The college football season officially kicked off in late August, but for some people the grind began in May. That’s when the South Point Sportsbook in Las Vegas released their Week 1 lines, season win totals and Games of the Year lines.
Professional bettors are typically the first people to bet into these numbers. The Games of the Year lines were 79 of the top games in college football games from Week 2 until the end of the regular season. If you are just getting into college football handicapping, try comparing the point spreads from the summer with the current lines for those games. It’s an interesting exercise to see how much a point spread has changed and if a line move is warranted for each game.
There were seven games posted by the South Point for Week 3 and one of the games, UCF vs North Carolina, has been postponed. Here is a breakdown of the other six games that were included as a Game of the Year option:
17 Boise State vs 24 Oklahoma State (-2.5)
This line opened at Oklahoma State -6, went to -4.5 by late July and now has moved to under a field goal the week before the game. Boise State is coming into this game rolling, so the movement is warranted. The Broncos won at Troy 56-20 and then gained 818 yards on offense in a 62-7 rout of UConn.
Quarterback Brett Rypien has completed 73.2 percent of his throws for 667 yards and seven touchdowns in the first two games. The situation sets up well for Boise State as this is their only game against a team in a Power Five conference. The Broncos know they can finish the season 13-0 if they win this game and be favorites to represent the Group of Five in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Oklahoma State has put up big offensive numbers as well with a 58-17 win over Missouri State and a 55-13 victory over South Alabama. This game will be a much bigger test for quarterback Taylor Cornelius and the Cowboys against a motivated Broncos team. Usually taking the Big 12 team at home against a Mountain West school at under a field goal is the way to go, but there’s a reason this line is this low.
12 LSU vs 7 Auburn (-10)
LSU started the season ranked No. 25 and are all the way up to No. 12, due in large part to their Week 1 win over Miami. The Tigers won 33-17 on the scoreboard but were outgained 342-296.
LSU’s quarterback, Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow has underwhelmed in his fist two starts and is completing only 47.7 percent of his passes.
This line opened Auburn -12 in the summer and has gone down because of the perception of LSU’s Week 1 win. Auburn will have revenge on their mind after squandering a 20-0 lead before losing 27-23 in Baton Rouge last season. The over/under in this game is 44.5 so expect the Auburn defense to give Burrow and LSU’s offense trouble all afternoon. At a spread of -10 or less, either bet on Auburn or pass.
Houston (-1) vs Texas Tech
This is the Week 3 line that has moved the most compared to what was posted in the summer. Texas Tech was a seven-point favorite in May and a six-point favorite in July. Now the spread has shifted and Houston is a short favorite as they travel within the state to Lubbock.
The main reason for this line movement is the injury status of Texas Tech quarterback McLane Carter, who left the the Red Raiders’ first game with an ankle sprain. If Carter can’t play, true freshman Alan Bowman would start.
Another factor in the line movement is what we saw last week from Houston. The Cougars took apart Khalil Tate and beat Arizona 45-18 after leading 31-0 at halftime. The performance was strong, but Arizona lost their opener at home to BYU, so that result might not be as impressive as it seems.
If Carter was healthy, the case to bet on Texas Tech as an underdog would be more appealing, but don’t trust a hobbled quarterback or a true freshman against a defense led by top NFL prospect Ed Oliver.
1 Alabama (-21.5) vs Ole Miss
This line opened at Alabama -20, got bet up to -22.5 in the summer and has settled in the middle. Alabama embarrassed Ole Miss 66-3 in the first SEC game for interim coach Matt Luke in 2017. Now Luke is the full-time head coach and this is his first big home SEC game being in charge.
The big difference in the game this season and past Alabama-Ole Miss contests is the higher total. The over/under was 55 last season and now the total is currently at 71.
Alabama starter Tua Tagoviloa is making his first start on the road and gives the Alabama offense a vertical passing game. Fellow Hawaii native Jordan Ta’amu and the Ole Miss offense should be able to put up points of their own. The Rebels have one of the best group of receivers in the country led by A.J. Brown.
The concern about Ole Miss covering this big number at home is their defense, which just gave up 38 first-half points to Southern Illinois in Week 2. Expect a lot of points in this game and a motivated Ole Miss team after the 63-point loss last season. However, betting against Alabama won’t get you rich; the over is the only thing to consider.
22 USC vs Texas (-3.5)
What a difference a year makes for these two programs. USC was a 16.5-point favorite when they hosted Texas last season in Week 3. Barely less than 365 days later and the line has flipped 20 points as these two teams play in Austin.
The line opened at USC -1 in May, and Texas money flowed in before the line settled at Texas -4 in late July. Now, the line is trending back towards USC. This is a huge game for Texas, who ended up losing to Sam Darnold and USC in overtime last season. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger made a freshman mistake by fumbling near the goal line, which set up a USC game-winning field goal.
The Longhorns started the season with a loss to Maryland in a game that featured a weather delay. In Week 2, they only beat Tulsa by seven points in their home opener. USC is coming off of a 17-3 loss at Stanford where their offense could only average 4.6 yards per play. The Trojans’ offense was expected to start slowly, though, as they replaced Darnold with true freshman quarterback JT Daniels.
The total for this game is down to 48 after being 66.5 last season. The week after USC plays Stanford is always a tough game for the Trojans, and a night game at Texas with a freshman under center makes the task even more challenging.
Tom Herman will want to make a statement, and there is line value on Texas because they have struggled early this season.
4 Ohio State (-13.5) vs 15 TCU
The line for this game was -12 in May and stayed at that number before Ohio State put Urban Meyer on administrative leave. Meyer will be serving the last game of his suspension as Ohio State plays TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The Buckeyes have impressed enough in the first two games that the spread has gone up despite Meyer’s absence. A 77-31 win over Oregon State and 52-3 victory over Rutgers will do that even if they are two of the weakest Power Five teams in the country. This game against TCU on a neutral site will be a much bigger test for interim coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes.
The game is being played less than 20 miles from the TCU campus, but expect the stadium to be a split crowd because of how well Ohio State fans travel.
Thirteen and a half is a big number for the Buckeyes to cover — the Horned Frogs have thrived in a big underdog role since joining the Big 12. Gary Patterson’s team is 8-1 in their last nine games as underdogs of seven or more points, including an outright win at Oklahoma State last season.
This will be a good game to monitor before kickoff. Consider taking TCU if the line climbs and they become two-touchdown underdogs.