Is heavily favored Liberty about to get planted by a double-digit underdog in the CUSA title game? Mandatory Credit: Brian Bishop-USA TODAY Sports

Conference championship weekend Preview, Prop and Picks

The buffet of betting options overflows with main courses with only conference championship games on the menu this weekend.

With Oregon-Washington, Alabama-Georgia and Michigan-Iowa coming up, it’s easy to be distracted by the shiny draw of big names in big games.

But a matchup not many circled could prove a massive stage for one underdog ready to flex.

It’s the Conference USA championship game – No. 24 Liberty vs. New Mexico State – and you know you’ll look to have something to follow when the TV clicks on.

We have stats, news, quotes and betting predictions for our college football (betting) game of the week.

–Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET, Friday
–Television: CBS Sports Network
–Location: Williams Stadium, Lynchburg, Va.
–Point Spread, Total: Liberty -10.5; 55.5 (DraftKings)

QUICK PICK

It’s a home game for Liberty, with 25,000-plus fans aiming to help the unbeaten Flames (12-0) roll past New Mexico State in Lynchburg, Va., Friday.

The Aggies (10-3) are not intimidated, however, and the venue won’t be a surprise. Liberty stopped New Mexico State 33-17 earlier this season at home.

Bettors who witnessed New Mexico State’s upset at Auburn two weeks ago know about the Aggies’ size and speed. This improving team could be eye-opening for Liberty, a double-digit favorite given the spotlight thanks to a place in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The trends are smiling on Aggies backers. New Mexico State has an 11-2 mark against the spread – 6-1 as the underdog – and following that loss to Liberty has covered 10 consecutive games.

Coming off a 20-17 win over Jacksonville State, in which New Mexico State put two early touchdowns on the board and then became somewhat disinterested, the Aggies have all the inspiration they need in an “us against the world” matchup.

Liberty could be conservative early, and New Mexico State would welcome a slower pace. The Aggies are 9-4 to the “under” this season.

The bet, a plus-money New Mexico State teaser parlay: Aggies +14.5 with the under 60.5 points (+124 at DraftKings).

THE NEWS

The Flames are trying to stay in play for the Group of 5 spot in the upper tier of bowls when the College Football Playoff committee reveals its final rankings Sunday.

“To say we’re 12-0, I would’ve said you’re crazy,” Liberty’s first-year coach Jamey Chadwell said. “But this team bought in to each other, and just what a tremendous season.”

The Aggies will arrive with an eight-game winning streak that includes a 31-10 handling of host Auburn on Nov. 18 and Saturday’s 20-17 home escape versus Jacksonville State. Ethan Albertson’s 52-yard field goal as time expired won it for New Mexico State.

Liberty trails only No. 22 Tulane among Group of 5 teams.

“I told them before the season started, you have an opportunity to make history (in the) FBS,” Chadwell said.

“Certain things haven’t happened here. For us to be 12-0, there’s not an FBS program that has ever won 12 games in a season in the state of Virginia.”

BONUS BET

It’s almost impossible to quantify the number of what-if scenarios that could be hatched if Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC title game.

That’s been a common discussion point among college football fans and media. No. 1 Georgia wants nothing to do with it.

Would the Bulldogs remain among the College Football Playoff top four when the committee reveals its rankings Sunday at noon ET? That would depend on several other outcomes.

The Bulldogs, unbeaten and improving, know their roles and have taken the elite coaching from Kirby Smart and his staff to heart.

Quarterback Carson Beck is on a nice upward trend in performance. He’s completing 72.4 percent of his attempts – which would easily break the school mark – for 3,495 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. His yardage total is fourth most in Bulldogs’ history.

No doubt, Tide QB Jalen Milroe has been exceptional, capping his run of success with a dart of a touchdown throw on fourth-and-goal from the Auburn 31-yard line to Isaiah Bond to win last Saturday’s Iron Bowl.

