It’s tough to gaze upon the glowing lights of any sportsbook board in Las Vegas without feeling that rush of adrenaline, that twinge of excitement that may lead to an abundance of wagers. We’ve waited almost eight months for the return of college football and that layoff, coupled with the excitement and pageantry surrounding Week 1, is capable of pushing bettors far beyond their boundaries.
Take a deep breath (in through the nose, out through the mouth) and relax. Stay selective and exercise a degree of patience. You want to commence the 2013 campaign on the right foot, not deep in the hole looking to chase lost money once the NFL comes around next Thursday.
We’re attempting to do the same thing, although no guarantees will be issued. At the moment, here are seven plays we’re taking to the window.
Last week: N/A
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Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (0-0, 0-0 road) at Bowling Green Falcons (0-0, 0-0 home)
When: Thursday, 7:00pm ET
Open: Bowling Green -4
Current: Bowling Green -3.5
Tulsa in 2012: 11-3 SU, 8-5 ATS
Bowling Green in 2012: 8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS
Analysis: Eight offensive starters return for a Tulsa offense that ranked ninth in the nation in rushing last season (245.7 yds/gm) and 30th in scoring (34.7 pts/gm), while nine defensive starters are back for a Bowling Green squad that ranked sixth in the nation in total defense in 2012 (296.6 yds/gm). Something’s got to give in this one and we believe it’s going to be the Falcon defense, as Tulsa is 7-2 ATS as a road underdog over the last three years and 4-1 ATS over their last five games played on a Thursday night. Take note that while Bowling Green’s defense was tops in the MAC last season, this same unit surrendered an average of 27 points per game against bowl teams in 2012.
Notable Trends: Tulsa is 13-5 ATS over their last 18 road games while Bowling Green is 2-5 ATS over their last seven non-conference matchups.
Pick: Tulsa (+3.5)
#24 USC Trojans (0-0, 0-0 road) at Hawaii Warriors (0-0, 0-0 home)
When: Thursday, 11:00pm ET
Open: USC -20.5
Current: USC -23
USC in 2012: 7-6 SU, 3-10 ATS
Hawaii in 2012: 3-9 SU, 4-7 ATS
Look for Lane Kiffin to run it up on Hawaii Thursday night.
Analysis: Hawaii is terrible and Lane Kiffin’s a prick. That may not be the type of analysis that sends bettors running to the window, but Kiffin’s demeanor is worth noting here because it indicates that he’s the type of guy who possesses no qualms about running up the score on inferior competition, especially in the wake of 2012’s 7-6 dumpster fire of a season. The Trojans roll in this one.
Notable Trends: USC is 4-1 ATS over their last five games played in the month of August while Hawaii is 2-8 ATS over their last ten home games.
Pick: USC (-23)
Texas Tech Red Raiders (0-0, 0-0 road) at SMU Mustangs (0-0, 0-0 home)
When: Friday, 8:00pm ET
Open: O/U 57.5
Current: O/U 59
Texas Tech in 2012: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS, 8-4 to the OVER
SMU in 2012: 7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS, 6-6 to the OVER
Analysis: SMU scored 30.5 points per game last year, brings back senior signal-caller Garrett Gilbert and hired Hal Mumme this past offseason to implement elements of the prolific “Air Raid” to the Mustangs’ Run & Shoot offense. Texas Tech scored an average of 37.5 points per game last season (20th in the country) and hired Johnny Manziel tutor Kliff Kingsbury to replace the departed Tommy Tuberville (Cincinnati). Take note that eight starters return for a Red Raiders defense that gave up 50 or more points four times last season while surrendering an average of 45 points per game over the team’s final seven contests.
Notable Trends: The OVER is 5-1 in Texas Tech’s last six road games.
Pick: OVER (59)
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0, 0-0 road) at Virginia Tech Hokies (0-0, 0-0 home)
Note: This game will be played in Atlanta, Georgia.
When: Saturday, 5:30pm ET
Open: Alabama -17.5
Current: Alabama -19.5
Alabama in 2012: 13-1 SU, 7-7 ATS
Virginia Tech in 2012: 7-6 SU, 4-9 ATS
ICONSaban and the Tide have been money in the bank in early-season marquee matchups.
