We have had a few appetizers to the football season, whether it was the four college games last Saturday, the NFL preseason or UAB's win on Wednesday night.
Now the fire hose is turned on. There are 23 college football games on the board at BetMGM for Thursday. Not all of them are exactly Alabama vs. Georgia, but at least it's football. And a lot of it. Starting tonight, we'll have pro or college football every Thursday for the rest of the calendar year.
The marquee game is from the Big Ten. Ohio State travels to face Minnesota in a game that kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. The Buckeyes are 14-point favorites.
The story for Ohio State is all the talent it is replacing. The most notable change is at quarterback, where C.J. Stroud takes over for Justin Fields. Bill Connelly of ESPN.com, ranks Ohio State No. 125 of 127 FBS teams in returning production. Minnesota ranks 18th. Ohio State will be replacing its talent with more blue-chip players, but it isn't ideal doing that while facing a conference opponent in the opener.
Two seasons ago, Minnesota was 11-2. A lot has changed and if you buy into 2020 results at all, the Gophers were just 3-4. But they're not a pushover and it's worth taking the points with the Gophers, just to see if Ohio State needs a game to get used to all the new players in the lineup.
With a healthy slate of games on Thursday, it finally feels like football is back.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate on Thursday:
What about the other college football games?
Here are the other games on the board at BetMGM:
New Hampshire (-1.5) at Stony Brook
Temple at Rutgers (-14.5) (moved to Saturday due to Hurricane Ida flooding)
Boise State at Central Florida (-6)
The Citadel at Coastal Carolina (-35)
Wagner at Buffalo (-43.5)
Long Island at Florida International (-33.5)
Western Illinois at Ball State (-30.5)
Tennessee Tech at Samford (-11.5)
Delaware (-6.5) at Maine
Incarnate Word at Youngstown State (-7)
South Florida at NC State (-18.5)
East Carolina at Appalachian State (-9.5)
UC Davis at Tulsa (-22.5)
Weber State at Utah (-30.5)
Southern Illinois (-13) at SE Missouri State
Bowling Green at Tennessee (-35.5)
Houston Baptist at New Mexico (-24.5)
Tennessee Martin at Western Kentucky (-22)
Mississippi Valley State at Murray State (-28.5)
Sam Houston (-9) at Northern Arizona
Eastern Washington at UNLV (-1.5)
Southern Utah at Arizona State (-44.5)
Who cashed tickets on Wednesday?
It was mostly a day for favorites in MLB, with the usual suspects winning as big favorites (Yankees, Dodgers, Blue Jays, White Sox). One significant underdog to win was the Milwaukee Brewers, who took an early lead and never trailed against the San Francisco Giants, cashing as a +150 dog. The Brewers have taken the first three games of the series in San Francisco, helping knock the Giants out of first place in the NL West and perhaps making a statement about their ability to make a run in October.
What's on tap for MLB on Thursday?
The Brewers are +150 underdogs as they go for the sweep at San Francisco, and it's hard to believe the Giants will drop four in a row. That's one of three afternoon games, along with Phillies-Nationals and A's-Tigers. The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays finish their series as well with the Rays as heavy -175 favorites.
What's the best bet?
Maybe I'm just hoping for a close game when Boise State and UCF kick off on ESPN at 7 p.m. Eastern, but I'll take Boise State as a 6-point underdog. Both teams are in transition, but you can usually rely on both programs to be pretty good year after year. I'll take the points.