May 25, 2021; Ashburn, Virginia, USA; A general view of an NFL ball on the field during a Washington Football Team OTA at Inova Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Football to generate more than $20B in legal sports bets

The NFL and college football could generate more than $20 billion in legal sports betting during the upcoming season, according to projections released Tuesday by PlayUSA.

It would result in as much as $1.5 billion in revenue for sportsbooks, per PlayUSA.

“The U.S. sports betting market looks entirely different than it did just one year ago. There is no question that it will be a historic football season unlike any we’ve seen before,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for the PlayUSA.com network.

The projections are at least $12 billion wagered on NFL games and roughly $8 billion on college football, per the report.

The total football-related handle was about $7.5 billion for the 2020 season.

Since the end of the 2020 football seasons, Michigan and Virginia have launched sports betting to emerge as the fifth- and seventh-largest markets in the U.S., respectively, per PlayUSA.

Another 11 states could launch or expand betting initiatives during this upcoming football season.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2021; Hollywood, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly speaks with the media during the Pac-12 football Media Day at the W Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

CFB Week 0 lines: Fresno State, UCLA lines climbing

UCLA opened as an 11.5-point favorite but the Bruins are currently sitting at minus-17 over Hawaii in their opener.

There are five total college football games involving major conference teams on Aug. 28, which has formally been dubbed “Week 0.”

The Bruins are the second-biggest favorite of the opening weekend in college football with Fresno State (-27.5) the biggest heavy. Visiting UConn opened at +26.5 points but could fall to a four-touchdown dog by kickoff.

A win bet on Fresno State — also known as the moneyline — has -10000 odds, or an implied probability of 99.01 percent. Spelled out further, a bettor would need to wager $100 on the moneyline to win $1.

UCLA and Hawaii hold the distinction for the highest over-under of Week 0 at 70.

Week 1 of college football season gets underway Sept. 1 with UAB facing Jacksonville State, the appetizer for a smorgasbord on tap for Labor Day weekend. Multiple games are scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which features four top-20 matchups, none more anticipated than No. 5 Georgia against No. 3 Clemson in the primetime game on ABC.

The Tigers are 3.5-point favorites and have a -160 moneyline in the neutral site game in Charlotte, N.C.

No. 19 Penn State and No. 12 Wisconsin play at noon ET, and No. 1 Alabama faces No. 14 Miami at 3:30 p.m. ET, the same kickoff slot for Indiana (No. 17) at Iowa (No. 18). Alabama, the national championship favorite at +260 entering the season, is favored by 18.5 points over the Hurricanes.

The lone Power 5 matchup of Week 0 is a Big Ten game in Champaign, Ill., where the Fighting Illini opened as 9.5-point home underdogs. That line is closing almost by the day with Nebraska sitting as 7-point favorites as of Wednesday at noon ET.

That conference game kicks off the five-game slate at noon CT with a national TV audience on FOX. Illinois is a popular pick to surprise in former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s debut season.

Illinois’ moneyline is +220 after opening at +280.

In the only other game on the board for the late August weekend, UTEP holds firm as 9.5-point favorites at New Mexico State in a line that hasn’t moved since the morning odds were first released.

There is no line set for Southern Utah at San Jose State, which is the final game of Aug. 28 (10 p.m. ET).

All lines mentioned above are courtesy of PointsBetUSA.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback D'Eriq King (1) reacts after running the ball in for a touchdown which is called back for a penalty during the first half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Cheez-It Bowl Game at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Miami, BYU agree to home-and-home in 2026, 2028

Miami and Brigham Young will meet for a home-and-home football series in 2026 and 2028, the schools announced Thursday.

Miami will host BYU on Sept. 19, 2026 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Two seasons later, BYU will host the Hurricanes on Sept. 2, 2028 in Provo, Utah.

Unless they meet in a postseason game before 2026, it will mark the first time Miami and BYU square off since 1990, when the Cougars upset the top-ranked and defending national champion Hurricanes in Provo.

The two programs have enjoyed strong showings of late. In the final Associated Press poll of the 2020 season, BYU (11-1) finished No. 11 in the country and Miami (8-3) was No. 22. The ‘Canes are ranked No. 16 in the preseason coaches’ poll for 2021.