Our take? It was an incredibly lucky throw to beat a clearly inferior opponent.

The bet: Georgia -5.5.

THEY SAID IT

“Definitely, we have to embrace the challenge that’s ahead of us. They’re coming off of a (29)-game winning streak, so it’s definitely a challenge for the guys in the locker room.” — Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Heisman Trophy candidate LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) warms up before their game against the Georgia State Panthers at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Dobbins-USA TODAY Sports

Bo Nix, Jayden Daniels battle for Heisman favorite role

Most questions have been answered with regard to the college football season, but sports-betting fans know there are a few big ones looming as we hit rivalry week.

The Ohio State-Michigan game owns the marquee, but a closer look reveals some additional value among the items on this week’s wagering menu.

THE HEISMAN

The national TV pregame show yappers are serving as de facto social influencers, tipping their collective hand on Heisman Trophy front-runners.

At the top of the list prior to last weekend, Bo Nix took his Oregon offense to new heights and yet saw his odds move backward.

Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. survived the weather — and the then-No. 11 Oregon State Beavers — to lead the Huskies to a narrow 22-20 victory.

Georgia, with an increasing amount of help from quarterback Carson Beck, routed Tennessee 38-10 in Knoxville.

All fine stories, but the guy at the top of the Heisman odds board won’t even be in a conference championship game.

LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels, a sensational runner and improving passer, was all the talk of those pregame and halftime shows on Saturday, with pundits seemingly trying to talk themselves out of handing Nix the honor.

So Nix throws a school-record-tying six touchdown passes — ALL IN THE FIRST HALF — at Arizona State, while Daniels dominated Georgia State with six TD passes of his own, and two rushing scores.

Ohio State’s do-everything receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe round out the super seven.

Daniels and Nix are 1-2 in ESPN’s quarterback rating. Daniels, third in passing yards, has thrown 36 TD passes to four interceptions; Nix, fourth in passing yards, has 35 TD passes and only two picks.

Daniels stands alone in the rushing numbers, however, with 1,014 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

It’s impossible to read the minds of the more than 900 Heisman voters, but college football fans are likely to have strong opinions about the FanDuel odds list.

As of Monday:

Daniels: -125

Nix: +150

Penix Jr.: +700

Harrison Jr.: +5000

Beck: +8000

Milroe: +15000

BetMGM still has Nix on top at +110, with Daniels close behind at +140 and Penix Jr. at +500.

We believe in the Oregon Ducks taking down Oregon State Friday and following up with a Pac-12 title game triumph at Las Vegas Dec. 1. With Nix leading those victories, the odds should swing toward the Pacific Northwest.

On that subject, Penix Jr. isn’t done yet. With victories over Washington State this week and the Ducks in Las Vegas, Penix Jr. would see his number shoot back toward +200. If you believe in a Huskies Pac-12 title, grab Penix Jr. now.

Daniels has only one game left, a home matchup this week against middling Texas A&M, so his work is largely done — for better or worse. Losses to Mississippi and Alabama are big strikes against him, given the other candidates’ leadership of College Football Playoff-contending teams.

But fans — and voters — in the football-mad SEC know Daniels has done most of his work against the best conference in the country. Some will see value, even at -125.

RIVALRY WAGERS

Three top games, all of which carry College Football Playoff implications, grab Saturday’s spotlight. Each of these selections could carry some betting value if you look at just the right angle.

Florida State Seminoles at Florida Gators, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN, Florida State -6.5

With Florida State’s Jordan Travis injured and out for the season, many were questioning the validity of a Seminoles top-four CFP position entering Tuesday’s latest rankings release.

The unbeaten Seminoles have their hands full against a hungry arch-rival in Gainesville, and, despite a four-game losing streak, the Gators have looked markedly improved.

Almost a touchdown is just too much to give, especially when having only a week to fully integrate backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker. The junior, prior to last Saturday, had thrown 43 passes in four years at FSU, with five touchdowns and five interceptions.

