College football is back! We will be here each and every Monday to give you a first look at the lines for the upcoming weekend — or in this case, five days — of college football. The Week 1 slate is full of fun matchups and games from across the country.
Here are lines for some of the biggest games of the weekend, as well as a few that happened to catch my eye as particularly intriguing. As always, spreads and over/unders are courtesy of our good friends at SportsLine.
Lines you need to know
No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners (-10) at No. 15 Houston Cougars : This could very well be the best game of the weekend, and it kicks off at 11 a.m. local time in Houston. The Sooners are among the national title favorites behind Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers but to get there they must get through an incredibly difficult part of the schedule that starts with a very good Houston team that will be looking to prove it wasn’t a one-year wonder in 2015.
No. 1 Alabama (-10.5) vs. No. 20 Southern California Trojans : The prime-time Saturday night game features the reigning national champions against the Trojans in Arlington, Texas, in what will be a battle of new quarterbacks. The Tide are heavy favorites despite an ongoing quarterback controversy, while the Trojans are turning the keys over to Max Browne . Oddsmakers don’t seem too concerned about the turnover on Alabama’s offense to start the year, opening them as double-digit favorites.
No. 18 Georgia Bulldogs (-2.5) vs. No. 22 UNC: The Georgia Dome will give this a home game feel for the Bulldogs in Kirby Smart’s first game as head coach. North Carolina Tar Heels will have a chance to prove last year’s run to the ACC title game was not a fluke against a Georgia team that could be starting a true freshman at quarterback.
No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels (+4.5) vs. No. 4 Florida State Seminoles : The Deondre Francois era begins for the ‘Noles on Monday night in Orlando when they take on Ole Miss in the matchup of highest rated teams of the entire weekend. While they may be starting a new quarterback, the Seminoles return a ton of talent for the 2016 season, while Ole Miss has an opposite feel with Chad Kelly back under center but a lot of turnover around him for the Rebels.
These may raise some eyebrows
No. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-3.5) at Texas: Notre Dame dominated this game in South Bend last year, and yet, the Irish are only favored by a field goal and the hook as they head to Austin, Texas, on Sunday to take on the Longhorns. This line seems funky, especially with Texas expected to send out a freshman quarterback against a talented Irish defense that is not afraid to try and heat up a quarterback.
No. 16 UCLA Bruins (+3) at Texas A&M: The opening game for the SEC on CBS crew will be in College Station, Texas, as UCLA makes a trip to SEC country. Despite being the higher ranked team and having stud quarterback Josh Rosen , UCLA is a three-point road dog against Texas A&M. There’s a lot of faith from the oddsmakers in Texas A&M’s talent living up to its promise this year.
No. 5 LSU Tigers (-10) at Wisconsin Badgers : This game is being played at Lambeau Field, and while I know LSU is one of the darlings of the college football world this offseason, 10 points is a lot for a road team against a quality opponent. Wisconsin has Corey Clement back and went 10-3 last year — albeit against a soft schedule — but this is a competitive program and 10 seems like an awful lot to be laying with a road team.
Consider staying away
No. 2 Clemson (-7.5) at Auburn Tigers : If you watched these teams last year, you’re probably wondering wonder why this line is so low. I honestly can’t tell you why other than weird things happen at Jordan-Hare Stadium at night and Clemson has a lot of defensive turnover, but I do know that this line smells and the prudent move is to avoid it at all costs.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (+40) at No. 7 Michigan Wolverines : Hawaii is bad and Michigan should be really good, but 40 points is an absurd amount to lay with the Wolverines (or be comfortable taking with the Warriors). Michigan could dominate every second of this game and never score 40 points, or they could hang 63 on Hawaii’s defense depending on their pace. I don’t like this line and think it’s a firm stay away.
South Carolina Gamecocks (+3.5) at Vanderbilt Commodores : I like Vanderbilt a lot more than most people. The ‘Dores have a really strong defense and Ralph Webb is a good running back, I’m just not totally sure there’s anyone else on the offense that can make anything happen. South Carolina was bad at offense last year and lost its best offensive player to the NFL, but the defense should improve under Will Muschamp. This line has jumped two points from open and at this point, I don’t see much value in either side. Just stay away and enjoy the SEC opener on Thursday night.
Oregon State Beavers at Minnesota Golden Gophers (Total — 54.5): Minnesota is a team that likes to grind out games with a methodical pace. I don’t expect the Gophers to come out and try to throw it all over the yard on Oregon State, and even if the Gophers do hang 30-plus on the Beavers, Oregon State’s offense is not good. The Beavers averaged only 19 points per game last year, and I don’t see them reaching that number at Minnesota. Pick: Under 54.5
No. 18 Georgia vs. No. 22 UNC (Total — 56): Georgia should look to slow this game down. The Bulldogs’ offense is built to run the rock and North Carolina’s defense is good enough against the pass that it should deter Jim Chaney from getting too frisky trying to push the ball down the field. UNC’s offense is good, but so is Georgia’s defense. I expect this to be a close game that the Bulldogs slow the pace down in, making an eight touchdown total tough to see happening. Pick: Under 56
Western Michigan at Northwestern Wildcats (Total — 52): Western Michigan’s offense was among the nation’s best, and when the Broncos are rowin’ the boat, they can put up points in bunches. The problem for the Broncos in this one is that Northwestern is a far better defense than that of the average MAC team. The Wildcats should be able to keep Western Michigan in check, and the Wildcats’ offense is not the most inspiring bunch. Pick: Under 52
Kansas State Wildcats at Stanford Cardinal (Total: 47.5): This total has plummeted from 54 to 47.5, which is an awful lot, especially in a game with Christian McCaffrey . I love unders more than most anyone, but this total feels too low and if the Wildcats can find two touchdowns on the Cardinal defense then I think this will go over. Pick: Over 47.5
Source: CBS Sports / College football Week 1 lines, game odds: Big games have some big spreads