College Football: Week 1 betting odds, line moves and early thoughts

August 27, 2023 11:04 AM

Notable line moves for Week 1 of the college football season

As Adam Burke said in the column last week, it is unfair for us to refer to lines for Week 1 as early lines at this point, because they have been up for quite some time. Still, here we will analyze the line moves for the upcoming week of college football, and give some insight as to why the lines are moving in their respective directions.

This column will really find its groove next week, as I take over the College Lines Revealed show next Sunday, and here we will analyze the opening lines and initial line moves from Sunday. For now, let’s take a look at some of the biggest adjustments for Week 1 in college football.

College Football Odds | College Football Betting Splits

Florida Gators at Utah Utes (-7, 46.5)

The swings in both the side and total for this game have been wild, and it all has to do with the status of Utah quarterback Cam Rising. Rising is coming off a torn ACL suffered in January, so his status for this matchup with Florida has been a mystery. That doubt caused the market to crash to as low as Utah -5 with a total of 45.5 but we have since snapped back to the current line of -7 with a total of 46.5 at DraftKings.

Utah released its depth chart on Friday and listed Rising as the starter, which caused the line to snap back, but there is still no official indication that Rising has been cleared to practice. Kyle Whittingham told the media he would not make a decision on Rising until 10 minutes before the contest on Thursday, so there is certainly still a chance the Utes start junior Bryson Barnes instead. Should that happen we can expect this line to plummet once more.

It is worth pointing out that this total opened at 50.5 but is still as low 45 on the market right now. The line would indicate a small belief Rising will be available, but the total has yet to really correct itself. Should Rising get the start we should see this come back up as well, so bettors can try to get ahead of it by going over on the current number.

Fresno State Bulldogs at Purdue Boilermakers (-4, 50.5)

Bettors have been coming in hard on Fresno State since the line opened weeks ago at Purdue -6.5 and it does not seem to be slowing down. Ryan Walters, former Illinois defensive coordinator, has taken over the Purdue football program with Jeff Brohm now at Louisville, and the program is undergoing a retooling both with the roster and the staff.

Only 11 starters are back from last year’s team which won the Big 10 West, and multiple positions are undergoing entire rebuilds. The offensive line brings back only two starters from last season, three starters departed along the defensive line and only one starter in the secondary is back. Hudson Card does transfer in to play quarterback, but losing a longtime starter like Aidan O’Connell is a massive loss as well.

Fresno State did lose its starting quarterback, leading rusher and leading receiver from last year’s Mountain West championship team, but there is still a ton of returning production for this Bulldogs squad. Jeff Tedford is also a quarterback whisperer, and he will likely get the most out of UCF transfer Mikey Keene, who was named the starter on Friday.

It makes some sense that the market would come in on Fresno State here, but when does the support reach a point where there is value on the favorite? There are a couple shops at 3.5 already, meaning getting down to the field goal is a possibility. It is unlikely we get under that number, but if it does expect some quick buyback on the Boilermakers here.

Washington State Cougars (-12, 56) at Colorado State Rams

Colorado State has been a well-supported team in the offseason by those who shape the market. Their odds to win the Mountain West have gone from 40-1 to 16-1 and they are getting support in the opening matchup at home with Washington State. This line opened with the Cougars laying 15.5 points, but that has been bet down 3.5 points to the current number.

The Rams bring back 15 starters this season, and an offensive line which allowed returning quarterback Clay Millen to be pressured on 45.8% of his dropbacks has been rebuilt. Colorado State is going to be a much improved offense, so it makes sense the market is backing the underdog which should have success against a defense in Washington State that has only five starters back.

Other Games

UTSA Roadrunners (-1, 60.5) at Houston Cougars

UTSA is a hot ticket for bettors in their first season in the AAC, and it seems that extends into a matchup with former AAC member Houston. The Roadrunners opened as 2.5-point underdogs in this contest, but have since seen their role flip to the road favorite. UTSA has 16 starters back from an 11-win team, and Houston is rebuilding after losing Clayton Tune and Tank Dell on offense. This isn’t a key number by any stretch, so don’t be surprised to see this favorite flip once or twice more before Saturday.

Stanford Cardinal (-5, 61) at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

The market has been on the side of Hawaii since this number opened Stanford -10.5 in the offseason, but now that we’ve seen the Rainbows in action there has been a massive adjustment. Hawaii was extremely competitive on Saturday against Vanderbilt, as the Commodores needed an interception of Brayden Schager on the final drive to seal away a win as a 17-point favorite. The performance was enough to force another adjustment on Sunday, and this line is now down to Stanford -4 at some shops. 

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at SMU Mustangs (-20.5, 65.5)

Louisiana Tech was hammered by the betting market in the two days leading up to its Week 0 contest with Florida International, but the bettors who backed the Bulldogs - myself included - were burned. The market was already moving against Louisiana Tech prior to their ugly win over FIU, but that result has pushed this number even more in the Mustangs favor. The line opened SMU -15.5 in the offseason, but it got to -19 prior to kick-off on Saturday. After the game was hung back up the adjustment is now SMU -20.5 at DraftKings.

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