“We are always looking for opportunities to schedule storied football programs like Miami,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “Traveling to ACC country and competing in an NFL stadium will be a great experience for our coaches, players and fans.”

“We are excited to add BYU to our future football schedule,” Miami AD Blake James said in a statement. “We remain committed to scheduling top programs for our nonconference games and showcasing The U across the country.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III (3) rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Griffin III joins ESPN as football analyst

Former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III joined ESPN as a college football and NFL analyst, signing a multi-year contract on Thursday.

In his new role, Griffin will call a college football game on ESPN or ABC every week of the season and “contribute to the network’s coverage of the College Football Playoff, Super Bowl and other major events.”

NFL Network reported that Griffin’s deal will include a clause that would allow him to pursue a return to the NFL should he have the opportunity. Most recently, Griffin served as Lamar Jackson’s backup with the Baltimore Ravens, starting one game apiece in 2019 and 2020.

“College football has always been an integral part of my life, first as a kid watching it, then as a young man playing it,” Griffin said in a statement. “Some of my greatest sports memories come from my collegiate days surrounded by the pageantry, the traditions and the passion of the fans. College football is life-changing for many and I will always look back on my time playing it with tremendous gratitude.”

Griffin won the Heisman in 2011 while starring for Baylor. He passed for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns and six interceptions while beating out Stanford’s Andrew Luck for the honor.

The No. 2 overall draft pick in 2012, Griffin played three seasons for Washington and one for the Cleveland Browns before finding his way to the Ravens. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and led Washington to the playoffs before a knee injury set his career on a different trajectory.

In seven NFL seasons, Griffin played in 56 games, starting 42. He threw for 9,271 yards, 43 touchdowns and 30 interceptions with a 63.0 percent completion rate. Griffin also ran for 1,809 yards and 10 touchdowns.

For ESPN, Griffin’s hiring comes on the heels of the sports media giant reaching an agreement with Peyton and Eli Manning to take turns starring in an alternate broadcast of “Monday Night Football” for the next three seasons.

–Field Level Media

Jul 21, 2019; Miami Beach, FL, USA; A general view of gaming controllers on display during the Call of Duty League Finals e-sports event at Miami Beach Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

EA Sports to bring back college football video game

EA Sports is bringing college football back to video game consoles.

The company on Tuesday introduced EA Sports College Football, the successor to its NCAA Football, last produced in 2013.

While the company’s social media post didn’t provide any detail about the pending game, Daryl Holt, EA Sports vice president and general manager, told ESPN the time was right.

“It all starts with the passion of our fans and the opportunities of what they are interested in,” Holt said. “I don’t think there’s a visit where I go outside wearing a piece of EA Sports-branded apparel that someone doesn’t go, ‘Hey, when is college football coming back?’”

Holt said the new version of the game will include more than 100 teams. EA Sports is pairing with CLC, the collegiate licensing company, to get the rights to publish the teams’ uniforms and such.

“We want to make sure we deliver what our college football game players would want in a game,” Holt said. “And that starts with just a very immersive experience, and there’s lots of things we can do to bring the true college game play and game day to the virtual world.”

The release date has not been set. It will be geared toward next generation platforms such as the Sony PlayStation5 and the Xbox Series X.

EA Sports hasn’t published a college football game since NCAA Football 2014. On the cover of that release was Denard Robinson, the Michigan quarterback at the time.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book (12) readies for the snap in the first quarter against the Clemson Tigers at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame defeated Clemson 47-40 in two overtimes. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame, Northwestern enter title games as massive moneyline values

Multiple spots in the College Football Playoff are on the line Saturday in conference championship games.

No. 1 Alabama could be a lock, win or lose in the SEC title game against Florida.

Despite a shocking loss to LSU last week, the Gators remain in play for a spot in the top four if they can beat the Crimson Tide.

Ohio State, currently No. 4, remains in the CFP mix as well, but in-state counterpart Cincinnati continues to get overlooked because of its Group of Five membership.

And the committee could be confounded by the scenarios involving No. 2 Notre Dame if the Irish, already holding a win over current No. 3 Clemson (Nov. 7), can’t pull the repeat in the ACC championship rematch Saturday.