Florida is coming off a narrow loss on the road at then-No. 11 Missouri and will have no trouble focusing on this one.

The bet: Florida +6.5 (multiple outlets).

Oregon State Beavers at Oregon Ducks, Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX, Oregon -13.5

Nix can see the finish line of his record-setting college career. He has help from a much-improved defense (thanks largely to the hire of coach Dan Lanning, who ran the Georgia defense prior to landing in Eugene) and a Bucky Irving-led ground game that doesn’t allow defenses to target one aspect of the Oregon offense.

Beavers sophomore RB Damien Martinez is special, and Clemson transfer QB DJ Uiagalelei has been a strong leader, but the Ducks have a higher vision and more talent.

This one, though, isn’t likely to get out of hand, and with clear weather in the forecast the Friday night crowd should see plenty of points.

The bet: Oregon teased to -9.5 and parlayed with over 57.5 points (-128 at DraftKings).

Ohio State at Michigan, Saturday at noon ET, FOX; Michigan -3.5.

Wolverines quarterback JJ McCarthy has been similar to Buckeyes QB Kyle McCord: not quite good enough to be the reason his team wins.

Both guys will need help, and Ohio State just seems to have a little more of it — both in depth and with a recency bias.

Michigan inexplicably struggled last week while Ohio State rolled again. The Buckeyes are getting more than a field goal as of early in the week and are not lacking motivation as the No. 2 team in the College Football Playoff rankings prior to Tuesday’s latest release.

We can find a nice plus-money opportunity here.

The bet: Ohio State teased to +7.5 parlayed with over 41.5 points (+112 at DraftKings).

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) drops back to pass against the Utah Utes during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Conference championship futures: No-brainer bets for Big Ten, Pac-12

The calendar has flipped to November, and it’s time to call our shots on the relative betting value featuring conference championships.

We have our top choices for three conference title-game winners, including what we believe is a Big Ten no-brainer.

CONFERENCE FUTURE BET NO. 1: The American Athletic Conference

Two schools, Tulane (ranked 24th in the first College Football Playoff rankings) and SMU, have led the AAC this season and are ranked among the top 50 college teams on the Action Network’s betting power rankings.

The seemingly inseparable pair are on a collision course to meet in the conference championship game, to be held Dec. 2 at the site of the regular-season champ.

SMU (6-2, 4-0 AAC) looks to exit the conference in style. The Mustangs will join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

Tulane (7-1, 4-0) won last season’s championship game over UCF and defeated Southern California 46-45 in the Cotton Bowl.

Can anyone stop the Green Wave? We believe SMU has the capability to do so.

The Mustangs have scored 189 points and surrendered only 36 through four AAC games. And they’re not the favorites to win the conference.

Tulane (+150 BetMGM) is the current betting choice. And there wasn’t a better story down the stretch of last season.

These teams are not scheduled to meet during the regular season, but the likely matchup in the title game could well be worth the wait.

The value, however, lies with SMU at +170.

The bet: SMU +170 to win the AAC title game.

CONFERENCE FUTURES BET NO. 2: The Pac-12 Conference

Oregon lost 36-33 to Washington in Seattle, but the Ducks are playing like the conference’s best team right now.

The Huskies struggled to beat Arizona State and Stanford, while the Ducks crushed Utah last week.

Oregon finishes its regular-season schedule with three of four games at home, beginning with Cal on Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

Oregon, the College Football Playoff committee’s No. 6 team, sits behind No. 5 Washington because of that Oct. 14 loss. But momentum is running rampant after the Ducks (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) trounced the Utes 35-6 last weekend in Salt Lake City. Utah had won 18 straight home games.

Although Oregon, ranked No. 3 on the Action Network power rankings behind only Georgia and Michigan, is the betting favorite to take the conference title game, the number (+110 at FanDuel and BetMGM) is a value.

