College Football Odds Week 1: Picks and Spread Predictions for Top 25 Teams

Calvin Ridley has a chance to be the next great Alabama wideout.

Calvin Ridley has a chance to be the next great Alabama wideout.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The college football season does not ease into its schedule and let fans get warmed up. Instead, it comes with a heavyweight championship fight in the first full weekend of the season.

Top-ranked Alabama and third-ranked Florida State will meet in the season opener at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta at 8 p.m. ET Saturday night.

Both of these teams could make the college football playoffs at the end of the season, although the loser will have quite a bit of pressure on it from this point forward. One-loss teams can make the playoffs, but teams with two losses are often playing with fire and are unlikely to get there.

The Crimson Tide is a seven-point favorite in the game, according to OddsShark, and Nick Saban’s team is likely to be favored in every game this year unless it gets hit with a slew of injuries as the season progresses.

Both Alabama and Florida State appear to have dominant defenses this season, but Alabama appears to have an edge on offense.

Start with quarterback Jalen Hurts, who comes into his sophomore year having been the starting quarterback as a freshman. He had solid numbers throughout the 2016 season as he completed 62.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,780 yards. He threw 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and that kind of TD-interception ratio is going to lead to quite a bit of success over the course of the season.

While Hurts was an asset and quite productive, he struggled against upper-echelon competition. He needs to improve his accuracy and decisiveness against top opponents, and he will get his first chance to show improvement in that area against the Seminoles.

Hurts has a brilliant receiver in Calvin Ridley, and Bo Scarbrough should give Alabama a productive running game. Ridley has superstar potential on the outside, and Scarbrough rushed for 11 touchdowns last year and should be able to meet or exceed that total this year.

Florida State has a terrific sophomore quarterback of its own in Deondre Francois, and he threw for 3,350 yards with 20 touchdowns last season. He faces a mighty task as he has to face a ferocious Alabama defense that got smoked by Clemson in the national championship game last season.

Francois will try to attack with freshman running back Cam Akers and junior wideout Nyqwan Murray. That trio should be able to win the battle most weeks, but they will struggle in this game if there is any hesitation against the Crimson Tide.

While Alabama and Florida State are the main course that college football is serving up, the Michigan-Florida game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at 3:30 p.m. has a chance to be memorable as well.

Wilton Speight will try to build on a strong 2016 season.

Wilton Speight will try to build on a strong 2016 season.Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

Jim Harbaugh’s 11th-ranked Wolverines are 4.5-point favorites, and they have a big-time quarterback in junior Wilton Speight. He threw for 2,538 yards last year with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he did an excellent job of making the key throw at the big moment, and that should make him dangerous in this game.

Speight is big and strong at 6’6″ and 240 pounds, and he has all the tools to have a brilliant season. He had some off-weeks last year, and he needs to put those in the past if Michigan is going to reach its potential.

Florida comes into the opener with 10 players suspended, and that doesn’t bode well here for the No. 17 team in the nation. However, head coach Jim McElwain can build some real momentum for the season if his team can find a way to overcome the obstacle of being undermanned by beating the Wolverines.

Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks will line up under center, and he beat out former starter Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire for the No. 1 quarterback position.

Running back Jordan Scarlett and wide receiver Antonio Callaway are among the players suspended, and it will be tough for the Gators to mount a consistent offense without those two.

However, McElwain was not backing off his team’s chances of winning when speaking to reporters: “Sometimes adversity can bring a group closer together. We’ve got a pretty tight group right now.”


Top 25 point spreads and predictions

(All point spreads provided by OddsShark)


Aug. 31

Ohio State (2) -21 at Indiana, Ohio State*


Sept. 1

Washington (8) -27.5 at Rutgers, Washington

at Wisconsin (9) -27 vs. Utah State, Wisconsin*


Sept. 2

at Clemson (5) -39.5 vs. Kent State, Clemson

at Penn State (6) -30 vs. Akron, Penn State*

at Texas (23) -18.5 vs. Maryland, Texas*

at Miami (18) NL vs. Bethune-Cookman, Miami

at Oklahoma (7) -43 vs. UTEP, Oklahoma

Michigan (11) -4.5 vs. Florida, Michigan (at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas)

at South Florida (19) NL vs. Stony Brook, South Florida

at USC (4) -26.5 vs. Western Michigan, USC

at Georgia (15) -14 vs. Appalachian State, Georgia

at Kansas State (20) NL vs. Central Arkansas, Kansas State

at Auburn (12) -34.5 vs. Georgia Southern, Auburn

Louisville (16) -24.5 at Purdue, Louisville*

Alabama (1) -7 vs. Florida State, Alabama (at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia)

at LSU (13) -16 vs. BYU, BYU

at Washington State (24) NL vs. Montana State, Washington State


Sept. 3

at Virginia Tech (21) -4 vs. West Virginia, West Virginia


Sept. 4

Tennessee (25) -3 at Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech

*-team will win game, but fail to cover

NL-no line