Key Matchups of the 2016 College Football Season

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Key Matchups Highlight the Opening of the 2016 College Football Season

The college football season kicks off this weekend and there are a number of big games. Normally, the top rated teams open the season against cupcakes, Not this year. Here we preview six key opening week college football games.

Clemson vs. Auburn – the Tigers took Alabama down to the wire in the 2016 College National Championship game. This year Clemson has their sights set on a return visit to the College Football Playoffs as they return 12 starters including dynamic QB Deshaun Watson. Auburn comes off a so-so 2015 campaign going 7-6 and a dismal 3-10 against the betting line record. On the surface this would look like an easy Clemson win and the betting public is all over the Tigers as they have attracted 75% of the betting action. However, the line has dropped from Clemson being an 8.5 point favorite down to a touchdown.

UCLA at Texas A&M – the Bruins are picked by many to win the PAC 12 South Division. Coach Mora was hired to restore the UCLA program but last year the Bruins stumbled with an 8-5 record. They finished the season on a sour note getting drilled by arch rival USC 40-21 and losing their bowl game to Nebraska 37-29. The Aggies aren’t expected to do much this season in the tough SEC West where Alabama and LSU preside. The good news for A&M is that their defense should be very solid as they return seven starters. The Aggies opened up as a slim 1-point favorite over the Bruins and the money is relatively even at this point. But, the sharp money is on Texas A&M as they are now a 3-point favorite.

LSU vs Wisconsin – Les Miles is back in Baton Rouge for his 12th season. There were rumors that he may be on his way out. Since going 13-1 in the 2011 season the LSU program has been in a decline with the biggest thorn in Miles side the 4 straight losses to Bama. Speaking of Alabama, the Badgers opened the 2015 College Football season against Alabama. It wasn’t a good start as they were hammered 35-17. Not sure why they would open again with another top SEC team. The books don’t give Wisconsin much of a change in this game. Despite the game being played at a neutral site the Tigers opened as an 8.5-point favorite. That line proved to be too low as the money is all on LSU as they are now a 10-point choice.

North Carolina vs Georgia – the Tar Heels played in the ACC Championship game last season versus Clemson and played the Tigers tough losing 45-37. NC does return 14 players from that 2015 team and a return to the ACC Title game again wouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a new era in Athens as Mark Richt was shown the door and replaced by Kirby Smart. He inherits a squad that has 14 returning starters including a great running back in Nick Chubb. This could be the year that the Bulldogs finally get back to the SEC title game. This game is being played in Atlanta and the majority of the betting public is on the Bulldogs. However, the books haven’t respected that money as Georgia has dropped down to a 2.5-point favorite after opening up as a field goal favorite.

Oklahoma at Houston – the Sooners played in the National College playoffs last season but clearly didn’t deserve the bid as they were trounced by Clemson 37-17. Stoops comes back for his 18th season and welcomes back 13 starters from that 2015 playoff squad. The Sooners are ranked in the top 5 in the country and are projected to win the Big 12 conference. Oklahoma has a tough non-conference schedule having to open against this Houston team and in two weeks play Ohio State. Houston’s coach is Tom Herman the ex-offensive coordinator for Ohio State. In his first year in Houston he led the Cougars to a 13-1 season. However, they do play in the American Athletic Conference. But, they did beat Florida State in their bowl game 38-24 to squelch the rumors of whether or not they can compete against the big boys. The books don’t give Houston much of a chance in this game as they have Oklahoma as a  11.5-point favorite, which is up from the 10-point opening number. However, the money is pretty much even.

Alabama vs. USC – the defending champs open the season in Arlington against USC. This is Saban’s10 year guiding the Tide and he’s looking for back-to-back championships. He returns 11 starters and is looking for a new QB. Last year Bama opened against a decent team in Wisconsin and it wasn’t much of a game as the Crimson won 35-17 and covering the betting line as 12-point favorites. Not sure USC coach Helton appreciated the Athletic Director scheduling Alabama to open the 2016 season. The good news for the Trojans is that they 10 offensives starters. However, they need to find a new QB. The books are looking for the Tide to roll over USC. They opened Alabama as a 10-point choice and that was a bad number as Alabama has attracted 75% of the action moving the line up to 1.5-points.