I know there are a few games kicking off a week before on August 26th, but for the majority of teams, week one on the gridiron starts the following week. Many teams open the season with a sort of warm up game versus a team obviously overmatched, outclassed, and often showing up for a payday.
While there are plenty of cupcakes lining teams schedule week 1 (looking at Oklahoma, who is hosting UTEP as a 45 point favorite) opening week also provides several must see matchups to fill the void for the college football deprived of the past few months. Five straight days of college football starting Thursday the 31st and ending Monday in Atlanta.
Texas A&M at UCLA: Sunday 9/3 at 7:30pm (Est). These teams played an entertaining game last year and with an opening line of UCLA as only a 3 point favorite at home, we could be in for one this year as well. Both Kevin Sumlin and Jim Mora enter the season on the hot seat and an opening loss will only turn up the heat.
Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech: Monday 9/4 at 8:00pm (Est). Concluding the opening weekend is this special on Labor Day pitting a quality ACC vs. SEC matchup. Tennessee opened as a -3.5 favorite and that number continues to hold in early wagering. This will be a big test for the Vols, who were atrocious against the run last year, facing Paul Johnson’s triple option attack with Georgia Tech. Vols are still deciding on who will be starting quarterback between Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano. Not officially a home game for Ga Tech as they are playing as part of doubleheader in Atlanta for Chic Fil A Kickoff Classic, but the stadium is minutes from Tech campus.
Michigan vs. Florida: Saturday 9/2 at 3:30pm (Est). Live from Jerryworld in Dallas, Texas we’re finally getting to the good stuff with Big Ten vs SEC in week 1. Both teams ranked in preseason polls with Michigan around #11 and Florida around #15 in most polls. Springboard games for both teams as Michigan looks to build off last season’s momentum while Florida looks to establish itself as the beast of the east in the SEC. Michigan opened as a -4.5 favorite, but the line was initially pushed down to -2.5 at several offshore shops and in Vegas. Recent announcement of Florida suspensions to key players has pushed this back to the Michigan -3.5 range. Public money may move further back to Wolverines as we get closer to kickoff. While my next pick is the main course, this game presents a hell of an appetizer.
Florida State vs. Alabama: Saturday 9/2 at 8:00pm (Est). This game needs little hyping. Two preseason top 5 teams will take the field at brand new Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta, and expectations are thru the roof. Biggest week 1 matchup in a long time, with two perennial heavyweights taking the field. Nick Saban takes on former protégé Jimbo Fischer with both teams looking to establish themselves as the team to beat. Line opened with Alabama as a -7 point favorite and continues to hold at most shops across the board. Look for this game to have one of the largest betting handles week 1 as everyone will want to watch and wager. Big question for Alabama will be can their defensive front 7 be the dominant force they were last year? They are going to need to get pressure vs. dual threat FSU quarterback Francois and running back combo of Jacques Patrick and 5 star freshman running back Cam Akers. Patrick and Akers are tasked with replacing All American Dalvin Cook who we will see going forward on Sundays in the NFL.
Week 1 is less than a month away, and with great week 1 matchups, the excitement will continue to build. Ready to get my tv’s, couch and bet slips for what will hopefully be a monster season. For those of you looking to maybe get a little action on the games, make sure to check out my write up on choosing a sportsbook for football season.