College football season kicked off with two exciting “Week 0” matchups last week, and has an action-packed Week 1 ahead, starting Thursday and rolling right into Monday.
If you’re betting on college football sports betting trends, you already have some of the marquee matchups circled: Oregon versus Auburn, Northwestern versus Stanford, and Utah versus BYU. But if you look beyond those big-name games, there tremendous value on the board in some of the less-notable Week 1 contests.
Here are some to watch and wager on:
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Texas Longhorns (-20.5, 55)
A 20-point spread would scare off plenty of sports bettors, but the Longhorns enter the 2019 season with Texas-sized expectations. Head coach Tom Herman made leaps and bounds with this program last year, including a huge win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Horns bring back QB Sam Ehlinger, who has a promising group of skill players around him – but not all of them will be playing in Week 1.
Louisiana Tech gets a slimmed-down Texas roster thanks to injuries and suspensions being handed down in Austin. Receiver Joshua Moore could miss extended time due to an offseason arrest while running backs Daniel Young and Kirk Johnson will sit out with injuries.
The Bulldogs have a surplus of veteran talent, including fifth-year senior QB J’Mar Smith and a stacked rushing attack behind the experience of Jaqwis Dancy and Israel Tucker. Defensively, LaTech is working in new coordinator Bob Diaco, who runs a 4-2-5 scheme – loading the secondary with playmakers. With Texas short on capable rushers, it may have to pass more than it likes and play right into the hands of the Bulldogs’ stop unit.
Houston Cougars at Oklahoma Sooners (-23.5, 82.5)
That is one heck of a total. The Cougars and Sooners currently have the highest Over/Under number on the Week 1 board, with both programs known for packing a punch in the passing game. Oklahoma moves on from another Heisman-winning quarterback after losing Kyler Murray to the pros, but replaces the No. 1 overall draft pick with a National Championship-caliber quarterback.
Former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts has made the move to Norman, and OU head coach Lincoln Riley has big plans for the Big 12’s newest star. Hurts doesn’t exactly fit the mold of past Oklahoma QBs and his ability to strike long has always been in question. Should the Sooners find themselves in a shootout with Houston, Hurts could be pushed beyond his comfort zone.
The Cougars have a new head coach in former West Virginia offensive architect Dana Holgorsen, who returns QB D’Eriq King for 2019. King topped the AAC in passing yards per game in 2018 and totaled 2,982 yards with 36 touchdown passes and just six interceptions before missing the final two games with a knee injury. As well, King finished with 674 yards on the ground and 16 rushing TDs.
On defense, Houston is at least healthy – which was something it was not in 2018. It lost some key members of the stop unit and will likely give up a boatload of points in what promises to be a high-scoring finish.