Folks, it is nearly football tiiiiiiiiiiiiime in Oklahomaaaaaaaa, and that means it’s definitely time for some GAMBLIN’. Will the Oklahoma Sooners cover against the UTEP Miners in Brent Venables’ debut? Will Notre Dame keep it respectable (or more than respectable) in Columbus? Will Dan Lanning’s Oregon Ducks have a good showing against his former team? Will Oklahoma State avoid another Poke Choke with the Chippewas in town?
Only the betting gods know for sure. All I know is that I’m happy for summer to be over and for football season to be upon us. I’m also excited for another season of interacting with all of y’all!
West Virginia at No. 17 Pitt (-7.5) - The fact that we’re kicking off Week 1 of the CFB season with a bona fide hate-fest is exceedingly pleasing. We seem to be losing rivalries left and right, but the recent revival of a few of them (including OU-Nebraska) has been a sight for sore eyes. This one features a blue-collar state against a blue-collar city, and I’d expect the environment at the Artist Formerly Known as Heinz Field to be stellar. Whether it’s due to West Virginia’s moonshine or the Yinzer accents of the Pitt contingent, your chances of understanding a single word being said are slim.
As for the game itself, we get to watch Pitt’s Kedon Slovis square off against former Trojan teammate J.T. Daniels. However, I’m looking forward to watching the Pitt offensive line (which returns a ton of experience) take on Dante Stills and a good Mountaineer defensive front. Over the course of a long game, I’ll give the edge to Pitt, as I thing they’ll eventually be able to wear them down. Gambling Pick: I think Pitt covers late. With the o/u set at 51, I’ll take the over.
Central Michigan at No. 12 Oklahoma State (-21.5) - First, let’s take a moment to revisit one of the more unjust/hilarious results in recent college football history.
I’m not super high on Oklahoma State’s team as a whole in 2022, but the offensive line will finally be a strength. On the other side, the Cowboys are returning quality playmaking along the defensive line, with Edmond Santa Fe products Trace Ford and Collin Oliver leading the way. The former missed all of 2021, so his presence should provide a boost. If (and I mean IF) Spencer Sanders can take care of the football, this shouldn’t be as dramatic as it was in 2016. However, the power of Squinky simply cannot be ignored. Gambling Pick: Ehh... Oklahoma State covers. Under 57.5.
UTEP at No. 9 Oklahoma (-30) - Okay, so we obviously have our question marks and concerns heading into the season. How long will it take for the offensive line to gel? Who will step up and make plays on defense? Will Jaden Davis be consistent enough to hold onto the No. 2 CB spot? All are valid questions, but UTEP likely isn’t going to put much of a spotlight on this team’s potential deficiencies. This week (even with a rumored suspension), the offensive line should be able to protect Dillon Gabriel and open up running lanes. UTEP’s diminutive WR — Tyrin Smith — might pop a big play or two, but the offensive won’t do enough to make this interesting for more than a quarter. Gambling Pick: OU was rarely a good pick to cover during the Riley era. Whether this changes in 2022 remains to be seen, but I’ll take OU to cover the 30 on Saturday. Over 57.
No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 3 Georgia (-17) in Atlanta - In the wake of the coaching change, Oregon lost the vast majority of its defensive production from 2021. In the long run, I think Dan Lanning will do well in Eugene, but Georgia’s run game should be able to impose its will and generally control things. This one could be a snooze. Gambling Pick: Georgia covers fairly easily. Over 53.
No. 23 Cincinnati at No. 19 Arkansas (-6.5) - The Hogs seem destined to be OU’s new OSU in the SEC, but it’s going to impossible to hate Sam Pittman. The Grove, OK native and his infectious personality should have zero issue getting his team motivated for this one. On the other side, Luke Fickel (Nebraska’s next head coach, perhaps????) always seems to have his team prepared, but this team has lost most of its key pieces from last year’s CFP run. Even still, you know they’re going to make Arkansas earn it. Gambling pick: Arkansas wins by a touchdown and gets the cover. Over 52
No. 7 Utah (-3) at Florida - One-time OU football commit Cameron Rising leads this Utah team — one that should be equipped to make a run to the CFP in 2022. In fact, I’d probably pick them to do it at this moment. Additionally, physicality is this program’s hallmark, and Florida’s defensive front is still very much a work in progress.
BUT IT’LL BE HUMID, PAWL!!!
Yes, Gainesville is quite humid, while Utah is particularly dry. This, however, is an overstated advantage. Utah’s roster is comprised of players from all over the country, and while the humidity could certainly play a role, it’s not going to be the shock to the system that Gator homers are expecting. Gambling Pick: It’ll be close, but Utah covers. Over 51.5.
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State - The result of this game won’t be an indictment of Notre Dame or new head coach Marcus Freeman, but Ohio State’s offense just looks like it is going to be ungodly potent. After this one, I don’t think the Buckeyes are going to face much of a test until the CFP, and Saturday might not be particularly close either. Again, this doesn’t mean that Notre Dame’s defense can’t be really good in 2022, it’s just that this group could be running into a buzzsaw in Week 1. Gambling Pick: I’m going back and forth on this, but I’ll go with Ohio State -17 in this one. Over 59.
Florida State vs. LSU (-3) in New Orleans - I’m not sure if Brian Kelly is going to be able to wash the stink off of this program in his first season. Eventually? Sure, but a guy as revered as Coach O had to try really hard to get fired two years after winning a natty, and try really hard he did! With that in mind, the Tigahs are probably a year away from being a force again.
The ‘Noles have spent half a decade in the college football wilderness, but with Mike Norvell entering Year Three and the talent level improving slightly, respectability could be around the corner. The running game should be good, and the offensive line is finally experiencing some continuity and stability. Jordan Travis, while inconsistent at QB, is also in his third year with the program and could start to truly put it together.
With these two fan bases present, Bourbon Street will be lively. That much is certain. Gambling Pick: I’ll go with FSU to win outright. Under 51.5.