by Fairway Jay
It may not have been the true opening weekend of the college football season, but the games still count and the first major upset is in the books. The unofficial college football week 1 openers kicked off over the weekend and a pair of upsets by Mountain West Conference teams left favorite bettors wondering what happened. Wyoming won at New Mexico State 29-7 as a 5-point puppy while Hawaii (+17) rammed Colorado State 43-34 on the road after bettors steamed up the Rams from a 14-point favorite.
New Mexico State has to wheel right back and play Thursday at Minnesota, and the Gophers are taking money from the 17.5-point opener up to -19 following the Aggies poor performance and just 135 yards total offense. Colorado has also taken the cash vs. Colorado State Friday, as the Buffalos are now a 7.5 point favorite after opening -6. And after Rice rallied in the fourth quarter to beat FCS entrant Prairie View 31-28 on a last second field goal as a 23-point favorite, the market reacted as Houston moved from a 21-point road favorite to a 25-point favorite at Rice on Saturday, Sept. 1.
The market adjusts quickly, especially to poor performances, so keep that in mind as you anticipate line moves and analyze posted odds as the college football season moves forward.
Looking Ahead to (the real) College Football Week 1
The first full week of college football is a bit different in the betting market, as the lines have been posted for more than three months at the leading sports books. Totals have been posted in recent weeks, but some significant moves include Auburn and Washington down to 48 points from the opening total of 54.
Every season we see preseason darlings fall in the opening weeks, and other major upsets that few could have envisioned. Last year Maryland stuck the horn up Texas’ A—winning 51-41 as an 18-point underdog. Those were two Power 5 conference teams. But when little Liberty beat Baylor 48-45 as a 33-point underdog, the nation knew something was amiss. That was until later that Saturday, Sept. 2 evening another FCS team pulled one of the biggest point spread upsets in college football history. And it could only happen in Las Vegas. Howard took down UNLV 43-40 as a 45-point underdog in a shocking upset.
If you’re looking for an off-the-radar upset on opening weekend of the 2018 college football season, then Middle Tennessee State (+4.5) could be the team to take out a Power 5 team at Vanderbilt on Sept. 1. If you like big, big dogs, then Utah State (+24) might keep it much closer than the oddsmakers expect at Michigan State on Aug. 31. And San Diego State (+15) with top coach and defensive guru Rocky Long should be considered a potential puppy chow eater in their Sept. 1 game at Stanford after the Aztecs upset the Cardinal last season 20-17. A better bet is to wager on another lower scoring game, and the total has been bet down to 49.5.
Don’t be surprised if both Arizona and Arizona State struggle in their opening games during college football week 1 with new head coaches. BYU (+12) is a capable underdog at Arizona while Texas San Antonio (+19.5) has another strong defense despite losing tons of letterman and experience, and could make Herm Edwards coaching debut at Arizona State a nightmare. ASU hired former NFL coach Herm Edwards off the broadcast bench in a move most college football insiders couldn’t understand. The Sun Devils may survive this season, but I would not follow the money in playing Arizona State opening weekend. Michigan State follows for ASU and then the Sun Devils hit the road at San Diego State and Washington. ASU is going to pay a price for hiring Herm with one of the toughest schedules in the country this season.
College Football Week 1 begins Thursday, August 30th and runs through Sunday, September 2nd!