The college football season officially begins this Thursday, kicking off with an excellent ACC/SEC match-up between N.C. State and South Carolina. After that, there are games running Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday culminating with the always intense rivalry between Miami-Florida and Florida State.
The biggest story coming into the season is how highly thought of and respected the defending national champion Florida Gators are. Las Vegas Sports Consultants sent out opening odds to win the National Title this year at 2 to 1, which is the lowest figure in recent memory for any college championship in basketball or football.
LVSC odds maker Mike Seba helped set the line and recalls the only instance that came close to Florida’s 2 to 1 odds to start a season.
"USC in the 2005 season was close to 2 to 1, just because of winning the title in 2004 and bringing back most of their top players from that season, like Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush," Seba said. "That would be about it in recent history."
Florida finds itself in almost the same situation this year as they bring back 20 starters from the team that won last season, including all 11 starters on defense and all 11 of their back-ups.
But 2 to 1 odds? That seems a little extreme. Why would anyone bet into that number, or maybe, that’s exactly the intent of the number.
"We’re trying to draw action elsewhere for our books," Seba explains. "We anticipated the majority of the public wanting to play Florida, so in the process we raised some other teams to draw action and offset the overwhelming public perception."
Beyond all of the returning starters and momentum of winning the title last year, Florida also has a very favorable schedule that includes missing top-10 SEC teams like Alabama and Mississippi along with playing two non-conference cupcakes to start the year.
"They could lose at LSU on Oct. 10 and still make the championship game," Seba said. "When you look at the possibilities of their schedule and other top contenders, getting to the title game appears to be a much easier road than some. Oklahoma and Texas are top championship contenders, but one of them won’t even make their conference championship game."
Florida’s toughest opponent likely will be in the SEC championship game in which they’ll probably face one of the two teams they missed, Alabama or Mississippi, in the regular season.
Playing in a conference championship game does have its pitfalls, though, something the PAC-10 and Big-10 don’t have to deal with. Should Florida go on to lose that SEC title game, there goes a shot at winning a national championship.
Teams like Penn State and "The" Ohio State University will just kind of sit there and wait out the polls while the top two teams in the Big-12, SEC, and ACC slug it out.
Each of the them has the November 7 game circled on their calendar. Ohio State has a much tougher road prior to that contest just because of their date with USC on Sept. 12.
Should the Buckeyes get past the favored Trojans at Ohio Stadium, it sets up a nice meeting between expected undefeated teams when they meet in
State College with the winner likely to get a shot in the BCS Title game.
LVSC’s odds for the Buckeyes are at 12 to 1 while Penn State is 30 to 1.
The Las Vegas Hilton Superbook will be continuing to offer non-board games this season for just about every Division-1 team regardless of who they’re playing. The extra added lines are available Friday afternoons until kickoff each week.
The Hilton crew works hard in breaking down all the little schools to put a proper, fair line up. What’s funny is that since not many others in the world do it, many of the so-called sharps that wait to look for a half point edge and follow major line moves will kind of be in no man’s land because they have nothing to base their opinion on.
It’s likely the Superbook does pretty well on these games just because of the unknown, not to mention their staff’s opinion on a number is sharper than most to begin with.
This week, number one ranked Florida welcomes Charleston Southern.
Another non-board game will be UNLV’s home opener against Sacramento State. The Rebels have been given a lot of recognition for their prospects this season by Mel Kiper and other experts on the Mountain West Conference.
College Contest Notes:
This Friday is the deadline to get into Leroy’s College Football Challenge where you pick seven games against the spread each week. Entry fee is $250 with all fees returned as prize money. Leroy’s are everywhere, impossible to miss.
Station Casinos College Last Man Standing deadline to sign up is September 12 at 8 p.m., giving you one more week to handicap for the all important first week where nearly 40% of the contestants will be eliminated. Entry fee is $25 and if you buy four, you get one free.
All entry fees are returned as prize money to the last person standing. Pick a winner each week and stay alive for the next. I’ll make an over-under of 7 weeks until someone is crowned.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts