FanDuel already has 2023 college football lines

'Coach Prime' didn't have much time to salvage Colorado's 2023 recruiting class, but he still managed to bring in a class that's ranked No. 21 nationally by 247Sports.

FanDuel has beaten all the other sportsbooks to putting out spreads for the 2023 college football season.

Gary Sharp of 1620 The Zone in Omaha called them to my attention in my normal Thursday guest spot on his show (9:45 a.m. Central), so I’m guessing they were released on Tuesday or Wednesday of last week.

Whatever the case, Notre Dame was -17 vs. Navy when I first viewed these numbers on Feb. 23. Less than 30 hours later, FanDuel had already adjusted the Fighting Irish to -19.5. The Midshipmen will face Notre Dame in Week Zero in Dublin, Ireland.

Marcus Freeman will be going into Year 2 of his tenure in South Bend. With offensive coordinator Tommy Rees leaving for the same job at Alabama, Freeman promoted tight ends coach Gerad Parker to replace him. It wasn’t Freeman’s first choice, though. He had pursued Utah OC Andy Ludwig, but Notre Dame apparently didn’t want to meet his contract demands.

Parker will have an elite and proven QB to work with in his first year. That’s former Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman, who shredded all of Riley Skinner’s career passing records.

In 48 career games for the Demon Deacons, Hartman completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 12,967 yards with a 110/41 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also has 856 career rushing yards and 17 TDs.

In 2022, Hartman completed a career-best 63.1 percent of his throws for 3,701 yards with a 38/12 TD-INT ratio.

After winning 109 games across 15 seasons at Navy, Ken Niumatalolo was fired after the Middies suffered their third losing season in a row. Niumatalolo took Navy to 10 bowl games, going 6-4 in the postseason. He had 11-win seasons in 2015 and 2019, another 10-win campaign in 2009 and won at least nine games for Navy six times. Niumatalolo was replaced by his DC, Brian Newberry.

On Thursday night of Week 1 on Aug. 31, Minnesota is an eight-point home favorite vs. Nebraska. The Cornhuskers hit a home run with their hire of Matt Rhule, the former HC at Temple and Baylor who had tremendous success in both Philadelphia and Waco. Rhule was available after being fired early in Year 3 of his stint with the Carolina Panthers.

On Friday night of Week 1, Miami is listed as a 17-point home favorite vs. Miami (OH.) out of the MAC. FanDuel has three lined games for Week 1 on Saturday: North Carolina -1.5 vs. South Carolina (Charlotte), Penn St. -18.5 vs. West Virginia and TCU -18.5 vs. Colorado.

UNC returns star quarterback Drake Maye, who has the second-shortest odds to win the Heisman Trophy (10/1 or +1000) behind USC QB Caleb Williams, who is the +400 ‘chalk’ to become the second player in college football history to win the award twice.

In 2022, Maye completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 4,321 yards with a 38/7 TD-INT ratio. He also had 698 rushing yards and seven TDs. Maye lost two-time, first-team All-ACC WR Josh Downs and WR Antoine Green, who had 43 receptions for 798 yards and seven TDs in nine games last year.

Mack Brown did snag two WRs out of the transfer portal in Nate McCollum (Ga. Tech) and Devontez Walker (Kent St.). The Tar Heels also have a pair of four-star incoming freshmen WRs in Chris Culliver and Christian Hamilton.

South Carolina lost some key players to the portal, but Shane Beamer can’t complain after star QB Spencer Rattler and his favorite target, WR Antwane ‘Juice’ Wells, decided to bypass the NFL Draft and return to school. In the Gamecocks’ last five games, Rattler had a 13/3 TD-INT ratio.

He completed 30-of-37 passes for 438 yards and six TDs without an interception in a 63-38 win over Tennessee when USC was a 22.5-point home underdog. One week later, Rattler threw for 360 yards and two TDs in a 31-30 comeback win at Clemson to end a seven-game losing streak against the Tigers.

Colorado made the biggest splash of the offseason in hiring Deion Sanders, who simply goes by ‘Coach Prime’ these days. The Buffaloes have been rewarded and then some to date.

Hired after the early-signing period, Sanders was behind the eight-ball in terms of salvaging a respectable 2023 recruiting class. It didn’t matter, though.

