Month: August 2018

2018 CFB Week 1 Picks

It’s the first week, so I’m not going to get too crazy here. All picks are just for a unit. My best advice I can give you is to not shoot your wad the first couple of weeks of the season.

Picks

UCONN (+24) over UCF

As much as anything, this is a bet on coaching. That’s not necessarily a slight against Josh Heupel, but his OC history suggests the Knights might start slow as do some other situations.

The big fear you have if you’re on the Huskies here is that they’re just going to get blown out of their own stadium because UCF is scoring every possession. However, Heupel was the OC the last two years at Mizzou and Utah State for one year before that. The Tigers lit it up last year in the opener, but that was against 3-8 FCS team Missouri State team that gave up 38 PPG. The next three games – all at home – Mizzou only managed 10 PPG. The year before they started with an 11-point outing. In his one year at USU, the Aggies started the first three games averaging 14 PPG, which included a 12-point effort against Southern Utah.

Of course Heupel has Mackenzie Milton at QB to help the situation this year, but it’s still a new offense to Milton and Heupel had Drew Lock to work with last year, too. Milton is also replacing two of his big playmakers at WR/TE.

There’s also the fact that we have no idea what Heupel can do as a HC. It was a bit of a curious hire and he’s replacing Scott Frost, who couldn’t possibly have done a better job. If you look at Group of 5 teams trying to replace big-time coaches last year, it was quite a drop-off.

  • PJ Fleck went 13-1 in 2016 at WMU, who went 6-6 last year under Tim Lester
  • Tom Herman went 22-5 in two years at Houston, who went 7-5 last year under Major Applewhite
  • Jeff Brohm went 22-5 his last two years at WKU, who went 6-7 last year under Mike Sanford

So yeah, I’m betting against UCF being nearly as dominant as they were last year with the change in coaching and the loss of quite a bit of NFL talent. I also believe Randy Edsall is a really good coach and will field a more competitive UConn team this year. I think the line is a rollover from last year and less of a projection for this year.

New Mexico State (+21.5) over MINNESOTA

This line has predictably jumped after NMSU looked pretty miserable in Week 0 against Wyoming at home. Gotta be honest, doesn’t really bother me that much. For one, I really liked Wyoming heading into the season. Secondly, I think it’s an advantage for NMSU to have a game under their belt. Their flaws were exposed and now they have tangible things to work on this week. And finally, of the four teams that lost in Week 0 last year, three of them won the next game. I realize that’s kind of a meaningless stat without context, but those three teams that bounced back with a win were Oregon State, Rice, and San Jose State. Here’s context: THOSE THREE TEAMS COMBINED FOR A TOTAL OF FOUR WINS LAST YEAR AND THREE OF THEM WERE THE GAME AFTER WEEK ZERO.

So yeah, I think it’s an advantage for NMSU.

Also an advantage, Minnesota is starting a preferred walk-on at QB, who also happens to be a true freshman. And I realize that Zack Annexstad had scholarship offers to play at mediocre programs, but at the end of the day he’s still a two-star true freshman starting at QB for a Big Ten team. Not good. He’s going up against a veteran defense that can apply a lot of pressure.

NMSU might only need to score a single touchdown to cover this game.

Florida Atlantic (+21) over OKLAHOMA

Obviously I’m pretty high on the Owls this year. I won’t rehash everything again, but with 10 starters back you have to think the Owls will be ready to go against Kyler Murray in his first start in Norman.

On the other side of the ball, RB Devin Singletary (1,920 rushing yards, 32 rushing TDs) could be a big problem for a Sooner D that had a lot of holes last year. FAU has to start a new QB, but all their options have a ton of talent. Jason Driskel was decent last year, but he wasn’t asked to really do all that much.

UTSA (+19) over ARIZONA STATE

I would think this would be a pretty low-scoring game. Arizona State has the potential to be explosive, but UTSA was a Top 20 defense nationally last year. The Roadrunners have a lot to replace offensively, but they weren’t good to begin with. Last year they won at Baylor. The year before they nearly beat this Sun Devil team in the Alamodome. Since Frank Wilson took over in San Antonio, UTSA has only lost by more than two touchdowns on one occasion.

And, yes, I’m going to continue to bet against ASU until Herm proves he has any idea what he’s doing as a college HC.

Central Michigan (+17) over KENTUCKY

CMU always seems undervalued and matchup-wise I think RB Jonathan Ward versus an atrocious Wildcat run defense could be big for the Chips. Benny Snell is probably going to be the majority of the UK offense early on, but CMU returns six of their front seven and should be able to at least slow Snell down.

But the real reason for this play: Kentucky rarely blows anybody out, especially early in the season. Last year they beat Southern Miss by 7, EMU by 4, and EKU by 11. In 2016, they lost to Southern Miss. They did beat NMSU by 20, but it was a 7-point game headed to the 4th. In 2015, they beat ULL and EKU by 7 each.

Combine that trait with a Week 2 game looming in Gainesville against the Gators and there’s some upset potential here.

North Carolina A&T (+7.5) over EAST CAROLINA

I talked about this game a little bit in the ECU season preview, but I’ll rehash a bit here. NC A&T was 12-0 last year, including a win over FBS opponent Charlotte, who rated pretty similar to ECU in power rankings. ECU was 3-9 last year and that included a 20-point beating they suffered to James Madison in Week 1. They improved offensively as the season went on, but the Pirates lose both their QBs and three of their four top WRs. They were horrendous in every single facet of the game defensively. They have a new DC who may help, but he has a lot of holes that need patched up.

A&T also has the advantage of already playing a game. They opened the season last week with a neutral-site win over FCS #6 Jacksonville State (the Aggies opened at #14 themselves). A&T is returning their QB, RB, and quite a few playmakers on defense. They have a new HC in Sam Washington, but he’d been the DC here for six years.

Although the two play in different subdivisions, they rated about the same in the Sagarin ratings last year. ECU returns only 49% of their overall production this year and more than half of that is from a wretched defense. It doesn’t include key parts of the passing game, which the Pirates thrive on. I think the offense will be slow coming out of the gates and it’ll allow the Aggies to keep pace on Saturday.

Leans

WESTERN MICHIGAN (+6) over Syracuse

I really don’t think there’s a ton of separation between the two teams and it’s a tricky game for the Orange.