Analysis: Alabama is a machine when it comes to covering the number in marquee, early-season matchups. The Crimson Tide did it to Clemson in 2008, Virginia Tech in 2009, Penn State in both 2010 and 2011 and Michigan in 2012. No team is more prepared, no school is more talent-rich than Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, who are 7-1 ATS over their last eight neutral site contests. On the other side of the field sits a Virginia Tech team that averaged only 25.1 points per game last season (81st in the nation) and is a paltry 7-18-1 ATS over their last 26 games. Roll Tide (by enough to cover the spread).
Notable Trends: Alabama is 10-4 ATS over their last 14 non-conference games while Virginia Tech is 2-7-1 ATS over their last ten non-conference games.
Pick: Alabama (-19.5)
#12 LSU Tigers (0-0, 0-0 road) at #20 TCU Horned Frogs (0-0, 0-0 home)
Note: This game will be played in Arlington, Texas.
When: Saturday, 9:00pm ET
Open: O/U 50.5
Current: O/U 49.5
LSU in 2012: 10-3 SU, 5-8 ATS, 7-5 to the UNDER
TCU in 2012: 7-6 SU, 5-8 ATS, 8-4 to the UNDER
Analysis: Both coaches are playing coy with their respective lineups, but we do know for certain that TCU stud defensive end and 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields is out for this one thanks to a two-game suspension. LSU returns only three starters from a defense that ranked 12th in the nation in scoring last season (17.5 pts/gm) while TCU brings back nine players from a defensive unit that surrendered just 22.6 points per game in 2012 (30th in the country). Take note that the under is 4-0 in TCU’s last four non-conference matchups.
Notable Trends: The UNDER is 7-1-1 in TCU’s last nine neutral site games.
Pick: UNDER (49.5)
Nevada Wolf Pack (0-0, 0-0 road) at #21 UCLA Bruins (0-0, 0-0 home)
When: Saturday, 10:00pm ET
Open: UCLA -17
Current: UCLA -20.5
Nevada in 2012: 7-6 SU, 4-9 ATS
UCLA in 2012: 9-5 SU, 8-6 ATS
Analysis: Jim Mora, Jr. turned a lackluster 6-8 Bruins team into a 9-5 competitor in just one year on the job while seizing control of Los Angeles away from Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans. UCLA and their 11 returning starters look to build on that success right out of the gate against a Nevada team that no longer has Chris Ault, the creator of the Pistol Offense, running the show. Instead, that distinction belongs to Brian Polian, who comes to Nevada with a resume that includes exactly zero years of head coaching experience (assistant at Texas A&M in 2012). The rookie HC has his work cut out for him in Week 1 when you consider the fact that Polian has the country’s 99th-ranked scoring defense from a year ago (33.8 pts/gm) going up against a sophomore quarterback in Brett Hundley who completed an impressive 66.5 percent of his passes as a freshman last season.
Notable Trends: Nevada is 4-11-1 ATS over their last 16 non-conference games while UCLA is 10-3 ATS over their last 13 games against opponents from the Mountain West Conference.
Pick: UCLA (-20.5)
Ohio Bobcats (0-0, 0-0 road) at Louisville Cardinals (0-0, 0-0 home)
When: Sunday, 3:30pm ET
Open: Louisville -21
Current: Louisville -21
Ohio in 2012: 9-4 SU, 5-8 ATS
Louisville in 2012: 11-2 SU, 6-7 ATS
Bridgewater and the Cardinals begin their season against a gritty Ohio team.
Analysis: Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater begins his Heisman Trophy campaign against a Frank Solich-coached Ohio team that has some bite. Solich’s Bobcats return ten starters from a squad that had no problem going into Happy Valley in Week 1 last season and knocking off Penn State, 24-14. Take note that for all the preseason hype surrounding Louisville, it’s mostly based on the fact that the Cardinals play one of the softest schedules in the country. And yes, this is the same Louisville team that is 2-5 ATS over their last seven games on fieldturf and who defeated only two opponents (Missouri State, Temple) by more than 20 points in 2012.
Notable Trends: Ohio is 5-1 ATS over their last six non-conference games while Louisville is 7-15 ATS over their last 22 home games.
Pick: Ohio (+21)
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