Sean Pendergast

Early CFB Best Bets: Golden Nugget Releases Lines On 100 Big Games of 2019

Late last week, the Golden Nugget's sports book in Las Vegas released lines on 100 of the biggest, most relevant college football games for 2019. For avid gamblers like myself, not only does this give us our first odds-related window into the upcoming season, but it's our first chance to really exploit soft lines in the early market. (Disclaimer: It can also go sideways pretty quickly if any of your summer darling teams get hit with a bad injury or two. Such is life in the world of gambling!)

Ironically, I am typing this post while sitting by the pool at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, LA. Someday soon, thanks to the legislature in Louisiana, I'll be able to walk from my cabana by the pool into a brick and mortar sports book here in Lake Charles and bet on these games. For now, though, I am left to merely give out some opinions (which you'll find at the bottom of this post) and bet using my quasi-legal online account fly to Vegas to bet on these games.

Without further ado, here are the 100 games released by the Golden Nugget last week, with my opinions coming after this list:

Thursday, August 29
Miami (Fla.) vs. Florida (-7.5) – Game played in Orlando

Saturday, August 31
Northwestern at Stanford (-6)
Auburn (-3) vs. Oregon – Game played in Arlington

Sunday, Sept. 1
Houston at Oklahoma (-27)
Notre Dame (-18) at Louisville

Saturday, Sept. 7
Stanford at USC (-3)
Texas A&M at Clemson (-17.5)
Army at Michigan (-17.5)
LSU (-2) at Texas

Friday, Sept. 13
Washington State (-10)
vs. Houston – Game played at NRG Stadium

Saturday, Sept. 14
Oklahoma (-11)
Alabama (-18) at South Carolina
Iowa at Iowa State (Pick 'em)
Stanford at UCF (-2)
Clemson (-18) at Syracuse

Saturday, Sept. 21
Notre Dame at Georgia (-9.5)
Auburn at Texas A&M (-3.5)
Oklahoma State at Texas (-10)
Michigan State (-2.5) at Northwestern
Michigan (-5) at Wisconsin
Oregon at Stanford (-2.5)

Saturday, Sept. 28
Ohio State (-10)
at Nebraska
Northwestern at Wisconsin (-7)
USC at Washington (-9.5)
Washington State at Utah (-3.5)
Clemson (-27) at North Carolina
Ole Miss at Alabama (-34)
Mississippi State at Auburn (-6.5)
Texas Tech at Oklahoma (-19)

Saturday, Oct. 5
Auburn at Florida (-7)
Georgia (-18) at Tennessee
Texas (-7) at West Virginia
Iowa at Michigan (-12)
Michigan State at Ohio State (-15.5)
Northwestern at Nebraska (-6)
Washington at Stanford (Pick 'em)

Saturday, Oct. 12
USC at Notre Dame (-12.5)
Florida State at Clemson (-25)
South Carolina at Georgia (-20)
Florida at LSU (-4.5)
Alabama (-14) at Texas A&M
Oklahoma (-6.5) vs. Texas – Game played in Dallas
Penn State at Iowa (-2)
Michigan State at Wisconsin (-3)

Thursday, Oct. 17
UCLA at Stanford (-7.5)

Friday, Oct. 18
Ohio State (-14)
at Northwestern

Saturday, Oct. 19
Clemson (-32)
at Louisville
Oregon at Washington (-6)
Tennessee at Alabama (-31)
Auburn (-13) at Arkansas
LSU (-6.5) at Mississippi State
West Virginia at Oklahoma (-21.5)
Michigan (-4.5) at Penn State

Saturday, Oct. 26
Washington State at Oregon (-6)
Auburn at LSU (-9.5)
Mississippi State at Texas A&M (-7)
Texas (-6) at TCU
Iowa (-3) at Northwestern
Penn State at Michigan State (-2)
Notre Dame at Michigan (-6)
Wisconsin at Ohio State (-13)
Syracuse (-1.5) at Florida State

Saturday, Nov. 2
Miami (Fla.) at Florida State (-1.5)
Houston at UCF (-14)
Georgia (-3.5) vs. Florida – Game played in Jacksonville
Virginia Tech at Notre Dame (-16)
Oregon (-1) at USC
Utah at Washington (-8)