San Diego State (+14) over STANFORD

I mean, the Aztecs did beat them last year. I like the Cardinal this year, though.

Akron (+26) over NEBRASKA

Seems like so many points for a team that went 4-8 last year and is starting a true frosh at QB. I just can’t put my faith in an Akron team that will likely be down to start the year and going into what should be a wild environment in Lincoln.

Kent State (+16.5) over ILLINOIS

Illinois stinks and probably shouldn’t give this many points to anybody, but Kent has a lot to figure out.

FIU (+11) over Indiana

Dangerous game for IU, who has a lot of question marks at skill positions and needs to replace some defensive studs. However, FIU has to replace a ton on defense.

Maryland (+13.5) over Texas

If not for the black cloud around the program, I’d probably take it. After all, the Terps won in Austin last year before the QB position went to hell.

NORTH TEXAS (-4) over SMU

Should be a great game to watch if you wanna see points.

WYOMING (pick) over Washington State

It opened at +4, but is to the point now where the Cowboys are even favored in some places. No longer think there’s any value to the Wyoming side.

HAWAII (+10) over Navy

I liked it when it was 14. Once again, all value lost after a stellar Week 0 performance by Hawaii.

Miami FL (-3) over LSU

I think LSU is gonna suck, but something about Miami still scares me.

2018 National Title, Playoff, New Year’s Six and Heisman Picks

NATIONAL TITLE

Wisconsin +2700

Shoutout Rico Bosco. I’m with him here. I’m firmly in the camp that there’s really only maybe seven to eight teams every year that could actually win the national title. Wisconsin is one of those teams. Just to recap their season last year: 12-0 regular season, six-point loss to Ohio State in the B1G championship, rolled over Miami in the Orange Bowl. They’ve got a lot coming back from that roster. Yes, they have a difficult schedule, but they can afford at least one slip-up, if not two.

PLAYOFF

Washington +220

There’s no value for any second tier team from the ACC, Big Ten, or SEC here. You might as well just take them to win the league because you’ll get better odds. However, you do get better odds on Pac-12 and Big 12 teams. Washington is around +100 to win the Pac-12, but due to the Pac-12’s standing in the national landscape, you can actually get value on them to make the playoff. The Huskies aren’t a lock to win the league, but they’re pretty damn close. They’ve been to the playoff before and if they beat Auburn Week 1 and go undefeated or even just lose one game, I think they’re almost a lock for the playoff.

NEW YEAR’S SIX

Mississippi State +220

Not in love with much here. Was looking for a line on FAU, but couldn’t find one. The Bulldogs have somewhat of a chance to start 9-0 before heading to Tuscaloosa. They have road games with LSU and Kansas State and home games with Florida and Auburn before Alabama, but they can win all four if they have a couple breaks go their way.

HEISMAN

Jonathan Taylor +1000
Trace McSorley +1500
JK Dobbins +2200
AJ Dillon +4000

Full disclosure: not a strong showing last year. Well, I thought I had it wrapped up in October with Saquon, but that slowly unraveled. Outside of that, it was a disaster. Bo Scarbrough only ran for 600 yards. Brandon Wimbush was benched multiple times and was basically holding Notre Dame back from making the playoff. And of course Jacob Eason, who was completely cucked by Jake Fromm and only threw SEVEN PASSES all season before transferring. Tough.

This year I’m keeping it simple and living by a revolutionary philosophy: pick guys with proven production.

Taylor nearly ran for 2,000 yards as a freshman, has the most ridiculous O-Line in front of him, and plays for a Top 5 team.

McSorley has thrown for 7,200 yards and 57 TDs the last two years and added 850 rushing yards an 18 TDs and he’ll probably be throwing even more this year. He also plays for a Top 10 team.

JK Dobbins ran for 1,400 yards as a freshman and plays for a Top 10 team that has to replace its long-time starting QB. He put up that yardage while only getting 20+ carries on one occasion.

AJ Dillon’s numbers over the last seven games of his freshman campaign: 1,256 rushing yards (179.4 YPG) and 12 rushing TDs. BC isn’t a Top 10 team, but they’ve got a great OL and the potential to win 8 or 9 games, which is all your team needs to have a player in Heisman consideration.

2018 CFB Season Win Totals: Recap of All 130 and 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.

1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher. 

Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)

I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.

Big Ten: East / West
SEC: West / East
Independents
MAC
Pac-12: North / South
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
AAC: East / West
Big 12

Mountain West
C-USA

SUN BELT EAST

Appalachian State – over 8.5 (even) – 1*

The Mountaineers have to replace their four-year starting QB and their DC among several other things, but they’re still one of the best in the league and the schedule features minimal challenges.

Troy – over 7.5 (-140) – 1*

The Trojans face similar challenges as App State, but the schedule is a little tougher.

Georgia State – under 4.5 (-115) – 1*

Georgia Southern – over 5.5 (-200) – 1*

Coastal Carolina – over 4 (+105) – 2*

SUN BELT WEST

Arkansas State – over 8.5 (-175) – 2*

Justice Hansen is one of the best QBs in the country and he’s got the WRs to make it the Red Wolves a lethal passing attack. The schedule is set up for big things, but the juice here isn’t worth the squeeze.

UL Monroe – over 5.5 (-140) – 2*

Truly a team with two tales. The offense is tremendous. The defense is atrocious. But both have a lot coming back. Both should at least improve slightly.

UL Lafayette – under 4.5 (-120) – 1*

South Alabama – over 4.5 (+110) – 1*

Texas State – over 3.5 (even) – 1*

BEST BET TO WIN SUN BELT

Georgia Southern +1600

With the top three teams all with some big question marks, it feels like a year where someone else can break through from the middle. I’ll take a stab on GSU for the second straight year.


RECAP

We’re finally at the end of the road of the team totals. It’s one of my favorite things to do every year, but holy hell does it get exhausting. As you can probably tell, I didn’t put a lot of effort into the Sun Belt. My apologies to the Fun Belt. I can’t wait to watch you.

Before we get to the recap, I ran some numbers from last year out of curiosity. I wanted to see how close the average total number was to a team’s record. For instance, if a team’s total was 7.5 and they win 9, the split would be 1.5.

Not to get bogged down too far, but last year 75 teams had the half-win hook on their total, which means there’s at least a difference of 0.3 on average across all 130 teams. Factoring that in, the average difference between the Vegas total and the actual total is only about 1.3 wins. Only 15% had a difference of more than 2.5. I guess the point of it all is: the majority of these are going to be pretty close. Every win is a big one.

