Normally, Week 1 of NCAA football is the highlight of my summer. In the past couple of years, however, it’s been disappointing. This year was no different. The best game of the week, as far as I’m concerned, was the Miami-Florida game. Florida was the favorite but all the smart money went to Miami, including mine. The number was Florida -7, but the game ended up being 24-20 for Florida. If you know one, single thing about sports action then it would have been obvious that Florida was not going to cover that number. They didn’t.
Another lousy game was Portland State at Arkansas. Arkansas was -30.5. It wasn’t even close: 20-13, Arkansas. Do that math. As a child of the now defunct Southwest Conference and because I grew up in Arkansas, I tend to get emotional about Arkansas games. I have ice water running through my veins and I am not a fan. I am a gambler. But my affinity for the Razorback program sometimes gets ahead of me.
Likewise, I grew up in the Mississippi River Delta region, where Arkansas borders Tennessee along with the state of Mississippi. Memphis at Ole Miss, Memphis won 15-10. I went to prep school in Memphis and thusly took Memphis plus the number, which they beat. Labor Day weekend is the time when I have so much money riding that it could almost make me or break me for the season. This year it did neither. I walked away unscathed neither richer nor poorer.
Let’s talk about Georgia Tech at Clemson. GA Tech was +37. Clemson covered the number by one point. I almost hit the roof. If you’ve ever lived in the ATL then you know how upset people were. That was ridiculous. Now, we all know Clemson is No. 1 in the polls, but who would have thought they could cover that number? In the past, those big spreads meant always take the underdog. The disparity has been closing in the past decade, so it is up in the air no matter how big the number might be.
Additionally, I went to college in Virginia, so that’s really how I began watching ACC football. Duke at Alabama. I stepped away from this game, but it was disheartening that the Crimson Tide beat them 42-3. Nobody was giving Alabama credit this year due to the whipping they took last year from Clemson in the National Championship. And, oddly, the college I attended in Virginia, a Division III school, played Duke every year during my four years there. It was always a loser but it was fun. So, when Duke actually started constructing a team, I sat up straight because I could barely believe it.
And the Georgia State at Tennessee game was a nightmare. I was living in Atlanta when Georgia State began a football program. It seemed to be a bad joke, but they just beat Tennessee by eight points. Who’s the joke now? UT has been making a hyperbolic turn for several years. In fact, the last time they had a decent program was likely when Peyton Manning was playing there about 20 years ago.
Again, I am from the area and have been to Neyland Stadium on many a Saturday. Speaking of the ACC, the University of Virginia at the University of Pittsburgh. I didn’t get down on this game either, but UVa wins 30-14. While I rarely bet UVa, it surprised me that they beat Pitt by over two touchdowns. I’ve watched UVa play at home and in Miami but this surprised me. This program is much like the Duke progression. Teams people thought would never be relevant again are now viable.
Now for a real joke. Georgia Southern at Louisiana State. LSU beats them like a proverbial red-headed stepchild. 55-3, LSU. Anybody walking into this game knew it would get worse before it got better. But it’s LSU so are you really going to net against LSU? I doubt if it even went over the total. If it were the LSU versus Georgia game then there could be doubt. Again, there are some programs which are perennial. There are others that are either emerging or re-emerging but the endgame is that there are winners and losers historically. If you know them like you know the back of your hand then betting becomes simple.