite against Georgia (editor’s note: revision made; original reference cites a neutral field game in Atlanta. It is at Clemson.)
Beating means stopping outstanding quarterback Tajh Boyd. Georgia countering on the opposite end with Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley — against the Clemson defense, no less — has the promise of a fun, high scoring affair. The Clemson -1 line is almost a coin toss, but the smart money is taking the over when that bet is set.
Colorado -4.5 vs. Colorado State (in Denver)
*takes off glasses*
*hyperventilates into a paper sack*
COLORADO IS A FAVORITE?!