The top sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for Week 1 of college football and two games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in:
For both games, there is perceptible value in the early-week lines posted at different online betting sites. Let’s take advantage.
Oregon Ducks vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Georgia's (Still?) Vaunted Defense
Georgia enters this season buoyed by tremendous hype after its National Championship victory last season. But the Bulldogs, then known for having an elite defense, lost a lot to the NFL Draft.
Including the first pick, Georgia lost five defensive players in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
While I, by no means intend to predict doomsday for the Bulldog defense, NCAAF oddsmakers have this team favored by more than two touchdowns.
I contend that oddsmakers are still affected by last year's team and are failing to account for:
- The depreciation of Georgia's talent level
- What Oregon brings to the table both talent- and match-up-wise
Georgia's defensive losses are arguably going to be most apparent on the defensive line, which lost three players that went as first-round picks, and in the linebacking corps, which lost three inside linebackers to the NFL Draft.
Question marks also exist regarding the Bulldog cornerback group beside its best player.
Oregon Run Offense
Oregon's offensive line enters this game with the advantage in experience over the Bulldog defensive line.
A veteran group, the Duck o-line returns five of six key components from last season. It's an award-winning group, too. T.J. Bass was an All-Pac-12 first-teamer and Alex Forsyth was a second-teamer in the all-conference team despite missing time.
The quality exists in this group to navigate Georgia's newer and less intimidating front seven.
The inexperience of Georgia's defense plays right into the hands of what Oregon will like to do offensively.
New offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, who reunites with quarterback Bo Nix, is known for creating confusion in the opposing defense. He achieves this effect through bunch formations, for example.
A little delay among Bulldog defenders as they try to figure out and react to what Oregon is doing, and the Ducks' speedsters are off to the races.
While Mario Cristobal is generally known for valuing size and physicality in his recruiting, his wide receiving corps is laden with great speed as evident, for example, in Seven McGee's 40-yard dash.
Where Oregon likely has its most significant advantage is in the passing game. Every year, the wide receiver position is a problem for Georgia.
This year's Bulldog wide receiving crew likewise contains question marks, partly injury-related and made more severe by George Pickens' departure to the NFL.
On the other side, Oregon's secondary gained an absolute stud in Christian Gonzalez. An All-Pac-12 Honorable mention last year while playing for Colorado, Gonzalez possesses a superb mixture of size and speed at 6-2, 201 pounds and 23 mph top speed.
Playmaking safety Bennett Williams also returns probably because his injury issues last year kept him from heading to the pros.
With a bore at quarterback in Stetson Bennett, Georgia does not have the firepower to hurt Oregon's secondary.
Oregon's Peak Defense
Talent-wise, Oregon's defense enjoys its recruiting cycle peak, in this way resembling Georgia's defense last year.
The Ducks are stacked on all three levels with future NFL players.
This is perhaps my biggest issue with the current betting odds: when a team is favored so heavily, I expect that team to be able to score easily and quickly.
But the Bulldog pass attack is problematic in terms of the quality of its personnel and the Oregon secondary is going to form a solid obstacle.
On the other side, the Ducks can do a lot on the ground behind their terrific offensive line, which will have the edge against Georgia's rather new front seven, and behind a passing attack that has the speed and schematic creativity to score at any time.
Utah Utes vs. Florida Gators
Saturday, September 03, 2022 - 07:00 PM EDT at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Two Immediate Advantages
I find it surprising that Florida is being listed as an underdog at home.
Two immediate advantages for Florida come to mind, which explains why I think it is wrong for them to be dogged:
- The weather. Gainesville in early September is notoriously hot and humid
- The talent gap. Florida ranked 180 points higher last year in 247sports' talent composite
One area in which the Gators enjoy significant returning production is the left side of their offensive line. Three starters from last year's nationally 22nd-ranked rush attack return.
The right side will improve with experienced right tackle Michael Tarquin's return and, most prominently right guard O'Cyrus Torrence's arrival. He was an All-Sun Belt Conference first-teamer and, for the second straight year, a Joe Moore Award Semifinalist.
Ground Game and Wide Receivers
Scheme-wise, Florida with its new coaching staff is already inclined to favor the ground game.
This unit will exploit a Utah defense that is missing critical playmakers from last year's successful defensive unit, especially two-star linebackers. Run defense was already problematic for the Utes last year. Let's remember they lost to:
- San Diego State
- Oregon State
Those three teams accrued over 200 rushing yards against them.
Aided by wide receivers more prepared to block than they were last year, Florida's focus on and strength in this offensive aspect will hurt Utah's run defense.
The Gator offense also has deep-ball weapons, such as speedster and vertical threat Ricky Pearsall, and first-round projection Anthony Richardson with his strong arm will hit.
Given existing reputations, it is obvious that Utah's offense will rely especially on its rush attack.
While Florida's run defense numbers look worrisome, recall that the Gator run defense was firm in keeping its opponents under three YPC until Ventrell Miller suffered a season-ending injury.
Know for your NCAAF picks that Miller is back and more experience exists alongside him to return Florida's run defense to its prior stoutness.
The Verdict and a Prop Bet
Florida's run-first offense and Utah's certain inclination to rush as well, create an attractive expectation for the first score of the game to be a field goal.
But the Gators have the edge in their ground game, which has already proven to be kryptonite to Utah's chances of winning a given game.
NCAAF Pick: Florida +2.5 (-105) at BetOnline
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.