College football returns this week, highlighted by the Louisville Cardinals’ Saturday night clash with the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide as heavy 24.5-point underdogs on the college football odds at sportsbooks monitored by

The Cardinals return to action with a lot to prove after a disappointing 2017 season, both on the gridiron and at the sportsbooks. Louisville compiled a middling 8-5 straight up record last year, including a 4-4 SU mark in ACC conference play, while rewarding bettors with against-the-spread victories on just four occasions.

The team also has turned in mixed results against SEC opponents, going 4-5 SU in its past nine such meetings heading into Saturday’s matchup at Camping World Stadium in Orlando according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

The Cardinals sport a younger look this season. Most notable is the departure of 2016 Heisman-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, replaced by sophomore Jawon Pass. Two of the team’s top three running backs from last season also have moved on, contributing to the Cardinals’ long +5000 line on the ACC championship odds.

The Clemson Tigers once again are expected to be the class of the ACC, pegged as heavy -185 favorites to claim a fourth straight ACC conference title, well ahead of the Miami Hurricanes at +500, and the Florida State Seminoles at +750.

While the Tigers open their schedule Saturday afternoon with a home date against the FCS Furman Paladins, the Hurricanes and Seminoles will have to contend with nationally ranked opponents in Week 1.

The No. 8 Hurricanes will have their hands full Sunday as they take on No. 25 LSU as 3.5-point favorites at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, while No. 19 Florida State plays host to No. 20 Virginia Tech on Monday as 7.5-point chalk.

Miami enters the 2018 campaign looking to atone for a late-season collapse in 2017 that bounced the squad from College Football Playoff contention. The Hurricanes opened the season on a 10-0 SU run before closing with a dismal three-game losing streak, capped by a 34-24 loss to Wisconsin as 6.5-point underdogs in the Orange Bowl.

The Hurricanes suffered a crushing 40-3 loss in their only previous meeting with the Tigers in 2005, and face an LSU squad that has posted SU wins in eight of nine previous meetings with ACC opponents.

Elsewhere on the ACC Week 1 odds, the Boston College Eagles renew their Battle of the Bay State rivalry with the Massachusetts Minutemen as 18-point home favorites, while the North Carolina Tar Heels head west to face the California Golden Bears as 7-point underdogs.

Thumbnail photo via Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports