2024-25 College Football odds: Games of the Year, early lines to wager now

Circa Sportsbook did everyone a solid last week by releasing their Games of the Year lines for college football. I played lineman at Oregon and in the NFL, so naturally, I’m always pumped to dive into some betting markets ahead of the season.

Also, I’m an old school Pac-12 guy. So I’m usually going to find ways to bet on my Ducks and on some of my old rival squads — even if they have moved to different conferences.

Thanks to Circa, I’ve gone through the list of the marquee games of the season and picked a few I’d wager on now. 

These are wagers based on where I see the line moving by kickoff of that specific week. 

Let’s do it.

UCLA @ LSU
Sept. 21

Quite simply, LSU is three touchdowns better than UCLA, and this number is going to climb quickly before kickoff on September 21 in Baton Rouge. 

LSU should be 3-0 after the Tigers get wins against USC in Las Vegas, Nicholls St. at home, and then against South Carolina in its first conference game. UCLA may enter this game 2-0 after defeating Hawaii and Indiana at the Rose Bowl. However, if that is the case, don’t let a 2-0 Bruins start to the season trick you into thinking this game will be competitive. 

UCLA is going to struggle this season, with a new staff and a rebuilding roster. 

Head coach Chip Kelly left for Ohio State after the season ended, and the Bruins hired the best possible replacement for that moment in former Bruin Deshaun Foster. Because Foster has no previous coordinator experience, he’s very green. 

UCLA had an outstanding defense last season, but the Bruins defensive coordinator went to USC, and all its top players were either drafted or transferred out. It’s just a roster void of elite talent right now, and you need that to compete with LSU.

LSU must replace Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas on offense, but the Tigers have recruited well to compensate for losing those players. 

LSU’s offensive line and has multiple players projected to be first-round picks. The Tigers will be able to control this game and wear down UCLA’s defense. LSU’s defense should be better than it was last season. 

On top of that, it will be facing a UCLA offense that doesn’t have a ton of proven difference-makers, in addition to some new pieces on the offensive line. 

I expect this game to climb above 21 points by kickoff, so I’m taking LSU -18 now.

PICK: LSU (-18) to win by more than 18 points

Is 2024 Ohio State’s year to win the National Championship?

Is 2024 Ohio State's year to win the National Championship?

Ohio State @ Oregon
Oct. 12

Oregon will close this game as the favorite, so getting a better number now would be worth the June wager.

Ohio State and Oregon are two of the most talented teams in the sport this year and are two of the top favorites to win a national title, at +400 and +850, respectively. 

This will be a heavyweight matchup. 

Even more exciting, this contest between the Buckeyes and Ducks will mark the first time they face off as Big Ten rivals. The difference in this game — and why the line is not Ohio State by more — is Oregon’s home environment. Quite simply, the Ducks do not lose many home games when they’re good. It’s loud and hostile, and in that atmosphere, teams just can’t operate their offenses as usual. 

I do expect October 12 to be the loudest game in Autzen Stadium history.

I looked at the years between 2009-2014, and during that time, Oregon had two title game appearances. From 2019-2023 (excluding the COVID year), the team secured a Rose Bowl berth and a Fiesta Bowl game. Over that span, Oregon was 65-5 at Autzen Stadium, with four of those losses being conference games. Three of the four games were three-point losses; the other was by just seven points. 

Autzen Stadium is the 12th man, and I expect the number to move before kickoff.

From a football angle, I do expect Ohio State to be held back by quarterback Will Howard. The Kansas State transfer is a completely different player on the road. Now, that’s not uncommon, but he’s completed only 57% of passes in his career on the road, with 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. 

Let’s take Kansas State’s tough slate from last season. 

K-State’s home slate featured Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas and Kansas. Howard completed only 59% of passes and the Wildcats won only two of those five games. Both wins came against the worst teams of that bunch. That metric of 59% is not going to be enough to win at Autzen. 

To be fair, Howard’s ability to run the ball could be an equalizer. But that’s not something bettors should rely on, especially because it’s hard to project. 

The Buckeyes can win this game with their outstanding skill group, the run game and the talent on the defensive line. However, Oregon is built to withstand those pressures, as the Ducks have one of the best offensive lines in the country, along with an improved secondary designed exactly to play a team like Ohio State. 

One more note on this showdown: I’m playing a bit of a long game by believing Oregon will win this game. 

According to Vegas win totals and other projections, these teams will meet again in Indianapolis. With the talent these squads have and considering how these programs are evenly matched, a split of those two games feels most probable. Oregon winning at home while Ohio State wins in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title feels like the logical conclusion for their two probable meetings.

PICK: Oregon (+1) to lose by fewer than 1 point (or win outright)

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Why it is time to end the USC-Notre Dame CFB rivalry

Notre Dame @ USC
Nov. 30

Notre Dame will be more than a touchdown favorite by the time we see this game on the final college football regular-season weekend. 

If you’ve seen Notre Dame’s schedule, you know the Irish will be, at minimum, 9-2 heading to the Coliseum. At that point in the season, USC will be fighting for its seventh or eighth win. Notre Dame is the more talented team, with a defense that shut down USC’s offense in South Bend last season. 

Gamblers will see these teams’ records, look at how each squad is playing and will fire heavily on Notre Dame the week of this game. 

But I could see the Irish getting close to a touchdown favorite and getting them at -4 now is a win. 

PICK: Notre Dame (-4) to lose by fewer than 4 points (or win outright)

Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

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