College 101 by Mark Mayer | For the past two months, we have been the appetizer to the full course meal that is college football. Now, we finally have something to bite into.
There are 41 games on tap from Thursday and Monday, including my alma mater South Carolina as an 12-point home favorite over NC State. All I know is that when "The Messiah" (Steve Spurrier) came to Columbia to deliver an SEC title, he forgot to bring a quarterback.
That makes this yearly donor very nervous giving 12 to a former ACC rival.
Being emotionally involved is very bad for betting, so we’ll just move on. If you noticed the GamingToday Top 25 topped by No. 1 Florida, their combined ATS record was 169-129 (57.1 percent). A further breakdown shows teams 1-13 were 92-60 ATS (60.5), while 14-25 were 77-69 (52.7).
Unlike the NFL, which gives us four weeks of mostly ugly preseason football to scout for betting and fantasy team purposes, the NCAA is in your face right from the start. No warmups, just games that immediately matter.
Whether you think Florida is No. 1, or Georgia, Ohio State, USC, West Virginia and even UNLV (they are 0-0 like everyone else!), what really matters is how we do with our straight bets and parlay cards.
Thursday, Aug. 28
Vandy +3½ vs Miami, O: Nice coup for Miami to get an SEC team to visit your stadium, even if it is Vandy. The RedHawks lost in Nashville last year, 24-13. Even with Vandy figuring to be at the bottom of the SEC, to be getting points here is too good to pass up. VANDERBILT.
Friday, Aug. 29
SMU +3½ at Rice: Mustang Sally says hello to June Jones III, who is sure to inject a few hundred pass plays to the SMU offense. Rice was 10-1 to the over last year, which explains why the total is 74½! Bombs away. OVER.
Saturday, Aug. 30
W. Michigan +14 at Nebraska: Boy, where has the love gone? This would have been 35 or 40 in better days. Still it’s hard to believe the Huskers can’t beat a MAC team by more than two TD’s. NEBRASKA.
Utah +3 at Michigan: Ohio and West Virginia hate Rich Rodriguez. Another opening game loss and Michigan will too. Brian Johnson is an experienced QB and Utah plays physical. Michigan’s QB is brand new. UTAH.
Idaho +28 at Arizona: Arizona is supposed to be good, which puts Mike Stoops squarely on the spot. He’s 17-29 SU in four seasons at Tucson. Idaho was 1-11 last year and the ideal team to be burned at the stake. ARIZONA.
N. Illinois +8½ at Minnesota: The host Golden Gophers are 6-0 ATS against a below .500 team. Northern Illinois off last season qualifies. MINNESOTA.
N. Texas +25 at Kansas State: Another coach on the hot seat is K-State’s Ron Prince, who is 12-13 in two seasons. Supposedly he raided the JUCO scene for some experience. The Wildcats need a win by margin. KANSAS ST.
Florida Intl +36½ at Kansas: Can you remember Kansas giving 36 to anyone? The scary thing is it’s justified. The Jayhawks are 12-0 ATS facing a .333 or less opponent. KANSAS.
Sunday, Aug. 31
Kentucky +4½ at Louisville: Kentucky doesn’t have QB Andre Woodson and Louisville is without Brian Brohm. The Cards are 7-0 ATS at home with revenge. Well, Louisville lost to UK last season in Lexington and graduation hurt the Wildcats. KENTUCKY.
Monday, Sept. 1
Tennessee -7 at UCLA: Who will quarterback UCLA? And, can Tennessee adequately replace QB Eric Ainge? Giving a TD in Pasadena is a tall order for an SEC school that doesn’t head west often. Remember, the Vols lost 45-31 at Cal in last year’s opener. UCLA.
Fresno State +5½ at Rutgers: Imagine, Monday night football in Piscataway! It’s even bigger than Springsteen playing the Jersey Shore. Rutgers QB Mike Teal could lead the Big East in passing. The Scarlet Knights cover spreads a lot outside the league. RUTGERS.