Month: August 2017

CFB Picks: Week 1

I’m going to do things a little different this year. Instead of just giving the picks with a unit amount like every other Tom, Dick, and Harry, I’m gonna do 10 games every week and rank them based on confidence. Normally, I bet like two or three games the first week, so I’m sure I’ll be digging out of a hole the rest of the year. Can’t wait. I’m also adding a couple specialty plays this year for those that are in to that sort of thing.

Picks

10* INDIANA (+21) over Ohio State

Obviously Ohio State is going to be very good this year, but this is a TON to be giving on the road against a likely bowl team. IU is always in these games at home against the big dogs of the division. They’ve been knocking on the door of winning one of these games and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it this year. It’s the first “real” game of CFB, it’s a night game in Bloomington, College Gameday will be there for the first time, etc.

The Hoosier D was greatly improved last year under Tom Allen and they have 9 starters coming back on that side, including some big-time players. OSU is experienced, but they do have to replace their top 3 WRs and I’m not sure the passing game will be firing on all cylinders to start the season.

9* Temple (+17.5) over NOTRE DAME

I’m high on the Irish this year, but you gotta walk before you can run. Sure, Temple only has 10 starters back and a new coaching staff, but they were a 10-4 team last year and I don’t think they should be getting this many points against a 4-8 squad that’s replacing Deshone Kizer.

8* Georgia Southern (+35) over AUBURN

I like Auburn this year, but opening up defending the option the first game of the season is a tough task. I’m not saying the Eagles are gonna light them up, but it at least shortens the game and may disrupt the rhythm for Jarrett Stidham’s first game at QB for the Tigers.

7* BYU (+13.5) over LSU

BYU has the benefit of already playing a game. It wasn’t all that pretty in their 20-6 win over Portland State, but still. They didn’t really play that bad offensively, they just didn’t run a ton of plays. Defensively, they were expected to be good up front and that appeared to be true against the Vikings. They’ll need that against Derrius Guice.

6* OKLAHOMA STATE-Tulsa under 74

It’s always dangerous to bet an under with a Philip Montgomery offense involved, but Tulsa has to replace a ton of their skill on that side of the ball. Couple that with James Washington not being at 100% for the Cowboys and I think you see a lower scoring game than one would expect from these two.

5* MARSHALL (pick) over Miami (OH)

I’m not sure what else to say that wasn’t said in the conference previews. I think Marshall is primed for a big bounceback year after last year’s disaster.

4* South Alabama (+24.5) over OLE MISS

South Alabama is a bit of a wildcard for me this year, but Ole Miss is probably the biggest wildcard in the country.

3* Colorado State (+6) over COLORADO

Once again, Colorado State has the benefit of already playing a game. Added bonus: they dominated Oregon State. Given that I was high on the Rams and low on the Buffs heading into the season, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Here’s to hoping Mike MacIntyre is back to sucking.

2* Western Michigan (+28) over USC

I assume the Broncos still know how to row the boat even though their cult leader coach from last year is gone. The offense has some big questions to answer, but they return a lot from a defense that only gave up 19.8 ppg last year and was really the reason they were able to win at Northwestern and keep close with Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.

1* MICHIGAN STATE-Bowling Green under 56.5

The Spartan offense looks like it’s going to once again be run heavy and not very good. Should be due for some low totals.

Money Line Parlay of the Week

In the almost two year existence of this blog, I’m not sure I’ve played one bet that fits the namesake. That’s probably due to one non-sober Saturday a few years ago that featured probably five too-many MLP plays. I’ll have one every week and they’ll probably vary in risk/reward.

UCLA, UNC, EMU (+130)

UNC and EMU are both double-digit home favorites. The Heels get Cal, who has a new coaching staff and a new QB. EMU gets Charlotte at home, a team they beat 37-19 on the road last season. I’m not real high on the Eagles this year, but beating Charlotte at home shouldn’t be a problem. UCLA has Texas A&M at home. Not gonna be easy, but they’re slight favorites and talent certainly isn’t a problem. I like the Aggies, but QB is a pretty big question mark.

Teaser of the Week

I’ll also be doing a teaser. Full disclosure: I don’t think playing college football teasers is the best way to risk your money, but people tend to like them. Most of them will probably be three-teamers. Points will vary.

Alabama (even), MTSU (+11.5), Marshall (+7) — +150

We’ll start with a 7-pointer. Any time you can bet Alabama to simply just win the game, it’s a good bet. Obviously, Florida State is a worthy opponent for the Tide, but I’m pretty sure Saban has won every single one of these big neutral-site games to start the year. I think MTSU has a great shot to beat Vandy this week, but I hate the 4.5 point spread and I don’t have big enough huevos to put them in the first MLP. I obviously like Marshall to win this week and the +7 they get with the tease is a nice little protection in case they don’t.

Not Actually Betting, But Sides I’d Take With A Hypothetical Gun To My Head

I wasn’t sure if theoretical, hypothetical, or metaphorical was the right term to use there, so I Googled it and I still have no idea which one is the right one or if any of them are the right one.

MEMPHIS (-27) over Louisiana-Monroe

Memphis has the talent to wreck some teams this year and ULM is one of them, but I’m not sure about the Tiger D just yet and the Warhawks have a lot coming back.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (+11.5) over Navy

I think the Owls are gonna be good, but they’re already still in transition mode with the new staff and having to defend the option Week 1 only heightens that reality.

Wyoming (+12.5) over IOWA

Iowa has a tendency to have some clunkers early in the season, but the Cowboys have a lot of skill positions to replace and I doubt they’ll have that all figured out at the start of the season.

Maryland (+17.5) over TEXAS

A lot of respect for a program that has 21 losses the last three years.

Florida (+4) over Michigan

I like Florida more than Michigan this year, but it makes me nervous that the Gators don’t really seem close to having the QB situation figured out.

Georgia Tech (+4) over Tennessee

I just don’t like Tennessee this year.

MTSU (+4.5) over Vanderbilt

 

 

 

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CFB Season Preview: Recap

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

Thanks to for reading these past couple weeks.

1* Season Totals

1

Ended up being 89 teams (68%) that I didn’t really even consider actually betting on. 44 overs and 45 unders.

2* Season Totals

2

These are the teams I think it’s worth sprinkling a little on if you must (I won’t), but don’t go crazy. It’s over heavy.

3* Season Totals

3.png

Over heavy again, but a decent confidence level on all of them.

4* Season Totals

Vanderbilt under 6 -120
Oregon over 8 +115

5* Season Totals

TCU over 7.5 -125

Conference Winners

Big Ten Northwestern +2100
SEC Florida +1100
Pac-12 Oregon +1600
Big 12 TCU +1200
ACC Miami (FL) +800
Sun Belt Georgia Southern +1200
AAC UCF +1000
MAC CMU +1200
C-USA Southern Miss +1100
MW Air Force +3000

National Championship Bets

Ohio State +800
Washington +2300
Oregon +10500
TCU +10500
South Carolina +100000

Heisman Bets

Saquon Barkley +1400
Bo Scarbrough +2000
Brandon Wimbush +5000
Jacob Eason +8500

Other Futures

Wisconsin makes 4 team playoff +725
Oklahoma St. makes 4 team playoff +800
BYU plays in New Year’s Six +700
App St. plays in New Year’s Six +1600
Alabama 14-1 National Champion +650

CFB Season Preview: National Champion, Heisman, and More

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

National Championship Picks

Favorites (Top 4)

Ohio State +800

The other three being Alabama, USC, and Florida State. Since Urban Meyer came to town in 2012, they’ve lost a total of 6 games. Last year was a disappointment and they still made the playoff.  The Buckeyes return 15 starters and they have by far the easiest schedule of the four. Could be a heart attack free year for old Urb.

Second Tier (40-1 or less)

Washington +2300

A great price for a team that ended up +24 ppg last year, returns two Heisman contenders among 13 starters, and has maybe the easiest schedule among Power 5 teams.

Darkhorse (105-1 or less)

Oregon and TCU (+10500)

If you read through the season win total previews, this shouldn’t be a surprise. They’re two programs that have both been near the top tier in recent years, but are coming off disappointing seasons with a lot of starters returning. The obvious difference is that Gary Patterson is in his 17th year in Fort Worth, while Willie Taggart is just getting started. Both are playing relatively soft schedules.

Super Darkhorse (110-1 or more)

South Carolina +100000

They weren’t terrible last year and they’ve got a lot coming back. They don’t play any of the top 3 from the SEC West. Yeah, Will Muschamp is still their coach, but he did go 11-2 his second year at Florida. That’s something.

Heisman Picks

Favorites (Top 5)

Saquon Barkley +1400

It’s kind of a muddled mess, with varied values on guys depending on the book, so it’s best to shop around. I took Barkley as a Super Darkhorse guy last year and he might’ve made it to New York if Penn State wouldn’t have spent the first half of the year outside of the top 25. The biggest problem for him is probably Trace McSorley cancelling him out.

Second Tier (30-1 or less)

Bo Scarbrough +2000

Took him last year at +5000. Admittedly, I felt pretty dumb for most of the year, given that he was third on the Tide in carries and rushing yards. Then, he got the bulk of the load against Washington and proceeded to run by their entire defense like a goddamn gazelle.

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/GCML86KZkq_1uvC7S5MnFg--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9NTUwO2g9MzAy/http://media.zenfs.com/en/homerun/feed_manager_auto_publish_494/57c64223c5e409aac1c14d489b368109

Once again, an Alabama RB is never a bad bet for Heisman and Bo Scarbrough still has the best, most fitting name in college football.

Darkhorse (65-1 or less)

Brandon Wimbush +5000

I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of “Lamar Jackson 2016” feels on this one. A talented, ridiculously fast QB that has an opportunity to make a big splash early in the year. I thought about going Rolls Royce Freeman here, but I think three bets related to Oregon is enough (there might be more later).

Super Darkhorse (75-1 or more)

Jacob Eason +8500

I like Georgia and they’ve got a tall white at QB, so here we are.

Other Futures

Wisconsin makes 4 team playoff +725

I ended up going against them winning more than 10.5, butttttt if they do, they’ve got a good shot at making the playoff if they take down the Big Ten East winner. The schedule is comically bad.

Oklahoma State makes 4 team playoff +800

I’ll never be able to quit OSU as long as Mike Gundy’s Mullet is running the show. They get the majority of legitimate Big 12 teams at home.

Oregon makes 4 team playoff +1700
TCU makes 4 team playoff +1700

I’m sorry, I can’t stop.

BYU plays in New Year’s Six +700

The schedule is just difficult enough to legitimize their birth with a strong record. Also, their four most difficult games are either at home or on a neutral field.

Appalachian State plays in New Year’s Six +1600

They’ve got a great shot to go 11-1. If they keep it close against Georgia like they did Tennessee last year, they’ll be in contention.

Alabama 14-1 National Champion +650

It’s the only way to get decent value on Alabama winning it all and I’m pretty sure this is their record every year.

CFB Season Win Totals: Mountain West / C-USA

I’m picking every over/under regular season win total for all 130 schools in college football. I’ll try to keep the odds/injuries/suspensions as current as possible, but I’m doing this in pieces, so it is what it is.

Huge shoutout to Phil Steele and a variety of websites on the line making their #content available for all of us to consume. If you don’t use Phil to help you with gambling on college football, you’re lost, pal.

Also, at the bottom of each of these, I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion. It’s not based on who I actually think will win, just my best perceived value.

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

MOUNTAIN WEST…MOUNTAIN

Colorado State – over 7.5 (-160) – 2*

Only game they’re for sure losing is at Alabama. All their important skill guys are back on offense, but the line is a bit of a question mark. Defensively, they have 8 starters back.  Pretty steep price, though.

Boise State – over 8.5 (-120) – 1*

They lose a lot, but Brett Rypien is back and that’s worth a lot. The losses are concerning, but the Broncos have been a well-oiled machine for a long time now.

Wyoming – under 7.5 (-105) – 1*

Josh Allen returns, but he loses over 4,300 yards of total offense around him. I like Craig Bohl, but they jumped up 17 ppg from 2015 to 2016 and now a lot of those guys are gone. That makes me skeptical they can maintain a potent offense.

Utah State – over 4.5 (-110) – 1*

Not real confident, but they don’t play SDSU or Nevada.

Air Force – over 5 (-110) – 3*

They only have a single starter back on defense, which is far from ideal, but the Falcons have been really consistent underneath Troy Calhoun.

New Mexico – under 5.5 (-130) – 1*

A lot of losses defensively, but the biggest reason for concern is the schedule.

MOUNTAIN WEST…WEST

San Diego State – over 9.5 (+115) – 1*

Not a lot of room for error, obviously, especially playing both Arizona St. and Stanford in the first three weeks. However, they do avoid CSU and Wyoming and they’ve been very consistent under Rocky Long. Donnel Pumphrey is gone, but Rashaad Penny might be able to match his production.

Nevada – over 3.5 (-130) – 3*

They lose a lot on offense, but they’ve got some talented transfers coming in and an Air Raid offense. The D returns 9 starters from a unit that was fairly decent. They have a lot of winnable games at home.

Hawaii – under 5 (-115) – 1*

Defense is probably still gonna suck.

Fresno State – under 4 (-135) – 1*

Jeff Tedford provides some optimism, but Tim DeRuyter kinda left things in shambles.

UNLV – under 5 (-120) – 1*

Defense might give up 40+.

San Jose State – over 3.5 (-105) – 1*

Good news: they get to play 13 games. Not as good news: Their HC and coordinators have a combined 0 experience with their current jobs.

Best Bet to Win

Air Force +3000

They don’t have a lot coming back on defense, but the price doesn’t match the consistency the Falcons have shown under Calhoun and their ability to contend for a title. The Mountain division is the stronger of the two, but there’s no point in taking anyone out of the West. SDSU is the lock of all locks.

C-USA EAST

Western Kentucky – under 9.5 (+125) – 1*

Heavy losses for the Hilltoppers. It starts with Jeff Brohm, then 1,600 yard rusher Anthony Wales, then WRs Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris (combined 174 receptions, 3,048 receiving yards, 31 TDs), and their top three tacklers. The schedule isn’t all that difficult, but there’s still plenty of opportunities to lose for a team with so many significant losses.

Marshall – over 5 (-155) – 3*

Defense should make big strides after a significant spike in points allowed last year. They lose their receiving corps, but Chase Litton should be one of the better QBs in the league. They’ve got a chance to run the table at home, along with some winnable games on the road.

Middle Tennessee – over 7 (+110) – 2*

Brent Stockstill and Richie James are one of the best QB-WR duos in the country and should make sure the Blue Raiders are the top offense in the league. The defense has some question marks for sure, but they should still improve on a mediocre effort last year.

Old Dominion – over 6.5 (-110) – 1*

They lose QB David Washington, which makes 35.1 ppg number from last year likely unattainable, but they’ve still got quite a bit coming back from a 10 win team.

Florida Atlantic – over 4.5 (-140) – 2*

I was hopping aboard the Lane Train the day he signed. Combine that with 58 of 66 lettermen returning and it’s a clear path for success.

https://bullseye-prod.aggrego.org/wp-ag/wp-content/uploads/sites/156/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-19-at-4.09.14-PM.jpg?o=eyJ4IjowLjUsInkiOjAuNSwid2lkdGgiOjM5NSwiaGVpZ2h0IjozOTR9&s=orKdJHMlbOzRUhY%2FTXtGRrvRRP8%3D&a

All hail Joey Freshwater.

Florida International – under 4.5 (+105) – 1*

Charlotte – under 4 (-175) – 1*

C-USA WEST

Louisiana Tech – under 8.5 (-135) – 1*

Significant losses on both sides of the ball and they draw South Carolina, Mississippi State, and WKU out of division, with only MSU coming at home.

UTSA – over 6.5 (-140) – 1*

14 starters back and they play one of the worst schedules in the country.

Southern Miss – over 7 (-120) – 1*

Really boils down to how well they can replace Nick Mullens.

Rice – under 3.5 (+105) – 1*

Schedule is pretty brutal.

North Texas – over 4.5 (-110) – 1*

Big strides on both sides of the ball in the first year of Seth Littrell. Look for more of the same in Year 2.

UTEP – over 2.5 (+115) – 1*

UAB – under 2.5 (+110) – 1*

Best Bet to Win

Southern Miss +1100

Weak division and they don’t have to play WKU or MTSU from the East.

CFB Season Win Totals: AAC / Sun Belt

I’m picking every over/under regular season win total for all 130 schools in college football. I’ll try to keep the odds/injuries/suspensions as current as possible, but I’m doing this in pieces, so it is what it is.

Huge shoutout to Phil Steele and a variety of websites on the line making their #content available for all of us to consume. If you don’t use Phil to help you with gambling on college football, you’re lost, pal.

Also, at the bottom of each of these, I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion. It’s not based on who I actually think will win, just my best perceived value.

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

AAC EAST

South Florida – over 10 (-120) – 1*

It’s hard to put too much faith in Charlie Strong. The whole “couldn’t win at Texas with a never-ending supply of talent” thing tends to shake the confidence. However, USF has a lot coming back from an 11-2 squad and they play one of the worst schedules in the country.

Temple – under 6.5 (-115) – 2*

The program made great strides under Matt Rhule, but he’s gone now and so are 12 starters. Most notably, 7 of those are from the dominant defense, QB Phillip Walker, and RB Jahad Thomas. Geoff Collins is a first year HC.

Central Florida – over 7.5 (+115) – 1*

I think their offense is gonna make a big jump in Year 2 under Scott Frost’s direction, but they don’t have much coming back on defense and there’s a lot of loseable (but also winnable!) games on the schedule. I like the Knights this year, but it’s hard to put too much stock in them with the defensive worries.

Cincinnati – under 5.5 (+125) – 1*

Only 11 starters back for first year HC Luke Fickell. The offense was atrocious last year and new OC Mike Denbrock doesn’t exactly move the needle for me.

UConn –  over 3.5 (+150) – 1*

Betting on some Randy Edsall magic here. It didn’t exist at Maryland, but he built this program. It also helps that he’ll be compared to Bob Diaco. The offense can’t possibly be any worse. The defense returns 7 starters. They might have the best front 7 in the AAC when all is said and done.

East Carolina – under 3.5 (-130) – 1*

A low bar, but the defense was bad last year and there’s reason to believe it might get even worse. Not many breaks in the schedule. Even their FCS opponent is the FCS national champion.

AAC WEST

Houston – over 8 (-130) – 3*

Tom Herman moves on, but Major Applewhite has been running the offense here the past few years. They have 15 starters back. QB Greg Ward is gone. He was a huge part of the offense, but he played hurt most of last year and turned the ball over quite a bit. Kyle Allen takes over, who was once the #1 QB in his recruiting class and played pretty well before he transferred from Texas A&M.

Maybe the most important group of the team is the defensive line, and they’re special. They’re by far the best the AAC has to offer and Ed Oliver might be the best DT in the country as a true sophomore.

Tulsa – over 7.5 (+140) – 1*

They lose a lot of production on offense, but I’m not sure Philip Montgomery has ever put out a unit that wasn’t exceptional at scoring points.

Memphis – under 8.5 (+130) – 1*

It’s hard for me to bet against Riley Ferguson, but I don’t totally trust HC Mike Norvell yet and they’ve got some tough road games along with UCLA and Navy coming to town.

Navy – over 7 (-120) – 2*

Navy is one of the most consistent programs in the nation. The second half of the schedule is gonna be prettyyyyyy tough, but Ken Niumatalolo has only won fewer than 7 one time in his 9 years here.

SMU – under 5 (+160) – 1*

They’ll probably make a bowl, but I’m not eating -185 on SMU football. That’s just a code to live by (since they stopped paying everybody to go there).

Tulane – under 5 (-130) – 3*

Not a chance with that schedule.

Best Bet to Win

UCF +1000

I think this is a better way to bet on the Knights, as opposed to the season win total. They have question marks on D and a lot of toss-up games, but if the questions are answered in the positive defensively, they’ve got a great chance to contend for the league title.



SUN BELT

Appalachian State – under 9 (+155) – 1*

I actually don’t think they’ll go under, but my confidence level doesn’t match the price. They’re almost a lock to lose to Georgia and they also host Wake. It’ll be close with the Demon Deacons, but if they drop it, they have to go perfect in conference play to hit the over.

Arkansas State – over 7.5 (+120) – 1*

Tough non-con schedule, but they’re capable of upsetting somebody. They only return 10 starters, but their D-Line is Power 5 level and they’ve won 7+ the last six years.

Troy – under 8.5 (+110) – 1*

The Trojans won 10 games (9 in the regular season) last year and they have a lot of coming back, but there are some significant losses on the defense and they’ve got some tough road games on the schedule.

UL-Lafayette – over 5 (-105) – 1*

They have seven road games, which is the biggest deterrent to hitting the over, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have been to a bowl (the New Orleans one every time) all but one time under Mark Hudspeth.

South Alabama – over 4 (-115) – 2*

Quite a few winnable games at home. They lose their top 4 pass catchers, but they finally have a returning starting QB.

New Mexico State – over 3.5 (-155) – 1*

Lotta guys back and nine winnable games on the schedule.

Idaho – under 4.5 (+145) – 1*

The 2016 Idaho Vandals were one of the more fortunate (lucky) teams in the history of football. They were 9-50 in the five years prior. They lose a lot on both lines, the receiver group, and the secondary. .

Georgia Southern – over 5 (+105) – 2*

Tyson Summers decided it was a good idea to abandon the option in his first year as HC. The result? First losing season since 2009. The reason for optimism here is that they’re going back to the option.

Louisiana-Monroe – under 3.5 (-130) – 1*

Georgia State – over 5 (-120) – 1*

Texas State – under 2.5 (even) – 1*

Coastal Carolina – over 4 (-125) – 1*

First year in the FBS, but they’ve won a lot at the second level and the Sun Belt is the worst conference in the FBS.

Best Bet to Win

Georgia Southern +1200

App State is a -250 favorite for a reason, but the Eagles could get back to title contention with the switch back to the option.

CFB Season Win Totals: Independents/MAC

I’m picking every over/under regular season win total for all 130 schools in college football. I’ll try to keep the odds/injuries/suspensions as current as possible, but I’m doing this in pieces, so it is what it is.

Huge shoutout to Phil Steele and a variety of websites on the line making their #content available for all of us to consume. If you don’t use Phil to help you with gambling on college football, you’re lost, pal.

Also, at the bottom of each of these, I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion. It’s not based on who I actually think will win, just my best perceived value.

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

 

INDEPENDENTS

Notre Dame – over 8 (+110) – 3*

When the hell did we stop overrating Notre Dame every year? I get that they went 4-8 last year, but they might be better at every single position group this year. DeShone Kizer was a high draft pick, but I’m sure Brandon Wimbush is capable of throwing for 2,900 yards at a 58.7% completion rate.

The schedule is the biggest reason for consternation. Georgia, USC, Miami (FL), and Stanford are all on the schedule, with the latter two coming on the road. On top of that, they also travel to BC, Michigan State, and UNC. Actually, now that I think about it, the worst team they play (Miami (OH)) is probably still going bowling. It’s gonna be challenging, but the Irish have the talent to play with anybody and fresh coordinators to iron some things out.

BYU – over 9.5 (+115) – 1*

Best part about this one? The Cougs get 13 shots at it. And they’ve got 13 starters back and blah, blah, blah.

What I’d really like to address is the purpose of the August 26th games because I still haven’t found one. They played one last year with Cal and Hawaii last year in Australia or whatever. The game was horrible, it was a push, and both of the teams sucked.

So how do we build on all that incredible success? Well, apparently it’s games like BYU and Portland State! Hawaii and UMass! USF and San Jose State! Oregon State and Colorado State! And your main event? Stanford and Rice! In Sydney!

Anyway, BYU has a tough schedule in September with LSU, Utah, and Wisconsin, but two of them are in Provo and the other is a neutral site game. The plus is that the last five weeks feature the worst of the Mountain West and UMass.

Army – under 7.5 (-165) – 1*

I hate to bet against Army,  but no chance they win 8 games again.

UMass – over 3 (-120) – 1*

Somewhat decent chance they at least push after the first three games.



MAC WEST

Toledo – under 8.5 (+105) – 1*

They’ll light it up offensively with Logan Woodside back at QB, but they lose their all-time rushing leader and play a tough non-conference schedule.

Western Michigan – over 8.5 (+115) – 2*

Key losses are HC PJ Fleck, QB Zach Terrell, and top 3 WRs (including Corey Davis), however they will still have an excellent running game and will probably have the best D in the MAC again. They’ll likely run the table at home, just need to win three on the road (Buffalo, EMU, NIU most likely).

Northern Illinois – over 6 (+105) – 1*

They have a tough non-con, but I like the fact that they’re coming off an unusually disappointing season in which they finished better than they started.

Central Michigan – over 6.5 (+135) – 3*

They went 6-6 in the regular season last year and they return 15 starters. They have a lot of All-MAC players returning. One of them is not Cooper Rush, but…

…that’s how I felt about Cooper Rush after single-handedly destroying the over in the Miami Beach Bowl last year. His 23-16 TD-INT ratio is replaceable.

They have three road games against Power 5 teams, but those three teams are Kansas, Syracuse, and Boston College, so it’s basically just three more MAC-level road games.

Eastern Michigan – under 4.5 (+125) – 1*

Everything went right for them last year. They return quite a bit, but history says they’re due for a regression.

Ball State – under 4.5 (+120) – 1*

I don’t know. I just don’t see them going at least 3-5 in the MAC.

MAC EAST

Ohio – over 7.5 (-130) – 3*

Another one of the “powers” of the MAC over the past decade and a half, thanks to Frank Solich. The Bobcats have a pretty decent shot to go 4-0 in the non-con (Hampton, @ Purdue, Kansas, @ UMass).

Miami (OH) – over 8 (+115) – 1*

Sure, why not? They return 17 starters, people seem to like Chuck Martin, and the only guaranteed loss is at Notre Dame.

Akron – under 5 (+105) – 1*

Terry Bowden loves to go 5-7 (done it 3 out of 5 years at Akron), so this one is especially tough. There’s reason to like the Zips this year, but they’ve got 6 road games and they won’t be favored in any of them, most likely. That forces them to be perfect at home, which includes beating Iowa State and Ohio.

Bowling Green – over 4 (-155) – 1*

Not worth the bet, but they have a lot of factors pointing up.

Kent State – under 3.5 (+105) – 2*

Paul Haynes is 12-35 through four years. They have seven road games, all coming against better teams. They also host CMU and Miami, so not a lot of room for error. On the plus side, they’re pretty much clear of the stench that is Darrell Hazell recruits.

Buffalo – over 3.5 (+115) – 1*

Decent amount of chances for wins and QB Tyree Jackson should be improved after getting a lot of experience as a true freshman last year.

 

CFB Season Win Totals: ACC

I’m picking every over/under regular season win total for all 130 schools in college football. I’ll try to keep the odds/injuries/suspensions as current as possible, but I’m doing this in pieces, so it is what it is.

Huge shoutout to Phil Steele and a variety of websites on the line making their #content available for all of us to consume. If you don’t use Phil to help you with gambling on college football, you’re lost, pal.

Also, at the bottom of each of these, I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion. It’s not based on who I actually think will win, just my best perceived value.

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

ATLANTIC

Florida State – over 10 (+140) – 2*

The Noles are loaded up and down the roster, but the defense is without a doubt the shining star. They have 9 starters coming back and that doesn’t include Derwin James, who missed last year after having a ridiculously productive true freshman year.

The offense has some skill guys to replace, with Dalvin Cook’s production being highly unlikely to reproduce with just one guy. With that said, they have a herd of other 5-star guys to put in his place. Deondre Francois was slightly underwhelming in his rookie year, but he’s likely to be a contender for the Heisman this year.

The schedule essentially boils down to five games: Alabama (in Atlanta), Miami and Louisville at home, and at Clemson and Florida. That’s five top 20 teams. A tough schedule for sure, but FSU is as talented as anybody.

Clemson – under 9.5 (even) – 1*

It’s hard to bet against the run the Tigers have been on for the past six years, but they lost the majority of their big-time producers on offense, with the most impactful obviously being Deshaun Watson. Kelly Bryant has the unenviable task of taking his place. He was highly regarded coming out of high school, but it’s been years since he’s taken a meaningful snap in a football game.

Important games on the schedule: Auburn, @ Louisville, @ Va Tech, Florida State. Road games at NC State and South Carolina are likely to be tossups too.

Louisville – over 9.5 (-115) – 1*

I don’t have a great feel for the Cardinals. They started out last year incredibly dominate, but ended things by losing three straight games, two to unranked opponents. It’s been a while since a Bobby Petrino team didn’t perform almost exactly to expectations. They only have 11 starters back, including just four on offense (top 3 WRs and top RB gone).

louisville.png

However, one of those 11 starters back is Lamar Jackson and he’s pretty damn good at eviscerating people. Their schedule is also pretty weak.

NC State – over 7.5 (-105) – 1*

17 starters back for the Pack after finishing 7-6, which probably didn’t reflect how well they actually played last year. They’re solid top to bottom and Dave Doeren has proven to be at the very least a solid coach (following graph not withstanding).

Record against ranked opponents under Dave Doeren
Game Result
2013 Clemson L by 12
2013 FSU L by 32
2014 FSU L by 15
2015 Clemson L by 15
2015 FSU L by 17
2015 UNC L by 11
2016 Clemson L by 7
2016 Louisville L by 41
2016 FSU L by 4
Record 0-9
Average Margin -17.1

The part that makes me weary is the schedule. They play South Carolina in Charlotte and at Notre Dame in the non-con. Even Marshall at home could be challenging. They play a few of the better teams in the conference at home and play the weaker, but solid teams in their division on the road. This all makes for a lot of tossup, unpredictable games.

Boston College – over 4 (-125) – 3*

Sure, their offense perpetually sucks. However, they have almost their entire offensive line back this year, their top 2 RBs, and their top 6 pass catchers from last year. The only notable loss is QB Patrick Towles, who sucked, so who cares?

The front 7 on D is a top 20-ish group and that can go a long way. They lost maybe their best player in S John Johnson, but the rest of the two-deeps from the secondary are back and they had pretty solid numbers last year.

The schedule is tough, but it includes two MAC teams, UConn, and Wake Forest at home. There’s also road games with Virginia and Syracuse that are very winnable. They won’t have a shot against the top 3 in the division because their offense can’t keep up, but every other game is probably winnable.

Wake Forest – under 5.5 (-160) – 1*

I like the under a lot, but it’s probably too steep of a price to pay too much. The defense – who carried the team last year – only returns five starters. OOC schedule includes road games at Notre Dame and App State.

Syracuse – under 4.5 (+105) – 1*

They return 19 starters, overperformed a year ago, and I do believe that Dino Babers is the man for the job. However, they’re still in a rebuilding phase and have to obviously play the powers in their own division, but also 2 of the top 3 from the Coastal. If that wasn’t enough, they’re playing at LSU and home games against MTSU and CMU

COASTAL

Miami (FL) – over 9 (-125) – 2*

Ahhhhhhhhh, Miami. They’ve got 15 starters coming back, with 7 of them coming on offense. The big losses are in the passing game with Brad Kaaya going pro early and two of his top receivers moving on, incluiding stud TE David Njoku. Malik Rosier will take over at QB. He’s only started one game in his career, but it was a good one a couple of years ago at Duke. There might be a dropoff there, but not all that severe in my opinion.

The front 7 is right there with the best in the country and they return every starter and nearly everyone from the two-deeps. The secondary loses three to the NFL, but they’ll still be pretty solid.

miami

The schedule isn’t all that intimidating. They avoid Clemson and Louisville from the Atlantic. They might be favored in 11 games this year.

Virginia Tech – under 8.5 (+110) – 1*

Justin Fuente is known for being an offensive guru, but he’s gotta replace a lot of weapons from last year, including do-everything QB Jerod Evans. The defense will be pretty good and likely keep them in every game, but there’s a lot of opportunities for losses on the schedule.

Pittsburgh – over 7 (+130) – 1*

Tough call on this one. They only return 10 starters. They lose their QB and stud RB and OC Matt Canada, who worked miracles. However, the losses on defense don’t hurt that bad because the defense was terrible last year and you’d expect Pat Narduzzi to get things back in order. There’s not a game in ACC play I’d count them out of, as they avoid the Big 3 from the Atlantic, but they do have Penn St. and Oklahoma St. in September.

North Carolina – under 7 (-150) – 1*

They lose almost everyone who made a single play on offense last year. Gene Chizik is no longer the DC. Not a certainty they’re gonna go bowling.

Georgia Tech – under 6.5 (-110) – 1*

Totally forgot GT went 9-4 last year. And they have 16 starters back from that team. On the other hand, they had to be one of the most lackluster 9-4 ACC teams in history. They were -85.5 ypg in ACC play, according to Phil Steele. They’re really just not that talented, but they’ve got a system that’s worked. However, the real reason for the under is the schedule. Their OOC schedule features Georgia, Tennessee, and @ UCF. They also draw a road game at Clemson from the Atlantic.

Duke – over 5.5 (+120) – 1*

I’m just betting on David Cutcliffe.

Virginia – under 5 (-115) – 2*

They’re still gonna suck. They’re 90% likely to go 0-5 in road games, which means they have to 6-1 at home.

Best Bet to Win

Miami (FL) +800

As always, I like to take someone from the weaker division and seemingly all of these Power 5 conferences have a clear imbalance. Miami – in my eyes – is a heavy favorite to win the Coastal. Vegas doesn’t have Va Tech far off, but I think Miami is clearly the better team and they get to host the Hokies. I considered taking NC State at +3000, but the path just seems too daunting in their division.

CFB Season Win Totals: Big 12

I’m picking every over/under regular season win total for all 130 schools in college football. I’ll try to keep the odds/injuries/suspensions as current as possible, but I’m doing this in pieces, so it is what it is.

Huge shoutout to Phil Steele and a variety of websites on the line making their #content available for all of us to consume. If you don’t use Phil to help you with gambling on college football, you’re lost, pal.

Also, at the bottom of each of these, I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion. It’s not based on who I actually think will win, just my best perceived value.

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

Oklahoma – under 9.5 (+115) – 1*

Obviously the big thing here is that the Sooners have a new head coach for the first time in two decades. Fortunately for Lincoln Riley, he has a ton of talent returning from a team that won the Sugar Bowl last year.

stoops.png

With that said, it’s hard for me to put my faith in such a young, inexperienced guy in a place where 10-win seasons are considered a disappointment. He’s also forced to play road games at Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State. Add in Texas (Dallas) and TCU and only one of their five toughest games are at home.

Oklahoma State – over 9 (-115) – 1*

I was a Cowboy backer from August to December last year and was mostly rewarded for it. They lose a decent amount of starters from that team, but maybe most importantly they return the offensive trio of Rudolph, Washington, and Hill.

The biggest cause for concern would probably be the losses at cornerback, especially given the fact they play in the extremely pass-happy Big 12. However, last year’s unit was pretty average and it’s hard to see them falling off much after adding a grad transfer from Clemson.

Tulsa won’t be a walk in the park to start the season, nor will playing at Pitt in Week 3. The good part of the conference slate is that the Pokes get TCU, Kansas State, and Oklahoma in Stillwater this year.

TCU – over 7.5 (-125) – 5*

The Frogs only starter lost on offense is at right tackle, but 9 of the top 10 offensive linemen return. You’d expect with all they have coming back, TCU would get back to 40+ a game.

The defense “only” returns 7 starters. The back 7 is one of the best in the country. The D-Line is a bit of a concern as 3 starters depart from a unit that was obviously very influential in the D recording 43 sacks last year.

tcu.png

The schedule isn’t too bad. They have to play both Oklahoma teams on the road and Arkansas in the non-con. However, I’d say the most likely scenario is that they go 6-0 at home, with Texas being the toughest battle.

I gotta be honest, I still don’t fully believe that 7.5 is the number. They were a 6 win team a year ago that returns 17 starters, including 6 All-Conference players. They were 1-3 in close games last year, an indicator that the record will improve this year. Gary Patterson has won 73% of his games as a head coach. The last two times he returned at least 15 starters, he went a combined 25-1.

Texas – over 8 (-130) – 1*

The Horns have a lot of talent and it’s hard not to get too excited about their chances with a new staff coming in. However, they’ve clearly got more than a couple of issues to get sorted out and they’ll have quite a few challenging games away from home.

Kansas State – under 8 (+130) – 1*

It kills me to go against Bill Snyder, but the record last year looks better than the performances really were. They were in the red in Big 12 yardage, and not by a little bit. I thought they played Baylor and TCU at the perfect times. I don’t really feel strongly either way, but someone has to lose some games in this league.

Baylor – over 7.5 (+110) – 1*

Because the admin and former coaching staff were largely piles of garbage, things have felt bleaker than they really are in Waco. They still return a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The schedule is pretty manageable and Matt Rhule brings both coordinators with him from Temple, which should minimize some of the typical new staff struggles.

West Virginia – under 7 (-115) – 1*

They lose a lot, but they’ve still got a semi-decent shot at entering October undefeated. Will Grier stepping in at QB should at least maintain the quality of play from that position. The last six games of the year could get dark if they aren’t playing their best.

Texas Tech – under 5 (-125) – 3*

They’re gonna score 40+ and probably give up 40+….again. They have a legitimate chance at losing any game this year, including Eastern Washington in the opening game of the season.

Iowa State – under 5.5 (-160) – 1*

It’s -160 for a reason. The Cyclones went 3-9 last year, only return 11 starters, are only in the second year of a rebuild, and they also don’t have any gimmes on the schedule. You’d hope they’d be a sure thing over Northern Iowa, but they’ve gone 3-3 against the Panthers since ’07. Wild move to keep scheduling the in-state FCS team that beats you half the time.

Kansas – over 3 (+105) – 1*

After eclipsing the 1.5 win total in dramatic fashion, I can’t turn my back on them now.

Best Bet to Win

TCU +1200

Admittedly, it’s going to be pretty tough having to play the expected 1-2 finishers on the road, but obviously I think they’re good enough to at least split those two games and run the table otherwise.

 

 

CFB Season Win Totals: Pac-12

I’m picking every over/under regular season win total for all 130 schools in college football. I’ll try to keep the odds/injuries/suspensions as current as possible, but I’m doing this in pieces, so it is what it is.

Huge shoutout to Phil Steele and a variety of websites on the line making their #content available for all of us to consume. If you don’t use Phil to help you with gambling on college football, you’re lost, pal.

Also, at the bottom of each of these, I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion. It’s not based on who I actually think will win, just my best perceived value.

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

SOUTH

USC – over 10.5 (+125) – 1*

To keep it short: they have a ton of talent at every position group. Most importantly, they might have the best QB in the country, even if his name is Sam and he has red hair. They were dominant after the calendar turned to October last year and Darnold got settled in. Best part of the schedule this year: Alabama and Washington (even if SC rolled over the Huskies last year) aren’t on it. It’s still a tough schedule, but most of the better opponents on it will be playing in the Coliseum.

UCLA – over 7.5 (-110) – 1*

The offense fell off big-time last year, largely due to Josh Rosen getting hurt and the fact that they couldn’t run for a 6-yard gain to save their lives. However, all but one major component is back and healthy on that side.

Defensively, it wasn’t all that bad for the Bruins last year, despite going 4-8. Aside from getting wrecked by Joe Williams for 1,000 rushing yards last year against Utah, they held up rather nicely. They did lose a few guys to the NFL, but there’s a lot of pro talent left.

The schedule is the biggest concern. They have road games against USC, Washington, Stanford, Utah, Memphis, and Arizona. The home slate is pretty manageable, but they do have Texas A&M in OOC play and I’m high on Oregon.

Utah – over 6.5 (+115) – 2*

There’s only 9 returning starters, but the biggest reason to be optimistic is they’re still heavily stocked on their front 7, a staple of any good Utah team. Joe Williams is gone, but Troy Williams is back for a second season at QB1 and I’d expect him to start living up to his recruiting ranking when he was coming out of high school. If not, Cooper Bateman is always waiting in the wings. Apparently Ute fans want Tyler Huntley because he threw 7 tidy passes in mop-up duty last year?

They’ve got a semi-decent chance to get out of September 4-0, although I wouldn’t consider it likely. However, they’ve got a lot of winnable games at home and I never really count them out against any of the big boys of the league, regardless of location.

Colorado – under 7 (-155) – 3*

There’s not great value here, but the Buffs have regression written all over them. The biggest reason is the defense. They only gave up 21.7 per game a year ago after allowing 39 a couple years prior. Gone this year is their entire starting D-Line (the strength of last year’s unit) and DC Jim Leavitt.

I don’t think losing Sefo Liufau at QB is a huge deal, given that the greatest thing about him was his name. I’m also not convinced that Mike MacIntyre doesn’t suck. Mikey Mac doubled up his total wins in Boulder in Year 4 against a softish schedule and the point about the schedule was validated when they lost by a combined 79-18 to UW and Okie St. to end the season.

I’d expect the CSU game to be a lot tighter this year to start out the season, followed by a couple cupcakes. Once Pac-12 play starts, most of their beatable opponents are on the road and they’ll have to take advantage of getting UW and USC at home, two teams with a lot more talent.

Arizona State – under 5 (-140) – 1*

graham.png

Talent doesn’t really seem to be the issue in Tempe, but things are trending down and the schedule is pretty ruthless. After opening with NMSU, the “easiest” game they have for months is a toss-up between SDSU at home or Texas Tech on the road.

Arizona – over 5.5 (+120) – 1*

Things kind of unraveled at the end of last season for the Cats, but they can’t possibly be worse. Rich Rod isn’t my favorite coach in the country, but he’s a proven winner and it’s hard to imagine they’d repeat last year’s 3-9 mess.

The schedule isn’t terrible. NAU is a win, Houston will be tough, but it’s at home, and then they go play UTEP in the Sun Bowl. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to play these C-USA teams on the road (almost lost to UTSA a few years ago), but at least it’s a bad one. The biggest plus of the schedule might be that they don’t have to play UW or Stanford.

NORTH

Washington – over 10 (-150) – 1*

They’re loaded still and the schedule is pretty easy (again).

Stanford – over 8.5 (-135) – 2*

The Cardinal basically lost every proven player on offense (besides McCaffrey) heading into last year and still went 10-3. They’ve got more returning this year and might have a top 5 defense nationally.

The biggest challenge is the opponents. It’s a top 10 schedule, but when in doubt, always take the bet on a David Shaw team.

Oregon – over 8 (+115) – 4*

Is it the best idea to sell out for a team that went 4-8, gave up 41.4 points per game, and has a new coaching staff? No…no, it’s probably not.

On the other hand, 17 starters are back, including QB Justin Herbert, Rolls Royce Freeman, the top two receivers, and essentially all five offensive linemen.

And yeah, those defensive numbers were pretty poor, but what do you expect with Brady Hoke coaching a football team? They trade Hoke at DC for Jim Leavitt. The same Jim Leavitt that was responsible for the massive two-year improvement of that Colorado defense I referenced earlier.

leavitt

And then there’s Willie Taggart, a proven winner heading into this job, unlike his predecessor. Admittedly, both Year 1’s at WKU and USF didn’t produce immediate results, but the cupboard is a lot fuller in Eugene.

The schedule isn’t too bad. The Ducks avoid USC and while Nebraska at home and Wyoming aren’t gimmes, they’re still likely favorites and should head into Pac-12 play 3-0. The season’s outcome will probably boil down to how they favor in road games at Stanford, UCLA, and UW. Even if they drop all three, they’ve got a good chance at pushing.

Washington State – over 7.5 (-125) – 1*

A lot of overs in a row here, but what the hell? Quite a few of these Pac-12 teams aren’t going to be greatly tested in the non-con.

The Cougars return 16 starters, including 9 on the defense, a unit that’s been quite a bit improved since Alex Grinch took over as DC a couple of years ago.

Also included in those returning in those starters is Luke Falk, he of 4,468 passing yards, 38 TD’s, and a 70% completion rate. If Wazzu maximizes their potential as a team this year, Falk will be in the Heisman conversation.

Wazzu is one of those Pac-12 teams that doesn’t exactly play a brutal non-con schedule, with all three games coming at home and the most difficult (by a long shot) being Boise State. The issue? They haven’t won a season opener since Leach took over and the past couple years that includes losses to the likes of Portland St. and Eastern Washington. Montana St. isn’t even good for an FCS team, but you never know.

Oregon State – over 5.5 (+145) – 1*

The Beavers were a touchdown per game better on both sides of the ball in Year 2 of Gary Andersen and they return 15 starters. They’re not great at any particular spot, but that type of continuity is a good sign for an improving team.

Cal – under 3.5 (-130) – 1*

First-year head coach taking over a team that gave up more than six touchdowns a game last year and they have to play one of the most difficult schedules in the country. Best of luck to Justin Wilcox.

Best Bet to Win

Oregon +1600

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’m recklessly high on the Ducks this year.

CFB Season Win Totals: SEC

I’m picking every over/under regular season win total for all 130 schools in college football. I’ll try to keep the odds/injuries/suspensions as current as possible, but I’m doing this in pieces, so it is what it is.

Huge shoutout to Phil Steele and a variety of websites on the line making their #content available for all of us to consume. If you don’t use Phil to help you with gambling on college football, you’re lost, pal.

Also, at the bottom of each of these, I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion. It’s not based on who I actually think will win, just my best perceived value.

Monday, August 7: Big Ten
Tuesday, August 8: SEC
Wednesday, August 9: Pac-12
Thursday, August 10: Big 12
Friday, August 11: ACC

Monday, August 14: Independents/MAC
Tuesday, August 15: AAC/Sunbelt
Wednesday, August 16: Mountain West/C-USA
Thursday, August 17: Heisman/National Title/Misc.
Friday, August 18: Recap

SEC West

Alabama – over 11 (+135) – 2*

The Tide essentially win 11 games every year and if they don’t, it’s because they won all 12. Historically, being preseason AP #1 (like last year) means they aren’t going to win the national title. Does that really mean anything for this year’s team? Probably not, but I guess you could make an argument about teams having a hard time dealing with the pressure. Of course last year’s team didn’t win the national title. They massively underachieved by winning the first 14 and just barely lost the lead to win it all with :02 left.

Of course they lost a lot of talent to the NFL, but that doesn’t stop them from having every position group ranked in the Top 25 of Steele’s ratings. They have an embarrassment of riches, at running back and linebacker, specifically.

For “being in the SEC West” standards, their schedule isn’t all that bad. I really only see three games they “might” lose. They open with Florida State in Atlanta, they have to go at Texas A&M, and at Auburn for the Iron Bowl. Sure they could lose to LSU at home, but that’s the story line every year and the Tide has won six straight in the series.

Auburn – over 8.5 (-120) – 2*

The Tigers are bringing back 15 starters and probably  most importantly, 7 of them are on the defensive side. They gave up just a shade over 17 ppg last year, although their 21.2 yards per point (YPP) number indicates that they might be due for a little regression. Still, it’s hard to worry too much about that side.

The offense is intriguing. Last year they ended up averaging a respectable 31.2 ppg, but it was a roller coaster. They had four games of 50+, but they also had five games of less than 20. That’s what happens when you’re one-dimensional. AU only threw for more than 200 yards once over the second half of the season last year. This year, they bring in Jarrett Stidham at QB and Air Raid expert Chip Lindsey at OC. As long as Lindsey doesn’t abandon the run game, the Tigers could go for 40+ a game.

I’ve only got Auburn locked in for five W’s, but no losses. They’ve got five true road games, four in-conference and the fifth at Clemson. It’s gonna come down to November. They get a bye week heading into the month and then go at A&M, followed by home games with Georgia, ULM, and Bama.

LSU – under 9 (+150) – 1*

I get that LSU is always loaded with talent and their defense will surely be very good again, although they do lose their top 5 tacklers.

On the flip side, Danny Effing Etling is still the quarterback. I’ve been waiting for him to be good for half a decade now and it hasn’t happened yet. It’s not gonna help his cause that 5 of his top 6 receivers from last year are gone. Sure, Matt Canada is the OC now and I bet all my money on Pittsburgh last year almost solely due to his influence, but the ACC Coastal just doesn’t quite match up.

As much as I love Coach O as a personality, I’m still on the fence on whether he’s actually a good head coach. Plus the Tigers drew the short straw in the West by having to play at Florida and Tennessee from the East. Don’t sleep on Week 1 against BYU in Houston, either.

Texas A&M – over 7 (-105) – 2*

I’ll probably always pick the over on the Aggies. I sold the farm on them last year. Even though people were mocking them by, like, the middle of October the “over 6” backers were already winners. Say what you will about Kevin Sumlin (I say he’s the most consistent coach they’ve had there in decades, statistically), but he’s found his sweet spot and it’s 8-4.

Their offense lost some talent, but that’s Sumlin’s specialty and the cupboard is far from bare. They averaged 5.7 ypc last year and their top 3 RB’s are all back with three of their starting O-linemen.

Pass rush might be the biggest problem defensively with the losses of superhuman freak Myles Garrett and regular freak Daeshon Hall. However, the two starting DT’s are back and that might be more important in the SEC.

The schedule is tough of course, but they only have four true road games and there’s three cupcakes on the schedule.

Arkansas – under 6.5 (+110) – 1*

Austin Allen might end up being the best QB in the SEC this year, but the loss of Rawleigh Williams hurts and the loss of 6 of Allen’s top 7 pass catchers surely doesn’t help matters. However, four starters are back on the O-Line and that’s always been the biggest key to a Bielema offense. With that said, that position has gradually gotten worse in the Bielema era.

arkansas oline

They lose a lot up front defensively and and last year’s unit on the back end was fairly mediocre. It’s unclear whether the reshuffling on the front 7 will really matter, considering they gave up 5.9 ypc last year.

The toughest part of the schedule this year for the Hogs is only getting three SEC home games this year.  This one will be close either way probably, so I don’t see a lot of value on either side.

Ole Miss – over 5.5 (-105) – 1*

The Rebels are a total wildcard this year. The biggest reason is obviously that they have a bowl ban. This has caused a few books to take their season win total prop off the board. I guess you don’t know what motivation will be like, but I hardly see the team collectively punting on a season. If anybody can motivate 100 dudes to win some football games, it’s probably the guy that staged his own funeral for motivational purposes about 12 months ago. (UPDATE: This was all written before Hugh got fired for that whole prostitution thing).

They’re still a really talented team on both sides of the ball, although admittedly much less swaggy on offense…

…and with three cupcakes on the schedule, you’re already halfway home.

Mississippi St. – under 5.5 (+135) – 2*

I don’t typically advise betting against Dan Mullen, but the schedule is an absolute bear. They’ve got five true road games because someone thought it would be a good idea to play a really good C-USA program (Louisiana Tech) on the road Week 2. They’re also playing BYU out of conference. And they also get to play at Georgia for one of their two cross-division SEC games. Oh, and then they have to play every team in the West.

With that said, Nick Fitzgerald is pretty damn good. He’s that dual-threat option that always gives a certain team in Tuscaloosa trouble…

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fitzgerald

…oh. All kidding aside, Fitzgerald will be a legitimate weapon for the Dogs this year. The problem is, his running backs are just okay, he lost the best WR in school history, and the O-Line only returns 30 career starts. The defense doesn’t exactly scream “dominance” either.

SEC East

Florida – over 8.5 (-105) – 2*

The obvious question around Florida is: what level of suck is their QB play gonna be? They’re a playoff level team at every other position group, at least talent-wise.

Will Grier was a shooting star for about a month a couple years ago, but other than that times have been bleak for Gator signal-callers since the Leak/Tebow days. Austin Appleby and Luke Del Rio weren’t that bad last year, but they certainly had their bouts with being terrible. Del Rio is back, but probably not a real contender to start. It’s likely a battle between Feleipe Franks (very successful sounding name) and Malik Zaire of Notre Dame fame. Either way, that’s an upgrade for a team that went 9-4 a year ago.

The good news for the Gator schedule is that they only play three true road games and the toughest one might be a toss-up between Kentucky and South Carolina. The bad news is they have to play both Michigan and Florida State out of conference.

Georgia – over 8.5 (-125) – 3*

Unlike Florida, there’s really zero holes with the Bulldogs. I’m not sure Jacob Eason is worthy of all the hype he’s gotten, but at the very least he had a really solid freshman year and figures to improve with another year under his belt. The Chubb/Michel duo at RB is absurd. All but one receiver is back. The O-Line lost quite a bit, but that’s never seemed to matter in Athens.

The defense returns 10 starters and 14 of their top 15 tacklers from a season ago. They gave up 24 ppg in 2016, but the 13.6 yards per point figure indicates that PPG number is due to drop this year. On top of that, it’s the second year of Kirby Smart, which is another reason to expect improvement.

The schedule is pretty soft in some spots, but also features road games at Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Auburn.

Tennessee – under 7.5 (+100) – 1*

They lose their four best playmakers on offense and their two best pass-rushers on defense. A tight ends coach is now running the offense. The man who ruins everything he touches, Brady Hoke, is now on staff. And finally, Butch Jones loves to come up a little short whenever he can. Champions of life, though.

(I only went 1* because the schedule isn’t actually that bad.)

Kentucky – under 7 (-120) – 1*

Offensively, the Wildcats are gonna rely a lot on Benny Snell. The quarterbacks weren’t a total liability last year simply because they didn’t turn it over too much, but it’s certainly not a plus position. They failed to break 90 yards passing on three occasions last year.

The back 7 is very good on defense, but the defensive line continues to be an issue in Lexington.

The biggest running problem for UK is that they literally never beat Florida, Georgia, or Tennessee. They get a favorable draw with the Mississippi teams out of the West, but as always, they have to play Louisville. Opening at Southern Miss has the potential to set a poor tone to the year.

Also, the last time Kentucky won more than 7 games in the regular season, it was 1984.

South Carolina – over 5.5 (-105) – 3*

The Cocks have 10 starters coming back on offense. Jake Bentley is now officially QB1. After he took over last year, they nearly doubled their ppg. Their top 2 RB’s are back, as are their top 5 pass catchers. They also have four starters returning on the O-Line.

The defense doesn’t have quite as much coming back, but it’s the second year of Muschamp’s system and they’ve got plenty of talent to replenish.

Talent-wise, I think USC has enough to battle for the East. The problem is they have to go at Georgia and Tennessee. In terms of total wins, the OOC slate isn’t doing them any favors. They play NC State in Charlotte, Louisiana Tech at home, and of course they have Clemson, but at least it’s home. Although the schedule is top 10 caliber, I’d be borderline stunned if the Cocks aren’t bowling this year.

Missouri – under 6.5 (-135) – 1*

Mizzou did a 180 last year by suddenly scoring a bunch of points while giving up just a shade more. They figure to keep up the scoring on offense with 10 starters back, only replacing their tight end. The defense had a bunch of injuries last year, but they’re only returning five starters and none of them are Charles Harris.

The schedule is fairly manageable with their toughest game out of conference coming at UConn. The bad part is, with the way the schedule breaks, I’m not sure they’ll be favored in any of their SEC games. Maybe South Carolina, I guess.

Vanderbilt – under 6 (-120) – 4*

Even if Kyle Shurmur improves at QB, he’s still gonna stink. Ralph Webb is legitimately good at RB, but he’s basically the offense. The defensive PPG number (24.0) looks nice from last year, but it has more to do with how slow (boring) they play than it does how good they are. Zach Cunningham made about half of the big plays for the Dore D last year and he’s now gone.

Alabama A&M is the only sure win I have for Vandy this year. It’s not because they’re so bad, but they scheduled K-State and WKU and MTSU again. Their two games against the West are against Alabama at home and at Ole Miss. I’ve got them for a max of seven wins.

Best Bet to Win

Florida +1100

Things in Florida’s favor: they don’t have to play Alabama (until the SEC Championship) or Auburn, they only have three true road games in the SEC, and none of them are against the top tier teams.