During the college football season, the Stadium staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice in this roundtable. Here are our thoughts on the Week 1 slate.
Note: Ben and Nate will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: Oregon +17 over Georgia.
Time to speak my truth: I believe in Bo Nix (man, that was weighing on me). I think the squad that new coach Dan Lanning inherited is more than ready to not only compete this year, but compete for a spot in the playoff. They have a stellar o-line — which could arguably be one of the best in the nation — and return plenty of talent on defense. Oregon losing by more than three scores just seems unrealistic. Sure, Georgia’s defense will be insane, but the market thinking the Ducks are this far out of the Bulldogs’ league doesn’t compute. I’ll happily take this many points in a game that’s sure to be closer.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Under 54.5 in Oregon vs. Georgia.
There’s a lot of familiarity in this game between the No. 11 and No. 3 teams in the country. First-year Oregon head coach Dan Lanning spent the last four years on Kirby Smart’s staff at Georgia and was the DC for the last three seasons in Athens. Smart and Lanning were the architects of a Georgia defense that led the program to a long-awaited national title eight months ago, and five players from that unit were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. There is some concern that losing all that talent will set Georgia’s defense back. While the current group won’t be as dominant as last season, Georgia recruits that side of the ball at an elite level and should be successful this season.
Another element of familiarity in this game is Oregon likely starting Auburn transfer QB Bo Nix, who Smart and the Bulldogs faced three times in his college career. Georgia is a 17-point favorite in this game, and I believe Oregon can keep the game within the number. I’m counting on both defenses being ahead of their offenses at this point in the season. I also don’t think Smart would run up the score against his disciple if Georgia took control of the game.
BW: Ohio State team total over 38.5 points vs. Notre Dame.
My personal motto is any time the Buckeyes’ team total is under 40, it’s an automatic over bet for me. Ohio State brings back plenty of the same offensive talent that saw them score an average of 45 points a game last year. C.J. Stroud is gunning for a Heisman and he has plenty of talent surrounding him to make it a reality. Notre Dame’s defense certainly has potential, but Ohio State at the Shoe is simply a different animal.
NJ: Under 51 in Clemson vs. Georgia Tech.
I’m going back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for what’s expected to be a lopsided affair, as Clemson is a 23-point favorite in what is technically a home game for Georgia Tech.
Clemson is intriguing this season after their dip in performance last year. Dabo Swinney had to replace both coordinators this offseason after OC Tony Elliott became the head coach at Virginia and DC Brent Venables landed his dream job as Oklahoma’s head coach. Swinney promoted from within with both hires, and I expect Clemson’s defense to be ahead of their offense based on the results from last season.
Georgia Tech is a complete sell team for me. It’s hard to see a path for head coach Geoff Collins to keep his job after this season because of a lack of talent on his team and having to face the trio of Ole Miss, UCF and Georgia as non-conference games. The Yellow Jackets have a new OC in Chip Long, so I expect offensive struggles in this game.
Betting Clemson -23 is something I considered, but I prefer the under due to not fully trusting Tigers QB DJ Uiagalelei to cover a big number.
BW: Cincinnati (+215) over Arkansas.
I’ll admit this is a BOLD decision to take Cincinnati on the moneyline. The Bearcats lost QB Desmond Ridder and CB Sauce Gardner to the NFL and still haven’t publicly announced their starting QB for this game. Yet, they carry the pride of the Group of Five with them as they battle an SEC foe on the road. It’s certainly more of a heart play than a head play, but if you want a more in-depth breakdown on Cincinnati, read Nate’s analysis below.
NJ: Cincinnati (+215) over Arkansas.
Cincinnati is coming off a ceiling season where they become the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff largely thanks to their nine players who were taken in this past NFL Draft. QB Desmond Ridder, leading rusher Jerome Ford and leading receiver Alec Pierce are all gone, and so is No. 4 overall pick Sauce Gardner from the defensive side. Luke Fickell’s team will take a big step back this season, and I believe those losses are being accounted for in the odds for their Week 1 trip to Arkansas.
However, Cincinnati returns all five starters from last season’s offensive line, and Fickell has brought in strong recruiting classes during the last few seasons. The point spread of Arkansas -6.5 is too high for a Razorbacks team that lost their most dynamic playmaker in now-Titans WR Treylon Burks. There’s a lot of variance in this game because we don’t know what this Cincinnati team will look like, but they now have the experience of playing Alabama in last season’s Cotton Bowl, and Fickell is an excellent coach that can pull off this upset.
BW: NC State -11.5 over East Carolina.
I’m high on the Wolfpack this year and even bet their win total over 8.5. They should have one of the best teams they’ve ever fielded, yet -11.5 seems like a trap. It’s an odd number — a little over two scores, but under two touchdowns. East Carolina is no slouch, coming off one of their best seasons in years and returning a handful of impactful players. I think NC State will win this game, but I simply can’t lay that many points with them.
NJ: Appalachian State -1 over North Carolina.
It’s very strange to see North Carolina play Sun Belt teams in true road games in Week 1 and Week 2 this season. But that is how the schedule is setup for an ACC team that got a home game under their belt in Week 0. The Tar Heels faced a short-handed Florida A&M team, but it took a while for UNC to pull away. The betting market downgraded the Tar Heels based off that performance, which is why they’re an underdog against their in-state foes (UNC was a field goal favorite for most of the summer).
I want to fade North Carolina in this spot against a very good Sun Belt opponent because I don’t like Mack Brown as an in-game coach. There are also question marks at the QB position for the Tar Heels as Drake Maye takes over for Sam Howell. But I just can’t bet App State on a point spread that moved because of a lackluster performance by UNC in Week 0.