The start of the college football season is a mixed bag. The excitement is palpable as everybody is ready to have their Saturdays filled with college football again. However, most of the games are non-conference games. While there are some intriguing non-conference matchups every week, there are also a lot of one-sided matchups on the schedule. Some teams use the first few weeks as a preseason and don't want to take the risk of an early season loss ruining their season.
As a result of the scheduling, the first few weeks are littered with large spreads. For every marquee Notre Dame vs. Ohio State matchup, there are two or three Alabama-Utah State matchups. Large spreads scare off a lot of bettors as it's hard to judge how willing a team will be to run up the score. There's also the possibility of backups playing a lot of the game. Some bettors don't want to mess around with that stuff. If you're one of those bettors, you might want to rethink your stance as you left some money on the table in Week 1.
Large favorites went 8-0
In Week 1, FBS teams that were favored by at least four touchdowns against other FBS teams went 8-0 against the spread. Those results included:
Alabama 55 - Utah State 0 (Alabama -42)
USC 66 - Rice 14 (USC -32.5)
Michigan 51 - Colorado State 7 (Michigan -30.5)
Texas 52 - UL Monroe 10 (Texas -37)
Oklahoma 45 - UTEP 13 (Oklahoma -31)
Tennessee 59 - Ball State 10 (Tennessee -37)
Minnesota 38 - New Mexico State 0 (Minnesota -36)
Tulane 42 - UMass 10 (Tulane -28.5)
A lot of people are cautious when it comes to big spreads. Some try and get cute and bet first-half lines or first-quarter lines to avoid any late-game shenanigans. Others avoid the game all together. However, at least in Week 1, it was as simple as just laying the massive number with the favorite for the whole game.
There's no denying there's a wide gap in talent between teams at the college level. These spreads are massive for a reason. The lesser teams have little chance of keeping up. Most of these teams have backups better than the other team's starters.
However, the narrative becomes different when you look at FBS teams going up against FCS teams. In those scenarios, the FBS team was just 11-11 against the spread when laying at least four touchdowns. Maybe those teams are lesser known and harder to gameplan for. Maybe teams have a harder time getting up for games against little-known FCS schools.
Games that meet the criteria this week
Will the trend of FBS teams covering large spreads against other FBS schools continue in Week 2? Here's a list of games that meet the criteria in Week 2:
Ohio State vs. Arkansas State
Ohio State's offense looked a bit lethargic in their opener against Notre Dame, though you have to give some credit to the Fighting Irish defense. Jaxon Smith-Njigba didn't play much in the opener, and he's expected to miss 1-2 weeks with a hamstring injury.
Arkansas State is coming off a 55-3 win in their opener against Grambling State. It's hard to take much out of that game, but former Florida State quarterback James Blackman was efficient, going 15-of-20 for 210 yards and two touchdowns for the Red Wolves.
Michigan State vs. Akron
Western Michigan was within a score of Michigan State in the third quarter, but two fourth-quarter touchdowns from the Spartans got their backers a rather undeserved cover as 21.5-point favorites. On the other side, Akron needed overtime to knock off St. Francis PA in their opener. Michigan State is a 34.5-point favorite on Saturday.
Oklahoma vs. Kent State
Brent Venables' coaching debut went rather well, as Oklahoma covered as 31-point favorites against UTEP. UCF transfer Dillon Gabriel was efficient, averaging over 10 yards per attempt and throwing two touchdowns. The Sooners averaged nearly 7 yards per carry on the ground. They are back in the massive favorite role this week, as Oklahoma is a 33.5-point favorite against Kent State. The Golden Flashes failed to cover as 23-point underdogs in a 45-20 loss to Washington in Week 1.
Michigan vs. Hawaii
Michigan rolled in its opener, winning 51-7 as a 30.5-point favorite against Colorado State. However, there are still question marks surrounding Michigan. J.J. McCarthy will take the first snap for the Wolverines this week as he and Cade McNamara continue to split quarterback duties. McNamara started last week and was far from impressive. He went 9-for-18 for 136 yards, 61 of which came on a bubble screen to Roman Wilson. Despite the quarterback questions, the defense was dominant and Michigan pounded the ball on the ground.
Michigan is a 51.5-point favorite against Hawaii this weekend. Hawaii has been putrid to start the season, getting outscored 112-27 combined by Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky. The defense hasn't stopped anyone and the offense isn't doing much either. It feels like Michigan will be able to pick its score here, and we know Jim Harbaugh has no issue with bullying lesser teams.
Toledo vs. UMass
Toledo beat Long Island University by a score of 37-0 in their opener, but failed to cover as a 47.5-point favorite. UMass projects to be one of the worst FBS teams again, as it failed to cover as a 28.5-point underdog against Tulane in Week 1. Toledo is a 28-point favorite this week.