The opening week of the college football season kicks off Thursday with a handful of tasty matchups to get your betting juices flowing. The Thursday slate is highlighted by a doubleheader featuring three SEC teams looking to make some noise.
South Carolina hosts North Carolina of the ACC (6 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the first game, followed by an opening SEC matchup between Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.
The Gamecocks are double-digit favorites over a North Carolina team with a ton of question marks on defense. The Tar Heels are inexperienced on defense and, after a rash of injuries suffered in August, are thin on that side of the football as well.
That could pose problems against a talented South Carolina offense that returns senior quarterback Connor Shaw and dynamic receivers Damiere Byrd and Bruce Ellington. Ellington has been battling a nagging hamstring, but is expected to play. Starting tight end Roy Anderson is doubtful for the Gamecocks.
North Carolina’s offense is also in good hands, with senior quarterback Bryn Renner directing coach Larry Fedora’s wide-open offense. Thirteen starters return for the Tar Heels, who would have won the ACC Coastal Division last year but were on probation.
South Carolina is 5-3 against the spread in season openers under Steve Spurrier and 18-1 straight-up as a double-digit favorite in the last four years.
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Vanderbilt is a home underdog to Ole Miss in the second game (9 p.m. ET, ESPN). Both teams are rising in the SEC and have energetic coaches.
The Commodores are 4-1 against the spread as home underdogs and 18-8 overall under coach James Franklin.
The Rebels went 10-3 against the spread last season in coach Hugh Freeze’s first season.
Vanderbilt won at Ole Miss last season, 27-26.
Other notable Thursday games:
--Tulsa at Bowling Green (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU): This game features the most dramatic line movement of all the Week 1 games. Tulsa opened as the favorite, but Bowling Green is now a 3-point favorite.
--Rutgers at Fresno State (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Fresno State has grown to a double-digit favorite over the Scarlet Knights, who will be making the cross-country trip. Rutgers is 21-11-1 against the spread as a road underdog over the last 10 seasons.
--USC at Hawaii (11 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network): Heading into the week, USC coach Lane Kiffin still had not named a starting quarterback; both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are expected to play. The Trojans are extremely banged up, with 19 players sitting out of Saturday’s scrimmage. USC is a 22-point favorite.