247Sports currently has Colorado’s class ranked No. 21 nationally. The Buffaloes have a pair of five-star players in cornerback Travis Hunter and incoming freshman CB Cormani McClain, who ‘Coach Prime’ flipped from a commitment to Miami. Hunter was the No. 1 recruit in the 2022 class who pulled one of the biggest Signing Day shockers in college football history when he flipped from FSU to join Sanders at Jackson State.

Colorado’s 25 commitments specifically from the transfer portal ranks No. 1 nationally. In addition to Hunter, ‘Coach Prime’ landed four-star transfers like LB Demouy Kennedy (Alabama), TE Seydou Traore (Arkansas St.), WR Jimmy Horn (South Florida) and QB Shedeur Sanders (Jacksonville St.).

Other notable portal imports include former Arkansas safety Myles Slusher (93 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 20 career games) former Kentucky RB Kavosiey Smoke (1,583 career rushing yards, 13 TDs and a 5.4 yards-per-carry average), former Fresno St. DT Leonard Payne (10.5 TFL’s, 5.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 2020-21) and former West Va. DE Taijh Alston (56 tackles, 15 TFL’s, eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 26 career games).

FanDuel has the Buffaloes’ season win total at 4.5 (‘under’ -138, ‘over’ +114).

On Sunday night of Week 1 (Sept. 3), Florida St. is installed as a one-point favorite vs. LSU. When these teams collide in Orlando, the Tigers will be looking to avenge a 24-23 loss to the Seminoles in New Orleans last year.

Then on Monday, Week 1 concludes with Clemson installed as an 11-point road favorite at Duke. The Blue Devils finished Mike Elko’s first season with a 9-4 record and return a bunch of key pieces like QB Riley Leonard, who is one of the country’s top dual-threat quarterbacks.

In Week 2, Nebraska is a 6.5-point road favorite (-120 price) at Colorado (+6.5, -102), Alabama is a 9.5-point home favorite (-115) vs. Texas, Texas A&M is a 3.5-point road ‘chalk’ (-120) at Miami and Iowa is -1.5 at Iowa St. The Aggies were -4.5 last Thursday, but they were reduced by one point a day later.

There are three lined games for Week 3: Pitt -1 at WVU, Washington -8 at Michigan St. and Tennessee -6.5 at Florida. The Volunteers haven’t been favored at The Swamp in at least three decades.

In Week 4, Penn St. is a 10.5-point home favorite vs. Iowa. Clemson is a three-point home ‘chalk’ (-105) vs. FSU, while Ohio St. is -10 at Notre Dame. The Buckeyes beat the Irish 21-10 last season, but Freeman’s team easily took the cash as a 16-point road underdog.

FanDuel has only one game lined for Week 5 on Sept. 30: Texas -20 vs. Kansas. This will be a look-ahead spot for the Longhorns, who have Oklahoma on deck.

Speaking of the Red River Rivalry, Steve Sarkisian’s squad is a 6.5-point favorite vs. the Sooners, who are off a disappointing 6-7 campaign in Year 1 under Brent Venables. This number moved up a point after Texas was -5.5 on Feb. 23.

There are two other lined contests on Oct. 7: Alabama -9.5 at Texas A&M and Georgia -24 at Kentucky. The Wildcats did an outstanding job of quickly locating their QB to replace Will Levis, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Mark Stoops landed former NC St. QB Devin Leary out of the portal. Leary had his 2022 campaign cut short due to a season-ending shoulder injury in October. In 2021, Leary completed 65.7 percent of his passes for 3,433 yards with an elite 35/5 TD-INT ratio.

In six games last season, Leary connected on 61.1 percent of his throws for 1,265 yards with an 11/4 TD-INT ratio. He has a 62/16 career TD-INT ratio and five rushing scores in 30 games.

The lone game that’s lined for Week 7 is USC -1.5 at Notre Dame. The Trojans were initially -3 last Thursday, but they were down to -2.5 this past Friday. They moved another point lower over the weekend.

FanDuel has three games for Oct. 21: Alabama -8.5 vs. Tennessee, Ohio St. -9.5 vs. Penn St. and Michigan -16.5 at Michigan St. The Crimson Tide were listed at -7 (with a -115 price) on Feb. 24, but the number moved up 1.5 points over the weekend.

