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We have just over 100 days before the return of major college football. So far, the offseason has been moving a lot faster than I expected, and we are now in the short run with conference media days only weeks away.
The fine folks over at FanDuel recently released their opening betting lines for several of the most anticipated college football games of 2021. Needless to say, there are more than a few intriguing matchups worth noting — and not just in Week 1 either.
If you’re ready for college football season, opening lines are out for big games. Clemson -3 vs Georgia, Bama -17.5 vs Miami in week one. Tons more for big games all season long: https://t.co/fbwSq2H6cv
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 19, 2021
Here are five betting lines that may seem off to the masses, but probably shouldn’t.
Week 1: LSU (-3) at UCLA
The SEC will go on the road to take on the Pac-12 in this LSU-UCLA west coast matchup. That line may seem a little low, but it shouldn’t. LSU should bounce back from a rough 5-5 campaign last season, but things are trending in the right direction for Chip Kelly and company.
The Bruins’ offense is returning nine starters while the defense is returning 10. That experience should help them. Plus, they’ll have a tune up game against Hawaii on Aug. 28 before they welcome the Tigers to Pasadena.
UCLA has its quarterback situation figured out with Dorian Thompson-Robinson, while LSU doesn’t. That could also have an impact here.
Week 1: Alabama (-17.5) vs. Miami
Another neutral site game in Atlanta to start Alabama’s season. If you like that sort of thing, you might want to enjoy it while you can — these opening week neutral site games will be coming to an end soon.
Considering Miami will likely be a top-25 team coming into the season, should it surprise people that Alabama is a three-score favorite? On the surface, maybe, but this comes down to the questionable status of Miami’s star quarterback, D’Eriq King. If he’s healthy, this will be a better game.
The Crimson Tide lost three of their starters along the offensive line, but that’s partially negated by the losses the Hurricanes have along their defensive front with Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche now joining Gregory Rousseau in the NFL.
Week 2: Oregon at Ohio State (-9)
Justin Fields is off to the NFL, but Ohio State will still be a nearly double-digit favorite against Oregon to kick off Week 2. We still don’t know who the Buckeyes will start at quarterback, but there will be plenty of surrounding talent regardless of who it is.
Despite winning the Pac-12 last year, the Ducks are beginning to fall off. Yes, they field arguably the most talented defensive player in college football, Kayvon Thibodeaux, but they’ll need more than that against an explosive Ryan Day offense.
Plus, the game will kick off at noon ET, which is 9 a.m. PST for Oregon. That’s an underrated advantage for the Buckeyes.
Week 3: Alabama (-15) at Florida
Florida went from being a College Football Playoff contender that lost to Alabama by six points in the SEC Championship Game to a team that’s a two-score dog at home to the same team less than a year later.
I guess that’s what happens when you lose all your top offensive pieces, including Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes and Stone Forsythe. Sure, Alabama lost an absurd amount of talent as well, but they have a proven ability to reload.
If this line is any indication, Georgia is going to sail through the SEC East this year.
Week 6: Alabama (-13) at Texas A&M
Yes, this is the third Alabama game on this list, but it’s hard to deny that all these lines are rather interesting. Based off what both teams have returning, it is probably surprising to see Florida with a comparable line to Texas A&M, especially since both teams face Alabama at home.
Well, we can probably attribute that to the Crimson Tide’s opponents the week prior to each game. They’ll get to play Mercer before going to Gainesville to play the Gators, and they’ll have to go against Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss the week before traveling to College Station.
Either way, the Aggies are expected to have a top-10 squad this season, so seeing them as a 13-point home dog is still somewhat surprising — even if it is Alabama.
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Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.