Week 1 of the 2019 college football season is loaded with intrigue. What will Mack Brown, a Texas legend and new head coach at North Carolina, bring when the Tar Heels face rival South Carolina? Can Dana Holgorsen’s high-powered Houston offense go into Norman and upset Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners? When two ranked teams in Auburn and Oregon meet, which will stand tall and make a huge College Football Playoff statement early in the year?
Alabama and Duke head for Atlanta, GA and the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to open the season. Mercedes-Benz Stadium plays host to the No. 2 team in the country, a Blue Devils team looking for its new quarterback, and one of college football’s most lopsided matchups.
Oddshark lists Alabama as a 35-point favorite to slaughter Duke at the neutral-site game. The only other Week 1 game between FBS teams with a point spread that large is No. 1 Clemson hosting Georgia Tech. Dabo Swinney’s team is currently a 37-point favorite.
The point of non-conference games during the season, like most things in college football, is money. Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls are a 27.5-point underdog traveling to face No. 5 Ohio State, but at least FAU is earning $1.4 million for that trip.
When it comes to Alabama, though, Nick Saban’s SEC juggernaut is bringing a whopping $4.5 million pay day back to Tuscaloosa, according to contracts obtained by USA Today Sports. That’s the largest guaranteed payout for any non-conference game this season.
Highest Guaranteed Payouts for Non-Conference Games
August 24: Miami (FL) vs. Florida — $4.375 million
August 31: Alabama vs. Duke — $4.5 million
August 31: Oregon vs. Auburn — $3.5 million (each)
August 31: South Carolina vs. North Carolina — $2.0 million (each)
August 31: Middle Tennessee at Michigan — $1.6 million (to MTSU)
September 7: Tulane at Auburn — $1.937 million (to Tulane)
September 7: New Mexico State at Alabama — $1.7 million (to NMSU)
September 7: Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State — $1.65 million (to ULM)
September 14: Kent State at Auburn — $1.9 million (to Kent State)
September 14: Arkansas State at Georgia — $1.8 million (to Ark. State)
September 21: Southern Mississippi at Alabama — $1.85 million (to So. Miss.)
Million dollar-plus paydays are coming for other schools as well, including an LSU Tigers program that will make $1.5 million when it heads for Texas to clash with the Longhorns. In addition, millions upon millions of dollars are being doled out across the United States for regular season football games this year. Check out the complete list here, and be careful not to let your jaw hit the floor too hard after seeing the amount of money that will change hands.
I guess it pays to play college football. Er, I mean — I guess it pays to be a NCAA college football program with disposable players that bring billions of dollars to these universities year after year.