What to Expect From Week 1 of College Football

stadium general view ncaaf kickoff
An overhead view of the stadium during opening kickoff in the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2022 CFP National Championship Game. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

College football is mercifully looming, but what can bettors expect from the teams’ first week on their season slate?

Below we discuss some of the important elements to be aware of, and how we can avoid some of the pitfalls that come with capping the early season contests. Remember you can also check out OddsTrader’s college football computer picks.

New Season – Different Rosters

Bettors need to understand that turnover is part of the game, especially now with the transfer portal essentially making every player a free agent. We also have seniors graduating, underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft, and new coaching staffs.

Therefore, if you are betting on a team –or fading one– based on what you saw last season, then you should be painfully aware that this can be a perilous strategy. The college football odds are predicated on how the oddsmakers view the public’s perception of a game.

Therefore, if you do your due diligence and research how different each team is from last season then you will be ahead of the pack and you might be able to pluck some weak opening numbers.

Returning Starters

However, we should understand there are teams every season that return more starters than most, and that is a good piece of information to have when preparing for the beginning of the college football season.

Teams that are familiar with each other from the get-go are generally more cohesive units and take much less time to assimilate.

And even if the team is not necessarily all that good, they are often a decent bet in the first few weeks as their competition might just be getting acclimated and their timing is not as sharp as it will be a little further into the season.

Coaching Changes

A college football head coach’s mortality rate is stunningly brief. If we review the FBS head coach firings from 2013 through 2020, we see that over 40% got the ax.

This season was a veritable coaching carousel where there were 29 FBS head coaching changes! That is the most in over six years and there were several shocking departures.

And if you’re wondering what were the individuals doing before filling these vacancies then read on, because 19 were assistant coaches that got a promotion to the big chair while three were out of work. But seven were recruited from head coaching positions, which created even more vacancies.

Moves to Look Out For

Naturally, the two most eye-popping moves were Lincoln Riley leaving Oklahoma to take the top job at USC, and Brian Kelly departing the Golden Dome of Notre Dame for the opportunity to knock heads in the SEC with LSU.

It wasn’t long before Brent Venables got the call to replace Riley at Oklahoma, as did Marcus Freeman succeeding Kelly as head coach of the Fighting Irish.

But the takeaway for bettors should be that first-year head coaches in their first game with their new team often have difficulty covering the spread. There are new schemes and new terminology that the offense and defense have to become accustomed to.

Marquee Matchups

Oregon Ducks vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

  • Best Spread: Georgia -16.5 (-118) at MaximBet
  • Best Total: 51.5 (-110) at BetMGM

The Bulldogs can’t be too happy about being ranked 3rd entering the season after winning the national championship last year by defeating the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide.

As we draw closer to kickoff, expect a flood of public money on the Dawgs. If you like chalky home teams then you might want to get down on the Dawgs asap.

UTEP Miners vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at OU Memorial Stadium

  • Best Spread: Oklahoma -31 (110) at Caesars
  • Best Total: 56.5 (-110) at Caesars

No, this doesn’t fit the description as a marquee matchup but it certainly is interesting because Brent Venables will want to make everyone forget about Lincoln Riley as he brings a wealth of experience from his tenure at Clemson and is returning to a place he called home for a dozen years as the defensive coordinator of the Sooners.

Expect a full-out blitz by the Sooners in this one.

Rice Owls vs. USC Trojans

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 06:00 PM EDT at Liacouras Center

  • Best Spread: USC -34.5 (-108) at MaximBet
  • Best Total: 63.5 (-110) at Caesars

Speaking of Lincoln Riley, how could we not look forward to his debut at USC?

Will he continue the success he had at Norman or will this be a bridge too far to conquer in the City of Angels?

Like the UTEP/Oklahoma game, this is far from a marquee matchup but definitely worth watching.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Ohio Stadium

  • Best Spread: Ohio -15.5 (-110) at BetMGM
  • Best Total: 58.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Ah, finally we get to a true marquee matchup but the Buckeyes are a whopping 15-point favorite!

Sounds like too many points, but when we consider that the Irish have a brand-new head coach and are taking on one of the best teams in the nation right off the bat, it may not be a terrible decision to side with the masses and bet the Buckeyes.

Utah State Aggies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 7:30 PM EDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium

  • Best Spread: Alabama -39.5 (-105) at FanDuel
  • Best Total: 62.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Nick Saban’s crew is ranked No. 1 in the nation for the umpteenth time during his tenure and a 39-point spread would seem preposterous if we were talking about virtually any other team but the Tide.

If we recall Alabama’s opening game last season against Miami, in which they were a 19 ½-point road favorite, it was clear from the onset the Tide was ready to roll. And roll they did to a 44-13 win and easy cover for their backers.

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