We’re back after what felt like the longest offseason in college football history. This trend of entire summers being dominated by the consolidation of power at the top of the pyramid is something I’d like to not see continue. One thought I couldn’t get past when watching the week 0 games is the passion exhibited by fans at schools like New Mexico State and Hawaii, and how for the last two summers it’s felt like the power brokers in the sport are determined to make the games matter less for more schools. USC and UCLA in the Big Ten doesn’t benefit anyone other than the other member schools in that conference. The Big Ten choking every tv network for every last dollar doesn’t make college football better. Who knows what the next few months and the next summer will hold. By this time next year, the Pac 12 might not exist. The Big 12 will have 14 members, or maybe 12 members. Heck, the Big 12 could have as many as 20 members by this time next year. This movement doesn’t make college football better. That’s to say nothing of the free player movement. NIL is a good thing for college athletes. Unlimited free agency with every contract lasting one year is not good for college football.
But thankfully, we get to put that in the rearview mirror for the next 5 months. While the CFP will still contain some combination of Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, and Clemson, the beauty in college football is the non-stop action of every Saturday at every level of the sport. That’s what this column is about. Gambling will give us joy and terror with every play. Full gamedays are great for college football. I can’t wait.
As a rule, in this column I’ll be betting 1.1 “units” (whatever dollar figure makes you comfortable, let’s not unit shame anyone) to win 1 “unit” on every Big 12 game against the spread at -110 odds. So an $11 bet that wins will return $10. Lines are courtesy of the DRF Sportsbook, with a hat tip to Vegas Insider for the FCS games. Non-conference season will be hectic, especially in these matchups with FCS schools (bear with me, I’m finding lines wherever I can). Be ready for spreads to move as we approach kickoff. Above all else, we’re going to have some fun this season. Week 1 is here! Let’s go!
Central Michigan at #12 Oklahoma State
Kickoff: Thurs 6:00pm | TV: FS1 | The Line: Oklahoma State -22
This spread is curiously short. Central Michigan was good last year, as far as MAC schools are concerned. QB Daniel Richardson and RB Lew Nichols III are both high quality pieces for the Chips. The big question: what will the Cowboys look like with a new DC in place? Gundy’s offense underperformed last year. I think OSU will figure it out and have a great season, but this will be competitive deep into the 2nd half.
Pick: Central Michigan +22
West Virginia at #17 Pittsburgh
Kickoff: Thurs 6:00pm | TV: ESPN | The Line: Pittsburgh -7.5
What I wouldn’t give to attend this game in person. This will be a truly incredible crowd as I hear that West Virginia fans are buying tickets in bunches. Both teams are replacing tons of talent, including the QBs. So why is the spread more than a touchdown? Hungry dogs run faster. West Virginia absolutely can win this game outright. Let’s go Mountaineers.
Pick: West Virginia +7.5
Tennessee Tech at Kansas
Kickoff: Fri 7:00pm | TV: ESPN+ | The Line: Kansas -27.5
Lance Leipold is definitely turning Kansas around, and will have this program capable of reaching bowl games while he is their head coach. Year 2 as a four touchdown favorite against anyone is asking for too much. I can’t tell you anything about Tennessee Tech. A true week 1 special.
Pick: Tennessee Tech +27.5
TCU at Colorado
Kickoff: Fri 9:00pm | TV: ESPN | The Line: TCU -14
It’s a shame that these schools didn’t get to meet as conference opponents (or will they?). Colorado is going to be dreadful this season. At least the mountains will look nice in the background but Ralphie is going to be the Buffs leading rusher in this one. Sonny Dykes gets his tenure started with a W, regardless of which QB starts.
Pick: TCU -14
Southeast Missouri State at Iowa State
Kickoff: Sat 1:00pm | TV: ESPN+ | The Line: Iowa State -37
Nope. Not doing this again. Iowa State wins the game but it’s closer than we want.
Pick: SE Missouri State +37
UTEP at #9 Oklahoma
Kickoff: Sat 2:30pm | TV: FOX | The Line: Oklahoma -31
Can we get something out of the way? Oklahoma fans took the Lincoln Riley complaints way too far. It’s not a good thing that he isn’t your coach anymore. With that said, Brent Venables steps into a great situation. Dillon Gabriel is a good transfer QB. Jeff Lebby is an exciting OC hire. UTEP just got bodied at home by North Texas. The new coach won’t let the guys come out slow in his first game.
Pick: Oklahoma -31
Albany at #10 Baylor
Kickoff: Sat 6:00pm | TV: ESPN+ | The Line: Baylor -42.5
No comments. I just want to know how this game got scheduled.
Pick: Baylor -42.5
South Dakota at Kansas State
Kickoff: Sat 6:00pm | TV: ESPN+ | The Line: Kansas State -25
Adrian Martinez is the savior? I don’t think so. The purple cats will win this game, and Deuce Vaughn will look good, but Martinez will have the backbreaking turnover at some point that blows the cover.
Pick: South Dakota +25
Murray State at Texas Tech
Kickoff: Sat 7:00pm | TV: ESPN+ | The Line: Texas Tech -34.5
Lubbock is fired up about this new coaching staff, and they return a pretty good amount of talent. McGuire is an energy guy. I don’t see them coming out slow.
Pick: Texas Tech -34.5
Louisiana-Monroe at Texas
Kickoff: Sat 7:00pm | TV: LHN | The Line: Texas -38
Whatever it takes, Texas is going to try and make Quinn Ewers look good in this game. It’s all about building as much confidence as possible before it all gets broken a week later. UL-Monroe isn’t much. The Horns Down boys will score at will in an easy start.
Pick: Texas -38
BEST BET AROUND THE COUNTRY
Ohio State -17 vs Notre Dame
Pop quiz: What do you get when you combine the best team in the country with Notre Dame, who gets blown out by every good team they play away from home? Ohio State’s offense is unstoppable with all the returning talent (Stroud/Henderson/Smith-Njigba). 17 points only looks like a big number because Notre Dame has a #5 next to their name. Don’t be scared of the big spread, my friends. The Bucks win this game by at least 21 points.
PROP OF THE WEEK FOR TEXA$ FANS
Will Steve Sarkesian still be the coach at Texas at the end of this regular season?