The Ducks should be the betting favorite in the championship game in Las Vegas, so the current plus-money would be a nice price to be carrying on Dec. 2.

The bet: Oregon +110 to win the Pac-12 title game.

CONFERENCE FUTURES BET NO. 3: The Big Ten Conference

This will be short and sweet.

There are two schools that can win the Big Ten title, but only one will play in the conference championship game.

Barring an upset Nov. 11 in Happy Valley against Penn State, Michigan needs only to defeat Ohio State in Ann Arbor, Mich., Nov. 25 to clinch a spot in the title game.

And that championship matchup would likely come against one of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin or Nebraska, teams currently sharing the West Division lead with 3-2 records in the conference.

Expect a line such as Michigan by 28 or so.

Despite distractions from the sign-stealing controversy at Michigan, coach Jim Harbaugh has succeeded in convincing his team to focus its attention to the on-field product.

“I think our depth and the health of the team is pretty high right now,” he said. “Couldn’t ask for much better going into this stretch in November.”

The Wolverines, who have a matchup with Purdue on Saturday, boast plenty of offensive talent to go with a shut-down defense.

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Blake Corum are elite. McCarthy, No. 2 in current Heisman Trophy betting (Washington’s Michael Penix is first), passed for a season-high 287 yards and four touchdowns in Michigan’s 49-0 pummeling of in-state rival Michigan State on Oct. 21.

The defense has allowed 47 points through eight games — pure dominance.

The Buckeyes are terrific, but aren’t likely to be favored in Ann Arbor.

Michigan’s number (-105 at FanDuel) will not be so attractive after Nov. 11, assuming a Wolverines victory over Penn State. Grab this virtual even-money bet.

The bet: Michigan -105 to win the Big Ten title game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) embraces Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) after a game at Autzen Stadium. The Huskies won the game 37-34.  Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Washington vs. Oregon: Preview, Prop Pick and Prediction

The Pac-12 is not going away quietly.

In its final season as we know it, the conference boasts a top-to-bottom strength not seen in years, and its College Football Playoff qualification process ramps up on Saturday in Seattle.

The Ducks and Huskies enter with identical 5-0 records, and matching 2-0 marks in conference play.

The similarities don’t end there.

These offenses rank first and second in yards per game with Washington at 569.4 and Oregon close behind at 555.8.

Both are leaving for the Big Ten beginning next season and have starting quarterbacks headed to the NFL.

Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. are among leaders in the nation in nearly all passing metrics, ranking among the top five in passing efficiency.

Penix is tied for third with 16 touchdown passes and Nix has 15.

Nix leads the nation in completion percentage (80.4 percent) while Penix Jr. leads the nation in passing yards per game – by a wide margin (his 399.8 standard dwarfs the second-place QB mark of 336.67).

Oregon aims for revenge after dropping a 37-34 heartbreaker in Eugene, Ore., last season.

Is there betting value on the underdog Ducks? The offenses appear to be a statistical dead heat, but one team’s defense could very well make the difference.

We have news, trends and quotes – along with our game prediction.

–Kickoff: 3:30, ET
–Television: ABC
–Location: Husky Stadium, Seattle.
–Point Spread, Total: Washington -3, Total 67.5

THE NEWS
Washington standout receiver Rome Odunze is one of the very best in the country.

Fellow Huskies wideout Jalen McMillan is expected to return after missing the past two games with a leg injury suffered at Michigan State.

Odunze appeared to injure his midsection while recovering an onside kick Sept. 30 at Arizona, but UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said Odunze is “ready to go.”

Two starters in Oregon’s secondary, cornerback Khyree Jackson and safety Bryan Addison, are also expected back after getting banged up Sept. 30 at Stanford.

The QB talent can’t be overstated.

Penix, who threw for 408 yards with two touchdowns at Oregon in last year’s win over the Ducks, is the current Heisman frontrunner at +200, while Nix is the No. 3 betting favorite at +600, according to the latest odds from BetMGM.

