The 2019 NCAA college football season opens Saturday with an in-state rivalry game between No. 8 Florida and Miami. That’s one of the better matchups that run through Week 1 the following weekend. In fact, the only matchup between ranked teams is between No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn. There are a lot of big spreads to sort out, and Sporting News’ Bill Bender will pick every top-25 game against the spread this season.
How did we do during the regular season in 2018? Bender finished 213-54 (.798) straight up and 143-108 (.569) against the spread in the regular season last year.
With that in mind, here is a look at the dates, times, TV and odds for every top-25 matchup in Weeks 0 and 1.
Saturday, Aug. 24
No. 8 Florida (-7.5) vs. Miami
7 p.m., ESPN
This rivalry game starts the 150th season off right, and Miami hangs around behind first-time starter Jarren Williams. Feleipe Franks, who had 12 total touchdowns and no interceptions in Florida’s last four games last season, closes the door in the fourth quarter.
Florida wins 33-21 and COVERS the spread.
Thursday, Aug. 29
Florida A&M at No. 17 UCF (-45.5)
7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush should make his first start for the Knights, who will face a Florida A&M team that went 6-5 in Willie Simmons’ first season. UCF maintains its regular-season unbeaten streak going with ease.
UCF wins 49-7 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Georgia Tech at No. 1 Clemson (-33.5)
8 p.m., ACC Network
Geoff Collins’ debut at Georgia Tech won’t be easy, and it’s our first look at Trevor Lawrence since his high-flying performance in the College Football Playoff last season. Clemson was 1-2 against the spread when favored by more than 30 points in 2018.
Clemson wins 44-14 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Texas State at No. 12 Texas A&M (-34.5)
8:30 p.m., SEC Network
First-year coach Jake Spavital leads the Bobcats into a tough opener at Kyle Field, and the Aggies are hoping to pick up where they left off after averaging more than 50 points over their last four games of 2018. Kellen Mond opens with a big first half.
Texas A&M wins 51-14 and COVERS the spread.
No. 14 Utah (-5) at BYU
10:15 p.m., ESPN
Another Week 1 rivalry game, and it should be a good one. The Utes have won the last eight meetings, but all of the last six have been decided by little more than five points per game. BYU makes it interesting at home, and perhaps we get overtime.
Friday, Aug. 30
Tulsa at No. 18 Michigan State (-22.5)
7 p.m., Fox Sports 1
The Spartans have had some lackadaisical openers in recent seasons against Furman and Utah State, but with the pressure on the new offense, expect quarterback Brian Lewerke to be more aggressive early. A veteran defense also makes a statement against Baylor transfer Zach Smith.
Michigan State wins 38-13 and COVERS the spread.
No. 19 Wisconsin (-13.5) at South Florida
7 p.m., ESPN
The Badgers will play Jack Coan and Graham Mertz, and Jonathan Taylor will get off to a good start against the Bulls. South Florida is a solid first opponent, but the Badgers have won their last two openers against Group of 5 schools by an average of 40 points per game.
Wisconsin wins 38-21 and COVERS the spread.
Saturday, Aug. 31
Florida Atlantic at No. 5 Ohio State (-27)
Justin Fields and Ryan Day impress in their debuts, and the Buckeyes show a little more punch on defense around future first-round pick Chase Young. The only question is what Lane Kiffin will say afterward.
Ohio State wins 49-17 and COVERS the spread.
South Alabama at No. 24 Nebraska (-36)
Expectations are through the roof heading into Scott Frost’s second season, and the Huskers should win their season-opener this time. The spread still looks a little high, given the questions on the Huskers’ defense. The Jaguars sneak in a back-door cover late.
Nebraska wins 48-13 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Northern Iowa at No. 21 Iowa State (No Line)
Brock Purdy gets the Cyclones off on the right foot, and Matt Campbell won’t leave anything to the imagination with an early bye week before the in-state rivalry game with Iowa.
Iowa State wins 38-10.
Eastern Washington at No. 13 Washington (No Line)
3 p.m., Pac-12 Network
The Huskies haven’t named a starting quarterback yet, but Georgia transfer Jacob Eason will get a chance to play. Washington will grind out a methodical victory, and it will be great to see tackle Trey Adams back in action.
Washington wins 42-21.
