The betting lines for college football's first big weekend are out, with point spreads ranging from the close contests expected in Alabama-Florida State and Michigan-Florida to the more lopsided expectations, like defending champion Clemson starting the season as more than a five-touchdown favorite against Kent State.
Lines you need to know
No. 1 Alabama (-7) vs. No. 3 Florida State: It's the Greatest Opener of All Time (GOOAT), and any movement on the one-touchdown spread should be watched carefully as we move closer to kickoff. Ultimately, the expectation here is that Alabama will win and Florida State will compete, but if you think the Seminoles can pull off the upset, there's an opportunity waiting for you should the public hammer Bama hard and push this line to 7.5.
No. 11 Michigan (-5) vs. No. 17 Florida: The Antonio Callaway suspension adjustment has already taken place, and given the instability at quarterback for Florida during spring practice and fall camp, it's likely that the line is set no matter who ends up taking the first snap for the Gators. There are ton of new, talented faces that will be making their debut here, allowing fans to familiarize themselves with the next crop of play-makers at these powerhouse programs.
No. 21 Virginia Tech (-4.5) vs. No. 22 West Virginia: Justin Fuente's 10-win debut in Blacksburg has experts and the oddsmakers alike high on the Hokies' 2017 outlook. Both teams will be breaking in new starting quarterbacks, with Josh Jackson taking over for Jerod Evans at Virginia Tech and former Florida quarterback Will Grier returning to the field for West Virginia. This Sunday night, FedEx Field-hosted showdown between regional rivals could be one of the best games of the weekend.
No. 10 Oklahoma State (-18) vs. Tulsa: The expectation for Thursday night in Stillwater is points, with an over-under sitting just north of 70. It shouldn't take long for quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington to stake their claim as the most dynamic duo in college football, as the big question for bettors regards faith in a new starting quarterback leading that dynamic Tulsa offense.
No. 2 Ohio State (-20.5) at Indiana: A road Big Ten opener for a national title favorite is normally a stay-away game, but the Buckeyes might have some value as long as this line stays south of 21 considering new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson has the opponent scouted pretty well as a former Hoosiers head coach and an upgrade in offensive talent from the last time he was coaching in Memorial Stadium.
Consider staying away
No. 8 Washington (-27.5) at Rutgers: Laying nearly four touchdowns on a Friday night cross-country road trip? You don't want to be sweating out a Kyle Bolin-led backdoor cover in the fourth quarter. Jake Browning and Washington should win by double-digits -- and potentially by 30 -- but there are too many variables in play.
No. 9 Wisconsin (-27.5) vs. Utah State: The Badgers offense finished last year putting 30-plus points on the board in its final three regular-season games, but I could also see the desire to take care of business and keep the starters healthy -- particularly with the recent preseason injury issues -- lead to Utah State hanging around or sneaking in the back door.
No. 5 Clemson (-40) vs. Kent State: Clemson is one of the best teams in college football and Kent State was picked to finish near the bottom of the MAC, but this is too many dadgum points to feel comfortable taking any side.
No. 13 LSU (-15.5) vs. BYU: The Cougars already have one game under their belt, besting Portland State 20-6 in the opener, and LSU will be without its best defensive player in Arden Key. Throw in the complications of the game moving to New Orleans because of Hurricane Harvey and this one falls firmly in the "stay away" column.
No. 23 Texas (-18.5) vs. Maryland: Early kickoff, new head coach and a Maryland team that will likely try to disrupt the debut of the re-tooled Texas offense. The Longhorns have the better team, we think, but don't be surprised if this game is close at halftime and stressful.