2018 CFB Season Win Totals: Independents

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

Notre Dame – under 9 (+120) – 1*

The Irish came through for me last year and they return 15 starters this year. There’s two real red flags this year: a brutal schedule (again) and the loss of Mike Elko. Elko was in his first year as DC last year and guided the best defense the Irish have had since they qualified to get destroyed by Alabama in the national championship. He moved on to Texas A&M and Brian Kelly promoted Clark Lea from LB coach. Lea’s never been a DC, so that causes some concern. Elko was one of the biggest reasons I was on the Irish bandwagon in ’17.

I’m also not sure if you’ll see much growth offensively. It’s unclear if Brandon Wimbush can really pass yet, Josh Adams went to the NFL, three of the top five pass catchers are gone, and they lost two Top 10 NFL Draft picks from the OL.

ND plays another loaded schedule. It’s not quite last year’s, but it still includes five teams projected in the Top 21 of the S&P+. On top of that, there’s road games with Northwestern and Wake Forest.

Army – over 7.5 (even) – 1*

Just take the over. Support the troops. There’s not a lot coming back offensively, but they’ll at least be average-ish. Defensively, they return eight starters and will likely only give up around 20 per game. When in doubt, bet the over on service academies.

New Mexico State – over 6 (+115) – 1*

Kind of surprised by the numbers here. Doug Martin can clearly coach and he’s got 15 starters back from a bowl team and they face the nation’s worst (easiest) schedule. Admittedly it’s historically a bad program, but the biggest reason for the uptick last year was the defense and they return nine starters. The offense does lose their top playmakers, but they return all five on the OL.

BYU – under 5.5 (+110) – 1*

I figured the total would be firmly set at six, but I’m still taking the under and here’s why:

  • Tanner Mangum has regressed…a lot
  • They face a rugged road schedule: Arizona, Wisconsin, Washington, Boise, UMass, and Utah
  • Toss-up games at home: Cal, Utah State, Northern Illinois
  • It’s unclear if Kalani Sitake is actually a good HC

UMass – over 5.5 (-120) – 3*

I don’t like to pat myself on the back, but this pick takes serious guts. Not all men have the cojones to put money on the line for a program to reach its first bowl game in 46 years. But I’m putting my faith in the hands of the best QB you know nothing about: Andrew Ford.

Ford guided the Minutemen offense to 30.6 PPG last year, more than a TD better than the year before. He had 22 passing TDs, compared to just 4 INTs. And his top WR is back in Andy Isabella. As is Marquis Young at RB, who averaged 5.4 YPC. They also only lose a guard from the starting O-Line, so you’d think they have to improve on the 46(!) sacks they gave up last year (45 in ’16).

Defensively, it could be better, but they haven’t been good in years. If they just maintain from a year ago, they’ll still be plus points when you factor in the offense’s likely progression.

You’ll likely know the outcome to their season based on how they perform before October even hits. UMass has a weird schedule where they play six games before September is over. And in September, they have road games with potential victories against Georgia Southern, FIU, and Ohio. They really only need to win one of those, but if they get shutout, they need to go 2-1 in the following: USF, BYU, @ UConn. They’ve got the potential to win 8 or 9 games this year.

Liberty – ?

Couldn’t find a total anywhere on the Flames. This is their first year transitioning to FBS. I guess you can’t bet on them, but they will play a factor in quite a few totals for C-USA, Sun Belt, MW, and Independent teams (they play NMSU twice). If you were wondering what happened to Turner Gill after he ruined everything Mark Mangino (very dear to my heart) worked for at Kansas, he’s been supremely mediocre in Lynchburg for six years now.

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