Additionally, last year there were 57 overs, 59 unders, and 14 pushes. So basically even. I don’t keep track of my split between overs and unders until I get through them all, but last year I was at 74 overs and 56 unders. 13 of my 18 actual bets were on overs. Perhaps I’m just becoming a more optimistic person as I age, but in reality I find it a lot easier to identify teams that are being undervalued. And football tends to be a battle of attrition and luck more than anything else. I lost two overs last year – one by a win, the other by  half a win – and they were a result of a catastrophic injury at QB for one team and the other team going 0-3 in games decided by 3 points or less.

This year I’m on a remarkably consistent 73 overs and 56 unders. Actual bets: 15 overs and 8 unders. Honestly, it’s probably more teams than I’d like to bet on, but they were all well-researched and the only one I’d probably back off on is Maryland for obvious reasons.

Anyway, here’s all 129 of them this year, including conference winners. National title, playoff, Heisman, etc. picks will be coming soon.

1*

1

2*

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3*

3.png

4*

East Carolina under 3.5 -130
Florida St over 8 -125
Maryland over 5 -145

5*

FAU over 8.5 -120

Conference Winners

Big Ten Iowa +2700
SEC Florida +1800
Pac-12 Utah +1900
Big 12 TCU +775
ACC Florida State +925
MAC Buffalo +1150
AAC Temple +1800
MW Utah State +1325
C-USA Louisiana Tech +1100
Sun Belt Georgia Southern +1600

 

 

2018 CFB Season Win Totals: 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.

1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher. 

Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)

I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.

Big Ten: East / West
SEC: West / East
Independents
MAC
Pac-12: North / South
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
AAC: East / West
Big 12

Mountain West

EAST

FAU – over 8.5 (-120) – 5*

What an absolute gift. The Lane Train is a monster and this total is about two wins too low.

Let’s start with the offense. They only return five starters. Reason why this doesn’t matter: the replacements are more talented than the guys they had last year. There was no coaching continuity heading into last year, so that has no effect, and FAU still scored 2 TDs more than the year before. Devin Singletary has been a stud since he stepped on campus and you’d expect the running game to still be outrageous, especially since they added former five-star recruit BJ Emmons. They replace Jason Driskel at QB, but that loss will be minimal with transfers Chris Robison (Oklahoma), De’Andre Johnson (FSU), and Rafe Peavey (SMU) all competing for the job.

Defensively, they return 10 starters from a unit that improved by 17 PPG from pre-Kiffin to post-Kiffin. They lose Lane’s younger brother – Chris Kiffin – as DC, but Tony Pecoraro has a proven track record.

I should mention that they are also changing OCs from Kendal Briles to Charlie Weis Jr., who is probably younger than most reading this. But Weis has way more coaching experience than a typical 24-year-old and if we’re being real, Lane runs the offense anyway.

There are three games that stick out on the schedule, all on the road: Oklahoma, UCF, and Marshall. I’m not saying FAU is going to beat Oklahoma, but facing them the first week of the season is pretty advantageous. The biggest question mark for the Sooners is QB and whoever wins that job will have to face the Owl D that returns 10 starters and will be ready to go early on. I think UCF is likely to be overrated and that’s a toss-up game. Marshall will be tricky, but here’s where I point out that S&P+ gives them a 60% chance to win the game and it’s the lowest percent chance they give FAU at victory in C-USA play by a wide margin.

FAU definitely has a target on their back this season, but at the end of the day, they still have the most talent in the league by a wide margin. There was an adjustment period last year in non-con with the new staff, but they only came even close to losing one time in C-USA play. And by close, I mean it was a 14-point game with 6 minutes left.

Marshall – under 8 (+120) – 1*

The Herd went 8-5 last year and return 18 starters, but things feel a little weird around Huntington. Both coordinators left for what feels like lesser jobs and QB Chase Litton ditched his senior year to not get drafted.

MTSU – over 7 (-130) – 1*

The last year of the Stockstills should provide a somewhat special season.

Old Dominion – over 5.5 (-160) – 1*

Plenty of the two-deep coming back and it’s a pretty soft schedule.

FIU – under 5 (-105) – 1*

Butch Davis had maybe the most remarkable feat of all last year, going 8-5 despite having a point differential of -3 PPG. This year, they lose a ton on defense, their starting QB, RB, and top WR.

WKU – under 5 (even) – 2*

I’m not sure Mike Sanford is any good at being a head coach.

Charlotte – over 3.5 (+120) – 1*

WEST

UAB – under 7.5 (-135) – 1*

Last year was incredible beyond words for Bill Clark and the Blazers as they came back from a two-year hiatus. Unfortunately, I think they lose too many of their leaders on defense and a plucky schedule keeps them under this year.

Louisiana Tech – over 7 (-110) – 1*

Tough to see them topping out at more than nine, as they scheduled tough with two SEC road games and another trip to FAU. I do like that J’Mar Smith has a year starting under his belt and that should lead to some more explosiveness from the offense.

North Texas – over 8 (+110) – 1*

The Mean Green should be one of the most entertaining teams to watch this year in the Group of 5. With a ton coming back from an offense that has made big strides under Seth Littrell and Graham Harrell. Mason Fine threw for over 4,000 yards last year and if he cuts down on turnovers, will be one of the best QBs in the country. Defense is still a question. If they can just make marginal strides, the Mean Green have a great shot to win the division.

Southern Miss – under 6.5 (-135) – 1*

With very little production returning, the Golden Eagles are a total wildcard this year.

UTSA – over 5 (+110) – 1*

The Roadrunners’ momentum was derailed last year by a flurry of close losses and an offense that wasn’t very good. They lose most of that offense, but it can’t be much worse. The dominant defense loses some star power, but will still be very good.

Rice – under 3.5 (-120) – 1*

UTEP – under 2.5 (-150) – 1*

BEST BET TO WIN C-USA

Louisiana Tech +1100

I’ve just got a feeling it’s going to be a pretty good year for the Bulldogs. Probably not good enough to beat FAU though.

 

 

2018 CFB Season Win Totals: Mountain West

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.

1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher. 

Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)

I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.

