Early NCAA Football Lines
Even though we’re in the midst of the Stanley Cup chase and the NBA playoffs, and even though the baseball season is heating up a bit, plenty of eyes are turned toward the beginning of the NCAA football season. The sportsbook lines for the first week of the season have come out, so let’s take a look at what the books think is going to happen as the season opens.
Early NCAA Football Lines
Clemson (-7.5) at Auburn
Will the Tigers have any hangover after making it to the national title game? Or will they be extra hungry after faltering so close to the championship? Auburn is not supposed to be an SEC contender next year, but their defense has shown a penchant for rising to the occasion. I like Clemson in this one, but that’s a big line for the first game of the year. At this point, I might lean toward Auburn with the points.
Notre Dame (-5) at Texas
This is the second half of that two-game series that resulted in a major embarrassment for the Longhorns last year up in South Bend. Malik Zaire will be back under center for the Fighting Irish, and there is no indication that Texas has strengthened their defense. I like the Irish to come down to Austin and open their season with a win — and to cover.
North Carolina (+5) vs Georgia
Here’s a neutral site game, but remember that the Tar Heels made it to the ACC title game and almost beat Clemson. Georgia will have gone through a coaching change, and I don’t think they’ll be ready for what Carolina has to offer. So I’m definitely taking Carolina to cover here, and I’d probably pick them straight up too.
Oklahoma (-6) vs Houston
Could Oklahoma overlook Houston and get upset in Week 1? Absolutely. Houston was just one silly loss away from CFP consideration despite not being in the Power 5. While Oklahoma made it to the national semifinals, I could easily see them viewing Houston as inferior competition. Houston’s offense is explosive, while Oklahoma’s passing defense can be a bit porous. I’m picking Houston to cover here for sure.
Missouri (+5.5) vs West Virginia
Missouri was not a particularly good team last year, and West Virginia is likely smarting from a Big 12 season that should have been much better. I like West Virginia to win and cover against a young Tiger team.
LSU (-4.5) vs Wisconsin
Did you watch LSU drop all those games in the SEC slate last year? Wisconsin is not a slouch; they almost beat Alabama to open the season last year. I think LSU can eke this one out, but I’m not sure if they have the offense to win by more than a field goal. I’m picking the Badgers to cover.
UCLA (+3) at Texas A&M
The Aggies are in chaos after having two quarterbacks leave school and two key prospects decommit thanks to some angry tweeting by an Aggie assistant coach. I’m not a big fan of the Bruins either, but i’m not picking the Aggies to win or cover anything until I see some strong play.
USC (+14) vs Alabama
This is a huge line for Week 1, particularly for a non-directional school opponent for the Tide. I might stay away from this one for now and let the line settle down, but if I had to pick right now, I’d take the Trojans to cover.