For the college football fan looking for some early indications about on his team's chances of winning on Saturday, the Las Vegas odds are essential reading. Usually, odds come out the previous Sunday and can serve as an early expectations setter. As part of our coverage of the 2013 football season, we'll be keeping an eye on what Vegas thinks about Virginia and the other ACC teams throughout the year.
For week one, the games are split into four categories.
1) Projected Blowouts
Georgia Tech is a 48-point favorite against Elon.
Wake Forest is a 38-point favorite against Presbyterian.
Duke is a 33-point favorite against North Carolina Central
Miami is a 32-point favorite against Florida Atlantic.
There isn't really much to say about these games. I never thought I'd see Duke as a 33-point favorite against anyone...even less so against a football team with actual live humans.
2) Two-to-three Touchdown Games
Maryland is a 21-point favorite against Florida International.
Virginia Tech is a 19.5-point UNDERDOG against Alabama.
Boston College is a 16-point favorite against Villanova.
NC State is a 14-point favorite against Louisiana Tech.
Based on where Maryland, Boston College and NC State finsihed last year, I personally have a hard time seeing them as double digit favorites against anyone. But I know zilch about the teams they're playing. Louisiana Tech beat Virginia last year and Virginia spanked NC State, but the transitive property never seems to work in sports like we think it should. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the ACC teams struggling to cover.
Virginia Tech fans are hoping their game with Alabama will be closer than the experts think. That might be true, but only because Nick Saban will play it close to the vest. Look for Tech to rolled by the Tide (see what I did there) in the Georgia Dome Saturday night.
3) One-to-two Touchdown Games
UNC is an 11.5 point UNDERDOG on the road at South Carolina.
FSU is a 10-point favorite on the road against Pittsburgh.
Syracuse is an 8-point UNDERDOG against Penn State.
Each of these games has some interesting storylines. It still remains to be seen when the effects of the Sandusky-related sanctions will have hinder on Penn State's on-field product. Other than missing four field goals against Virginia, the Nittany Lions had a great season last year. In any case, a win over Penn State would be a nice feather in the cap for Syracuse as it embarks on its new future in the ACC. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, hosts Florida State in their ACC opener. Seminole fans no doubt will be interested to see how their new quarterback handles his first start. I wouldn't be surprised, meanwhile, to see UNC keep it close against the Gamecocks for a while. The Renner/Clowney matchup is a great Thursday treat for fans in the season opener Thursday night.
4) Tight Games
Clemson is a 2 point UNDERDOG at home against Georgia.
Virginia is a 1 point UNDERDOG at home against BYU.
These are two huge games for the respective ACC programs. Offhand, I can't remember the last time Clemson had a nonconference home game this big. Clemson has played well in recent years against SEC teams not named South Carolina. A win against the Dawgs would legitimize any national title talk down in Tigertown. Sources (read: my Clemson grad girlfriend) tell me that they're expecting over 300K fans in Death Valley for the game. That means 200k will just be there to tailgate! Crazy stuff.
Meanwhile, the importance of Virginia's game against BYU can't be overemphasized. For most of the summer, BYU was a 3-4 point favorite in this one. The line got tighter this week as early money appears to have come in heavier on the Cavaliers. BYU has some injuries and Virginia had a relatively drama-free training camp, both of which likely instilled confidence. If Vegas is right, this one should come down to the wire. Ticket sales for the game are strong, with Virginia announcing that less than 4,000 tickets remain. If the game sells out, it will be the first non-Virginia Tech sellout since the home opener against USC in 2008. Here's hoping Virginia performs a bit better.