Big Ten: East / West
SEC: West / East
Independents
MAC
Pac-12: North / South
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
AAC: East / West
Big 12

MOUNTAIN

Boise State – over 10 (+105) – 2*

You could make the argument that the Broncos have been just as good under Bryan Harsin as they were under Chris Petersen. The record isn’t quite as shiny, but Petersen benefited from five years of WAC competition.

In 2017, Boise went 11-3 and now they return 16 starters, 10 of them coming back from a Top 30 defense. Brett Rypien returns for his fourth year of starting at QB and should have a great year after an unhealthy, disappointing junior season. They also return a 1,000 yard rusher.

Ten wins is a high number and could be derailed with the wrong injury, so I’ll hold off, but the schedule sets up where 12-0 is on the table. They have difficult non-con road games with Troy and Oklahoma State, but both teams have to replace key pieces on offense, which makes September the right time to play them. Their toughest MWC road game is Wyoming – who you might’ve heard lost their QB – and the Broncos also get them in September. The difficult opponents come at home, where Boise has only lost two MWC games under Harsin. Both of those came in 2015 when Rypien was a freshman and apparently they couldn’t figure out the option defensively. They were heavy favorites in both games, but lost to New Mexico and Air Force. I wouldn’t expect such issues in 2018.

Utah State – over 7.5 (-115) – 3*

The Aggies have only missed a bowl game one time in the last seven years. Gary Andersen started it, but Matt Wells has kept it going for the last five. The last three years look like more of a slip than they really have been. USU has lost 10 of their last 11 one-possession games the last three years. At some point that trend has to flip and it very well may be this year with so much experience returning. They have 18 starters back.

Offensively, the Aggies improved by more than 6 PPG in Year One under OC David Yost. Yost’s previous stops were Oregon, Wazzu, and Mizzou, so naturally he’s brought a more uptempo, pass-happy system. That system paid immediate results and I would expect even more in his second year, with a talented sophomore QB (Jordan Love), all five OL starters, and the top 3 pass catchers.

Defensively, they’ve got nine starters back, which is more than the last two years combined. They only gave up 22.9 PPG in MWC play last year. They had close to the same amount of underclassmen and upperclassmen in the two-deep last year, so it stands to reason that there is still room for growth.

The schedule is book-ended by probable road losses against Michigan State and Boise, but they might end up as favorites in every other game, or at least close to it. They get a big break in that they don’t have to play Fresno or SDSU from the West.

Wyoming – over 6.5 (-150) – 3*

Here’s the thing about losing Josh Allen: it doesn’t matter at all. Wyoming’s offense sucked last year and Josh Allen sucked with it. And Wyoming was still pretty good because their defense was the Alabama of Group of 5 defenses. And they’ve got eight starters coming back from that defense, including their top six tacklers. They forced a lot of turnovers, which can make things seem better than they are. But the Cowboys gave up 4.7 yards per play, which was nearly two full yards better than the year before. It wasn’t just turnovers.

Offensively, you’d expect things to get better with nine starters back and the only losses being one guard from the OL and the 10th most-efficient passer from a 12-team league. Allen leaves a low bar to jump over at QB in terms of actual production and the run game can only get better. It was the worst rush figures for a Craig Bohl team in 2017.

The schedule is decent, but they do play Wazzu in Laramie and Mizzou on the road in the non-con. I’m low on the Cougs this year and it’s a home game for Wyoming, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cowboys pull a minor upset. It would go a long way for confidence the rest of the season.

Air Force – over 4.5 (-135) – 1*

I have no real thoughts, but once again, just lean over with the service academies.

Colorado State – under 5.5 (-110) – 2*

The Rams have been pretty good under Mike Bobo after Jim McElwain built the program up, but 2017 was a letdown and now they only return nine starters. Unfortunately, Bobo is also going through some health troubles right now that are keeping him away from his team during training camp. Obviously a crucial time for him to be there while they try to get an inexperienced group ready for a difficult September.

New Mexico – under 4 (-115) – 1*

Bob Davie had a good couple of years in ’15 and ’16, but it’s all going to hell if you’ve read anything about the program the past 10 months.

WEST

Fresno State – over 8 (-110) – 2*

It’s hard to picture things going better for Fresno than they did last year. I obviously underrated quite the impact Jeff Tedford would have in Year One, but it was amplified by turnover luck and a lack of injuries.

But still, Tedford took them from a 1-11 team to 10-4, division, and bowl winners in one year. They return 15 starters and they’ve got a decent chance to knock off two Power 5 teams this year.

San Diego State – over 8.5 (-120) – 2*

The Aztecs have reached the level where it’s hard to bet the over on them because it’s so high every year. Last year was 9.5 (they hit the over, btw). Their offense will be really good again because they return all five starters on the OL and Juwan Washington is next in line of stud RBs for the Aztecs. The defense will be good because they return seven starters and they’re always good.

But you see road games against three times that will be very good: Stanford, Boise, and Fresno and figure that the ceiling is probably only 10 wins at the most. They’ve also got a home game with Arizona State.

UNLV – over 6 (-130) – 1*

The Rebels should have a potent offense. They’ve got a new DC, which should help things on that side of the ball, but I’m not confident enough to go all-in.

Nevada – under 5.5 (+105) – 1*

The Pack made a lot of strides in the last seven games last year, but at the end of the day, the three teams they beat were a combined 10-27 and all of those wins came at home. They played a tough schedule, but I need to see another year of Jay Norvell before I feel like I have a good read on the program.

San Jose State – under 2.5 (-110) – 2*

I think it’s too low of a total to actually bet on, but as I mentioned last year, this staff is unqualified for their jobs. More unqualified than I even thought. They had 7 starters back on O and dropped 9 PPG. They had 8 starters back on D and gave up 7 more PPG. True incompetence.

Hawaii – over 3.5 (-110) – 1*

Nick Rolovich actually seems like a decent coach, but they’ve been ravaged by attrition and it’s probably going to prevent them from a bowl again. Upside to this one is they have 13 games.

BEST BET TO WIN THE MOUNTAIN WEST

Utah State +1325

This should be a great year for the Mountain West as a whole because so many of the top teams have so many starters returning. Utah State is one of those top teams and they were only 6-7 last year, but they have a favorable schedule against the rest of the Top 5 compared to Boise and Wyoming in their division. They don’t have to play Fresno or SDSU. Wyoming also avoids SDSU, but they have to play Fresno on the road. Boise plays both, although both of those games are on the blue turf. The downside for the Aggies is they play both Boise and Wyoming on the road. However, another positive for USU is that Boise will be going to Wyoming for their head-to-head. Since Boise’s the better team, that’s favorable for a potential loss against the Broncos.

