High/Low Betting Spreads & Totals For College Football Week 1

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 7:36 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 7:36 PM UTC

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Sportsbook Review, where we point out the Highest Spread and Total among all NCAA game lines on the schedule, as well as the Lowest Total & Spread, and try to figure out what lies behind the odds, while looking for the best betting pick.

Oklahoma (-38.5) vs. Louisiana Tech
You know how sportsbooks tend to overreact to a team's bowl result to close a previous season? In my opinion, that is what they are doing with Oklahoma Sooners. They are the clear-cut Big 12 favorites, which is fine, but also among the national championship favorites at +1100 on NCAA football odds. Why? Because OU trashed a disinterested Alabama team 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl.

Oklahoma appeared to find its quarterback in game MVP Travis Knight in that victory, but he had struggled mostly during the season while splitting time with Blake Bell (now a starting tight end). Apparently it's OK to forget that Oklahoma lost by 16 to a very average Texas team and was bombed at Baylor last season. The offense lost its top two rushers (and stud freshman tailback Joe Mixon). The defense should be very good, but lost leading tackler and linebacker Frank Shannon to a season-ending suspension.

Louisiana Tech, a Conference USA team, finished 4-8 last year. It was one of the nation's worst offensive teams, averaging only 19.2 points per game (113th). Tech switched from a pass-happy spread team under former coach Sonny Dykes to a rather bland power running style under Skip Holtz in 2013. Thus the struggles were expected. The Bulldogs will have a new quarterback in Cody Sokol, a transfer from Iowa.
Free College Football pick: Oklahoma to cover the spread, as Tech might get shut out unless it scores some garbage points when the Sooners pull their starters.

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Baylor vs. SMU (total 74)
This has the highest total and it's not even close. You could have probably predicted that when the full Week 1 schedule was released. Both teams play fast. Baylor Bears led the nation in averaging 52.5 points per game and welcomes back QB Bryce Petty, a Heisman candidate, one of the nation's best group of receivers and future star running back in Shock Linwood. The Bears will be jazzed up, too, because this is the grand re-opening of their new $260 million McLane Stadium, and it's supposed to be awesome. In four home non-conference games last year, the fewest points Baylor scored was 69. Its fewest all season at home was 30 against Texas.

SMU will throw the ball all over the place under Coach June Jones as the Mustangs ranked No. 9 nationally in passing  yards yet averaged only 26.8 points per game. Starting QB Garrett Gilbert is now in the NFL so Neal Burcham replaces him. He started two games last year in place of Gilbert. The Mustangs managed only 13 combined points in those two, losses to Houston and Central Florida. The defense was terrible in 2013. The Mustangs ranked 114th nationally in pass defense (271.8 ypg) and 100th in points allowed (33.3). They surrendered at least 41 points five times, including 52 to Rutgers and 49 to Temple -- not exactly offensive powerhouses.
NCAAF free pick: Could Baylor hang 70 itself? Maybe. I also think Gus Malzahn pulls his starters fairly early. No reason to risk injury and Baylor has two cupcakes up next so plenty of time to work out any kinks later on. The college football pick is the 'under' but not by a whole lot.

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Louisiana-Monroe (-1.5) vs. Wake Forest (total 45.5)
No matchups at pick'em this week so this is the low spread. The line has been crazy on this Thursday night game -- it opened with Wake as a 4-point favorite at most books so it could be ULM by -3 by the time this story posts. This also has the designation of having the lowest total in college football odds. These teams played last year in Winston-Salem, with ULM winning 21-19. The total was 50 for that and ULM was a 2.5-point dog.

It's the debut of Wake head coach Dave Clawson. The former Bowling Green coach replaces Jim Grobe, who stepped down following last year's 4-8 mark.  The Deacons were terrible on offense in 2013, ranking 99th in passing (196.6 ypg), 117th in scoring (18.3 ppg) and 119th in rushing (94.1 ypg). And Wake lost the three best players off that unit in quarterback Tanner Price, running back Josh Harris and receiver Michael Campanaro. Freshman John Wolford is the new starting QB. Five starters are back on a defense that was solid, allowing 24.1 ppg.

Louisiana-Monroe was 6-6 a year ago and averaged only 22.3 points per game. The Warhawks bring back eight offensive and seven defensive starters, plus both kickers. The defense alone has 16 seniors. The offense has a new QB in NC State transfer Pete Thomas. Wake knows him well because he started for the Wolfpack last year at Wake Forest, going 27 of 43 for 257 yards, a TD and two picks in a 28-13 loss.
NCAAF free pick: ULM is vastly more experienced. Plus it's a rare home national TV game so that will get everybody fired up. Louisiana-Monroe covers and this does stay 'under.'

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