Sometimes the college football odds appear too good to be true. There’s a reason for that and they represent the very definition of a trap game. We want to focus on which games are giving us value and which games are trying to bait us into a bad spot simply because the line is too inviting. Let’s examine some of those games this weekend.
Oregon vs. Ohio State (-14½)
This line opened up at 11½ in the summer and showed up at 13 or 13½ depending on the sportsbook on Sunday or Monday following the Week 1 game for each team. The biggest news from these games came when Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux left the game against Fresno State. He could be out or limited with an ankle sprain while his team is already outmatched from a talent perspective. We know that Thibodeaux could be a talent equalizer in a matchup like this and that just seems less realistic now.
I think that the Buckeyes are set to roll here playing against an Oregon offense that doesn’t have a clear identity or star player to worry about. Ohio State’s offense wasn’t very smooth with a struggling quarterback and only 48 plays (42 before a drive that was all rushes to close out the game), but they still averaged over 10 yards per play.
For reference, Alabama averaged 7.7 yards per play last season with basically every major offensive award winner on their offense. I’m not projecting 10 yards per play or anything close, but with the addition of explosive athlete TreVeyon Henderson in the backfield along with the best offensive line and receivers in the country, Ohio State should score at will, especially when quarterback C.J. Stroud settles in.
This line wants us to be scared of taking the Buckeyes by three scores, but that’s just because they are overexposed on this line in Vegas. Identifying why college football odds are moving can be tough. To learn more about this game and why the line continues to be on the move, click here.
Iowa (+4.5) vs. Iowa State
When you see these odds, you should instantly think, “Wait, the Week 1 scores and odds just don’t line up here.” This is a trappy line because of that, but I am just going to ride the trap because I think that Vegas is a bit married to their preseason evaluation here. While we want to become educated about how trap games work and how Vegas will often put out numbers that do take a bit of a stand against the public, they do it intentionally to bait the public into bad bets.
That being said, Vegas oddsmakers are better in November than they are in September, and college football is one of the hardest sports to react to in just one week. While I think that Iowa’s dominance over Indiana is a bit overstated given the two pick-sixes and other things that happened in that game, I just have to take the points in this rivalry given how these two teams looked last week.
“Given Iowa State’s history of slow starts, we probably shouldn’t have been surprised it was so sluggish out of the gates. Campbell’s teams are 8-11 in August and September. In 2020, the Cyclones opened with a 31-14 loss to Louisiana. They needed three overtimes to beat Northern Iowa 29-26 in the 2019 opener and started 1-3 in 2018.” Iowa State is a notoriously slow starter under coach Matt Campbell, as this ESPN article suggests, and they haven’t beaten the Hawkeyes since 2014 in this yearly showdown.
While the ninth-ranked Cyclones have a bunch of vets on the roster, it didn’t seem like this slow start trend is ready to disappear this year. I think Vegas wants me to take the No. 10 Hawkeyes here, and I will oblige in a rare instance that I am willing to challenge the bias Vegas has with their preseason numbers.
Missouri (+5) vs. Kentucky
This is an early conference matchup that sets up like a classic trap with two teams that played completely different games last week. Missouri was challenged by a solid Central Michigan team before eventually locking that game up, while the Wildcats played one of the worst schools in the FBS in Louisiana Monroe. One thing that makes early-season college football spreads a bit complicated is identifying the level of opponent and how that has impacted our thoughts on these teams.
I think that this game could have helped the Kentucky coaches identify some weaknesses, but the Wildcats were not truly exploited anywhere and I think that they could have been against a good team. Telling your defense this could’ve been an 80-yard touchdown doesn’t go nearly as far in the film room as actually allowing an 80-yard TD in a game, and I think that this could be a decided advantage for the Tigers.
Missouri should be able to exploit some holes in the Kentucky defense and sharpen up both sides of the ball vs a quality opponent without being too stressed and beaten up to show up this week. I think that the Tigers take this one outright.