Got all that?

2018 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.

1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher. 

Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)

I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.

Big Ten: East / West
SEC: West / East
Independents
MAC
Pac-12: North / South
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
AAC: East / West

Oklahoma – under 10 (+110) – 1*

I think 10-2 is probably exactly what the record will shake out to be, but might as well take the side with plus money.

If it’s possible, I think the loss of Baker Mayfield might be slightly undervalued by outlets I’ve been reading. Kyler Murray is the shiny new toy and he’s a very talented guy, but Baker Mayfield is one of the greatest college QBs of all-time, if not the very best. It’s true that Oklahoma always scores points, but not at the level they did under Baker. He started for three years and their LOWEST average was 43.5 PPG. According to S&P+, he was responsible for guiding two of the three best offenses this decade, which means they were both in the 99.7th percentile of offenses.

The Sooners still have a suspect defense by supposed national title contender standards. They won a game in which they gave up 52 points last year. They won a game in which they gave up 41 points to BAYLOR. They almost won a playoff game in which they gave up 54. They don’t have that room for error this year.

Texas – under 8.5 (+125) – 3*

I’m sick of Texas. I certainly understand the appeal of the Longhorns. They were always great throughout my childhood, but the “TEXAS IS BACK, FOLKS!!!” of every preseason is getting old. They haven’t won more than 8 regular season games since 2009. You can get the total at 9, but you lose more than 50 cents on the dollar.

Here’s why they won’t win nine this year: the offense stinks. That’s a problem in a league with a lot of shootouts. Last year, they were 8th in PPG in Big 12 play, which of course only actually has 10 teams. The two teams they scored more than? The pair of 1-11 teams, Baylor and Kansas. And I don’t see where the jump is this year. Sam Ehlinger should be the QB, but he looked overwhelmed at times last year and he doesn’t have a ton of proven producers around him. He started six games last year and was somehow still the LEADING RUSHER with 385 yards. That’s embarrassing at a place like Texas.

There’s much more positivity around the defense and I can’t tell you they won’t be good. But are they good enough to carry this team to nine wins against a Top 10 schedule? Last year they held high-powered offenses of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech to 13, 29 and 27 (all well below their averages) and the Horns still went 0-3 in those games. They held TCU to 24 and got their doors blown off somehow.

Before we get to the schedule I have to point out that P Michael Dickson is gone. Trust me, he was a big deal. He was honestly the best offensive player Texas had last year. He was such a good punter that he got drafted in the 5th round.

The opener at FedEx Field against Maryland is looking a little easier than it did a few weeks ago, but still. They’ve got another non-con game against USC and then of course they have a round-robin with the league. They luck out with home games against TCU and West Virginia and, as always, a neutral site for Oklahoma, but Austin isn’t exactly the biggest home field advantage.

TCU – over 7.5 (-130) – 2*

Well, I’m glad I’m writing this right after news came out that DT Ross Blacklock was out for the year. That sucks for him and it’s a big loss for the Frogs. If there’s one trait that makes TCU stand out over the rest of the league, it’s the run defense and Blacklock was a big part of that a year ago as a true freshman. There’s decent talent behind him, but nothing as good as him, and it hurts the depth of the position.

I was likely to bet on the Frogs this year before that news, but there are other questions. And of course it starts with QB. As someone who had a big stake in TCU last season, I watched a lot of Kenny Hill. Think of him as a poor man’s JT Barrett. He’s not the most irreplaceable guy in the world, but he was steady enough to get the ball in his playmakers’ hands and not screw it up too bad (except for the Iowa State game). Shawn Robinson is a talented guy and I’m sure will do fine, but he’s inexperienced and might be prone to a few more turnovers.

The schedule is tough, but they still have the potential to win double-digit games.

West Virginia – under 7.5 (+110) – 1*

They’ll obviously have a lethal passing attack, but there’s reason for concern defensively. For starters, they weren’t great last year. In fact, they were poor. And they only return one starter on the DL and one starter from the DBs. In a passing league such as this, a pass rush and pass defense feel pretty important.

It doesn’t help that the schedule is pretty brutal. If they lose one guy – Will Grier – the season’s pretty much over.

Oklahoma State – over 8 (-115) – 1*

I have no idea to be totally honest. They have a lot to fill on offense, but Gundy is great at that and they still have Justice Hill. They’ve got capable playmakers at WR and plenty of decent enough options at QB, but there’s no way they’re as good as Mason Rudolph with James Washington and Marcell Ateman. But they do have a lot coming back on D and there’s an outside chance they beat this total in the first nine weeks.

Kansas State – over 6.5 (-120) – 1*

I don’t have a lot of compelling arguments here. The schedule’s brutal and they lose a bunch from the defense. But it’s Bill Snyder. Take the over and run.

Iowa State – over 6.5 (-120) – 2*

It stands to reason that Kyle Kempt will be better at QB this year now that he has full reins of the position, but he loses quite a bit at WR. But if Campbell lets him loose this year, it should not only pay dividends in the pass game, but should allow some more room for David Montgomery to work. Defensively, their front seven is pretty good and they’ve got a chance to improve in the secondary. If they go 6-1 at home, which is very doable, they just need to beat Kansas on the road to get there. They proved last year they’ve got a puncher’s chance in every game.

Texas Tech – over 6 (-130) – 2*

It’s hard to bet the farm on Kliff Kingsbury as Tech has been the picture of mediocrity for his five years. But their biggest question marks all revolve around QB and skill guys and that’s the one thing that Kingsbury has produced every single year as a HC/OC. They have all five starters returning on the OL and 10 coming back on defense. The defense made huge strides last year. But the schedule features so many tweener games that it’s hard to cut loose on the Red Raiders this year.

Baylor – under 5.5 (+150) – 1*

I understand that they have a lot coming back, but all those guys went 1-11 last year.

Kansas – under 3 (-165) – 1*

Same with these guys. The juice is telling on this one. It’s even worse at other books.

