Week 1 of the 2021 college football regular season kicks off tonight. Let's discuss a few key Thursday night games receiving notable action.
7 p.m. ET: Boise State at Central Florida
This non-conference showdown features a pair of teams with head coaches making their debut. Gus Malzahn now calls the shots at UCF and Andy Avalos, former Oregon defensive coordinator, is now the head man at Boise State. Boise State went 5-2 in last year's pandemic shortened season. UCF went 6-4 before losing to BYU 49-23 in the Boca Raton Bowl. Tonight's line opened with Central Florida listed as a 4-point home favorite. Respected money has poured in on UCF, steaming the Knights up from -4 to -6. We've also seen some under money show up, forcing oddsmakers to drop the total from 69.5 to 68. The forecast calls for low 80s with 10 MPH winds. Historically, winds of 10 MPH or more have gone to the under roughly 55% over the past decade. Also, defenses are ahead of offenses early in the season, which makes early season contrarian unders a smart bet.
7:30 p.m. ET: East Carolina vs Appalachian State
East Carolina is coming off a disappointing 3-6 season. Meanwhile, Appalachian State went 9-3, capping their season off with a 56-28 thrashing of North Texas in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. This game will be played at a neutral location: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC, home of the Carolina Panthers. Tonight's line opened with Appalachian State listed as an 11.5-point favorite. Some books opened as high as -13.5 earlier in the summer. The public is happy to lay the points with App State, however this line has fallen from -11.5 to the key number of -10. At times, some shops have touched -9.5. This signals some sharp movement and liability on East Carolina plus the points on a neutral field. Pros have also targeted the under, dropping the total from 58.5 to 55.
8 p.m. ET: Ohio State at Minnesota
This is the most heavily bet and also the most lopsided game of the night, which provides great value for contrarian-minded bettors. Ohio State enters this game ranked 4th overall, coming off a 7-1 season in which they reached the National Championship, but fell to Alabama 52-24. On the flip side, Minnesota is looking to rebound from a disappointing 3-4 season. Tonight's primetime matchup opened with Ohio State listed as a 14-point road favorite. The public is hammering the Buckeyes, expecting an easy blowout win and cover. However, despite this lopsided betting, we haven't seen the line rise further to Ohio State. Instead, it's stayed the same or even ticked down to 13.5. This line freeze and reverse line movement indicates some wiseguy liability on Minnesota plus the points. The Gophers are the top contrarian play of the night and also have value as a buy-low home unranked conference dog vs a ranked opponent. Sharp action has also hit the under, dropping the total from 65 to 62.5. The forecast calls for low 70s and 10-15 MPH winds. When the wind blows 10 MPH or more and the total drops at least a half point the under is roughly 56% the past decade.
Remember to check the VSiN Betting Splits every day for money and ticket counts so you can tell who the public is betting on.