Last year’s Heisman winner, USC’s Caleb Williams, is second at +225.

Ducks coach Dan Lanning, who coached Georgia’s defense when the Bulldogs won a national title, said he’s never seen a conference with the quarterback talent the Pac-12 has this season.

“I think it’s really impressive. There’s great quarterback play in this league right now,” Lanning said. “And we’re going to see all of them. So this is certainly, I think, one of the best, if not the best, that we’ve seen so far.”

QUICK PICK
The point total is approaching 70. Before you shake it off, the number seems realistic with the nation’s No. 2 and 3 scoring offenses (Oregon, 51.6 ppg.; Washington, 46.0).

But is the Ducks’ defense being overlooked or entirely discredited?

Oregon has won its past two games by identical 42-6 scores over Colorado and Stanford, and is sixth among D-I schools in total defense, allowing only 255 yards per game.

The Ducks are also tied with Ohio State for ninth in first downs allowed, while Washington is outside the top 50 in both categories.

In the Huskies’ two most recent games, against California and Arizona, Washington has allowed 56 points. In that Arizona game, Penix Jr. was forced to take shorter throws as the Wildcats dropped their secondary deep to avoid being beaten over the top.

That blueprint has been closely scrutinized by Oregon’s defensive coaches, who need no reminders about the 37-34 loss to Washington in 2022.

If these prolific offenses neutralize each other, the difference might well become the Oregon defense, and we’re willing to take the Ducks.

Three or four unproductive drives would seem to be enough for an Oregon upset — or at least the cover.

The pick: Oregon 38, Washington 34.

THEY SAID IT

“It’s fun, and it’s special. It was big going on the road at that time. Getting a win there. … You learn a lot just so far as the excitement and the passion … . Obviously, (Nos.) 7 and 8 in the country. So, a lot of great football is going to be played on (Saturday) for sure.”

–Washington coach Kalen DeBoer on winning last year at Oregon and on Saturday’s epic matchup.

–Field Level Media

Georgia coach Kirby Smart speaks to the media on the first day of spring football practice in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

News Joshua L Jones

CFP schedule runs into late January in 2024, 2025

The 2024 and 2025 College Football Playoff schedule covers more than one month and extends to the second half of January.

Championship games both seasons will be played only two months before many programs begin spring practice.

All four first-round games in the expanded playoff structure will be played on the campus of the highest-ranked team in a given matchup. Established bowl games and sites will take over the CFP with the quarterfinals through the national championship.

The 2024 national title game will be played Monday, Jan. 20, 2025, in Atlanta.

For context, the 2023 national champion Georgia Bulldogs won the second of their back-to-back titles with a 65-7 win over TCU on Jan. 9. The Bulldogs began spring practice on March 14.

Programs are permitted 15 on-field practices during spring.

Auburn, Missouri and Vanderbilt were among teams who opened spring practice in February. Indiana, USC and Texas all began spring practice the first week of March in 2023.

CFP schedule, 2024 season
First Round (On-campus games)
Friday, December 20, 2024: One game (evening)
Saturday, December 21, 2024: Three games (early afternoon, late afternoon and evening)

Quarterfinals
Tuesday, December 31, 2024: Vrbo Fiesta Bowl (evening)
Wednesday, January 1, 2025: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (early afternoon), Rose Bowl Game (late afternoon) and Allstate Sugar Bowl (evening)

Semifinals
Thursday, January 9, 2025: Capital One Orange Bowl (evening)
Friday, January 10, 2025: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (evening)

CFP National Championship
Monday, January 20, 2025: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.

