It’s the most exciting weekends on the college football schedule and one of the biggest for wagering as well.
Rivalry Week is here for college football bettors and the menu is full of the annual tilts pitting state rivals – and other natural rivals – against each other.
The action starts Thursday with Ole Miss facing Mississippi State and Texas facing Texas Tech in a classic Big 12 battle.
On Friday, LSU tackles Arkansas in the match for the Golden Boot. The Tigers opened as huge 24.5-point chalk on most college football betting lines.
Also Friday, Washington battles Washington and unbeaten Fresno State visits San Jose State. Struggling Oregon faces Oregon State in more Friday NCAA betting action.
By the time the calendar flips to Saturday, bettors have a full menu to choose from on the Rivalry Week front. And The Game – Ohio State vs Michigan – goes off the board early in the day.
It’s the annual clash of Big Ten titans and often decides which team plays in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes are favored by two touchdowns at The Big House.
Kansas State vs Kansas and Florida vs Florida State keep the wagering action rolling in the early afternoon, Georgia vs Georgia Tech and the annual Iron Bowl goes with Auburn hosting Alabama as double-digit home underdogs.
Waco-based Baylor faces TCU and Virginia tech faces Virginia in later action Saturday. Clemson faces South Carolina is a major ACC battle and the annual Notre Dame vs Stanford clash goes in the evening.
In late action, UCLA faces USC and Arizona State hosts Arizona to cap Rivalry Week wagering action for 2013.
After this weekend, bowl announcements will begin and a flood of college football bowl odds will start hitting the wagering menus.
Seven SEC teams are ranked among the nation’s Top 25, including four in the Top 10, but either LSU or Georgia will slip in the upcoming Associated Press college football poll.
The ninth-ranked Bulldogs (2-1, 1-0 SEC) host No. 6 LSU at Sanford Stadium in Athens, and Georgia is laying -3 to the Tigers (4-0, 1-0 SEC), according to college football betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Bulldogs come in after a less-than impressive 45-21 win over North Texas, as coach Mark Richt's troops committed too many mistakes, allowing the Mean Green to hang around far too long in the second half.
North Texas scored on a 99-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, and later tied the score when Marcus Trice scored on a blocked punt early in the third quarter.
On Saturday, the always-physical Tigers, led by former Georgia signal-caller Zach Mettenberger, who is 14-3 as LSU's starting quarterback, come to town.
The Tigers arrive on the heels of a 14-point home win over Auburn, and though they were banged up, coach Les Miles says starting right guard Trai Turner and starting defensive tackle Anthony Johnson will recover in time to play this Saturday. [ College football betting odds, spreads & trends ]
Top-ranked Alabama (-16 at most sportsbooks as of midweek) will try to find its rushing game Saturday night, when it hosts SEC rival No. 21 Ole Miss. The two-time defending champs come after rushing for a meager 66 yards on 21 carries against Colorado State and rank last in the SEC in rushing.
No. 4 Ohio State (-7) hosts 24th-ranked Wisconsin, in what should be a rather physical Big Ten contest. Both the Buckeyes and Badgers are best with their ground games, as Wisconsin is third in the nation in rushing, averaging 350 yards and Ohio State ranks sixth at 311.
After this weekend, there will be no more non-conference games for Big 12 teams, and that might be a good thing, as there have already been eight non-conference losses, twice as many as last year.
Big 12 teams are 19-8 against non-conference opponents with three more left to play, including No. 14 Oklahoma's visit to No. 22 Notre Dame. The Sooners are -3.5 on the road.
Last year, the Big 12 was 26-4 in its non-conference games played during the regular season.
See the current NCAA football futures and odds to win the BCS championship here.
ESPN College GameDay will roll into Clemson for the premier matchup in Week 1 of College Football, as No. 5 Georgia visits the eighth-ranked Tigers in a battle of senior quarterbacks.
Georgia opened a slight 1-point favorite over the Tigers, and has seen some movement, with the number creeping to 2, and back down to 1.5 at most places, with the total a consensus 72. [ Matchup Stats ]
Georgia's Aaron Murray is one of 10 offensive starters back for the Bulldogs, and might be this year's quarterback-darling out of the Southeastern Conference. He opens his final season with 10,901 passing yards and 95 touchdowns.
Clemson's Tajh Boyd isn't far behind, with 8,818 overall yards and 89 offensive touchdowns.
The biggest question for the Bulldogs might be how their defense stops Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins, who's tallied 1,927 receiving yards and 16 combined offensive touchdowns in two seasons. He and Boyd are the deadly combination that might prove fatal to Georgia's national championship dreams (they are currently a 14/1 bet to win it all).
The Dawgs have an athletic defensive backfield, which might feature as many as six athletes in action for this game. Where the Tigers might find an edge is on their offensive line, with four starters back to protect Boyd.
Both defensive units are on the hot seat, as they'll be expected to make key stops against very good offensive attacks. Georgia returns only four starters to a defense that ranked 32nd overall last season, while the Tigers welcome back six starters to their stop unit, which ranked 63rd overall in 2012.
The Bulldogs - who have won 14 of their past 16 lid-lifters, including 10-2 under coach Mark Richt - come into this one riding ATS win streaks of 6-1 overall and 10-3 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes.
Clemson, meanwhile, has lost five straight to the Bulldogs for those who bet on football and rolls into the 2013 season after covering eight of its last 10 last season and losing five of its last seven to the books in non-conference play.