- Betting Week 1 spreads early can yield great closing line value.
- Some under-the-radar teams (like South Alabama) are greatly overlooked.
- Don’t be afraid to lay big numbers in college football if the matchup is right.
As the summer edges closer to college football season, it’s time to start talking about college football betting.
Week 0 will be here before you know it, and one week later, the biggest Week 1 college football games will attract a ton of betting attention.
So let’s talk about early betting targets.
2023 College Football Odds: Early Games To Target
I can hear some of you thinking right now.
“Why would I bet on Week 1 college football games so far in advance, Chase? Shouldn’t I wait to see what the camp reports are like and bet these games closer to camp, armed with more relevant information?”
That’s a fair question. And for some teams in college football, there are legitimately interesting developments that happen during camp. Last August, for example, we found out that former Wake Forest quarterback and current Heisman Trophy odds contender Sam Hartman would miss time due to a previously unknown medical condition.
But as far as most teams are concerned, there isn’t much that comes out of camp and is made public. As a guy that has sat on the sidelines during August camp drills and conducted hundreds of interviews, I can tell you firsthand that coaches and players rarely reveal dramatic developments that are concrete enough to affect your football betting approach.
What’s much more likely is that these numbers become less valuable. For example, consider Alabama’s current status as a 38-point favorite against Middle Tennessee. Sure, you could wait for news on who will officially enter Week 1 as the next starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide. You might even feel more confident in placing your bet, knowing the kind of strategic matchup that the winning quarterback will draw against Middle Tennessee’s defense.
But by then, this number might be down to Alabama -42. That’s a lot of value to lose, all to know which quarterback is going to pound out yardage against a dreadfully overmatched Conference USA defense.
I can acknowledge that betting on college football lines several weeks ahead might not be for everyone. But if you think far enough ahead to grab an early line before the public starts to bet games en masse, you can ultimately set up some pretty early real estate.
Here’s all the games I’m looking at betting early.
Auburn -39.5 vs UMass
Alabama -38 vs MTSU
USC -38 vs Nevada (W1)
Texas A&M -37.5 vs UNM
Michigan -36.5 vs East Carolina
Texas -34.5 vs Rice
UCF -33.5 vs Kent State
Oklahoma -33.5 vs Ark. St
USC -30.5 vs SJST (W0)
— Chase Kiddy (@chaseakiddy) July 20, 2023
Vanderbilt -18.5 vs Hawaii
I’m bullish on Clark Lea’s Vanderbilt, which beat Hawaii in the islands last year in Week 0 by a score of 63-10. I’m not afraid to lay double digits in this spot.
UTEP +105 vs Jacksonville State
UTEP might not be a world-beater, but why on Earth would I lay points with a Jacksonville State team, right out of the gate in FBS, that couldn’t even win its FCS conference?
Georgia Tech +8.5 vs Louisville
This is too many points to give a home Georgia Tech team that looked highly competent last year under Brent Key.
Purdue -5.5 vs Fresno State
For me, this one is all about Jake Haener. Fresno will head to Big Ten country to start the season without Haener and a slew of other pieces from last year’s team. Purdue is likely to take a step back this year from a decent 2022 campaign, but I think it’ll comfortably handle a rebuilding Fresno team, and I want this number south of the six.
Washington -14.5 vs Boise State
This might seem like a big number, but that’s because of brand power, not roster strength. Washington has the goods to be a top-15 team this year, so I’m happy to lay 14 and the hook. Don’t sleep on Michael Penix as a Heisman Trophy contender.
Baylor -26 vs Texas State
This has blowout written all over it. Texas State fired Jake Spavital at the end of last season and lost a ton of its players after the season. G.J. Kinne has a total rebuild ahead of him in San Marcos.
Baylor, meanwhile, should be a legitimate Big 12 title contender. I suspect the deficit could be 20-something by halftime.
Wyoming +13.5 vs Texas Tech
Wyoming brings back a ton of starters this year, including quarterback Andrew Peasley, so I wouldn’t be too quick to lay double digits with a trendy Texas Tech team in Week 1.
Alabama -38 vs Middle Tennessee
There’s not going to be much of a market to grab Middle Tennessee plus the points, which means this line can only move one way.
Old Dominion +13.5 at Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech is as weak as it’s been in decades. Why should I lay nearly two touchdowns against an in-state team that will be deeply motivated to beat its big brother?
South Alabama +7.5 at Tulane
This is one of my favorite hidden gems of Week 1 and will likely be in my official write-up for Week 1 picks. Tulane is heavily valued coming off its American conference championship win, and South Alabama suffers from some serious directional school bias.
What most college football fans will not remember is that South Alabama was one of the biggest surprise teams of last year. It was seconds away from beating UCLA in southern California and very nearly won the Sun Belt. Seven points and the hook is an extremely valuable position, and sharp football bettors are definitely going to hammer this down in August.
LSU -3 at FSU
Part of me doesn’t want to get involved in this game at all. I’m high on both LSU and Florida State this year, so why force myself to pick a side?
The other part of me suspects that LSU is eventually going to get bet down to a -3.5 or a -4. We’re talking about a Tigers squad that has been the darling of this summer’s college football national championship odds market, with bettors shoving LSU up the table with a flurry of bets.
If you operate under the assumption that a line move is coming, grabbing the -3 now could pay big dividends later.
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