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College football betting primer

Eight games we’re keeping a close eye on this weekend. Joe Fortenbaugh

August 30, 2012
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It’s hard to believe, but today marks the one-year anniversary of the day I rolled into Las Vegas with cash in my pocket and lofty aspirations in my heart. Managing 365 days in Sin City without going bust is something I consider to be a big accomplishment, but this year our goals are more lofty, our aspirations much bigger.

The 2012 college football season kicks off Thursday night with 15 games on the betting schedule. But discipline and the ability to remain selective remain two of the most important characteristics of any successful bettor. That’s why today’s primer previews eight games that take place over the next three days.

Best of luck to all this season.

CLICK HERE to check out the lines.

#9 South Carolina Gamecocks at Vanderbilt Commodores

When: Thursday, 7:00pm ET
Open: South Carolina -7
Current: South Carolina -6.5

Steve SpurrierGutting out a win at Vandy in the opener will be no easy task for Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks.

Analysis: The Gamecocks have won ten of their last 12 games against the Commodores which includes a 5-1 road record since 2000. But this isn’t the same pushover Vanderbilt team of years past, as second-year head coach James Franklin and quarterback Jordan Rodgers (the younger brother of Aaron) enter the season opener as a very live dog. So much so, in fact, that this line has moved off the key number of 7 to -6.5 despite over 80% of the bets placed coming in on Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks. This should be a good one.

Take note: South Carolina is 7-2 ATS in their last nine Thursday games while Vanderbilt is 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games.

PICK: Vanderbilt (+6.5)

Washington State Cougars at BYU Cougars

When: Thursday, 10:15pm ET
Open: BYU -13.5
Current: BYU -11.5

Analysis: Washington State is a dreadful 14-47 straight-up over the last five years, but that hasn’t stopped bettors from heading to the window in support of first-year head coach and former Texas Tech boss Mike Leach. It’s a new era and a new offense for State, but keep in mind that BYU went 6-1 SU at home last season and is 6-0 ATS in their last six non-conference games.

Take note: BYU is 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games overall.

PICK: Washington State (+11.5)

#24 Boise State Broncos at #13 Michigan State Spartans

When: Friday, 8:00pm ET
Open: Michigan State -7
Current: Michigan State -6.5

Analysis: Another year, another big-time showdown for the Broncos to open the season. But there’s one big difference this time around and that’s the fact that quarterback Kellen Moore will no longer be under center for Chris Petersen and Boise State as junior Joe Southwick steps into the starting role. After an 11-3 campaign in 2011, Sparty looks to take the next step in a season that MSU backers are desperately hoping ends with a trip to Pasadena. Two members of the college football panel at last week’s LVH SuperContest handicapping seminar threw their support behind the Spartans in this matchup.

Take note: Boise State is 1-6 ATS in their last seven games while Michigan State is 5-1 ATS in their last six home games.

PICK: Boise State (+6.5). Two years ago I was told that Virginia Tech was the play and last season the “smart money” was on Georgia. Sorry, but betting against Chris Petersen in the season-opener isn’t something I’m interested in doing.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Navy Midshipmen (Dublin, Ireland)

When: Saturday, 9:00am ET
Open: Notre Dame -13.5
Current: Notre Dame (anywhere from -15.5 to -17)

Brian KellyIs this the year that Brian Kelly and the Irish break through?

Analysis: The Irish have dropped two of their last three against Navy, but pummeled the Midshipmen 56-14 last season en route to a 9-3 campaign. Everett Golson takes over at quarterback for a Notre Dame team that enters 2011 just like the team has every other year: riding a wave of hype. The upside is that the Irish get a month to prepare for Navy’s patented option attack.

Take note: The Irish are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 September games while Navy is 4-0 ATS in their last four September games.

PICK: Notre Dame (-15.5)

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at #17 Nebraska Cornhuskers

When: Saturday, 3:30pm ET
Open: Nebraska -17.5
Current: Nebraska -20

Analysis: The last time these two teams got together was back in 2004 when Southern Miss shocked the Cornhuskers 21-17 in Lincoln. But Nebraska is coming off a 9-4 season and enters the year with both quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead back on offense. Meanwhile, despite an impressive 12-2 campaign in 2011, the Golden Eagles lost head coach Larry Fedora, who took over at North Carolina this past offseason. That’s a BIG loss.

Take note: The Golden Eagles are 8-2-2 ATS in their last 12 games overall while the Cornhuskers are 1-4 ATS in their last five games against Conference USA opponents.

PICK: Nebraska (-20)

Iowa Hawkeyes at Northern Illinois Huskies (Chicago, IL)

When: Saturday, 3:30pm ET
Open: Iowa -6.5
Current: Iowa -10

Analysis: Expectations aren’t all that high in Iowa City entering the 2012 season, but this line received a jolt of electricity when the boys at Right Angle Sports threw their support behind the Hawkeyes last week. Iowa is 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games, but also keep in mind that Northern Illinois is just 2-8 ATS in their last ten neutral site games. The best of the number is long gone, but that hasn’t stopped bettors from jumping on the Hawks.

Take note: Iowa is 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 games against MAC opponents while Northern Illinois is 5-1 ATS in their last six matchups against Big Ten foes.

PICK: Iowa (-10)

#8 Michigan Wolverines at #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (Arlington, TX)

When: Saturday, 8:00pm ET
Open: Alabama -12
Current: Alabama -14

Brady HokeAn upset win over the defending champs could have Brady Hoke and Michigan looking at a National Championship run.

Analysis: The marquee matchup of Week 1 features quarterback Denard Robinson and the Wolverines in a highly anticipated showdown against defending champion Alabama. Despite the fact that only 57% of bets placed are coming in on the Crimson Tide, this line has shot up three points and now rests on the key number of 14. Michigan went 8-4-1 ATS under first year head coach Brady Hoke last season, but was just 2-2-1 ATS on the road and is 1-3-1 ATS in their last five neutral site games. Meanwhile, Nick Saban and the Tide went 9-4 ATS and 5-1 ATS on the road in 2011. With a month to prepare, can the Wolverines keep it close?

Take note: Michigan is 4-1 ATS in their last five September games while Alabama is 12-3 ATS in their last 15 September games.

PICK: Alabama (-14). I expect Michigan to have plenty of wrinkles in store for the Tide, but in the end, the SEC prevails.

Troy Trojans at UAB Blazers

When: Saturday, 12:00pm ET
Open: Troy -6
Current: Troy -6

Analysis: Nothing like betting an “added game” in Week 1 to capture your bookie’s attention. After posting eight or more wins in five straight seasons, Troy collapsed in 2011 and finished the year at 3-9, which has many in the business thinking the Trojans are being undervalued in this matchup. UAB is averaging just 3.6 wins per year since 2007 and has dropped two of their last three matchups against Troy. But the real reason why this game made the list is because two members of the college football panel at the LVH SuperContest handicapping seminar picked Troy as their team of the week. Just figured we’d pass the information along.

Take note: Troy is 2-5 ATS in their last seven games vs. Conference USA opponents while UAB is 5-2 ATS in their last seven non-conference games.

PICK: Troy (-6)

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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