College football betting: Sam Hartman's return for Wake Forest causes big line change

The first few weeks of the season is when betting markets are most fluid. We still have limited data on teams. People overreact to what they saw in Week 1. There's a balancing act trying to figure out how much to weigh preseason data compared to actual game data. With most college football teams only having played one game to this point, it's no surprise that the betting market ahead of Week 2 has been pretty fluid. Which games have seen the largest line movements?

Sam Hartman's return is a big deal

Sam Hartman was ruled out with a "non-football injury" last month. However, his absence was much shorter than many anticipated as Hartman has already been cleared to play after he underwent surgery to have a blood clot removed last month.

Hartman led Wake Forest to an 11-3 record last year and an appearance in the ACC championship game. Hartman accounted for 50 total touchdowns and over 4500 total yards. He led an extremely efficient offense and some even viewed Hartman as a darkhorse Heisman candidate entering this season.

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 20: Sam Hartman (10) quarterback of Wake Forest during a college football game between the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Clemson Tigers on November 20, 2021, at Clemson Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Sam Hartman returns for Wake Forest this week. Wake Forest has seen the largest line movement of this week in college football. (John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In Wake Forest's opener, Mitch Griffis threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns against VMI. It was a solid performance against a bad team, but there's no denying that Hartman improves Wake Forest and the betting market agrees. Wake Forest opened as a 6.5-point favorite against Vanderbilt this week. However, once the news about Hartman broke, the spread moved quickly. Wake Forest is now a 12.5-point favorite.

Vanderbilt has been one of the worst Power-5 teams over the past few seasons, but they're off to a 2-0 start this season with wins against Hawaii and Elon.

Despite sluggish opener, Texas A&M is getting support

Texas A&M slogged through their season opener, enduring a 3-hour weather delay in the process. They beat Sam Houston State by a score of 31-0, but it wasn't the margin many expected and the game was only 7-0 through the first quarter and a half. As expected, the defense was dominant but the offense didn't dazzle.

On the other side, Appalachian State played a wild game against North Carolina. They scored 40 points in the fourth quarter but lost the game as they failed to convert on two separate two-point conversions in the final 31 seconds. There are obvious questions about the defense after giving up 63 points, but the Mountaineers' offensive potential was on full display.

Appalachian State opened as a 16.5-point underdog against Texas A&M in Week Two. However, as the weekend nears, the market has moved in favor of the Aggies. Texas A&M is now a 19.5-point favorite. Appalachian State's offense is in for a much tougher defensive test compared to UNC, so it could be a long day if their defense isn't up to snuff.

Market moving in favor of Alabama

Alabama was simply dominant in a 55-0 win over Utah State in Week 1. Bryce Young threw five touchdown passes and then added 100 yards and a score with his legs. The defense held Utah State to just 136 yards. The Crimson Tide showed why they are the favorites to win the national title.

Texas-Alabama is one of the more marquee matchups of the weekend on paper. Two of college football's biggest programs meet head-to-head for the first time since the 2010 BCS national championship game. However, oddsmakers aren't expecting the game to be particularly close.

Alabama is a 20.5-point favorite over Texas on Saturday. The market opened with the Crimson Tide as a 17.5-point favorite but has moved three points in favor of Alabama during the week. Betting against Alabama is a scary proposition, even when they're laying almost three touchdowns on the road against a marquee program.

Other line movement

Here are some other notable line movements we've seen over the course of the week:

  • Colorado State -7 —> Colorado State -11.5 (vs. Middle Tennessee)

  • Texas State -11 —> Texas State -14 (vs. FIU)

  • Syracuse -20.5 —> Syracuse -23.5 (vs. UConn)

  • Air Force -15 —> Air Force -17.5 (vs. Colorado)

  • Mississippi State -8 —> Mississippi State -10.5 (vs. Arizona)

  • UAB -4.5 —> UAB -6.5 (vs. Liberty)

  • USC -10.5 —> USC -8.5 (vs. Stanford)

  • Fresno State -1 —> Fresno State +1 (vs. Oregon State)

  • North Carolina -9 —> North Carolina -7.5 (vs. Georgia State)

  • Notre Dame -19 —> Notre Dame -20.5 (vs. Marshall)