CFP schedule, 2025 Season
First Round (On-campus games)
Friday, December 19, 2025: One game (evening)
Saturday, December 20, 2025: Three games (early afternoon, late afternoon and evening)

Quarterfinals
Wednesday, December 31, 2025: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (evening)
Thursday, January 1, 2026: Capital One Orange Bowl (early afternoon), Rose Bowl Game (late afternoon) and Allstate Sugar Bowl (evening)

Semifinals
Thursday, January 8, 2026: Vrbo Fiesta Bowl (evening)
Friday, January 9, 2026: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (evening)

CFP National Championship
Monday, January 19, 2026: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs the ball against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the second half of the game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl-bound Kansas determined to kick Texas Tech

Lance Leipold pushed Kansas into the postseason for the first time since 2008. Now the only thing anyone remotely interested in Jayhawks’ happenings wants to discuss is whether the second-year head coach will be around for bowl season.

Leipold and the Jayhawks (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) visit Texas Tech (4-5, 2-4) on Saturday, further distancing Kansas from his 2-10 debut season in 2021.

“I’m really proud of them, happy,” Leipold said as the Jayhawks move past a dominant win over Oklahoma State last week. “If you look, some guys have been around a long time. They’ve kind of gone through adversity and stayed with this program. Holistically (it’s great) for the school. I told them (his locker room) we are pretty demanding in things. There’s a reason we are, for moments like this.”

Leipold has been consistently linked to the opening at Wisconsin, his home state, but the 58-year-old continues to shift the conversation to here, now and KU. Coming out of the bye week, Kansas smothered Oklahoma State, bumped the Cowboys from the College Football Playoff rankings and steered the Jayhawks back into the Big 12 Championship conversation.

No. 4 TCU would have one of those spots if the season ended this weekend. But Texas, which plays TCU, Kansas State and Baylor are all 4-2 in conference play. The Wildcats play the Bears at Waco on Saturday.

Leipold won only once in Big 12 play last season. Getting the Jayhawks into the national conversation at this stage of the season was a program goal.

“I would say we’re proud but not satisfied,” he said. “It’s something that we cannot be content about and be satisfied and still want to make sure we grow and continue to to be the program we want to be here these last three weeks.”

Kansas running back Devin Neal had 228 rushing yards and 110 receiving yards (six receptions) to carry the Jayhawks over Oklahoma State.

“It was special,” Neal said of last week’s effort. “But we’re not done yet.”

Texas Tech is 4-1 at home this season and 21-2 all-time against Kansas, including a 41-14 victory last season.

But the Red Raiders lost their second game in a row last week, 34-24 to TCU, and have allowed 79 points during the losing streak. Tops on the list for coach Joey McGuire this week is identifying his best option at quarterback with Behren Morton expected to be out. The redshirt freshman injured his ankle last week.

“I wish I could tell you that I feel 100 percent that I’m going with Tyler (Shough) or 100 percent I’m going with Donovan (Smith),” McGuire said. “And it’s a deal that we really, we know how important this game is.”

Smith did not attempt a pass last week and Shough was 9-for-22 for 84 yards with an interception and garbage-time touchdown.

Texas Tech led TCU 17-13 late in the third quarter last week before penalties and ill-timed poor decisions by both quarterbacks set the Red Raiders into a tailspin to close the game.

“We have to get this one on Saturday,” McGuire said. “There’s no magic dust … you just have to come to work.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers running back Jaylen Wright (20) and quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) celebrate after a touchdown during the first half against the Akron Zips at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Take 5: Week 4 CFB Odds, Trends & Predictions

All but one of the top 25 teams are in action in Week 4 of the college football season, and we’re seeing a gradual uptick in marquee matchups as conference season begins in earnest.

That includes three conference games pitting ranked teams against each other on Saturday.

Five interesting trends sportsbooks are reporting:

5. The Eyes of Texas

No. 22 Texas facing an unranked in-state rival might not have much impact on the national landscape, but the Longhorns’ trip to Texas Tech is gaining the eye of the public. Texas covering its 7.0-point spread has drawn nearly twice the handle as the second-most wagered-on play at BetRivers.

It has been the heaviest-bet college game overall with 7.8 percent of the action. The Over has also been a one-sided play, drawing 89 percent of the tickets and 84 percent of the money on the 61.0-point line.

