College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 9/10/22
College football fans were treated to a wild Saturday in Week 1.
Between Iowa scoring seven points in a win by two safeties and a field goal and Appalachian State scoring 40 points in the fourth quarter against North Carolina and still losing, the sport we all love is back in full swing.
The other highly anticipated matchup ended in a brutal beatdown of the Oregon Ducks by the defending champions. Georgia scored a touchdown on its first seven possessions, and Stetson Bennett might have had his best performance at quarterback with 368 yards and two touchdowns.
There were several notable coaching changes during the offseason, and for the most part, new coaches took care of business in Week 1. Mario Cristobal, Lincoln Riley, and Brent Venables cruised to wins over inferior opponents in their debuts for Miami, USC, and Oklahoma, respectively. Brian Kelly lost his LSU debut on a blocked extra point to Florida State in the final seconds.
This week’s slate isn’t as action-packed as last Saturday, but there are quite a few intriguing matchups, including a trip to Austin for Alabama and Lincoln Riley’s first conference game as USC’s head coach.
Note: All college football odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. Please check numberFire's model to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.
Texas +20.5 (-114): 4 Stars
While Texas isn’t currently ranked in the AP Poll, they do have a talented roster, including the top-ranked player in the 2021 high school class, quarterback Quinn Ewers, who had originally committed to Ohio State and subsequently transferred to Texas.
Ewers had his first collegiate start last week against Louisiana-Monroe, and while there were some typical freshman mistakes made including an interception, the new Texas quarterback looked promising. He finished with 225 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Longhorns won 52-10.
Alabama is as loaded as ever, and it doesn’t bode well for the Longhorns that Ewers has to face the Tide’s generational pass rushing prospect, Will Anderson, in his second start. However, Texas is underrated in the current betting market according to our model and ESPN’s FPI. Our model has Texas ranked 11th while the Longhorns rank 7th in FPI.
Ewers has dynamic weapons around him at the skill positions on offense, Bijan Robinson is the running back with the best Heisman odds on FanDuel Sportsbook, and Xavier Worthy is a preseason all-Big 12 selection at receiver.
The key to the game for Texas might be for Ewers and Worthy to exploit Alabama’s cornerbacks. Nick Saban indicated that there was a competition between several players before the Utah State game for the starting jobs. The Tide have to replace both starting cornerbacks after they (Jalyn Armour-Davis and Josh Jobe) were drafted last April. Saban played multiple players at cornerback against the Aggies, so it seems the competition hasn’t settled yet.
Additionally, outside some explosive perimeter rushes by transfer Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama wasn’t as sharp running the ball as they were in recent years. Saban highlighted consistently running the ball as an area the Tide needs to improve upon, and Texas has a better front seven than Utah State.
Even if the Longhorns stymie Alabama’s rushing attack and force Bryce Young to beat them, Young would probably answer the bell and put on a performance one would expect from the reigning Heisman winner. However, Texas could keep the game closer than expected with a strong performance from their defense.
Ultimately, our model deems the 20.5-point spread too high and projects Texas to cover with a 69.6% probability. There are a couple of minor weaknesses of which Texas can take advantage. In particular, the Longhorns need strong performances from Quinn Ewers and Xavier Worthy.
If they can force the Alabama offense to be one-dimensional and move the ball with Ewers, Robinson, and Worthy, Texas should be able to keep the game within 20 points.
Under 66.5 (-105): 5 Stars
At first glance, the Trojans’ offense might seem dominant per the final score of their opener against Rice -- in which USC scored 66 points.
However, the defense scored 21 of those points from interception returns, meaning USC’s offense only scored six touchdowns on their own. That’s still an impressive number, but the final score is misleading as to how USC's transfer-laden offense performed in their first game of the season.
The Trojans’ most coveted transfers, quarterback Caleb Williams from Oklahoma and wide receiver Jordan Addison from Pittsburgh, hooked up for two touchdowns against Rice, and that connection is the best part of USC’s offense. While they looked the part last week, Stanford is a step up in competition.
The Cardinal upset USC last season, 42-28, and while their program hasn’t had the same highs in recent years, Stanford is a well-coached team that makes opponents work for wins.
Offensively, Stanford isn’t much of a threat. The Cardinal rank outside of the top 60 offenses in both ESPN’s SP+ rankings and Football Outsiders’ FEI rankings. They got a big win in Week 1, albeit to an FCS team in Colgate, so their ceiling is uncertain at this point in the season, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll build on their second-worst offense by yards per game in the Pac-12 from last season according to projections.
Our model projects this game’s score to stay under the total with 77.2% probability. USC might explode behind their talented new transfers, but that probably won’t be enough to push the score over without a strong performance from Stanford’s lackluster offense.