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Alex Trader’s College Football Free Four: Week One

Alex Trader gives you his picks for some of the most interesting spreads in College Football.

Photo courtesy of AP Photo | Rick Scuteri

College football is the best sport known to man, mainly because anything can happen on any given weekend. With that parity from game to game, it is also one of the most fun sports to follow in terms of where point-spreads and over/unders are set by oddsmakers. In this series, I’ll be looking into some of the most interesting lines throughout college football each week, and let you know my thoughts on these games. Now I’m not necessarily going to be giving my *favorite* lines for each week (ie. Texas A&M -33.5 vs. Texas State), but rather the most intriguing. This could be anything from potential upsets to the marquee matchups of the week, as well as my take on the games that you all most want to see. With that being said, let’s get straight into the first week of the College Football Free Five.

Northwestern +6.5 @ Stanford (25)

Stanford is one of the premier teams in the Pac 12, and that explains why they are favored over a somewhat depleted Northwestern squad. They are returning quarterback K.J. Costello who put up an impressive 3,540 yards last season for the Cardinal. Of course, the team lost star running back Bryce Love to the NFL Draft, which will put immense pressure on Costello right out of the gate. The man in charge of the Northwestern Wildcats, Pat Fitzgerald, will have is hands full with Stanford’s defense, especially after the departure of Clayton Thorson. Though Thorson was solid for the Wildcats in his four years at the helm, likely starter Hunter Johnson possesses far more talent than Thorson and is a huge X-Factor for the Cats.

In terms of this game specifically, Northwestern is not receiving the love that you would usually get as a conference runner-up mainly due to questions at the quarterback position. I think that those questions will be answered with Johnson in this matchup, and I think that Stanford will be caught off guard in this week one test. The combination of a more explosive Northwestern offense and a regression in the Cardinal rushing attack lead to an upset in Stanford Stadium. Northwestern s/u, and the six points are an added bonus in a game that could come down to the last possession.

Oregon (11) +4 vs. Auburn (16)

Now, this is probably the game that everyone is itching to see, as it could hold massive implications for whichever side comes away with the win. Auburn looks to return to SEC West contender status after an eight-win 2018 season. Oregon, on the other hand, underachieved despite a 9-4 year, as they were projected as Pac 12 favorites. With Washington and Washington State looking to take steps backward, as well as a Heisman talent in Justin Herbert, Oregon must win the Pac 12 in 2019 and this game is a huge part of that goal. Oregon has been abysmal on the road over the last 3 seasons posting a 5-13 record away from Autzen Stadium. Auburn has a slightly better 8-10 record in games away from home, and with this one in AT&T Stadium, expect an Auburn heavy fanbase.

Despite all this, Oregon needs this more than Auburn, and they certainly have the talent to not only cover, but win this one in breakout fashion. I won’t go as far as saying Ducks in a blowout, but Oregon should be able to handle their business as they look to make their first College Football Playoff since its inaugural 2014 season. Take the points, but Oregon should pull this one out s/u as well.

Ohio State (5) -27.5 vs. Florida Atlantic

This is probably my favorite line of the weekend, and I’m not expecting this to be close. Ohio State is looking to silence their critics after being spurned from the College Football Playoff yet again. Justin Fields will be carrying out Ryan Day’s explosive offense for the Buckeyes, as well as returning many of the team’s weapons from the 2018 season. Lane Kiffin’s FAU squad looks to build on a 5-7 finish last season. Unfortunately, that will not start with this matchup. The Owls put up a 31.1 points-per-game last season, good enough for 45th best in the FBS.

Ohio State will look to start its 2019 campaign with some fireworks, as well as a big boom in the newly designed defense. The talent definitely favors the Buckeyes, as well as the coaching battle. Ohio State will roll, and it will be far uglier than 27.5.

Georgia (3) -23 @ Vanderbilt

This is one of the only non-conference games on the slate for this weekend, but unfortunately, it will also be one of the least interesting. Vanderbilt is a very weak Power 5 team, and they will look even weaker against a fuming Georgia squad. Jake Fromm and Kirby Smart will come out slinging the ball around the field, and Vanderbilt simply can’t stop them. The Bulldogs were a fake punt away from their second consecutive College Football Playoff appearance and will be out for blood after an embarrassing loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

Georgia is, put simply, much better than the Commodores, and this game will show that. 23 is a lot of points for a conference matchup, but that won’t matter much as the Bulldogs will run away with this one early. Georgia covers the 23 points easily.

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