The only team to defeat the defending national champions a year ago will try to beat them again to kick off the 2015 college football season, as the Virginia Tech Hokies host the Ohio State Buckeyes as 11-point betting underdogs on Monday.
The Buckeyes are the preseason No. 1 team in the country and won 13 games in a row last year after falling at home to the Hokies 35-21 in their second outing as 10-point favorites.
Ohio State slipped into last year's College Football Playoff field as the No. 4 seed over the likes of the TCU Horned Frogs and Baylor Bears from the Big 12 following a 59-0 rout of the Wisconsin Badgers as an underdog in the Big Ten championship game.
The Buckeyes then upset the Alabama Crimson Tide and Oregon Ducks as underdogs to win the national title behind Heisman Trophy candidate Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 696 of his 1,878 yards and scored eight of his 18 touchdowns in the last three games.
Virginia Tech is coming off a disappointing 7-6 campaign and lost six of 11 games after upsetting Ohio State to go along with a 4-7 mark against the spread. While the Hokies do not find themselves ranked to start the season, the rest of the teams residing in the Top 25 will all be in action during the opening weekend.
Of the other 23 games featuring ranked teams, there is only one matchup in which both are in the Top 25. Even in that game, the second-ranked Crimson Tide are a consensus 10-point favorite against the 20th-ranked Badgers at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium on Saturday.
Alabama was the top seed in last year’s College Football Playoff but had a disappointing finish to the season in losing to the Buckeyes as a 7.5-point favorite. The Tide ended up 12-2 straight-up but just 4-9-1 ATS. Wisconsin was not much better versus the line with a 6-8 spread record and finished 11-3 SU following the Ohio State loss.
The remaining key Week 1 games involving Top 25 teams include No. 2 TCU (-14.5) at Minnesota and Texas-San Antonio at No. 22 Arizona (-31.5) on Thursday, and No. 5 Michigan State (-18) at Western Michigan, No. 4 Baylor (-36) vs. SMU in Dallas and Washington at No. 23 Boise State (-12) on Friday
Other matchups on Saturday include No. 21 Stanford (-12) at Northwestern, Louisiana-Monroe at No. 9 Georgia (-35), Virginia at No. 13 UCLA (-19.5), UTEP at No. 18 Arkansas (-33), Louisville at No. 6 Auburn (-10.5), Bowling Green at No. 25 Tennessee (-20.5), Akron at No. 19 Oklahoma (-31), No. 15 Arizona State at Texas A&M (-3), Texas at No. 11 Notre Dame (-9.5), Texas State at No. 10 Florida State (-29.5) and Arkansas State at No. 8 USC (-27.5).