19 College Football Bets You Must Make Before 2019 Kicks Off
You can almost smell the sausages and alligator tail cooking on the grills, almost hear the fight songs booming out of RVs adorned with team flags flying high. The Aug. 24 college football season opener between Miami and Florida is so close, college football betting fans can almost feel the energy building around the stadium in Orlando where the two Sunshine State rivals will meet.
And it’s only the beginning of a fabulous and frenzied time of the year during which college football becomes our primary obsession. In the days before those opening kickoffs, everyone is unbeaten and everyone is a contender. So, here are 19 bets for 2019 to make right nowright now, before odds are influenced by the ebb-and-flow of weekly outcomes.
PICK 1: Florida (-7) over Miami (Fla.) (888Sport)
The revamped Hurricanes take the field with Manny Diaz as head coach and Tate Martell as quarterback, but you’re asking a former defensive coordinator to fix a program that had lots of issues on offense in 2018. Florida regrouped with a 10-3 record in its first season under Dan Mullen, and while quarterback Feleipe Franks doesn’t scare anyone, his good games now outnumber his bad ones. Bad timing for Miami, which will likely need a few weeks to work out the kinks.
PICK 2: Miami +120 to score first against Florida (DraftKings)
So, maybe Miami has some issues right out of the box. But you can still imagine that new offensive coordinator Dan Enos — last seen as the Tua Whisperer, a/k/a quarterbacks coach at Alabama—will want to get things started with bang. A new staff with a new quarterback will need to build some offensive confidence, so don’t be surprised if Enos has Martell take a big shot early.
PICK 3: Ohio State +123 over Michigan (888Sport)
Wait, did we really just jump ahead from the season opener to Nov. 6? You bet we did, because that Buckeyes number is worth grabbing now. Somehow, Michigan is the early favorite despite the fact that Ohio State ranks ahead of its rival in most major preseason polls, and the Buckeyes have beaten the Wolverines in seven straight and 14 of the last 15. Ryan Day may now be running the show at Ohio State, but you don’t see the mighty Buckeyes as moneyline underdogs very often.
PICK 4: Clemson vs. Alabama at +300 for CFP championship (PointsBet)
No question, Georgia has been knocking at the door. Sure, Alabama lost what seemed to be 700 assistants to head-coaching positions after last season. But these remain the two elite programs in America, and all signs point to Tide-Tigers Part V on Jan. 13, 2020. The rest of the ACC can’t touch Clemson, Alabama has a mind lock on the rest of the SEC, and everyone else can just deal with it.
PICK 5: Anyone but Trevor Lawrence or Tua Tagovailoa +125 to win Heisman (888Sport)
Clemson’s Lawrence and Alabama’s Tagovailoa are essentially co-favorites for the Heisman. But it’s hard to find the last preseason favorite to win, given that performance the previous year often sets an impossible bar to meet. Just twice in the last decade has the winner opened the season with odds in the triple digits. Kyler Murray, the 2018 winner, has become the archetype: an under-the-radar candidate with +2000 opening odds who benefitted from a spread system to claim the trophy in the end.
PICK 6: Texas +450 to win Big 12 (888Sport)
All Jalen Hurts did was win before he was usurped by Tagovailoa at Alabama, and he gives Oklahoma a proven signal-caller to slide into Murray’s spot. But there’s going to be a learning curve for Hurts, who’ll be running a very different system in Norman. Meanwhile, Tom Herman’s Texas team seemed to finally break through with a bowl win over Georgia and has a solid quarterback returning in Sam Ehlinger. If the Longhorns can fill gaps on the offensive line, Big 12 foes should watch out.
PICK 7: UCF -110 under 9.5 season wins (888Sport)
After consecutive 12-0 and 12-1, the Knights will have their depth tested. Record-setting quarterback McKenzie Milton was lost to a knee injury, and now replacement Darriel Mack will miss the start of the season with a broken ankle. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush becomes the player on the spot, against a schedule featuring swing games against Stanford, Pitt, Temple and Cincinnati.
PICK 8: Washington +100 over 9.5 season wins (888Sport)
Former Heisman finalist Jake Browning is gone, but Georgia transfer Jacob Eason steps right in to quarterback a team that could be the best in the Pac-12. With Washington State set to take a step back and seemingly half the league in upheaval, the Huskies could still lose to Utah and Oregon and get to 10 wins — assuming they reload what had been one of the nation’s best defenses last year.
PICK 9: Fresno State +500 to win Mountain West (888Sport)
The best story hardly anyone noticed last year? Jeff Tedford turning around Fresno State, which went 12-2 and claimed the Mountain West title. Although quarterback Marcus McMaryion, is gone, the Bulldogs return two top rushers, the core of one of the nation’s best defenses, and the offensive mind of Tedford, who has proven he can put him numbers with just about anyone behind center. Plus, that value is just too good to pass up. And while we’re at it …
PICK 10: Fresno State (+13.5) over USC (888Sport)
What a dangerous Aug. 31 opener for Trojans head coach Clay Helton, who sits on the hottest seat in the country after going 5-7 a season ago. While quarterback J.T. Daniels grew up last season, USC is introducing a new offensive coordinator who will tweak the Trojans’ attack. The skill players are fantastic, the lines and defense not so much. It’s one of those early games that will make the power-conference team sweat.
PICK 11: Iowa +500 to win Big Ten West (888Sport)
In a wide-open division in which many contenders seem to have lost too much (hello, Northwestern) or are a year away (greetings, Purdue), the Hawkeyes have a nice core of returning talent from a team that won nine games. Quarterback Nate Stanley is a third-year starter with experienced juniors at running back and receiver, and Iowa returns a lot of standout pieces on defense. They also play their top two challengers, Nebraska and Wisconsin, at home.
RELATED CONTENT: Keys to Betting Big Ten Football
PICK 12: Oregon +138 over Auburn (888Sport)
After a somewhat dysfunctional 2018 season in which Auburn won eight games, head coach Gus Malzahn’s seat is once again warm. Malzahn will take over play-calling duties, and must find a quarterback successor to Jarrett Stidham. The two leading candidates are freshmen, and one will debut against Oregon and future NFL quarterback Justin Herbert. The Ducks were also mediocre in 2018, but they’ll have fewer pieces to shake down in an Aug. 31 matchup at Arlington, Texas.
PICK 13: Syracuse (+21) over Clemson (888Sport)
If Clemson is going to be challenged on its way to another ACC championship, it should come Sept. 14 in the Carrier Dome. The last two meetings between the teams have been decided by four and three points respectively (one of those a Syracuse victory), and the Tigers have blown out the Orange just once in their last five. While Syracuse lost quarterback Ryan Dungey, Tommy DeVito was more than capable when called upon last season, and he has a host of excellent receivers.
RELATED CONTENT: Keys to Betting ACC Football
PICK 14: Iowa State (+2.5) over Texas (888Sport)
When listing great Big 12 quarterbacks, don’t forget about Brock Purdy, who came off the bench as a freshman last season to lead Iowa State to an 8-5 campaign. While standout tailback David Montgomery is off to the NFL, under Purdy the Cyclones were one of the more reliable covers in the nation—and they present that potential again in a Nov. 16 home matchup against the Longhorns.
PICK 15: Virginia Tech +275 to win ACC Coastal (888Sport)
The Hokies last year sunk to the program’s first losing record since 1992, but that drop can be attributed in part to youth and player attrition. Kansas transfer Ryan Willis takes the helm at quarterback, while Virginia Tech welcomes back a bevy of quality receivers and double-digit tacklers. The division is a toss-up—7-7 Pitt won it last year—and the Hokies have an easy first-half schedule that should set them up nicely.
PICK 16: Ohio State +150 to make College Football Playoff (PointsBet)
Somebody has to be fourth, right? Urban Meyer may be gone, but there’s still plenty of talent left behind in Columbus. Behind Georgia transfer Justin Fields at quarterback and a solid defense, the Buckeyes shape up as a hair better than Oklahoma, Texas, or any of the other preseason contenders vying for the right to be gobbled up by Clemson in the CFP semifinals.
PICK 17: Georgia +111 to make College Football Playoff (PointsBet)
Clemson and Alabama aren’t the only programs penciled into the CFB bracket. Georgia returns Jacob Fromm at quarterback, D’Andre Swift at tailback, and the usual tremendous defense assembled by head coach Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs’ schedule is tougher than usual with Notre Dame and Texas A&M visiting Athens, and Florida on the rebound. But should Georgia run the table in the SEC East, the rest will take care of itself.
RELATED CONTENT: Keys to Betting SEC Football
PICK 18. Georgia Tech at Clemson OVER 59.5 points (DraftKings)
The best team in the country welcomes the worst team in the ACC for its season opener in Death Valley on Aug. 29. The Jackets, who recruited option-oriented personnel under former coach Paul Johnson, have been moving players all around trying to build a more conventional attack under first-year coach Geoff Collins. Don’t expect the Tigers to play along.
PICK 19. Clemson +450 perfect season (PointsBet)
A perfect season means a 15-0 run to the CFP title. This Clemson team is more than equipped to do it, with a quarterback who’s turned Dabo Swinney’s best offense into a finely-tuned machine, and the usual orange wall of a defense. The conference schedule is a cakewalk, and if Clemson can secure the No. 1 playoff seed, they’ll likely watch Alabama and Georgia slug it out in the other semifinal. As we learned last year: keep doubting this team, and watch other bettors walk to the cashier window.