BEST BET TO WIN BIG 12

TCU +775

I need action on the Frogs. If Shawn Robinson is good, TCU has a chance to win it this year. Oklahoma coming to Fort Worth is a big help.

2018 CFB Season Win Totals: AAC West

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.

1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher. 

Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)

I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.

Big Ten: East / West
SEC: West / East
Independents
MAC
Pac-12: North / South
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
AAC: East

Memphis – over 8.5 (-130) – 2*

It’s hard to be overly confident in a team that loses its 4,200 yard, 38 TD QB and its 1,400 yard, 18 TD WR. Especially when all of those yards and TDs were necessary to cover up for a defense that wasn’t in the Top 100.

However, the Tigers have a couple viable options at QB this year and plenty of talent left at receiver. They also bring back a pair of highly productive RBs.

Defensively, they bring back eight starters and likely can’t be any worse than 2017.

They might only be underdogs in one or two games this year.

Navy – over 7 (-140) – 2*

Extra reason to like this one: they play 13 games. They only return nine starters, but that’s close to typical for service academies. They’ve only won less than 7 twice in Ken Niumatalolo’s 10 years.

Malcolm Perry is going to get the reins at QB. He’s a superstar when it comes to running the ball, but is completely unproven as a passer. The defense only returns five starters, but they’ll probably be fairly average like we’ve come to expect from Navy defenses.

The biggest reason for fear is the schedule. It’s not overly difficult outside of the Notre Dame game, which they play in San Diego after the Irish have a bye week and Navy plays Houston. They’ll beat Lehigh. Other than that, it’s kind of up in the air.

Houston – under 8 (-125) – 1*

I wasn’t overly impressed with the Cougs in Major Applewhite’s first year. They appear to have figured out QB with dynamic athlete D’Eriq King, but they lose their top two WRs that combined for 156 catches. They also lose their top two tacklers from a year ago. They only return 10 starters overall, but one of them is Ed Oliver and Ed Oliver is probably the best player in the country.

Tulsa – under 4.5 (-125) – 1*

Tulsa has built a reputation for wild swings from season-to-season, but it’s hard to see them doing much of anything with this defense. They were atrocious in every regard last year. It’s also unclear if they have a QB who can pass, which is essential if they need to win shootouts again.

Tulane – over 5.5 (+110) – 2*

I’d really like to fire on the Green Wave this year, but there’s a lot of uncertainty on the defense and I don’t love how the schedule looks. They’ll put up some points this year and they’ve got a great opportunity to make some news on opening night as they host Wake Forest on Thursday.

SMU – over 5.5 (+120) – 1*

Sonny Dykes was a great hire for a myriad of reasons, but big-time results might not be immediate with a defense that’s been horrendous for half a decade now. They’ll put up a lot of points, but the first half of their schedule is rather difficult. If they aren’t able to scratch out many victories early on, it could affect confidence moving forward.

BEST BET TO WIN AAC

Temple +1800

While I love the over for Temple this year, I’m not sure if they can really do enough to knock off UCF from winning the division. However, there’s a chance the Knights slide way back to reality this year and I’d kick myself if Temple actually does pull it off and I didn’t take a shot on them.

2018 CFB Season Win Totals: AAC East

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.

1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher. 

Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)

I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.

Big Ten: East / West
SEC: West / East
Independents
MAC
Pac-12: North / South
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal

UCF – under 9.5 (-115) – 1*

I don’t think it’s much of a question that the Knights regress this season, it’s just how much. They lose Scott Frost and the rest of the staff. They bring in Josh Heupel, who was a good coordinator, but an unknown as the head man. They keep McKenzie Milton at QB, but lose two big playmakers in Tre’Quan Smith and Jordan Akins at WR/TE. They also lose defensive studs Mike Hughes and Shaquem Griffin.

It wouldn’t be a shock if the Knights had another big year, but the defense still has quite a few holes and the new staff causes some concern. They also have to travel to Memphis, UNC, and USF this year and have some tough home games with FAU, Temple, Navy, and Pitt.

Temple – over 6.5 (-125) – 3*

Temple had somewhat of a disappointing season last year considering their recent success, but it was somewhat expected with a staff change. However, they showed a lot of improvement in the second half of the season and it’s easy to feel good about them heading into 2018.

The offense was a lot better with Frank Nutile at QB, who will be the starter this season. Their top five rushers are back, as well. They lose two of their top WRs, but production still may be better with Nutile under center.

Defensively, four of their top five tacklers are back and they also had a midseason uprising. They lose three starters in the secondary, but the secondary was a disappointment last year, so I don’t find it to be a huge deal. Rock Ya-Sin – a transfer with a great name from Presbyterian – should be a big help at CB.

The problem with the total is that the road schedule is pretty tough: Maryland, BC, Navy, UCF, Houston, and UConn (not as tough). But if they’re able to run the table against an easy schedule at home and beat UConn, that’s all you need. Generally, I just liked the direction they were heading at the end of Geoff Collins’ first year. They were +47 against the spread over the last five games of 2017.

USF – under 8 (-135) – 2*

On the day I’m writing this, I happened to watch the USF-UCF game from last year out of desperation for football, and it made it abundantly clear how big of a loss Quinton Flowers is going to be. He almost single-handedly beat a 13-0 team and very well could have if not for repeated mistakes by the rest of the Bulls.

It’s unclear who’s going to replace Flowers, but Blake Barnett seems to have a chance and I can’t think of anyone less like Flowers. Their top WR is gone, the top two RBs are gone, their top 3 tacklers are gone, and 75% of the starting D-Line is gone. Oh, and their good kicker is gone, which is kind of a big deal.

The schedule isn’t brutal, but it’s possible we see a 6-6 Bulls team with all the uncertainty.

Cincinnati – over 5 (-125) – 2*

Cinci feels like the epitome of 6-6 this year, but the schedule is such that a lot of their tougher opponents are at home and their weaker opponents are on the road. That’s always a tough one to pin down, especially when you’re dealing with a team that has the bulk of their talent in freshmen and sophomores.

The Hayden Moore-Kahlil Lewis combination should be a good one in the passing game, but there’s still a lot of question marks defensively. I think they’re 6-6, but there’s also a very real possibility that they lose a bunch of close games and go 3-9. Tough call.

East Carolina – under 3.5 (-130) – 4*

I don’t mean to be rude, but this team is dogshit. My favorite thing about reading Phil Steele’s magazine every year is his eternal optimism, but his thought that “this is (Scottie) Montgomery’s best team” is peak Steele. There’s nothing good about this team.