Those riddles are best left to the committee.

In the meantime, let’s hunt for value in this week’s analysis of college football’s top moneyline plays:

Florida State +193 at Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons are -6.5 at 888 Sport and the book offers intriguing alternate lines for those not ready to dive into the deep end on the Seminoles’ upset.

This was a 22-20 decision for Wake Forest in Winston-Salem last season, but there are a lot of trends siding with the ‘Noles. FSU is coming off of a 56-35 home win over Duke, while Wake dropped a 45-21 road tilt at Louisville.

Florida State is also 8-2 in its last 10 matchups against the Deacs. Sure, these aren’t your big brother’s Seminoles. But Mike Norvell has started to at least veer the ship in the right direction, so grabbing FSU against a team that struggled last week would be a smart play.

Bonus pick: We like 888 Sport’s lone prop on FSU to score first at +105.

Northwestern +650 vs. Ohio State

The Buckeyes are climbing and were all the way up to -20 at 888 Sport on Friday afternoon.

Ohio State will draw a lot of eyeballs in Indianapolis this weekend as they try to make their best case yet for a CFP berth. A lot has been made of Ryan Day’s squad being so high in the rankings despite playing only five games, but there is also no denying the talent on the Buckeyes’ roster.

OSU handled Northwestern 52-3 last season, and it beat Michigan State 52-12 in its most recent matchup.

Remember, the Wildcats’ only loss this year is to Sparty.

But the transitive theory doesn’t often apply in college football, and Pat Fitzgerald’s squad is 4-1-1 against the spread this season. This Northwestern defense is legit.

The Wildcats are allowing just 14.6 points per game (second nationally), so it will be a test for the Buckeyes’ offense. One worry for bettors is where Northwestern can find points. As the No. 100 ranked offense in the FBS, that’s legitimate.

In a pressure cooker and prove-it moment for Ohio State, Northwestern is the team being dismissed. Take the ‘Cats +650 and see what happens.

Iowa State +165 vs. Oklahoma

The line has come down a touch this week, with Iowa State’s moneyline value as high as +175. On Friday afternoon it was at +165 at 888 Sports.

The No. 6 Cyclones beat Oklahoma 37-30 on Oct. 3 with a last-second interception of Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler and are 8-1 in the Big 12.

But the Cyclones have a very tough task in front of them: beating Lincoln Riley and OU twice in the same season. But stranger things have happened. Remember that the Cyclones had not defeated the Sooners in Ames since 1960 before doing so earlier this season.

OU has not lost since that setback against the Cyclones and ISU’s only blemish since its opening defeat against Louisiana came at the hands of Oklahoma State on Oct. 24.

Matt Campbell’s crew destroyed West Virginia 42-6 in its last contest, and the balance on both sides of the ball is what makes this team so dangerous. The ‘Clones are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games.

If you haven’t seen much of the Cyclones, running back Breece Hall should be getting more recognition in Heisman Trophy discussions.

Already on the Iowa State moneyline? Consider 888 Sport’s game parlay of Iowa State and over the 58 total points. Iowa State has averaged 40 points per game during a current five-game winning streak and OU is even better since slapping a 50 burger on Texas.

Notre Dame +275 vs. Clemson

Favored by 10.5 points with quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the fold for this rematch points to how difficult it could be to beat the Tigers twice in the same season.

Lawrence didn’t play in the first meeting because of his positive COVID-19 test.

Brian Kelly’s squad is legit on both sides of the ball, and the Tigers’ offense wasn’t the reason the team fell in South Bend. Dabo Swinney will have his team motivated, but don’t overlook Ian Book and the Irish.

Grabbing the No. 2-ranked team in the country +275 via 888 Sport in a league championship game is very rare.

Big-game failings can’t entirely be ignored here, and using the alternate line play at 888 Sport is worth consideration. For example, Notre Dame plus 10 is still +100 odds.

The Irish are a different breed than past Tigers opponents in this game, and running back Kyren Williams (140 rushing yards and three scores in the first meeting) makes this Irish offense explosive.

