The first week of college football is a sacred American tradition, but so is figuring out which huge favorites to bet and which big boys are in danger of blowing a cover by allowing some late garbage time touchdowns by the backups from Roast Beef Tech.
We picked 5 games with at least a 24-point spread, with the purpose of giving you some info and nuggets to help you make your decision if you want to bet money on the powerhouses in a blowout, or roll with the points and stick it to the man.
- Western Kentucky (+36.5) at #4 Wisconsin (-36.5) – The Badgers are laying anywhere between 36.5 and 37 depending on where you look as of Friday morning, but they are stacked with Alex Hornibrook entering his third year as a starter at QB, and potential Heisman candidate Jonathan Taylor (10 100 yard rushing games in 2017) running behind a typically punishing Wisconsin o-line that returns five starters. Western Kentucky averaged 25.4 points per game in 2017, but this year they need to find a replacement for quarterback Mike White, who totaled 8,540 yards and 63 touchdowns in his last two seasons. With no clear heir apparent in the wings, points could be hard to come by in Camp Randall, even with the Badgers replacing key contributors on defense.
5 touchdowns and a field goal is a big number to cover, but Wisconsin has a track record under Paul Chryst of blowing out early season small school opponents. in 2017 they opened with a 59-0 (-27 cover) over Utah state, in 2016 they blew out Akron 54-10 and covered -24, and in 2015 bounced back from a loss to Bama with a 59-0 thrashing of Miami, OH. This one could easily get out of hand for Western Kentucky especially if Alex Hornibrook starts connecting with one of the best collection of wide receivers Wisconsin has ever had.
- Western Kentucky: 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games, 1-6 in its last 7 road games
- Wisconsin: 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
2. Oregon State (+38.5) at #5 Ohio State (-38.5) – The Buckeyes are coming off the most tumultuous offseason in college football, and will enter the opener with interim head coach (OC) Ryan Day as Urban Meyer sits out the first game of his 3 game suspension following the Zach Smith investigation.
Ohio State replaces longtime starter J.T. Barrett with the unproven, but mega talented sophomore Dwayne Haskins, who is more of a pocket passer that can stretch the field vertically with a loaded stable of wide receivers. All told, Ohio State returns a dozen starters on both sides of the ball, including Nick Bosa anchoring the defense, and key playmakers in Parris Campbell and sophomore superstar running back J.K. Dobbins on offense.
With Oregon State coming off a 1-win season, and the outlook for this year not looking much rosier, this one will likely be decided early, the only question here is if the Buckeyes want to beat the Beavers senseless. It’s good bet they will. This Ohio State team is loaded and angry with an offense should continue to hum with offensive whiz Ryan Day running the show in Urban’s absence. This feels like 55-10, but 38 points is ton to give, and any late Oregon State TD’s are going to blow this bad boy up.
- Ohio State: 3-6 in its last 9 at home, OVER in 8 of its last 11
- Oregon State: 1-3-1 ATS in its last 5 games, 1-5-1 ATS in its last 7 games on the road
3. Bowling Green (+32) at #24 Oregon (-32) – Mario Cristobal makes his debut as Oregon head coach after taking over for Willie Taggart, and he has some boosters to impress. The Ducks are only ranked #24 in the first AP poll, but return top NFL QB prospect Justin Herbert, who was leading the Duck offense to 52 points per game and completing 68% of his passes before he went down with a broken collarbone, last year.
Bowling Green is coming off a 2-10 2017 season, and are still trying to figure out the direction of the program after Dino Babers left for Syracuse. The Falcons gave up an eye-popping 506.6 yards per game in 2017, which is a bad omen when heading into an opener in Autzen, and Mario Cristobal out to prove he’s not the next Mark Helfrich. 32 points is a a lot to cough up, but this could get Chip Kelly ugly if it’s clickin’ early.
Oregon: Oregon is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home
Bowling Green: 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games, 3-10 ATS in its last 13 road games
4. Akron (+26) at Nebraska (-26) – The highly anticipated Scott Frost era starts this week for a Nebraska program that hasn’t won 10 games since 2012. Last year, Frost’s UCF squad scored 40 or more 9 times, and over 60, 4 times. Frost will start true freshman dual threat QB Adrian Martinez, who he described as a perfect fit for his offense.
Akron is a middle of the road MAC team coming off a 7-7 season, but Terry Bowden’s Zips return all of its starting defensive backs, which may be the only hope the Zips have to slow down the new Big Red O. The reality is that if you’re taking the Huskers and the points, it has nothing to do with last year, and everything to do with Frost and his offensive scheme. Frost, coming home to Memorial Stadium as the savior of the program against Akron sounds like it could get uglier than 26, but the Zips are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 overall and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games. How may points is Scott Frost worth? We’ll find out.
- Akron: 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games, and 5-2 ATS in its last 7 road games
5. Louisville (+24.5) vs. Alabama (-24.5) (Neutral Site) – Nick Saban and Bama come in as a 24-point favorites against Bobby Petrino in his first game without 3-year starter Lamar Jackson, and a defense that gave up 27.5 points per game in 2017 and lost six starters. Alabama is replacing 8 starters on defense, but they do that seemingly every year.
The Tide Rolls into the opener with unsettled QB battle, and both Tua Tagavailoa and Jalen Hurts will likely see action. This could be huge for Bama bettors if both quarterbacks are looking to impress and keep their foot on the gas pedal. This matchup boils down to Petrino being able to move the ball with a first year starter against the Bama D. If the Cardinals sputter early, this could get out of hand like the 52-6 beating the Tide handed USC in 2016.
- Alabama: 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games
- Louisville: 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games, 4-12-1 ATS in its last 17 games