College football season is finally here. And for the first time in many states, legalized sports betting is available.
So it's time to get ready and prepare for a long and winding season of upsets, covers and bad beats. I feel good about these three games to open the college football slate, so here's three week 1 favorites to bet.
Akron at Illinois (-18)
I'm not the only singling out this game. Bettors are pushing hard for the Fighting Illini in week 1, moving this line from the opening number at -15.5 to 18. Unless this line gets more than three touchdowns, I'm not scared.
Akron is terrible on the offensive side of the ball. When looking for blowouts between power-five teams against lower-tier programs, that's a major sign. Bad offenses don't usually translate into something explosive plays against opponents with more talent.
So that's a terrible sign. Add in the fact that Akron is welcoming a new offensive coordinator and I wouldn't be surprised if the Zips don't get out of single-digits. That should pave the way for a strong rushing attack from Illinois to eat up clock and consistently move the chains.
Don't anticipate Akron to get much in time of possession and this game won't be close. -- Go Chalk with Illinois
Virginia (-2.5) at Pittsburgh
This is another major line mover, with Pittsburgh actually opening up as the one-point favorite when this line first appeared. Bettors have shifted this one in favor of the Cavaliers, which is the correct play.
Virginia should compete for an ACC divisional title. And while the Panthers actually won their division last year, it was aided by terrible competition, so I don't expect the same success this season. The defense hasn't been as good as advertised and I'm still waiting for much of an offense to show up for Pittsburgh.
Virginia, meanwhile, is a hot commodity with Bryce Perkins coming back as quarterback and a loaded defense. Be careful if this creeps too much over three points, but for now, I'm banking on the Cavaliers. -- Go Chalk with Virginia
Missouri (-17.5) vs. Wyoming
The Cowboys are another team that haven't been able to figure out much on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, Wyoming has been good, and I'm a bit apprehensive about the Tigers until I figure out their motivation level (they're ineligible for postseason this year), but I'll stick with Missouri. The Tigers are far more talented than Wyoming on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys haven't been good in these kinds of games early in the season in recent years.
The Tigers are ushering in a new era with former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant, which has many excited for the Tigers. However, what has me more bullish on the Tigers is one of the better offensive lines in the SEC. The Tigers will dominate up front and control this game. -- Go Chalk with Missouri
Scott Levine blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. His Against The Chalk blog has earned him three consecutive Iowa Newspaper Association awards for Best Blog. Check out more sports betting coverage at Against The Chalk.