You can’t earn a spot in the College Football Playoff in Week 1 of the regular season, but you can lose one.
Last year, the marquee opening-week matchup was No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 1 Alabama. The Seminoles didn’t just lose the game but starting quarterback Deondre Francois to a season-ending injury. They went in the toilet without him, finishing a hugely disappointing 7-6.
No. 19 Florida State plays the final game of Week 1 this year, hosting No. 20 Virginia Tech on Labor Day night with the Seminoles as 7.5-point favorites on the college football odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Looking at each school’s schedule, it’s hard to see either making the playoff with a loss Monday. It’s the FSU head coaching debut of Willie Taggart, replacing Jimbo Fisher. Francois will be Taggart’s QB, winning the job in camp over his replacement last year, James Blackman. Florida State has failed to cover its past six games vs. ACC foes.
Alabama is No. 1 in the preseason polls yet again and faces unranked Louisville, which begins life without former Heisman Trophy-winning QB Lamar Jackson, in Orlando on Saturday night. Louisville is +25 but has covered its past eight as a double-digit underdog, according to the OddsShark College Football Database.
The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry is renewed as the No. 14 Wolverines and No. 12 Irish haven’t played since 2014. Notre Dame opened as a slight dog but now it’s a pick’em at many sportsbooks. The home team has won 13 of the past 16 in this series. The losing squad faces a near impossible challenge to reach the playoff with two of the country’s toughest schedules.
Another game with early playoff ramifications is No. 6 Washington traveling across country to face No. 9 Auburn at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Huskies are 1.5-point underdogs, quite possibly the only time they will be dogs this regular season. UW has won its past 10 September games but failed to cover four straight overall as an underdog.
Maryland hosts No. 23 Texas on Saturday afternoon, with the Terps’ program in turmoil sans head coach D.J. Durkin. Many believe he will eventually be fired because of reported treatment of players that may have led to one’s death during practice. Maryland is +13 but has won its past eight Week 1 games – including as a bigger underdog last year at Texas.
Another Big Ten program, No. 5 Ohio State, also opens without its head coach as Urban Meyer is suspended the first three games. Oddsmakers don’t much care as OSU is -38. The Buckeyes are just 2-6 ATS in their past eight home games, but Oregon State is one of the worst Power 5 programs and lost its past 19 on the road.
Source: Heavy Sports