Now that we’re past the 2020 NFL Draft, a number of sports betting sites have opened up what they call “Game Of The Year” lookahead lines. In short, we already know what some of the biggest contests on the calendar will be and now we have some point spreads to go along with.
Of course, plenty will change between now and kickoff but here’s a quick peak at the opening lines for some of the most important games of the 2020 college football season.
Alabama Crimson Tide at LSU Tigers
Odds: Alabama -3
This Alabama team probably won’t be as dominant or overwhelming as other Nick Saban teams, chiefly because Mac Jones probably won’t be as dynamic a quarterback as Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts. However, Alabama still figures to be better than LSU because LSU lost a truckload of great college football players on both sides of the ball: Joe Burrow at quarterback, Grant Delpit in the back seven, Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back, Patrick Queen at linebacker, and so many other players. All told, it is expected that 13 different LSU players from the 2019 national championship team will get picked at some point in the NFL draft, with at least five going in the very first round. That is an enormous amount of talent to replace in one season, and even though the 2020 crop of players possesses talent, the Tigers will not be very experienced. Alabama – including Jones, who was able to get a lot of meaningful snaps when Tagovailoa got injured in November of 2019 – has more experienced players with live in-game snaps. That itself could be the biggest difference between these teams when they play next.
Clemson Tigers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Odds: Clemson -6
The Clemson Tigers have the best backfield in college football this season. Everyone knew Trevor Lawrence would give it one more year before entering the NFL Draft. He is a Heisman Trophy favorite right out of the gate. Joining him is Travis Etienne, whom many expected would go to the NFL Draft after his junior year but instead stayed for his senior season. The Lawrence-Etienne combo will make Clemson’s offense ridiculously good. The Tigers will lose some elite players on defense, but they can replenish their ranks with the depth they have built from elite-level recruiting. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is as good a defensive coach as any in college football. Clemson is going to be a notch or two better than every team it faces next season, with the possible exception of Ohio State in the College Football Playoff. Clemson should be able to handle anything Notre Dame throws its way.
Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Odds: Oklahoma -3.5
The Texas Longhorns are a desperate team under coach Tom Herman. Oklahoma has won the last five Big 12 championships while Texas has struggled to figure out how to play well on a consistent basis. Texas, though, might have the advantage in the new Red River Rivalry. Texas gets quarterback Sam Ehlinger back for one more season, giving cohesion to the Longhorns’ offense. Meanwhile, Oklahoma might finally struggle at quarterback; Spencer Rattler is talented, but he isn’t the polished, experienced quarterback OU has enjoyed the previous few seasons. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was able to study college game film when cultivating Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts. He now has to take a player based on high school experience and develop him into a quality quarterback. That process might take more than one year. Texas has a great chance in this game.
Michigan Wolverines at Ohio State Buckeyes
Odds: Ohio State -7.5
The Michigan-Ohio State story is a simple one: Until Michigan proves that it can match Ohio State player for player in terms of talent – and more specifically speed on the outside – the Buckeyes should be the presumed heavy favorite each time these teams play. Michigan simply has not been able to stay on the same field as Ohio State. One team has a lot more talent and resources than the other. Until that clearly changes, go with the Buckeyes.
Other Notable Lines
Stanford at USC -7
Texas A&M at Auburn -3
Alabama -14 at USC
LSU at Auburn PICK
Louisville at Clemson -21
Nebraska at Penn State -3.5
USC at Oregon -3.5
Michigan at Washington PICK
Minnesota -4 at Iowa
Oklahoma -8.5 at Tennessee
Auburn at Georgia -4.5
UCLA at USC -6.5
Auburn at Alabama -8
Ohio State -6 at Oregon
Army at Navy -4.5