New faces, new looks

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We are just days away from kicking off one of the most exciting college football season’s in years.

The season’s first AP Poll came out on Monday and no sane person is going to argue why Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Michigan topped the list.

However some of the teams that made the Top 25 had me scratching my head in wonder and confusion. Texas A&M who plays in the SEC and is 200-1 to win the national championship, made the list. I guess Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, and Florida pose no threat … ahem.

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Michigan State might be the seventh best team in the Big 10 and they made the list. By the way, somehow, so did conference rival, Iowa. Iowa State, Syracuse, and Stanford are all 200-1 to win the national title and yet they rank in the Top 25.

Washington State has to contend with Washington, Oregon, Utah, and USC in the Pac-12. But guess what? They also rank in the Top 25.

All of these ranked teams surprise me. There are at least 10 to 12 teams that I feel deserve their spots.

According to most analysts, columnists, oddsmakers, and handicappers, Clemson and Alabama are unbeatable. They might as well start printing promos, banners, and tickets with this matchup for the National Title game.

Yes, these two powerhouses are a cut above the rest of the NCAA elite. Both are loaded with talent, are deep at every major position, experienced, and well coached. But this is a very long and physical season. It only takes one injury to a key player for a team to go from double digit wins and a major bowl bid to barely eking out a winning record and a lesser bowl.

Strength of schedule plays a huge part in a team’s success. Several of the slates for the 2019 season are extremely rigorous and competitive. A few share common obstacles, such as loaded divisions and ambitious non-conference scheduling.

Listed below are some of the teams that are considered to own this season’s toughest schedules as per NCAA.com. I only included teams that are highly touted and threw away the teams that are given less than no chance. Some of these teams are vying for conference championships, major bowl bids, and a shot at the College Football Playoff:

Auburn

Louisiana State

Michigan

Notre Dame

Ohio State

Georgia

Florida

Texas

We have nearly 30 coaches taking over new teams. Some are fresh faces, while some are legends. Coaching at the collegiate level definitely affects how successful a team can be.

I like Les Miles to improve Kansas. I know this program needs something just short or a miracle, but Les Miles is a perfect fit.

I know Chip Lindsey will take Troy to another level. Neal Brown has a tough road ahead of him, but I have no doubt he will eventually bring an edge to West Virginia. I expect that Houston will thrive under Dana Holgorsen. I know he has a talented team in the Cougars, but he is a proven, quality coach, tallying a 61-41 overall record at West Virginia. He will thrive in the AAC.

As we kick off the season, there are two major conference games this Saturday. Florida takes on Miami in Orlando and Arizona travels to Hawaii.

Florida -7.5 vs. Miami, Total 47: This game is being played on a neutral site, Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Florida was 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS last season while Miami was 7-6 SU and 5-8 ATS. The Gators closed the 2018 campaign with four consecutive victories, covering the final three outings, including a 41-15 thumping over the Wolverines in the Peach Bowl as a 4.5 point underdog.

Miami is 1-9 ATS the last 10 games played on neutral sites and 2-6 ATS the last eight games played overall. Florida is 5-0 ATS the last five games played on neutral sites and 8-3 ATS the last 11 games played overall. I see all 7.5’s around as of print. If the line doesn’t go down to -7 by game time, err on the side of caution and buy it down for the extra few pennies. I put a small lean on the favorite. FLORIDA

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Arizona -11 at Hawaii, Total 74: Arizona was 5-7 SU and 7-5 ATS a season ago while Hawaii went 8-6 SU and 5-8-1 ATS last year. Historically, traveling from the mainland to the islands can take its toll on the visiting team. The one thing about history, is that it is in the past.

The Rainbows are 6-22-1 ATS the last 29 games played at home and 0-4-1 ATS the last five games played vs. non-conference opponents. Don’t get too excited just yet. The Wildcats are 5-16 the last 21 games played on the road and 3-8 ATS the last 11 games played vs. non-conference foes.

I am not crazy about the line here so I am staying away from the side, but both teams can score while both defenses are doormats. If I made a move here, I would put a lean to the high side. OVER

 

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