Week 2 of the college football season brings a number of intriguing nonconference matchups. The slate begins at noon ET with Nebraska taking on newly ranked No. 22 Colorado in its home opener from Folsom Field. Colorado opened as a -1 favorite but quickly moved to -2.5 as the week progressed. Another key nonconference game pits Sam Hartman and No. 10 Notre Dame against Brennan Armstrong and NC State (ABC). The day wraps up with a top-15 matchup between the No. 11 Texas Longhorns and the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide in prime time on ESPN.
Joe Fortenbaugh, Matt Miller and Dalen Cuff are here to break it down in this week’s betting roundtable.
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.
What was your biggest takeaway from Week 1 of the college football season?
Overs are now 48-45 (51.6%) as we get set to enter Week 2. Given the rule change in which the clock now runs on first downs outside of the final two minutes of each half, this was a bit of a surprise. In that same vein, I’ll be looking to play USC overs for the foreseeable future. Offensively, the Trojans are a freight train as predicted. But the USC defense still appears to be suffering from the same deficiencies as last season. — Joe Fortenbaugh
Week 1 always surprises us because we are getting to know the teams, but my biggest takeaway is to ignore the rankings. LSU, Clemson and TCU all lost in Week 1 to unranked teams and the lines skewed in their direction because they were ranked. As we move forward things will even out as the rankings more correctly match each team’s success, but for now I’m not putting much stock into them. — Matt Miller
College football is the only sport in the world where perception of your team/league affects your ability to play and win a title. That perception also affects the lines. Florida State and North Carolina comfortably covered against LSU and South Carolina. Conversely, the SEC is always regarded as the best league in the country. This week with five games against nonconference Power 5 teams and a sixth being No. 20 Ole Miss at No. 24 Tulane. The SEC is favored in all of those games except Vanderbilt at Wake Forest. I’m not saying fade the SEC outright, but there is value in the underdogs as public perception of the SEC is baked into these lines as automatic favorites. — Dalen Cuff
Is there a future you have your eye on as we enter Week 2?
Michigan to win the Big Ten (+155) is worth a play. Ohio State isn’t the threat it was last season. — Fortenbaugh
Utah to win the Pac-12 (+500) is ripe for action. USC is powerful and explosive, but that defense is a leaky faucet. Utah beat up a decent Florida team with its starting quarterback out and looks to once again have a dominant defense that’ll carry the Utes. — Miller
Utah to make the college football playoff (+850). I’m right there with Matt on Utah. But if you believe it is going to win the Pac-12 like I do, the play for me is Utah to make the playoff. With depth that is in the Pac-12, the Utes can suffer a loss and still get in. I also think Florida State to win the ACC championship (+100) is worth a play now, but if it loses at Clemson later this month, that bet will increase in value, and I will double down. — Cuff
Nebraska at No. 22 Colorado
Saturday, noon ET, Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado
Line: Colorado (-2.5)
Money line: Colorado (-165), Nebraska (+140)
Total: 57.5 points
Nebraska: 58.6% chance to win
Projected margin of victory: +3.4 points
Nebraska is 6-1 ATS as a road underdog since the start of the 2021 season.
Seven of Nebraska’s eight games following a straight-up loss have gone under the total since the start of last season.
Nebraska has covered each of its past three games as an underdog.
Colorado is 13-4 ATS against Nebraska since 1996.
Best bet: Colorado (-2.5). What we know for sure is that if this game is as close as the line, Nebraska will lose. The Cornhuskers are 2-14 since 2021 in one score games — even with a new head coach that was supposed to fix that very issue! I’m on Prime Time and taking the Buffaloes to cover. — Miller
Best bet: Colorado (-2.5). I was impressed with Colorado’s opener no doubt, but this is as much of a play for the Buffs as it is against Nebraska. That was a comedy of errors to lose last week, the recent struggles are well documented as Matt points out. Colorado is more talented and playing at home, I’m hammering the Buffs -2.5. — Cuff
No. 10 Notre Dame at NC State
Saturday, noon ET on ABC, Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, North Carolina
Line: Notre Dame (-7.5)
Money line: Notre Dame (-292), NC State (+235)
Total: 51.0 points
Notre Dame: 58.6% chance to win
Projected margin of victory: +3.4 points
Best bet: Notre Dame (-7.5). This is tricky and 7.5 is a big number, but I do like Notre Dame to cover. Hartman is still getting comfortable with his new targets and the Irish offense is only getting better. — Miller
Best bet: NC State (+7.5). Notre Dame has 28 straight wins against the ACC, excluding conference championship games. But I think NC State is undervalued beyond this game since it opened with a win total of 6.5. This line reflects that same angle. I like the Pack to cover at home but the Fighting Irish to get to 29 straight wins in a tight one. — Cuff
No. 11 Texas at No. 3 Alabama
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Line: Alabama (-7)
Money line: Alabama (-278), Texas (+222)
Total: 56.0 points
Alabama: 80.9% chance to win.
Projected margin of victory: +13.8 points
Alabama is 14-6 ATS against nonconference opponents since the start of the 2019 season.
Texas is 0-3 ATS as a road underdog since the start of the 2021 season.
All four of Texas’ road games went over the total since the start of last season.
Best bet: Alabama (-7). If the Longhorns upset Alabama in Tuscaloosa, they are pretty much all the way back. Sadly, for Longhorn Nation, I don’t expect that to happen. However, I do expect Texas to win at least 10 games this regular season and cash my over 9.5 wins ticket. — Fortenbaugh
Best bet: Alabama (-7). Even as our resident Texas fan, I can’t in good faith advise betting on Sark’s Longhorns after watching Quinn Ewers continue to struggle to connect on deep passes against Rice. Alabama will take away the very active Texas run game and make Ewers beat it deep. And I’m not sure he can. — Miller
Best bet: Alabama (-7). This is one of my favorite plays of the week. To beat Bama, you have to win in the trenches on both sides. I don’t think Texas can truly compete with them there and the Tide roll. — Cuff