When I first looked at the lines last Thursday, Georgia was installed as a 17.5-point favorite vs. Florida. Twenty-four hours later, UGA was up to -20.5.

This UF alum can’t blame the oddsmakers on that line move. Billy Napier brought in a solid recruiting class that’s ranked No. 13 nationally. There are 22 four-star players joining the UF program, with four of those coming from the portal.

However, there are only three QBs on scholarship. Max Brown has never taken a collegiate snap. Jack Miller has one career start. Although the circumstances weren’t ideal for Miller with the Gators dealing with a bunch of opt outs in the Las Vegas Bowl vs. Oregon St., he wasn’t impressive in the 30-3 loss.

The other QB is former Wisconsin signal caller Graham Mertz, who was ranked by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 3 pro-style QB and No. 65 overall prospect in the 2019 class.

In Mertz’s first two career starts, Wisconsin beat Illinois 45-7 and then went into The Big House and spanked Michigan, 49-11. Mertz completed 32-of-43 passes for 375 yards and seven TDs without an interception.

Since then, however, he has a 31/26 TD-INT ratio in 30 games. Many have dubbed Mertz as “the most disappointing recruit in Wisconsin football history.”

Nevertheless, Napier and his “army” of a staff either evaluated Mertz higher than Leary and Hartman, or they got beat by Kentucky and Notre Dame on the recruiting trail. Either way, it’s a massive failure that might define Napier’s UF tenure.

In less than 15 months since being hired, Napier has gone 6-7 on the field and hasn’t beaten any of the Gators’ biggest rivals. There was the Jalen Rashada Saga that consumed the headlines for more than a week in January.

There have been media reports that Western Kentucky’s Austin Reed entered the portal wanting to transfer to Florida. Did UF prefer Mertz over Reed? That seems to be the case since Reed elected to return to the Hilltoppers and Mertz ended up in Gainesville.

In his first season at Western Ky. after transferring from West Florida, Reed completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 4,746 yards with a 40/11 TD-INT ratio. He added 224 rushing yards and eight TDs.

Napier has stated that UF will be looking to add another QB when the portal opens back up after spring practice. Well, I would hope the hell so. Will there be anyone available at that point that’s capable of being the starting QB at Florida? Napier better hope so because if not, it’s going to be a long Year 2 for him.

His AD Scott Stricklin is already on a boiling hot seat. Stricklin, who made one of the worst hires in SEC basketball history when he chose Rick Ray during his previous tenure at Mississippi St., has done a lot of good things in terms of fund raising, the construction of the “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center and improving the fan experience at UF in multiple sports.

But there was the negative publicity surrounding the departure of women’s basketball coach Cam Neuberger, who was belatedly fired amid a firestorm of complaints about racially insensitive remarks and the verbal abuse of players.

The most important decisions of Stricklin’s tenure were his two most recent hires – Napier and men’s basketball HC Todd Golden. The jury is still out on Golden, but the Gators were already on the wrong side of the bubble before Colin Castleton’s injury. Now they probably aren’t even making the NIT.

As for Napier, he has more losses than wins and in his second season, oddsmakers are going to issue Florida with its lowest season win total in decades. Perhaps Stricklin should’ve conducted more than just one interview before hitching the future of his career to Napier?

On Nov. 4, Alabama is a 9.5-point home favorite (-105) vs. LSU in a revenge game for the Crimson Tide, who lost 32-31 in overtime at Tiger Stadium in 2022.

Michigan is a 1.5-point road favorite at Penn St. on Nov. 1, when the Nittany Lions will try to get even after taking a shellacking at The Big House in 2022. One week later, Kansas St. is -6.5 at Kansas and Georgia is -7.5 at Tennessee.

UGA is currently a +220 ‘chalk’ to win its third consecutive national championship. With a soft non-conference slate (vs. UT Martin, vs. Ball St., vs. UAB and at Ga. Tech) and games vs. Ole Miss and at Auburn for their crossovers against the SEC West, the Bulldogs are going to be double-digit favorites in every game except for their trip to Knoxville.

FanDuel has three lined games for Rivalry Weekend: Mississippi St. -1.5 vs. Ole Miss (Thursday, 11/23), Oregon -7.5 vs. Oregon St. (Friday, 11/24) and Michigan -1 vs. Ohio St. The Buckeyes will be trying to avoid a third consecutive loss to the Wolverines.

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