There are plenty of intriguing showdowns in college football’s opening week. But there also a few games featuring powerhouses versus cupcakes. Those games also pose quandaries for bettors, who must decide between taking the better team or grabbing an inferior opponent and a ton of points.
Here’s a look at four such matchups in the opening weekend:
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Buffalo at No. 2 Ohio State (12 p.m. ET, Saturday): The favorites to win the Big Ten, the Buckeyes open the season against a Buffalo team picked to finish in the middle of the MAC. Ohio State is a 36-point favorite. That’s the biggest spread in two seasons for the Buckeyes, who failed to cover as 35-point favorites last season against UAB. The Bulls are 13-23-1 against the spread in non-conference play over the last 10 seasons.
Nicholls State at No. 3 Oregon (4 p.m. ET, Saturday): The Ducks are the biggest favorites on the Week 1 betting board. They’re laying a whopping 59 points to Nicholls State. This is the third time they’ve been favored by more than 50 points in the last three seasons. They went 1-1 against the spread in the previous games.
Follow all the college football line movements with live odds from six sportsbooks, including 5Dimes and Bovada.
Rice at No. 6 Texas A&M (1 p.m. ET, Saturday): All eyes will be on Johnny Manziel. The Aggie QB is suspended for the first half, but is expected to play in the second half. True freshman Kenny Hill will start at quarterback for the Aggies in the first half. Texas A&M is a 27-point favorite over an experienced Owls squad that returns 19 starters. Two of those starters, however, will miss Saturday’s game in College Station. Cornerback Phillip Gaines (suspension) and linebacker Cameron Nwosu (knee), the top two Rice defenders, are both out.
Ohio at No. 9 Louisville, 3:30 p.m., Sunday: The Cardinals are 20.5-point favorites, but they better be careful. Ohio returns a talented core that upset Penn State in last season’s opener. Both teams have talented returning starting quarterbacks. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is a top-tier Heisman Trophy candidate. He passed for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, capping off his sophomore season with a dominating performance in a bowl win over Florida. Ohio’s Tyler Tettleton also led his team to a big bowl win, lifting the Bobcats past Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl.