All wagers at -110 odds unless otherwise noted. Visit Odds Shark for updated lines throughout each game week.
Defense being ahead of offense is pretty consistent this time of year in college football. It makes sense, as defense is a game of collective individualism while offense is truly more about teamwork and chemistry, which takes time to develop.
And that trend does not just stop with the end of fall camp. It carries over into early games. With that in mind, I'll be trusting proven defenses this week.
1. Rice +16.5 at Western Kentucky: I have a ton of respect for Rice coach David Bailiff and Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm. Rice should be able to match WKU’s offense for much of the game.
2. South Carolina at Vanderbilt -4: Two elite defensive coaches who have never fielded a decent offense would normally suggest an under play, but betting under 41 in a college game is dangerous, so I’ll take the better team at home to pull away late.
3. UNC Charlotte at Louisville -38: Bobby Petrino’s track record with good teams, when he has to cover spreads of more than five touchdowns, is pretty solid. I am very high on Louisville this season.
4. Tulane +17 at Wake Forest: While I expect Wake Forest to be much improved, I do not yet trust its offense to win by more than two touchdowns.
5. Appalachian State +21 at Tennessee: I trust Tennessee’s offense much less than its defense and getting three full touchdowns helps. Tennessee has Virginia Tech on deck.
Spend some time with your family.
6. Georgia Tech -3 vs. Boston College (Ireland): Points are often tough to come by on an opening weekend, and I trust Paul Johnson’s offense to produce them more than I do the Eagles’.
7. Oklahoma -11 vs. Houston: I’ll be betting against Houston early and often this season, as I believe the hype exceeds the talent level.
8. Western Michigan +5 at Northwestern: The Wildcats were 5-0 in single-scoring games in 2015 and were more like a seven-win team than the nine they actually won. That reputation carries over and offers a chance to play against the Wildcats.
9. Southern Miss +7 at Kentucky: The Golden Eagles could spring the upset here.
10. Clemson at Auburn +8: Every casual bettor in the world thinks Clemson is a lock. I see an Auburn program that struggled last year due to dysfunction, not talent, and has 10 former four- and five-stars on its defensive line. Clemson is breaking in a lot of new starters on defense.
11. UCLA at Texas A&M -3: I’m not sure the public perception of the Aggies can drop any more, but I believe their defense will be significantly improved in their second year under coordinator John Chavis.
12. North Carolina +3 vs. Georgia (Atlanta): Offenses on opening weekend often struggle, but North Carolina returns so much, I think it can be humming and spring the upset.
13. LSU -10 v. Wisconsin (Green Bay): While I am not confident that LSU’s defense comes out strong, I believe its defense will suffocate the Badgers’ attack and give the field position needed to win comfortably.
14. Rutgers at Washington -26.5: At Boise State, Chris Petersen covered four of five season openers against Power 5 teams. Washington is getting a ton of hype, but I am not a believer in Rutgers and will look to fade the Huskies later in the year.
15. Notre Dame -3 at Texas: I think Notre Dame will be able to run the football well enough to control the game and that Texas’ quarterbacks make enough mistakes for the Irish to win by a touchdown or more.
16. Ole Miss vs. Florida State (Orlando) Under 57.5: FSU’s defense might be the best or second-best Jimbo Fisher has fielded in his time at Florida State, and the offensive line has injury concerns. Ole Miss has a lot of talent on the defensive line.