If you were using Saturday's college football slate to build your bankroll for the first NFL Sunday of the year, hopefully you stayed away from some of the nation's top programs. Massive favorites were money against the spread in Week 1. FBS teams favored by 4+ touchdowns against other FBS teams went 8-0 against the spread last week. However, those things tend to even out as the season progresses. Saturday was certainly a regression towards the mean.
Three top teams lose outright
Notre Dame was a 20.5-point favorite against Marshall on Saturday. At BetMGM, 88% of bets and 90% of the money was backing the Fighting Irish to cover the spread. Not only did they not cover, they lost the game outright by a score of 21-16. Khalan Laborn ran for 163 yards on the ground for Marshall and the Thundering Herd defense forced Tyler Buchner to throw two interceptions, including a back-breaking pick-six with just over five minutes remaining. Marshall closed as a +900 underdog on the moneyline. Notre Dame was -1600 to win outright, meaning you had to risk $160 just to win $10. Hopefully you didn't do that.
Notre Dame wasn't the only highly ranked massive favorite to go down. Texas A&M opened as a 16.5-point favorite against Appalachian State. By kickoff, the Aggies were favored by 19.5-points. However, Appalachian State needed none of those points as they won the game 17-14. It was an absolute clinic by the Mountaineers in terms of possession and controlling the game. Appalachian State ran 82 plays on offense, while Texas A&M ran just 38. Texas A&M turned the ball over twice and missed a game-tying 47 yard field goal attempt with under four minutes remaining. Appalachian State cashed at +600 for moneyline bettors.
Wisconsin was a little further down the rankings entering the week at No. 19, but they still suffered an embarrassing home loss on Saturday. The Badgers were 17.5-point favorites against Washington State, but ended up losing the game 17-14. Nakia Watson, a former Badger, scored two touchdowns against his old team for Washington State. Over two-thirds of bets were backing the Badgers to cover the spread. Washington State cashed at +650 on the moneyline for those brave enough to take them.
Other top teams struggle against the spread
While other top schools didn't suffer the embarrassment of losing their games, a lot of them had subpar performances and failed to meet oddsmakers' expectations.
Alabama was a 20.5-point favorite against Texas. At BetMGM, 91% of the money was backing the Crimson Tide to cover the spread. Despite losing Quinn Ewers to injury late in the first quarter, Texas hung around. They entered the half tied and then had leads at various points of the second half. A field goal with 1:34 left gave Texas a 19-17 lead, but Alabama answered with a field goal of their own in the final 15 seconds to take back the lead for good. Alabama survived the scare, but didn't come close to covering the spread.
Georgia, Ohio State and Clemson played Samford, Arkansas State and Furman respectively. The spreads were massive, with all three teams favored by at least 44.5 points. However, none of the three powerhouses covered the massive number as both Georgia and Ohio State won by 33 and Clemson won by just 23 points.
Other highly ranked teams that failed to cover included No. 7 Oklahoma, who failed to cover as a 33.5-point favorite against Kent State in a 33-3 win. Miami failed to cover as a 26.5-point favorite against Southern Mississippi, winning 30-7.
No. 12 Florida lost 26-16 to No. 20 Kentucky as a 6-point home favorite. Kentucky was +180 on the moneyline.
Other surprising results included Kansas going to Morgantown and beating West Virginia in overtime as a 14-point underdog. Kansas was +375 on the moneyline. Bettors who took Kansas to go over 2.5 wins are almost there.
Nebraska continued an embarrassing start to their season by losing outright as a 23.5-point home favorite to Georgia State. Elsewhere, Duke beat Northwestern as a 10-point underdog and cashed as a +280 pup on the moneyline.