4. Wolverine Wrecking Crew

No. 4 Michigan has opened its season with three blowouts and the public is expecting Jim Harbaugh’s crew to make it a quartet when the Wolverines play host to unranked Maryland. It has been the most popular game of the week at BetMGM, where Michigan is a 17.0-point favorite after the line opened at 17.5.

Michigan has been backed by 91 percent of the spread bets and 92 percent of the money, both leading the way at BetMGM. The percent of the action has been identical at PointsBet, while DraftKings reported 92 percent of the spread bets and 93 percent of the handle backing the Wolverines.

3. Razors’ Edge?

Texas A&M kept its faint College Football Playoff hopes alive with a win over Miami last week and now plays host to 10th-ranked Arkansas. The Razorbacks come to College Station with a 3-0 record and respect from the public.

The Aggies are 2.0-point consensus favorites, with the line moving from 2.5 at BetMGM with the Razorbacks drawing 74 percent of the spread bets and 78 percent of the money. Arkansas has been equally as popular at BetRivers, where it has been backed by 78 and 82 percent of the action, respectively.

PointsBet reported Texas A&M holding an edge with 53 percent of the bets and 61 percent of the money, while the action has been split at DraftKings, with the Razorbacks supported by 51 percent of the bets while the Aggies have drawn 54 percent of the handle.

2. ACC Battle of Unbeatens

Of course, there are countless markets beyond game spreads, and the most lopsided prop at PointsBet involves No. 5 Clemson making an important road trip to No. 21 Wake Forest.

The Over/Under market opened at 57 points at the sportsbook but moved to 55.5 and has seen the Over draw a whopping 93 percent of the total money wagered. That includes some large bets with 81 percent of the total tickets placed on the Over.

The line has also moved to 55.5 at BetMGM, where the Over has drawn 83 percent of both the total bets and money.

1. Gators Swamped at Neyland?

Florida is one of the few teams to face multiple ranked teams within its first four games. After losing at home to Kentucky two weeks ago, the 20th-ranked Gators now travel to No. 11 Tennessee.

The Volunteers enter the game 3-0 but with a lone win over a Power 5 team — an overtime victory at Pittsburgh. This is an important litmus test for Tennessee with at trip to LSU next week ahead of hosting Alabama.

The Vols are double-digit favorites, which has spurred split action at many books. Florida has been backed by 58 percent of the bets at +10.5 at DraftKings while Tennessee has drawn 51 percent of the spread money. The same spread has similar action at BetMGM — 57 percent of the bets on the Gators and 51 percent of the money on the Vols.

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) celebrates after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sportsbooks split on CFP title favorite

Georgia flexed at South Carolina on Saturday and the No. 1 Bulldogs are viewed as the national title favorites at DraftKings and FanDuel.

The Bulldogs offered their latest exhibit in domination by going ahead 48-0 in Columbia, S.C., before the Gamecocks found the endzone late in the fourth quarter.

At BetMGM, nearly 11 percent of national championship futures tickets list Georgia as the favorite. Most books then tend to be aligned on one thing: through Week 3 of the college football season, it’s a three-horse race.

Georgia pulled well ahead at +175 at DraftKings, which lists Alabama at +210 and Ohio State at +275 before anyone else enters the equation (USC is +1200 and fourth on the national title board).

FanDuel has Georgia at +180, Alabama +200 and Ohio State at +300.

As of Monday morning, the Crimson Tide were favored at Caesars Sportsbook at +200 and Georgia +210.

It’s difficult to see Georgia being an underdog the rest of the season, and even finding an opponent that will challenge the Bulldogs might be relatively challenging by SEC standards.

The line for Week 4 against Kent State on Saturday? Georgia is a 44-point favorite with the total set at 59.5.