San Jose State +185 vs. Boise State

This is a matchup that the Broncos have dominated. They’re a perfect 14-0 against the Spartans all time, which isn’t so surprising given the rise to prominence of the Boise program through several different head coaches along with the longtime struggles of SJSU.

But Brent Brennan has this Spartans program trending upward, as it is one of eight remaining unbeaten teams in this weird season — and it hasn’t been 6-0 since 1939.

The Spartans’ defense is allowing only 17.5 points per game, and the passing offense is led by veteran quarterback Nick Starkel. This feels like the year the Spartans get on the board against Boise as this matchup has all the makings of a close Mountain West title game.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2019; Pasadena, CA, USA; General overall view of the 2019 Rose Bowl between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Washington Huskies at the Rose Bowl with the San Gabriel mountains as a backdropl. Ohio State defeated Washington 28-23. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Adjusted bowl season to kick off Dec. 19

An adjusted college football bowl schedule was made official Thursday, with two new games joining the mix and four deciding to go dark this time around.

The bowl season kicks off Dec. 19 with the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl at Frisco, Texas, and the run of 37 games will almost all be played in a two-week stretch that ends Jan. 2 with four games: TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, Outback Bowl, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and the Capital One Orange Bowl.

The CFP National Championship will take place outside that window on Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The Montgomery Bowl at Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 23 and the LA Bowl at Inglewood, Calif., on Dec. 30 will make their debuts this year. The LA Bowl is set for the new $5 billion SoFi Stadium in the Los Angeles area that is home to both the NFL’s Rams and Chargers.

The Fenway Bowl at Boston was also supposed to debut in 2020 but will not take place.

Bowls that will not be played this time around, as a concession to the COVID-19, pandemic are the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, the RedBox Bowl in San Francisco, the Bahamas Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl. The decisions not to play those games had been previously announced.

The busiest day for bowl games is Dec. 26 with a schedule that includes the Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa, Fla.), Cure Bowl (Orlando, Fla.), First Responder Bowl (Dallas), LendingTree Bowl (Mobile, Ala) and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Phoenix).

The CPF semifinal games both will be on New Year’s Day, with those final four teams getting spots in the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.) and the Sugar Bowl (New Orleans).

–Field Level Media

Nov 10, 2018; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman before the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Herman cautions No. 8 Texas before visit to Texas Tech

No. 8 Texas is confident, but head coach Tom Herman cautioned the Longhorns not to buy into their national hype before Saturday’s conference opener at Texas Tech.

Herman anticipates a big test in Lubbock when the Longhorns visit on Saturday in the Big 12 opener for each team.

The Longhorns, 59-3 winners over UTEP in their season opener, and the Red Raiders, who held off Houston Baptist 35-33 on Sept. 12, come into Saturday’s game off an open week with matching 1-0 records.

From here until mid-December, neither team plays an opponent outside of the Big 12.

Texas coach Tom Herman reminded his team during the bye week that the Red Raiders will be a challenge. Erase all previous results, Herman told his club. The Longhorns (1-0) dominated UTEP in their easy win and Texas Tech struggled to put away Houston Baptist, which plays in the FCS.

Herman described the UTEP game as a “scrimmage.”

Texas starters played about 30 snaps. Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 426 yards and tossed touchdowns to five different receivers in the first half.

“We understand this is a huge, huge test on the road,” Herman said. “The level of competition ratchets up significantly. Just because a team won by two points in Week 1 doesn’t mean they’re not capable of beating you by 21 either. Let’s not jump to too many conclusions here after one game and the craziest offseason in the history of college football. We haven’t done anything yet. But our guys know what they’re capable of…I do think there’s a lot of confidence in (our) locker room.”

The Red Raiders (1-0) have their own impressive signal-caller in Alan Bowman, who missed the second half of last season with shoulder injury. Bowman blitzed Houston Baptist for 430 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Texas Tech’s season-opening victory.

Texas Tech coach Matt Wells said his team used the open week to get a little more physical in practice in preparation for the Longhorns.

“I like the response of our players – we came in and really put in some good work,” Wells said Monday. “We’ve got to make some strides this week and obviously improve a lot between game one and game two.

The Red Raiders had a more than a dozen players miss the Houston Baptist game because of COVID-19. Wells expects his team to be closer to full strength against Texas.

