We made it! College football season is here. You've
upped your 401k contribution reloaded your various offshore betting accounts. Now you need the picks. We've got you covered. With a caveat -- with these lines having existed now for more than a month, much of the value has been sucked out of some of the higher profile games by the professional gamblers. The plays I'm giving you today are all fresh from this week.
Alabama -12.5 v. Michigan: The Tide are too strong up front. This is an opportunity to take an underrated Alabama team, who too many are trying to pigeonhole into the 2010 mold, over a Michigan team that many don't realize was not nearly as good as its 2011 record. Bama's defense is not nearly as inexperienced as it was in 2010 coming off the 2009 championship. The Wolverines have Shoelace at QB, but those fun college stories often seem to come to an end when facing Saban's Alabama squads. Michigan took way too much money from me in 2011. I'm taking it all back. Starting now.
For more on Tide football, visit Alabama blog Roll Bama Roll, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills. For more on Wolverines football, visit Michigan blog Maize 'n' Brew, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire and SB Nation Detroit.
Clemson -3 v. Auburn: Both teams can be quite unpredictable. Both are breaking in a new scheme. However, I think Brent Venables will have a much easier time getting Clemson's defense to bust fewer assignments on the back end than Scot Leoffler will have in trying to get Auburn's new pro-style offense up and running in the Georgia Dome. In the match of strength vs. strength, I give the edge to Clemson and Chad Morris' ability to scheme, though I do happen to like Brian VanGorder and the Auburn defense more than most. Clemson's No. 2 and 3 receivers in Hopkins and Peake are very underrated nationally, especially Hopkins. Shop around for the right number on this and do not bet it -3.5.
Washington State at BYU -12: Mike Leach! MIKE LEACH! Fun stuff is happening in Pullman, but Leach hasn't brought defensive talent with him, and that should be the worst unit on the field by a large margin. BYU returns a lot of important pieces and should be able to put the Cougars away early and not leave the back door open.
Minnesota -8.5 at UNLV: No pass rush and a brand new secondary (replacing four of five starters) spells doom for the Rebs' defense. Why in the world is Minnesota playing at UNLV? Shouldn't Big Ten commissioner Delaney override contracts agreeing to things like this?
SMU +10.5 at Baylor: Baylor's defense, now missing defensive tackle starter Kaeron Johnson for the year due to back surgery, leaves the door open to an SMU team that should be able to score some points of their own under June Jones. Plus, we'll get to constantly hear about the absence of RG III.
Tulsa -1.5 at Iowa State: Tulsa is a road favorite over a Big XII team. When this happens, realize Vegas is smarter than you and go with it. There are reasons, of course. Iowa State's pass rush won't be able to slow the Golden Hurricane. And the Cyclones' passing game probably can't keep up.
For more on Clones football, visit Iowa State blog Wide Right & Natty Lite.
Iowa at Northern Illinois +10: NIU isn't as bad as some think, and it looks like Iowa is being backed here solely on name value. At +8, this was a no play, but I simply cannot pass on double digits. And I say that being fully aware that Kirk Ferentz' best teams are often enter the year with low expectations. The most interesting (OK, this isn't interesting at all, it's just important) is Iowa's completely rebuilt defensive line against NIU's brand new offensive line.
Marshall at West Virginia -24: West Virginia can probably name its score in this game, even while debuting a new defensive scheme. I like that this is not in the middle of the Mountaineers' conference season. If it were, it could be a potential trap game. Geno Smith starts his Heisman campaign off in style with some big numbers.
So. Miss/Nebraska Under 53 Total Points: Southern Miss has a lot of questions on offense. Nebraska has some questions on offense (potentially starting three walk-ons at offensive line!), including the offensive line. And Bo Pelini is a defensive coach at heart.
Miami/BC Under 44.5 Total Points:
BC is missing its top running back, receiver, and tight end. Miami has new starters at both receiver spots, tailback, quarterback and two offensive line spots. Both teams have shown a tendency to play a very slow game, particularly when trying to protect a suspect defense. If t`his goes over the total, it will likely be because of turnovers giving the opponent good field position for easy scores.
FIU +3.5 at Duke: Duke is a mash unit. Check out this quote from David Cutcliffe from yesterday's ACC teleconference:
Q. Have you ever had a team or been around a team that had so many injuries with key guys before you played a game?
COACH CUTCLIFFE: No, I don't understand it. I tell you. I've never even been close to this. We have minimally now 12 scholarship players that will be out of the first game. At the end of June, it didn't look anything like that. July was a difficult month for us, and certainly August has continued on the same path.
But our guys are resilient. They've been resilient since we've been here. This is a resilient staff. If a group can handle it, it will be this team. This team is a unique make‑up of a lot of kids that have played a lot of football and gone through a lot together. So I'm hoping that we're able to rise to that occasion.
And because people don't pay much attention to injuries at Duke, there is value in this line. FIU is well coached under Mario Cristobal and can handle Duke.
GT +7.5 at Virginia Tech: The Yellow Jackets return a ton on offense and should be better on defense. Virginia Tech has superman QB Logan Thomas and an excellent defense. Getting the hook here pushes me over the edge.
Boise State at Michigan State -6.5: Boise State had the third best draft class. But that doesn't portend well for them opening up in East Lansing against a no-nonsense Michigan State defense. Doug Martin is starting for the Tampa Bay Bucs. Kellen Moore ain't walking through that door.
For more on Broncos football, visit Boise State blog OBNUG, plus SB Nation Denver. For more on Spartans football, visit Michigan State blog The Only Colors, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire and SB Nation Detroit.
As I mentioned above, many of the big teams don't offer much value this weekend because they've been bet to an absurd level. Here are a few examples.
The over/under in the Boise game opened at 55 and is now at 46.5. The value here was clearly the under. No more. Ohio State opened as a 20.5-point favorite. The number is now 25. Texas came out at 24.5 and is now a touchdown higher at -31.5. Arizona opened at -4.5 and is now to -10.5! The over/under in that game opened at 70 and is now at 61. And Oregon opened at -31 and is now at -37.
While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel: