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.
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.