For starters, the coaching staff could never realize that Gardner Minshew was a better QB than Thomas Sirk. Major red flag. Sirk was bad and Minshew transferred after the year and is probably going to be QB1 for WASHINGTON STATE. Mike Leach typically pretty good with evaluating QBs. Their top two RBs are back, but they were terrible last year so who cares? Three of the top four receivers are gone.

Defensively, they gave up 45 PPG last year. This is Montgomery’s third year as HC. They had given up 25ish for the three years prior to his arrival. In his first year they gave up 36, then 45, now we turn to this year where they lose their top two tacklers (by a lot).

Now, to the schedule. They open with North Carolina A&T, an FCS school. Supposed to be an easy win until you realize that the Aggies went 12-0 last year and the Pirates got waxed by James Madison in Week 1 last year. The only other winnable games are against ODU and UConn at home and then Tulane and Cinci on the road. The road games are only “winnable” in the sense that the spread might be less than 14. ODU returns 16 starters and has a good coach and will likely be favored in the game. If ECU wins four games, I’ll eat my hat. Team stinks.

UConn – over 3 (-135) – 1*

They return almost nothing defensively, but I’ll take the over out of respect for Randy Edsall. Shoutout to Bob Diaco and Paul Pasqualoni for wrecking the program.

 

2018 CFB Season Win Totals: ACC Coastal

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.

1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher. 

Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)

I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.

Big Ten: East / West
SEC: West / East
Independents
MAC
Pac-12: North / South
ACC: Atlantic

Miami – over 9.5 (-115) – 1*

I don’t have a ton of strong feelings on Miami, but they just scream 10-2 to me. Mark Richt is still the coach, after all. They return 14 starters. There’s plenty of skill, Malik Rosier is fine, their top five tacklers are back. They’ll probably have a very good defense and force a bunch of turnovers again. It all sounds good and looks good and they’ll probably at least win this division, but I don’t think they’re quite ready to be a serious national title contender yet.

North Carolina – under 5.5 (+125) – 3*

One of the big reasons to feel good about the Heels this year was their injury troubles of last season. The law of averages would indicate that they’re due for much better health this season and therefore, a likely better record.

Kind of negates the good feelings when 13 dudes get suspended, including nine of them for the first four games. Included in those nine: the likely starting QB, their two best returning pass rushers (which was already a weakness), a WR who scored three TDs last year, and two OL from the two-deep when the OL was already the biggest concern of the offense.

About those first four games: they’re pretty important. They start with a road game at Cal, road game at ECU, UCF, and Pitt. Getting out of that 2-2 was probably the hope/expectation, now you just hope to avoid disaster and go 1-3. After that, they’re almost assuredly losing at Miami, regardless of who’s playing. If they’re 1-4 or possibly 0-5 heading into the bye week, it’s all over and that might be the end of Larry Fedora.

Duke – over 6 (-135) – 3*

Duke Football was basically a pile of garbage from the early 60’s until David Cutcliffe took over in 2008, aside from a three-year stint in the late 80’s when the HBC won an ACC title. It was a slow burn for Cutcliffe – the Devils didn’t make a bowl until Year 5 – but since then they’ve made five bowls in the last six years. This year, he’s got 15 starters coming back from a 7-6 team.

The defense has a ton returning and really should be a Top 25 squad this year. 7 of the top 8 receivers are back and they’ll have quality depth at RB. The O-Line has only two starters returning, but Cutcliffe always rotates there so he still has plenty of experience to work with. Traditionally, they’re excellent in pass protection in Durham.

But the real reason to ride with the Devils this year is QB Daniel Jones. Jones is now a junior, having started since Day 1 on campus. Cutcliffe makes essentially everyone who takes snaps for him a good QB and Jones now has 25 starts under his belt. With Jones’ experience and a trio of senior WRS, it should be a great year for the Duke offense.

The schedule is strong this year, but I’ll put my faith in Cutcliffe to to get this team back to another bowl and score a big upset along the way.

Virginia Tech – under 8 (-115) – 2*

They lose four pros from the defense, including the Brothers Edmunds that both went in the first round. There’s just not a lot of production returning on that side of the ball and it will be legend Bud Foster’s biggest job in a while. The offense should improve, but it’s tough to anticipate how much with the loss of stud receiver Cam Phillips. Phillips was the leading receiver by 32 catches and 510 yards over the next closest guy. The schedule is fairly soft, however.

Georgia Tech – under 6 (-105) – 1*

Not a ton coming back on defense – including an entirely new starting secondary – and one of the toughest schedules in the country. TaQuon Marshall still has some things to prove in the option game and definitely a lot to prove throwing the ball. It’s not going to help that Ricky Jeune is gone at WR, who caught 58% of the passes last year.

Pitt – over 5 (-140) – 3*

The offense fell off the planet last year after the loss of QB Nathan Peterman, RB James Conner, and OC Matt Canada. That was to be expected, but they did find out that true frosh QB Kenny Pickett might be the future at the end of ’17. Pickett entered at the end of the VT game (in Blacksburg) and nearly pulled the upset. In his first start, he was INT free in taking down 10-0 Miami. Pretty impressive. This year, he’ll take the reins and be backed up by former stud recruit Ricky Town (previously USC and Arkansas). The top two RBs are back, as are three of the top four WRs.

Defensively, they return nine starters, including the entire front seven. They return 16 of the top 19 tacklers and should be the closest thing Pitt has had to an MSU Narduzzi defense. If they’re able to generate more of a pass rush this season, the Panthers could be looking at a Top 30 group nationally.

The schedule is tough, but Pitt has slayed a giant in each of the last two years and will have a few chances this season. Penn State is on upset alert in Week 2.

Virginia – under 5 (-135) – 1*

Maybe my favorite quote of the offseason was Bronco Mendenhall telling the media that he thought the Hoos only had 27 ACC-caliber players on the roster. Reasons I loved it:

  • Teams are granted 85 scholarships, which means Mendenhall thinks only 32% of his players are capable of playing in their conference
  • Such a savage move to disrespect 68% of your players
  • It’s quite an exaggeration. They’re not THAT bad.
  • BRONCO MENDENHALL IS IN HIS THIRD YEAR WHICH MEANS HE’S RESPONSIBLE FOR RECRUITING THE MAJORITY OF THE ROSTER AND IT’S ALMOST ENTIRELY HIS FAULT IF HIS ROSTER IS THAT BAD

With that said, he would know better than me, so I’ll take his word for it. Under.