Texas Tech running back SaRodorick Thompson was arrested Monday. He was charged stemming from a June 27 drag-racing incident in which he’s accused of fleeing the scene while a fellow teammate was arrested.

Thompson was the Red Raiders’ leading rusher last season and in Texas Tech’s season-opening win. He rushed 22 times for 118 yards and two scores against Houston Baptist. Tech announced Monday that Thompson will play in Saturday’s Big 12 opener against Texas.

Texas holds a 52-17 advantage over Texas Tech in the all-time series between the schools, and has won two of the past three matchups. The Longhorns have won five straight times in Lubbock, last losing in 2008.

Outside of last year’s meeting in Austin — a 49-24 win by Texas — the in-state rivals have gone to the wire over the past five years. Four of those games determined by a touchdown or less.

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2019; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day prior to the game against the Clemson Tigers in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl college football playoff semifinal game. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

OSU’s Day stumps for quick start to spring season

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said he’s exploring ways to get his team on the field as soon as possible, including via a spring season that begins in early January.

Day, speaking one day after the Big Ten postponed the fall football season, said the planning process for a spring season must begin now. He said he believes the Big Ten could begin play in early January, schedule eight or nine games, entertain possible postseason play, and wrap it all up before the NFL draft.

“It’s got to be weeks. It can’t be months. We’ve got to start it as soon as we can,” Day said.

Day also wants current NFL prospects, like Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields, to play the spring season. He also wants incoming recruits who enroll midyear to be eligible for the spring 2021 season.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of back-and-forth here, but … starting the first week of January would be the best week to go, an eight-week season. That way there is some separation between that season and the next season,” Day said. “We get some midyear guys to come in and possibly play a two-for-one, they’d get two seasons in in one calendar year, which I think the recruits would be really excited about. That’s the focus right now.”

Day also said he spoke to OSU athletic director Gene Smith earlier Wednesday about any possibilities of playing this fall.

“We are looking at everything, I promise you that.”

Smith, however, said OSU is no longer looking at options that include fall competition.

“It wasn’t realistic,” Smith told ESPN. “We just embraced the spring. That’s what we’re doing.

“There’s not a fall option,” he added. “We’re all about the spring and how do we set that up.”

Ohio State was 13-1 in 2019, and won a third straight Big Ten championship, becoming the first program in conference history to do so outright. Day, entering his second season as the OSU head coach, tied the record for most wins for a first-year FBS head coach last season.

Day, who also subbed in for head coach Urban Meyer for three games in 2018 and is 16-1 overall in Columbus, said the forfeiture of the 2020 season hit him hard.

“You work your whole life for an opportunity to coach a team like this,” he said. “This team is special.

“It could have been a once-in-a-lifetime team.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) rolls out South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

College football stars ‘want to play’ plan players association

College football players launched a social media campaign confirming their plans to play the upcoming season and soon form a players association.

Following in the footsteps of MLB and NFL players, college stars including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence took to social media with the #WeWantToPlay hashtag.

The joint statement proclaimed college stars with the most to lose — Lawrence is the purported No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft — are aligning with a mission to get back on the field this fall.

It outlined in bullet points the goals of the united front:

–We all want to play football this season

–Establish universal mandated health and safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA

–Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision

–Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not

–Use or voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials; ultimately create a college football players association

–Representative of the players of all Power 5 conferences

The graphic shared by Lawrence and other college players includes the logo of all Power 5 conferences.

Approximately 400 players the from the Pac-12 were first involved in demanding health and safety measures from school and league officials last week and Big Ten players followed soon after.

A Zoom call was organized on Sunday that included Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris, Oregon’s Penei Sewell, Johnny Johnson III, Jevon Holland and Kayvon Thibodeaux, Utah’s Nick Ford, Washington State’s Dallas Hobbs and Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds.

“Social media is so prevalent right now that unifying the players is easier than it’s ever been,” Reynolds said. “You can connect with people in a matter of seconds, which makes it a lot easier to bounce ideas off each other and gauge how people are feeling in different parts of the country and really put a plan in place.”

Boles said the players knew they were racing against the clock and that, while all of them do want to play, only if they do it “the right way.”

–Field Level Media