The Bulldogs have now allowed 10 points in three games. In addition to the annual showdown with Florida (Oct. 29), Georgia visits No. 8 Kentucky on Nov. 19 and doesn’t face Alabama in the regular season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) reacts after throwing a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the 2021 Cotton Bowl college football CFP national semifinal game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 College Football Odds, Predictions

Maybe like the rest of the college football world, you are afraid to go against Nick Saban and Alabama.

But the Crimson Tide are being oversold as the 2022 national championship betting favorites and this week, we find them “untouchable” in that they’re giving six touchdowns (-41.5 points at BetMGM as of 4 p.m. ET Thursday) to a competent Utah State team playing above its weight class.

Here’s a look at the reasons to take what they give you in Tuscaloosa and a few more college football picks we’re intrigued by in Week 1:

Utah State at Alabama (-41.5, -110)

Trends and statistics can be shaped, contextualized into a perceived no-brainer. We’ve all been at the window — at the book or via mobile — trying to convince ourselves the hunch in our noggin is the only way to go.

For starters, if you like Utah State to cover the massive number, shop around. DraftKings and others have Alabama -42, and every half-point can help in this wagering game.

There are a number of possible plays that make sense, including focusing on the first half.

Considering pairing the spread of first half with a prop? Take a look at DraftKings, where Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is -115 to go over 304.5 passing yards and -180 to go over 2.5 passing TDs. He hit three TDs and went over 304.5 passing yards in 10 games last season.

Note Alabama beat Mercer 48-14 last year in Week 2.

Utah State is 1-0 but fell behind UConn by 14 in the first quarter before racking up 542 total yards offense.

The Aggies are +27 (DraftKings) in the first half at -105.

But why buy Utah State over the perennial power?

They’re in the right place at the right time.

In case you aren’t within Alabama or Texas state lines, you might not be aware the Crimson Tide are in Austin next week. Not to say Saban will go light as the curtain is raised, but you can see the possibility of a 45-17 type of final here.

Utah State has a seven-game road winning streak. Coach Blake Anderson has won three consecutive games against Power 5 opponents, including Utah State’s 26-23 win at Washington State last season and a 24-13 win against Oregon State in the 2021 Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

Utah (-3, -105) at Florida

The Gators are an underdog in a season opener in The Swamp, which last happened in 1969 when Florida hosted No. 7-ranked Houston.

If you were tied up during the holidays and missed Utah undressing Oregon (twice by a combined count of 76-17) and almost sinking the Buckeyes’ battleship in the Rose Bowl (48-45 final in Pasadena), here’s a reminder: the Utes are the Pac-12 exception, and this team is no joke.

Florida was too often a punchline last season and went 2-6 in the SEC. The Gators are restocking the talent pool, but it’s too much to ask head coach Billy Napier to restore UF’s chomp in 2022.

Utah rarely goes on the road for a cross-country date in an extremely hostile setting. But we say again, this is the Pac-12 anomaly and Utah is legit on both sides of the ball.

We’re liking the looks of Utah over 26.5 points scored — the total is 51.5 — paired with the Utes -3.

Bowling Green at UCLA (-23.5, -110)

Pinky promise, we aren’t knocking the Pac-12 intentionally.

Brass tacks: Bowling Green is not easy prey, and the Bruins have some convincing to do before they receive a vote of confidence, much less investments.

We aren’t the first ones to fly with the Falcons. The opening line in the spring was UCLA -31.5.

It’s worth noting that Bowling Green went 5-1 ATS on the road last season.

DraftKings will allow alternate spread bets on Bowling Green that shouldn’t make one entirely uncomfortable, such as +120 odds on the Falcons +20.5.

And betting Bowling Green to get nine points — yes, over 8.5 — in either half at -110 is generous at worst.

But if you also believe in Bowling Green’s offense, the icing on this cake here is the over-under total of 56.5 points.

UCLA has two defensive starters back and the Bruins and Chip Kelly are always far more concerned with glitter than grit.

–Field Level Media

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