Saturday, Nov. 9
LSU at Alabama (-16)
Kansas State at Texas (-13.5)
Iowa at Wisconsin (-2.5)
Clemson (-24) at NC State
UCLA at Utah (-11)

Saturday, Nov. 16
Stanford at Washington State (-6.5)
Georgia (-7.5) at Auburn
LSU (-14.5) at Ole Miss
Alabama (-20) at Mississippi State
Oklahoma (-13.5) at Baylor
Texas (-2.5) at Iowa State
Michigan State at Michigan (-13.5)
Wisconsin (-1) at Nebraska

Saturday, Nov. 23
Washington (-9)
at Colorado
UCLA at USC (-5)
Texas A&M at Georgia (-12.5)
Texas (-7) at Baylor
TCU at Oklahoma (-19.5)
Penn State at Ohio State (-10.5)

Thursday, Nov. 28
Ole Miss at Mississippi State (-13.5)

Friday, Nov. 29
Texas Tech at Texas (-10)
Iowa at Nebraska (Pick 'em)
Washington State at Washington (-9)

Saturday, Nov. 30
Notre Dame (-5.5)
at Stanford
Ohio State at Michigan (-3.5)
Alabama (-13) at Auburn
Florida State at Florida (-14)
Georgia (-20.5) at Georgia Tech
Texas A&M at LSU (-7.5)
Clemson (-23.5) at South Carolina
Oklahoma (-10) at Oklahoma State

Saturday, Dec. 14
Army (-13)
vs. Navy – Game played in Philadelphia
The main thing I look for when betting these games  a few months in advance is the presence of teams that I feel are going to be significantly underrated or overrated heading into the season. I then look very closely at the games that those teams are involved in, and if there is one where an underrated team is meeting an overrated team, and the overrated team is getting too much shine, I look hard at going bigger on those games.

With that said, here are a few teams that I think fit those categories heading into 2019:


For the second straight season, the Sooners graduated a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, and while Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts has a chance for a really big season, Oklahoma is having to replace most of its offensive line. Number of total starts by the offensive line is one of the barometers I use in prognosticating.

Notre Dame
Last year was a dream run for the Irish, as they qualified for their first College Football Playoff berth. Unfortunately, the wake up call was nasty, as they were dominated by eventual champion Clemson. The Irish return quarterback Ian Book, but lose some significant pieces on offense, and their leaders at each level of the defense — DT Jerry Tillery, LB Tavon Coney, and CB Julian Love — are now in the NFL. The Irish are typically an overrated team in Vegas even when they're good, so there is usually value this time of year fading them.

Ohio State
Ohio State should be plenty talented heading into 2019, but if Urban Meyer is the transcendent head coach that we believe he was, then shouldn't there be some caution exercised in backing the Buckeyes under a first time head coach like Ryan Day? I think so.


It's Year 3 of the Matt Rhule Era in Waco, and for the second straight offseason, the Bears managed to dodge the bullet of their head coach going to the NFL. (Rhule interviewed for the Jets opening.) The Bears finished 2018 with a 7-6 record, but a win over Oklahoma State down the stretch, and a win over Vanderbilt in the bowl game give hope that there will be a leap in Rhule's third year.

This will sound like faint praise, but Nebraska was about as competitive a 4-8 team as you'll find in college football. In the second half of the season, the Cornhuskers went 4-2 with the two losses being one score losses to Ohio State and Iowa. Year 2 of the Scott Frost Era should see some of those close calls in 2018 true into wins in 2019.

I'm a big fan of Dana Holgorsen in his new home here in our backyard. The combination of Holgorsen's offense and D'Eriq King's skillset should be electric, and while the schedule is tough, especially early, some of these big numbers the Coogs are facing as an underdog, should be very cover-able with a high octane offense.

Sept 1: Houston +27 over OKLAHOMA
Sept 7: Texas A&M +17.5 over CLEMSON
Sept 13: HOUSTON +10 over Washington State
Sept 28: NEBRASKA +10 over Ohio State
Oct 19: ARKANSAS +13 over Auburn
Nov 16: BAYLOR +13.5 over Oklahoma
Nov 16: NEBRASKA +1 over Wisconsin
Nov 19: NEBRASKA Pick Em over Iowa
Nov 23: BAYLOR +7 over Texas
Nov 23: TCU +19.5 over OKLAHOMA

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast