The more we see the less we understand is an apropos way to describe early season college football. Those long summer months spent studying depth charts, schedules, and power ratings become obsolete after only 60 minutes. Despite the early season surprises there are always takeaways from the betting perspective; the key is separating angles leading to profit from those creating financial ruin. Unlike most who want a rapid reaction I always take a step back from a busy weekend to process what the boxscores say. Remember when it comes to betting the games, your eyes can't tell the whole story...numbers do.
Texas A&M's offense showed a ton against a team expected to compete for an SEC title this season. I won't call Kenny Hill a Heisman front runner like offshore sportsbook's odds suggest, at least not until the Aggies face another major test in Starkville a few weeks from now
Everett Golson showed no rust against Rice in looking like the QB responsible for spearheading Notre Dame's birth in the BCS a few years ago. The Irish are a team with elite level talent (amid suspensions) but their schedule is capable of keeping them from exceeding expectations, and it all starts this weekend vs Michigan.
Mike Gundy. Where the hell did that effort come from? If you'd have told me JW Walsh accounts for just 254 yards of offense yet Oklahoma St keeps it within 1 score of the defending national champs there's no way I'd believe you. For a young team on a neutral field in a game the head coach didn't want the Cowboys acquitted themselves very nicely.
Tom Herman took the kids gloves off JT Barrett in the 2nd half allowing the talented pivot to showcase his talents. Expect them both to show new wrinkles this weekend with another stiff test at home against a Bud Foster-led Virginia Tech defense.
UVA's defense. If the Cavaliers' offense doesn't surrender 3 touchdowns to UCLA's defense, Charlottesville would have played host to the weekend's biggest upset. Mike London can't save his job with moral victories but if UVA plays defense like they did Saturday, the outlook might not be as bleak for the Wahoos as it once seemed.
Todd Gurley. We all knew he was outstanding; 15 carries for 198 along with a kickoff return TD reaffirmed his Heisman front runner status. He'll have a week off before strengthening his case against South Carolina in two weeks.
Christian Hackenberg. PSU has played football for a long long time. Becoming the proud program's single game passing yardage record holder is no small feat. If the offensive line gels, coupled with the emergence of talent at skill positions, watch out for this underrated offense.
Baylor's defense. Art Briles expected this stop unit to be elite. They didn't disappoint, holding SMU's offense to 67 yards. Performances like this may need to be the norm if Bryce Petty isn't 100% by the time conference play starts September 27 at Iowa St.
South Carolina's pass defense. I don't know what that effort was to open the season but it wasn't pretty. The Gamecocks better get things sorted out in their secondary or they'll start the year 0-2 in the SEC and be fighting to make the Outback Bowl. Hell, a win this week against Shane Carden's ECU Pirates isn't a foregone conclusion either.
Dave Clawson. We knew there would be growing pains for Wake Forest this season. What we didn't know is the Demon Deacons would only amass 94 yards of offense at the hands of defensive juggernaut ULM. Wake has the potential to be historically bad this year, stay tuned for a bumpy ride.
Derek Mason. It's hard to believe your new program has as much talent as your old one after a 37-7 home defeat to Temple. Vanderbilt has experienced uncharacteristic prosperity the last few years but the magical run ends this season.
UCLA's offensive line. Jim Mora Jr believes UCLA can contend for a national title and quite frankly so do I. However, Texas' defense will shred the offensive line I watched on Saturday if there aren't marked improvements between now and then.
FAU. I toyed with giving Nebraska credit for the dominating win. Then I watched FAU attempt to tackle, pass, or do anything football related for the 2nd time in 3 days. In the end, the Owls ineptitude trumped Nebraska's brilliant ground game.
Alabama's defensive preparation. It's the third straight game where a team had alarming success moving the ball against the Tide's defense. I realize they don't get to go against the hurry-up spread in practice but come-on Nick, find a way to rectify the problem. Fortunately the Tide opened against WVU because if they played a better team there's a good chance they're already 0-1.
Rakeem Cato. His Heisman campaign is over after week 1. Pedestrian numbers against the Herd's schedule won't get it done...not in this era of college football.
Tanner McEvoy. We didn't expect him to be Scott Tolzien or Brooks Bollinger (yes, those rank as elite UW QB's) but 8 for 24 performances won't even beat Wisconsin Whitewater. Maybe Roy McAvoy is available to start the Badgers' Big Ten opener now that Joel Stave is out indefinitely.
Those of us who bet Utah State. Look in the mirror, Todd. Betting Utah State ended up being a poor investment (FAU might have been worse) despite grabbing the best of the number at +6.5. Before we go praising the Vols (whose defense exceeded expectations) lets be critical of Utah St's lack of talent at the skill positions. Tennessee will improve rapidly throughout the season, they're just not as good as they looked against the hapless Aggies.
Vegas Top 10
Quick note about this weekly feature for those unfamiliar with it: I could care less what the popularity polls say. My rankings are meant to reflect relative strength in a gambling driven context. Last year I never properly adjusted for Auburn or Missouri's rapid ascent (nor did other oddsmakers) hence their combined record of 23-5 ATS. Here's the unveiling of my current top 10 which will inevitably spark hatred, disdain, or disgust from fan bases across the country.
1. Florida St
7. Baylor (with a healthy Bryce Petty)
10. Notre Dame