Saturday holds a slew of college football betting in your sportsbook, with the national champs from Alabama opening their season on a neutral field against Virginia Tech. There are also two top-20 matchups worth checking out.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech
Odds: Alabama -20.5
The No. 1 Crimson Tide are favored by 20.5 points on the betting lines as they begin their quest for a third straight BCS crown, and it’s scary to think that ‘Bama could be even better. A.J. McCarron returns for his senior season and the offense could be the best it ever has been under Nick Saban. The defense suffered some major losses, but you know Saban has players just waiting for their turn in the spotlight and this unit should be a top-5 or top-10 unit nationally once again. The Hokies aren’t the powerhouse they once were, and it’ll take a Herculean effort from quarterback Logan Thomas just to keep Virginia Tech in the game. Their defense took a hit with injuries to the secondary and McCarron could have a field day. The two have split two meetings since 1998, but Alabama won most recently by a score of 34-24 in 2009. Can you say, “Roll Tide”?
Pick: Alabama -20.5
Northwestern Wildcats @ California Golden Bears
Odds: Northwestern -5
Northwestern enters the season with high expectations but this isn’t something they are used to. They are pegged as one of the teams that will contend for a Big Ten title but first, they have to pass a stiff test on the West Coast in California.
Without question, the Wildcats have the better roster. They have plenty of consistency with the backfield of quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark leading the way. However, the crowd at Strawberry Canyon will be fired up as the Sonny Dykes era begins.
The Golden Bears are installing a new system and are clearly in rebuilding mode. That probably means that they’ll come out valiantly in the first quarter/half but eventually, the Wildcats talent and experience will take over. Look for the Wildcats to cover the spread.
Picks: Northwestern -5
LSU Tigers @ TCU Horned Frogs
Odds: LSU -4
The No. 12 Tigers are 4-point favorites on the road at No. 20 TCU, and LSU is never afraid to go out on the road and test themselves early in the season. The usually-stout defense has just three starters back, but if there is one thing Les Miles is good at, it is restocking the cupboard and there shouldn’t be a major decline for this group. The offense could be more wide-open under new coordinator Cam Cameron, but he will need quarterback Zach Mettenberger to improve. TCU may use a dual-QB system with Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin, which can disrupt an offense’s rhythm and that’s not good against a team with players like LSU has. Their offensive line also struggled in 2012 as well, and defensively, the Horned Frogs have to get after Mettenberger. These programs have never met before, but they’re very well-coached with Miles on side and Gary Patterson for TCU. However, give it to LSU because they’re simply more talented.
Pick: LSU -4