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I love to make college football interesting.
Does the Iron Bowl, or the Red River Shootout, or any of the iterations of The Game need anything added to become more interesting? The answer is likely no.
Does Tuesday night #MACtion of #FunBelt football need it? For someone like me, yes.
I’m going to try to make college football very interesting this fall by picking 10 games against the spread each week. Week zero only provides two games, Miami vs. Florida and Arizona vs. Hawaii. I’ll pick those two games and add a few futures until the slate really gets going August 29.
(Odds via vegasinsider.com)
Florida (-7.5) vs. Miami – Orlando, FL
Pick: Florida -7.5
Power 5 college football returns with a match-up of in-state rivals. Florida is on the heels of Dan Mullen’s first season as head coach in Gainesville where he won 10 games.
Miami is replacing Mark Richt with Manny Diaz, and replacing a lot of depth with transfers.
To me, guys like Gators QB Feleipe Franks illustrate that Florida has more knowns than Miami. Franks made a big step last season, while Miami is prepared to start a redshirt freshman in Jarren Williams over incumbent starter N’Kosi Perry and Ohio State transfer Tate Martell.
This will be a battle between two respected tacticians on opposite sides of the ball, but Florida prevails and covers 7.5
Arizona (-11) at Hawaii
Pick: Hawaii +11
It’s hard to travel to Hawaii. Arizona to Hawaii isn’t the trek that New York to Hawaii is (Army is making that later this season), but it’s still a jarring travel schedule for a team that didn’t understand how to properly use Khalil Tate.
Hawaii and head coach Nick Rolovich take a devil may care attitude when it comes to football. He’s definitely a “no one believes in us? Good,” type of coach.
The Rainbow Warriors will be pumped to defend their home turf and sling the ball all over the place. They might not knock off Kevin Sumlin’s team, but they’ll give him something to worry about.
Picks: Alabama (5/2), Michigan (14/1)
Two teams, Alabama and Clemson, both are under 3/1 odds to win the national championship. The next closest team, both in the odds and talent-wise, is Georgia at 6/1.
Those aren’t great bets, and even so, four teams make the playoff each year. If a wild situation occurred like in 2017 where all three of the above teams made the playoffs, that still leaves on spot remaining in the College Football Playoff.
The next three teams on Vegas Insider are Michigan and Oklahoma at 14/1, followed by Ohio State at 16/1. Any of those three teams seem like good options. Who of those three value teams do you see making the playoffs? I see blue.
If you also want to win money, no matter how small the amount, pick Alabama or Clemson.
Picks: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (3/1), Justin Fields, Ohio State (12/1)
Two players have single digit odds per Vegas Insider, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
The talented Hawaiian lefty almost single-handedly modified Nick Saban’s view on offense. Previously content to let a game manager hand the ball off to 5-star RBs to run behind a similarly ranked OL, Saban understood that in order to continue to win at the highest level he needed an expanded passing game. Tagovailoa has done just that since taking over and winning the 2017 title.
Both of these players are likely to see their playing time limited by blowouts. The ACC is weak, Clemson might not face a difficult matchup in-conference all season, and Lawrence’s work may be done by the 3rd quarter.
Tagovailoa charted a similar path last year while still putting up monster numbers in somewhat limited playing time. A late-season injury and a short string of poor performances may have cost him the Heisman despite being the frontrunner for most of the season.
I don’t see him getting denied this year.
Now as far as Fields, this is a bet on Ohio State’s downfield passing attack. Dwayne Haskins logged 50 passing touchdowns last season, and Fields is arguably a better prospect than Haskins was at the same point.
Urban Meyer’s departure doesn’t mean the offensive brain trust is leaving. That’s still head coach Ryan Day, who despite all the turmoil in Columbus last season, played a significant part in navigating the Buckeyes to the Big 10 title and a Rose Bowl.
Fields is another pick in the double-digits worth a pick if you don’t want to roll with the odds-on favorites.