We are still months away from the start of the college football season, but it’s never too early to start processing information and analyzing how bookmakers value certain teams at this point. With the release of the opening lines for some of the biggest of games of the year, I’m going to dive into ones I have my eye on. Remember, these are opening lines and will certainly move as the season inches closer. As always, stay humble and hungry and let’s press on.
1. Northwestern Wildcats + 6 at Stanford Cardinal – August 31st
Stanford has quarterback KJ Costello back leading the offense, but he lost some key offensive weapons including running back Bryce Love. The Wildcats won the Big Ten West last season and played in the Big Ten championship game. Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson will take over for Clayton Thorson who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. Northwestern returns talented players on defense and tailback Isaiah Bowser is ready to improve off his breakout freshman season. Since 2012, Northwestern is 18-6 ATS as road underdogs.
Keep an eye on the Wildcats this season.
2. Texas A&M Aggies + 17.5 at Clemson Tigers- September 7th
These team played one of the better games of last season with the Tigers escaping with a close win at Kyle Field. This matchup will be in Death Valley which is a huge advantage for the defending champions. I feel this game will be much closer than the spread indicates. The Aggies have Kellon Mond back under center who will be one of the better players in the SEC this season. The Tigers will be breaking in some key newcomers on the defensive side of the ball and this favors Texas A&M with this being an early season matchup.
Clemson will win this game, but look for the Aggies to keep it close.
3. Stanford Cardinal at UCF Knights – 2 – September 14th
The Knights have a few options at quarterback to take over for the injured McKenzie Milton. Sophomore Darriel Mack and Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush are both talented players who will battle for the starting spot once camp opens up. UCF should have another high powered offense, but questions remain on defense mainly in the front seven. Stanford head coach David Shaw will take his team across the country into a very hostile environment. The game is scheduled for 3:30 PM right in the middle of a hot and humid Fall afternoon in Orlando, FL which is an advantage for UCF.
I like the Knights in this game.
4. Clemson Tigers at Syracuse Orange + 18 – September 14th
The Orange beat Clemson two seasons ago and last season were up on the Tigers before Clemson scored late for the comeback win. Syracuse’s Tommy DeVito is a talented quarterback who has been waiting for this opportunity after sitting behind Eric Dungey the past few seasons. Clemson is loaded on offense with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and he has NFL talent all over the field. The Orange head coach Dino Babers has the Syracuse program rolling and this will be the biggest game on campus since Donovan McNabb and Marvin Harrison were playing for ‘Cuse.
Clemson should win this game, but I’m taking Syracuse and the points.
5. Florida Gators vs LSU Tigers – 4.5 – October 12th
LSU hired Joe Brady from the New Orleans Saints to try and fix their passing offense. The Tigers return Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow at quarterback who had a solid season a year ago. LSU always has a loaded backfield and they have a veteran offense line as well. Florida is deep at the skill positions and has a strong defense, but I need to see more from quarterback Feleipe Franks. He has all the tools but has had an inconsistent career thus far.
I favor LSU in this matchup and feel they have more overall talent then the Gators. Playing in front of the home crowd in Death Valley is also a huge advantage for LSU.
6. Georgia Bulldogs vs Auburn Tigers + 7.5 – November 16th
Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs have the talent to win the National Championship. Kirby Smart has built a juggernaut in Athens and this year will be more of the same. The Auburn Tigers had high expectations going into last season but struggled and finished with a disappointing 8-5 record and a losing record in SEC play. This season the expectations aren’t as high but the talent is still a plenty on the Plains. Auburn has as much talent on the defensive line as any team in the country and has all five starters on the offensive line returning. The key will be the quarterback position where Joey Gatewood and freshman Bo Nix will challenge to be the starter. Since 2003, Auburn is 14-5 ATS as a home dog which they’ll be in this matchup.
I think Auburn gives Georgia all they can handle at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
7. Navy Midshipmen + 13 vs Army Black Knights – December 14th
Army on paper has the better team and they have won the last three matchups, but this spread is just to high in my opinion. The military academies practice against the option weekly and know each other inside and out. Anytime these rivals play and the spread is a touchdown or more I look towards the underdog. Look for the game to be a low scoring affair with each team pounding the ball and trying to control the clock. Wintry conditions in December in the Northeast can be an issue as well. I will certainly keep my eye on the total as well.
Navy looks to be the play.