BEST BET TO WIN ACC

Florida State +925

The ACC is largely a conference full of mediocrity, which isn’t necessarily an insult. There’s like 12 or 13 teams capable of beating anyone else in the conference. But I think there’s only three teams legitimately capable of winning the league. Clemson, Miami, and Florida State. Obviously, I’m high on the Seminoles. They have the potential to get back to that 2012-14 range this year and I’ll go out on a limb and say they only lose one ACC game this year. If that game is not to Clemson (who they play in Tallahassee), they’ll win the division.

 

2018 CFB Season Win Totals: ACC Atlantic

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.

1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher. 

Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)

I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.

Big Ten: East / West
SEC: West / East
Independents
MAC
Pac-12: North / South

Clemson – over 11 (-110) – 1*

Clemson will be insane.

Florida State – over 8 (-125) – 4*

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh boy. I can’t contain myself here. I feel like I’m always over on the Noles, but they did win at least 8 in every year of the Jimbo Fisher era except the last one, which was an unmitigated disaster. But there’s also the part of me that just thinks about the Doak. Specifically night games at the Doak. Osceola riding in on Renegade and planting the burning spear in the ground. Bobby Bowden and those stupid glasses he was wearing for the last decade of his career. Jameis looking bewildered at all times, yet dropping 50 on everybody. Jenn Sterger, obviously.

But there’s a touch of analysis in here too. For one, I really like Willie Taggart, which is a big reason I was high on Oregon last year. He had it going in Eugene before losing Justin Herbert. Speaking of QBs, Deondre Francois is back this year and due to their Oregon-like situation last year, James Blackman will provide an experienced backup this year. Francois will be terrific in Taggart/OC Walt Bell’s offense. Cam Akers is back at RB after posting 1,000 yards as a true freshman. Nyqwan Murray and a bevy of other talented WRs will make a ton of plays. The O-Line returns four starters and is among the best in the country.

The defense only returns four starters, which isn’t great, but the last time the Noles returned four starters on D they only gave up 12 PPG, went 14-0, and won the NC. That really has nothing to do with this year, but of the 11 guys slated to start this year, here’s where they rated at their position coming out of high school: 1, 1, 5, 6, 9, 15, 20, 21, 22, 24, 35. To put that in perspective, BC is slated to have a Top 30 defense and 35 is their highest ranked guy on their entire defense.

Defense was far from the issue last year, as the Noles only gave up 21 PPG. With Harlon Burnett coming over from Michigan State, it’s natural to feel that FSU will at a minimum have a Top 20-25 D this year.

Not to be discounted, FSU also has a Top 10 special teams unit.

The schedule is challenging, but again, I don’t think there’s a team on the schedule more talented than the Noles. The three games that stick out: @ Miami, Clemson, @ Notre Dame. To be honest, the only real gimme is Samford at home. I think there’s a chance they push here, but it’s hard for me to envision things totally falling apart again.

Boston College – under 6.5 (+120) – 1*

The Eagles seem to be a trendy pick and I think their defense will be really good again, but I’m still not totally sold on the offense. AJ Dillon is awesome and so is the OL, but is it enough? I’m sure Anthony Brown will get better, but I’m not as high on him as the consensus seems to be. He was pretty inefficient as a passer last year. He was a true freshman, but I think we sometimes assume QBs will progress just because they age. Scot Loeffler doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence for me as an OC, given his below average offenses at VT and his abysmal offense at Auburn. If Dillon misses any time, this offense is falling off a cliff. There’s nothing proven behind him.

Louisville – under 7 (-105) – 1*

I don’t think the offense will totally take a nosedive post-Lamar, but it’ll probably regress by a TD or so. My real concern is that the defense is going to continue to slide into “legitimately bad” territory with only four starters returning and Brian VanGorder taking over at DC. The Cards are probably going to get smashed twice (Bama and Clemson), but they’ve probably got a pretty good chance in the rest of them.

NC State – under 7.5 (-115) – 2*

Ryan Finley and a good WR corps is back and that’s nice, but what else do they have that’s proven? Finley loses RB Nyheim Hines and HSV (human safety valve) Jaylen Samuels. Samuels was the go-to guy in a lot of situations. He played H-back, running for 12 TDs (mostly near the goal line) and he led the team in receptions with 76. Hines ran for 1,100 yards and 12 TDs as well. Finley is certainly good at advancing the ball, but still only has 35 passing TDs in 26 starts. For perspective, Finley was 10th in passing attempts last year, but tied for 50th in passing TDs. I think it’s a legitimate question whether they will be able to finish drives in the redzone this year given Finley’s history and the loss of Samuels and Hines.

Defensively, they only return three starters and they’re all DBs. Their D-Line has to replace four NFL draft picks. That’s extremely difficult to do at a place like NC State where you don’t have a bunch of big-time recruits waiting in the wings.

Wake Forest – under 6.5 (-130) – 1*

Dave Clawson might be the most underrated HC in CFB, but he loses the most underrated QB in CFB last year in Johnny The Wolf. Wolford was incredible last year. He had a QB rating of 158.0, completed 64% of his passes, threw for 29 TDs, only had 6 INTs, was the Deacs second leading rusher, and added 10 rushing TDs. They wouldn’t have matched that production even if projected starter Kendall Hinton didn’t get suspended for the first three games.

The defense was pretty average last year and now they lose some of their biggest playmakers in the front seven.

Syracuse – under 5.5 (-120) – 2*

It’s hard to feel great about the Orange when there’s nothing encouraging about the defense. They’ve had zero pass rush the past couple of years and, outside of Alton Robinson, there’s no one that has produced anything or has the pedigree to suggest they will. Chris Slayton did a couple of years ago, but I don’t think it’s good practice to rely upon your DTs to actually get sacks.

The offense will have its moments, but it’s hard to put a lot of faith in Eric Dungey actually staying healthy. That’s not meant to be a dig at Dungey, but it’s been the reality for a few years now. Not only is he expected to throw the ball all over the field, but he was the leading rusher a year ago and had more rushing TDs than everyone else on the team combined.