The Florida State Seminoles are clear-cut favorites to repeat as national champions this year, but they’ll likely struggle to cover the number in their season opener against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Let’s take a closer look at the college football odds for this Week 1 matchup.
Since the 1999 campaign, it’s important to point out that previous national title winners are 15-0 SU in season openers the following year—winning those affairs by an average of 31 points.
Florida State is being offered at betting odds of +337 to capture the 2015 NCAA football championship game—a clear No. 1 choice in the futures market with Alabama sitting in the second spot at +675.
College football handicappers will find that 13 starters return to a team that led the country in scoring offense and defense a year ago.
Light on experience
Oklahoma State’s eight returning starters happens to be the lowest number among Big 12 Conference members, which means the program will have a hard time improving upon its 10-3 SU record from 2013-14.
Cowboys quarterback J.W. Walsh has started eight games in this first two years on campus in Stillwater, but he’ll be targeting a group of receivers with no player having more than 40 career catches.
The program is still a dangerous underdog in the betting odds, considering it has won nine of 13 regular season games versus non-conference opponents on the road or on a neutral field since 2003.
All eyes will be focused on Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston in this primetime affair, as he looks to build off a season that saw him throw for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
Winston’s first go around in Tallahassee saw the offense set the college football record for points in a season—a surprising number when you find that he was third on the team’s depth chart entering spring practices a year ago.
Need to create turnovers
Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer has placed a premium on creating turnovers, which led the school to a plus-15 turnover margin last year—a number that the inexperienced group must match or eclipse to participate in the bowl season this year.
Oklahoma State has amassed a 59-19 record since Spencer accepted a role on head coach Mike Gundy’s staff, with the stop-unit leading the nation in forcing 163 opponent miscues since 2009.
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Cowboys as one of their Week 1 college football picks, as their average margin of defeat has been nine points over the last four seasons.
Free College Football Pick: Oklahoma State Cowboys +20 at 5Dimes