Jay Christensen covered college football, among other sports, for the Los Angeles Times and produces the popular college football blog TheWizofOdds.com.
The end of hibernation for college football fans is near.
It has been 238 long days since last season’s BCS title game. Thursday marks the start of the 2009 season.
For months, bettors have been preparing for Week 1 games, building up their bankrolls, reading as much literature they can get their hands on and scouring the Internet to track injuries and suspensions of key players.
And now that the magical day has nearly arrived, what should a bettor do?
Not a damn thing.
That’s right — do not place a bet on opening week. Instead, wait, watch and listen.
Betting NCAAF Week 1
Let’s count the reasons:
Lack of competitive games
There are 74 games in Week 1, with 38 of the games (51.4 percent) involving Division I-A teams playing I-AA opponents. It’s likely the highest number and percentage of such games in a week’s schedule since the NCAA adopted the divisional setup in 1978. It’s laughable, really. Spring scrimmages are more competitive.
Crummy matchups mean double-digit pointspreads. Of the 40 games listed on Covers.com , 25 had spreads of 10 or more points. Do you really feel good about Texas being a 40-point favorite over Louisiana Monroe? Besides, where’s the sport in that? That’s like fishing at a trout farm.
The hype factor
Every team is feeling good about its chances at the moment. Even fans of Western Kentucky, which is playing its first season in Div I-A, are giddy with optimism. Reality is about to hit them like a tsunami. Western Kentucky is a 31.5-point underdog at Tennessee.
Clarity of mind
It’s important to study and watch teams closely in the first week without rooting for or against a team. Check out strengths and weakness, style of play. Do they have a quarterback who can make plays? What about that idiot coach? Doesn’t he know how many timeouts are allowed in a half? Seriously, this tiny investment will pay big dividends later in the season.
I won’t take it personally if you go against my advice. Despite what the surgeon general says, some people still smoke. Proceed at your own risk.
If you must dip your toe into the betting waters this early, here are some points to consider when picking a side:
Take a team with an experienced offensive line
Last season, eight of the Top 10 teams in the final Associated Press poll began the season with at least 65 combined career starts by their offensive linemen. Utah and Mississippi, two of the biggest surprises of 2008, had more than 80 starts of experience. Georgia, Missouri and Clemson, three Top-10 teams that disappointed, had fewer than 40 starts each, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Here are five teams to watch and their offensive line starts: Notre Dame (100), Virginia Tech (100), Texas (91), Florida State (86) and Michigan (75). Here are five teams to worry about: Oregon (20), West Virginia (25), Oklahoma (29), Penn State (