So early college football lines have been out for quite awhile. The first time I saw them, I told the squirrel outside my house, "Whoa man, some of these are too ugly for this world", closed that page, and went as far away from it as possible. I already know this season can be rough, do I have to confirm it with the all-knowing oddsmakers?
Now that we're closer to the season, it's time to start looking back at these lines and how little of a chance Vegas is giving us this season. We will have to prove people wrong on almost a weekly basis, and by "prove wrong" I mean "not lose by three touchdowns" or more every week.
So I looked at some lines, predicted some others, and pondered for a bit too long how many times I would be sent to football for hedging against my team (it didn't happen, mostly for lack of money). What are your thoughts on the lines and which way are you leaning on these games at this point?
(Warning: Betting on Cal is not a fun thing to do. I do not recommend it any other circumstances.)
August 30: Cal +9.5 at Northwestern (line has moved to +12.5 or +13 since that point, depending on where you look)
Welcome to the best line on this entire list. The Bears actually are given a solid enough shot to steal this game away in Evanston, and it will be their strongest shot to reset the other staggered list of lines we see the rest of the season. Northwestern is also coming off of a bad finish to their season, so both teams have been trending downward for awhile. I expect a fierce matchup for both sides looking to rebound. Lean Cal to cover.
October 18: UCLA -22 at Cal
This is a pretty confident line for a Bruins team that has not won in Berkeley in a decade and a half, and always seems to have trouble with their big brothers from up North. But UCLA has never been stronger and Cal has never looked weaker, so this three touchdown line feels pretty legit. Lean Cal to cover, but it’ll be close.
October 24: Oregon -34 vs. Cal
I’ve never thought of a more attractive matchup for the Bears than trekking down to Santa Clara on a Friday night to compete as five touchdown underdogs against the Fighting Phil Knights. Can’t think of any other game I’d rather have as a neutral site contest, no sir. Lean Oregon to cover at this point.
November 13: Cal +35 at USC
I would say 35 points is too much for Sark, but this is the House of Horrors for us and we gave up 35 points in 15 minutes last season to the Trojans. You never know with Sark vs. Cal—sometimes he’ll blow you out and sometimes he’ll herpy derp around until the fourth quarter to get you the win. I’d say the short week makes this a sloppy one. Lean Cal to cover.
November 22: Stanford -17 at Cal
The Big Game line is surprisingly narrow considering how last year’s contest went. But I guess the Cardinal generally don’t blow their foes out and this is a rivalry game, so I’d expect things to go closer at home.
November 29: BYU -11 at Cal
All in all, not so bad. BYU is a good solid team, and probably at the quality of most of the Pac-12 mid-majors. I’d guess we’ll mostly be in this range of underdog this season, which is manageable and should make upsets look more manageable.
The rest of these lines are guesses...(Sacramento State will be off the board)
September 20: Cal +14 at Arizona
Arizona is such a strange team to figure out. There is no rhyme or reason to their margin of victory and their quality of opponent. Expect a lot of confusion.
September 27: Colorado +3 at Cal
This is probably the only game we will be favored in this year. And even I’m not totally sure about it. A win here goes a long, long way toward restoring belief.
October 4: Cal +10 at Washington State
Pullman is still one of the most winnable road environments out there, so this line shouldn’t be too big. But the Bears will need to hoist their A-Game, because the Air Raid swallowed the Bear Raid whole last time these two met up.
October 11: Washington -15 at Cal
Fun fact. Chris Petersen went 2-4 on the road last season, and those two wins were highly competitive. It remains to be seen how good Cal is though.
November 1: Cal +17 at Oregon State
The Beavers will probably not be all that great this season. But we haven’t won in Corvallis the last three tries, and each loss gets more lopsided. So don’t hold out hope for a favorable line.
What are your thoughts on the lines? Which way are you leaning on these games at this point? What lines are you predicting for the games that have yet to be released?