No. 2 Alabama (-34.5) vs. Duke
3:30 p.m., ABC
The Crimson Tide are 9-0 in neutral-site openers and have won those games by an average of 24 points per game. Alabama also hasn’t played since losing 44-16 to Clemson in the national championship. Expect Tua Tagovailoa to put on a show. The Crimson Tide were 1-3 ATS when favored by 30 or more points last season, so it’s risky.
Alabama wins 48-10 and COVERS the spread.
Idaho at No. 15 Penn State (No Line)
3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
The Nittany Lions won’t have a nailbiter in this opener. Sean Clifford settles in at quarterback, and KJ Hamler scores at least one highlight-reel touchdown. The pass-rush gives hope for Penn State fans that this defense could be on to something more.
Penn State wins 47-13.
Northwestern at No. 25 Stanford (-6.5)
4 p.m., FOX
Hunter Johnson or TJ Green will be up against Stanford on the road, and the Cardinal will be looking for revenge from the last meeting in 2015. Northwestern, however, pulls a mild upset with a late Paddy Fisher interception.
Northwestern wins 26-24 in an UPSET.
No. 22 Syracuse (-17.5) at Liberty
6 p.m., ESPN+
Hugh Freeze is back, and he has an exciting quarterback in Stephen Calvert. The Flames, however, can’t keep up with Syracuse’s offense around new quarterback Tommy DeVito. Liberty allowed 41 or more points in seven games last season.
Syracuse wins 56-28 and COVERS the spread.
No. 3 Georgia (-20.5) at Vanderbilt
7:30 p.m., SEC Network
Georgia opens with an SEC road game against Vanderbilt, which boasts talented skill-position players in running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, receiver Kalija Lipscomb and tight end Jared Pinkney. The Bulldogs have built two-score leads by halftime and coasted the last two years. It might be a little tighter this time as Jake Fromm breaks in some new receivers.
Georgia wins 40-20 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Georgia Southern at No. 6 LSU (-28)
7:30 p.m., ESPNU
The Eagles are coming off a 10-win season, and they were 3-1 against the spread as underdogs last season. Shai Werts can eat up some clock with a few long drives, but LSU will speed that up in the second half. This will be right on the line.
LSU wins 37-10 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Middle Tennessee State at No. 7 Michigan (-33.5)
7:30 p.m., BTN
The Wolverines are heavy favorites with the debut of a new-look offense with offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, but this is about efficiency for Shea Patterson. Michigan’s defense settles in and the secondary comes up with a pick-six.
Michigan wins 41-10 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Miami (Ohio) at No. 20 Iowa (-21.5)
7:30 p.m., FS1
Iowa returns Nate Stanley and a solid defensive line led by A.J. Epenesa. The RedHawks were 5-2 against the spread as an underdog last season, however, and a back-door cover could happen here. We’ll go with it.
Iowa wins 34-17 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn (-3)
7:30 p.m., ABC
It’s the only game between ranked teams, and as a result it will cause the biggest overreaction in Week 1. Bo Nix will start, but Joey Gatewood could play. It’s Auburn’s defensive line that makes the biggest impact in a back-and-forth thriller. Gus Malzahn hot-seat talk cools, at least for one week.
Auburn wins 28-23 and COVERS the spread.
Louisiana Tech at No. 10 Texas (-20.5)
8 p.m., Longhorn Network
Texas will look to win its first opener under Tom Herman, and it’s a chance for Sam Ehlinger to make a September statement. It’s a tight margin on the spread, but the Longhorns pile on in the fourth quarter.
Texas wins 42-14 and COVERS the spread.
New Mexico State at No. 23 Washington State (-32.5)
10 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Washington State breaks in a new starter in Gage Gubrud, and those who stay up late enough can watch Mike Leach start the Cougars off on the right foot. The spread is still a touch too high.
Washington State wins 49-20 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Utah wins 27-20 and COVERS the spread.
Sunday, Sept. 1
Houston at No. 4 Oklahoma (-24.5)
7:30 p.m., ESPN
It’s not just Jalen Hurts’ debut. The Cougars have a new coach in Dana Holgorsen, and D’Eriq King returns as one of the nation’s most exciting offensive playmakers. This could be the highest-scoring game among top 25 matchups.
Oklahoma wins 48-31 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Monday, Sept. 2
No. 9 Notre Dame (-20.5) at Louisville
8 p.m., ESPN
The Cards will come out fired up in Scott Satterfield’s debut, but the Irish present too many challenges up front on both sides of the ball. Look for Ian Book to lead two second-quarter touchdown drives before the Irish cruise in the second half.
Notre Dame wins 38-16 and COVERS the spread.