The 2012 college football betting season begins on Thursday, August 30, and we see some nice value in some Week 1 underdogs. Please note that there are no money lines available at this time, but we are predicting all of these underdogs to win outright.
UPSET #1: Vanderbilt +6½ vs. South Carolina – South Carolina is deservedly one of the favorites to win the SEC East, but Vanderbilt has become a tough place to play since master motivator James Franklin took over as head coach. Franklin led a team with low expectations to a bowl game last year, and the Commodores went an unblemished 6-0 ATS in Nashville. Vanderbilt went 5-2 straight up at home, and it took heavyweights Georgia and Arkansas down to the wire losing by a combined total of eight points in the two defeats. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers is a now a senior, but he did not become a starter until last season and should only improve with more experience.
As for the Gamecocks, the status of superstar running back Marcus Lattimore remains uncertain for this opener as he recovers from an ACL injury incurred fairly late last year. Even if Lattimore suits up, he would in all likelihood not be his usual explosive self. After coming close vs. some powerhouses last year, look for Vanderbilt to spring the upset here!
UPSET #2: NC State +3½ vs. Tennessee (at Atlanta) – NC State went only 8-5 a season ago, but we think that the Wolfpack can be a surprise team in the ACC this season as the offense should still be able to score a ton of points and last year’s Achilles Heel, the defense, should be much better. The Pack return senior quarterback Mike Glennon, running back James Washington, receiver Tobais Palmer and four members of the offensive line, so that side of the ball is not the concern. More importantly, the defense returns eight starters which includes superstar cornerback David Anderson.
Now Tennessee has a fine passing game of its own with Tyler Bray being one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, and the Volunteers also have two great receivers in Da’Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter. However, Anderson is expected to take away whichever of those receivers lines up on his side while NC State can double-team the stud receiver on the opposite side, meaning that the Vols may need more from their running game than normal to escape this spot with the cover let alone the outright victory!
UPSET #3: Auburn +3½ vs. Clemson (also at Atlanta) – Clemson had some of the best offensive skill position players in the ACC last year and it returns its quarterback, top running back and top three receivers this year, so that does not figure to change. However, the Tigers return just two offensive linemen and one defensive linemen making then vulnerable to physical teams that play smash-mouth football.
Well the other Tigers from Auburn fit that description to a “T” and they will be in an especially ornery mood after Clemson beat Auburn in Clemson Memorial Stadium last year. That was Auburn’s only non-conference loss all of last year which ended with a 43-24 thumping of Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and keep in mind that was a very inexperienced Tigers’ club trying to prove itself after losing Cam Newton. Conversely, this year’s team returns 19 starters and will be anxious for some payback on opening week.