Early love for USC in opener

Jul 29, 2008 7:47 PM

by Mark Mayer | It’s less than 30 days to the opening kickoff of college football and a few hours into the release of the first betting lines. Southern Cal, Texas, Florida and Virginia Tech are among the elite teams featured the initial week, while the Oregon State-Stanford game highlights the first day of play on Thursday, Aug. 28.

Usually opening games are nonconference affairs, but not here as the Cardinal are a four-point home underdog to Oregon State. Early betting came in on Stanford, knocking the line down from its original 5. USC, Texas, Florida and Virginia Tech each play Saturday, Aug. 30 and are double-digit favorites.

Virginia Tech figures to have the toughest test as a 10-point favorite against East Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina in a clash of two bowl teams. The marquee matchup is in Charlottesville, where Virginia is a 20½-point home underdog to Southern Cal. The Trojans opened at 17 and it didn’t stay there long. Texas is a 24-point home favorite to Florida Atlantic, down from 26. And, Florida is a 30½-point favorite over Hawaii in the Warriors’ first game since June Jones left to coach SMU. The host Gators opened at -28.

Some of the more intriguing contests over the first weekend include NC State at South Carolina, Utah at Michigan, Washington at Oregon, Tennessee at UCLA, Fresno State at Rutgers, Michigan State at California and Alabama vs Clemson at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Fresno State-Rutgers and Tennessee-UCLA games will be played Monday night, Sept. 1. Kentucky faces Louisville and Colorado faces Colorado State on Sunday, Aug. 31.

Locally, UNLV starts its season at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30 against Utah State. The Rebels are a 12½-point favorite, the same number the game opened.

Here’s the complete list of games, including opening and current lines:

Thursday, Aug. 28

UTEP +3 at Buffalo (opened +2)

Vanderbilt +1½ at Miami, Ohio (opened +1)

NC State +12 at S. Carolina (opened +13½)

Wake Forest -13 at Baylor (opened -14)

Oregon St -4 at Stanford (opened -5)

Troy -5 at Mid Tennessee St (opened -5)

Friday, Aug. 29

Temple -5 at Army (opened -2)

SMU +3 at Rice (opened +3)

Saturday, Aug. 30

Utah +5½ at Michigan (opened +5½)

Syracuse +12 at N’western (opened +12½)

Memphis +10 at Ole Miss (opened +11½)

Ohio +10 at Wyoming (opened +9)

Akron +28 at Wisconsin (opened +28)

W. Michigan +13½ at Nebraska (opened +13½)

Washington +14 at Oregon (opened +14)

Tulsa -14 at UAB (opened -14)

TCU -6½ at New Mexico (opened -5½)

Miss St -9½ at La Tech (opened -9½)

Boston Col -10 at Kent St (opened -10½)

Oklahoma St -5 at Wash St (opened -5)

No. Illinois +9½ at Minnesota (opened +10)

Bowling Green +12½ at Pitt (opened +12½)

Hawaii +30½ at Florida (opened +28)

Va Tech -10 vs ECU at Charlotte (opened -10½)

Illinois +8 vs Missouri at St. Louis (opened +8)

Michigan St. +5½ at California (opened +5½)

USC -20½ at Virginia (opened -17)

Alabama +6 vs Clemson at Atlanta (opened +7)

Idaho +28 at Arizona (opened +28)

Utah St +12½ at UNLV (opened +12½)

W. Kentucky +21 at Indiana (opened +22)

UL-Monroe +27 at Auburn (opened +28½)

UL-Lafayette +12½ at So. Miss (opened +13½)

Florida Atlantic +24 at Texas (opened +26)

Florida Intl +38 at Kansas (opened +41)

Arkansas St +20½ at Tex A&M (opened +20½)

N. Texas +24½ at Kansas St (opened +26½)

Sunday, Aug. 31

Kentucky +5 at Louisville (opened +5½)

Colorado -12 vs Colo St in Denver (opened +12½)

Monday, Sept. 1

Fresno St +6 at Rutgers (opened +5½)

Tennessee -7 at UCLA (opened -7)