It was easy to assume that, from both projection and oddsmaking perspectives, this was going to be a particularly volatile college football season. Due to positive COVID-19 tests, depth charts were going to be even more fluid than normal, and worse, gathering accurate information about who is missing games would be even more difficult.
At the start of teams' seasons, this expected volatility has come to fruition. The average absolute difference between the Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill point spread and a game's actual scoring margin is 14.2 points per game in a team's first game this season; from 2015 through 2019, that first-game average was only 12.0. (The smaller the number, the more consistently accurate.) But the oddsmakers catch up pretty quickly -- in fact, by the fifth game of the season they've been doing better than ever.