College Football Bowl Season Odds Breakdown

There was a time when the first two or three weeks of the college football season were devoted to “cupcake” games between the big-name programs on the NCAA odds board and unlikely underdogs. You’ll still find several of these less-than-competitive games on the FBS schedule, but more and more, the non-conference portion is being dedicated to high-profile matchups that people actually want to watch. No doubt the College Football Playoff has something to do with it; beating a challenging team instead of a soft one could be the difference between a title shot or a lesser Big Six bowl.

Other teams are cutting back on cupcakes and going straight into conference play. Our list of the top five matchups for Week 2 includes a pair of Pac-12 contests that should be worth staying up for Saturday night. But first, there’s a must-see matinee that could have a major impact on the NCAA football lines once the dust has cleared.

NCAA Odds Week 2: Best Odds and Matchups

1. No. 12 Texas A&M Aggies at No. 1 Clemson Tigers (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC)

It was smooth sailing for the defending champions in their season opener, a 52-14 shellacking of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (+37 away) that saw RB Travis Etienne rush for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Could the Tigers’ offense get even better? According to head coach Dabo Swinney, WR Amari Rodgers is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn ACL, and could see action against Texas A&M.

Meanwhile, Aggies OL Jared Hocker says his team will upset Clemson, who are laying 17.5 points on the NCAA football odds board at press time. They almost did it last year, losing 28-26 as 12-point road dogs – but that was before QB Trevor Lawrence had taken the starting job from Kelly Bryant (now with Missouri).

2. No. 6 Louisiana State Tigers at No. 10 Texas Longhorns (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ABC)

LSU almost beat Clemson last year, too, but they had to settle for a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Beating the Longhorns would be a strong step forward for these Tigers; however, the Longhorns are getting 6 points at home, and for the first time since Tom Herman took over as head coach in 2017, they’re 1-0 heading into Week 2. QB Sam Ehlinger threw four TD passes in Saturday’s 45-14 romp over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (+20 away).

3. No. 25 Stanford Cardinal at Southern California Trojans (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN)

It’s always fun when Stanford and USC get together, but Saturday’s matchup took a hit when Trojans quarterback JT Daniels tore his right ACL and meniscus in their season-opening 31-23 win over the Fresno State Bulldogs (+14.5 away). He’ll miss the rest of the season, and freshman Kedon Solvis will get the start against Stanford. As for the Cardinal, KJ Costello is still uncertain to start after he got clobbered in the head during Saturday’s 17-7 victory over the Northwestern Wildcats (+6 away). Davis Mills will be under center if Costello can’t start. NCAA football betting has USC laying 2.5 points.

4. California Golden Bears at No. 13 Washington Huskies (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, FS1)

The Huskies are a fashionable outsider pick to make the CFP, but to do so, they’ll probably have to run the table in a weak Pac-12 conference that just got weaker with Daniels’ departure. Beating Cal as 14-point home favorites is a must. Washington QB Jacob Eason showed he can do the job when he threw four TD passes in their season-opening 47-14 win over the Eastern Washington Eagles – although that was definitely a cupcake game with the Huskies not even available for betting.

5. Cincinnati Bearcats at No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (Saturday, 12 PM ET, ABC)

There are thousands of Ohio State fans who bet on NCAA football, but they’ll have to eat some chalk if they want the Buckeyes at –17 versus a Bearcats team that just beat the UCLA Bruins 24-14 as 2.5-point home favorites. That was also a Thursday game, giving Cincinnati some extra time to prepare for OSU. The Buckeyes were in action Saturday, putting away the Florida Atlantic Owls 45-21 on the strength of five touchdowns (one by land, four by air) from QB Justin Fields.