2019 Season Win Totals

2019 CFB Season Win Total Recap

First off, here’s all the plays before the season. If you’re new, all of the 3*-5* confidence picks are actual bets.

It was another great year for the win totals. 14-5-1 for +26*. Of the five losses, four of them were plus money bets. After starting this a couple of years ago, the bets have gone 38-17-6 (69%) for +58.3*.

While slightly less profitable than the 2017 season, this was the most successful year, top-to-bottom. The 2* picks were 19-10-1 for +16.4*. Anything above the 1* picks were a total of 33-15-2 (also 69%) for 42.4*.

Across the board for all 130 teams in the country, the result was 73-50-7 for +45*.

There are also four teams still alive in the conference championship games this weekend: Oregon (+300), Baylor (+1800), Boise (+110), and Louisiana (+1350). Five of the other six picks all would’ve been playing in the title if not for losing head-to-head games with teams that won their divisions.

Here’s the results for the actual bets:

Team O/U Total Price W L Result $
Arkansas under 5.5 -140 2 10 W +3
Baylor over 7.5 -115 11 1 W +3
FIU over 7.5 +105 6 6 L -4
Florida over 8.5 -135 10 2 W +4
GA Southern over 6.5 -120 7 5 W +3
Hawaii over 5.5 -130 9 4 W +3
Indiana under 6.5 -125 8 4 L -5
Notre Dame over 9 -120 10 2 W +3
Nebraska under 8.5 -110 5 7 W +3
New Mexico under 4.5 -130 2 10 W +4
Northwestern over 6.5 +110 3 9 L -3
Penn State over 8.5 -110 10 2 W +3
Rutgers under 3 -105 2 10 W +3
Temple over 6.5 -140 8 4 W +3
Tennessee under 6.5 +125 7 5 L -3
Tulane over 5.5 -150 6 6 W +3
Uconn under 2.5 -115 2 10 W +3
Virginia over 7.5 -140 9 3 W +3
VT over 8 -125 8 4 P 0
WVU over 5.5 +150 5 7 L -3
Total 14-5-1 +26

THE GOOD

Most of it was good, but Arkansas, Baylor, Hawaii, and Nebraska all cleared by 3.5 games and New Mexico by 2.5 games. The Nebraska play should’ve been 4* or 5* bet, but all of the hype around them got in my head a little and I couldn’t fully commit.

Rutgers and UConn both had extremely low totals, but also both won the games you thought they would win and never came all that close to winning anything else.

Penn State, Florida, and Notre Dame were also fairly easy for as high of totals as they were.

A win in the Commonwealth Cup would’ve been awesome for VT, but some pushes are better than others. The Hokies looked like a 6-6 team at the absolute best through four weeks before Hendon Hooker took over at QB.

THE BAD

Two of the five losses were both by a half of a game and both were plus-money, but losses are losses.

WVU was much closer to cashing than the market price suggested, but ultimately came up short. There were a couple of close losses, but more close wins. More disappointing was the 21-point loss they had at home against Texas Tech late in the year when they outgained the Red Raiders, but had four turnovers. Jarret Doege took over at QB in that game and things seemed to get better from there in the last few weeks.

Tennessee probably should’ve been a winner, but the Kentucky game was a killer. The Cats outgained them despite having a WR at QB, but had five trips into Vol territory result in 0 points. After losing at home to Georgia State and BYU, the Vols went 5-3 in conference play despite giving up more points against the SEC than they scored. They were outscored 112-30 by the three actually good SEC teams that they played.

THE UGLY

Northwestern was pretty bad. Only needed four more wins. I admittedly got swept up a bit in the Hunter Johnson hype, but more than anything it was a Pat Fitzgerald-respect pick with plus-money. Turns out Hunter Johnson and every Northwestern QB stinks and there was good reason I didn’t have to pay the juice on that one.

The under on Indiana lost by a couple. I figured they’d be 3-0 in the non-con and 0-4 against the typical Top 4 of the East. What I didn’t anticipate was their three crossover opponents – Nebraska, Purdue, and Northwestern – all finishing 3.5 games under their season total expectations. They still haven’t beaten a Big Ten team with a winning conference record since 2008. But there’s definitely something to be said for winning the games you’re supposed to win and they did that eight out of eight times.

I pretty much knew the FIU pick was over when they lost to WKU at home in Week 2. The Hilltoppers were better than expected this year, but that was one FIU really needed. They were 2-2 in close games, so it’s not like it was bad luck or anything. The Panthers were just really horrific on the road, going 0-5 and were only close once. They had to upset Miami late in the year just to get bowl eligible.

Here’s the 2* plays that went 19-10-1 for +16.4*:

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Not gonna post the 1* because who really cares, but they went 40-35-5 for +2.6*. Can’t wait for next year.

2019 CFB National Championship, Playoff, Heisman Picks and Season Win Total Recap

NATIONAL CHAMPION

Clemson +245 (1 unit)
Alabama +245 (1 unit)
Georgia +750 (0.4 units)

I’m sure somewhere out there you can combine the three in to one clean bet, but I couldn’t find it. Is it fun to take the top three teams? No, not really, but I enjoy making more money than I lose. If either of the two favorites wins, you’ll make 1.05 units. If Georgia wins, you win a unit even.

I’ll never say a bet can’t lose, but…this is pretty close. For starters, Alabama and Clemson have won the last four national championships and they’ve played each other three times in the title game. The only other team to make it to the final game is Georgia.

It’s not just that Bama and Clemson get to the final game, it’s that they haven’t been remotely tested in the semifinals. Aside from the time that they played each other, the two of them have combined to win their semifinal games by an AVERAGE of 24 PPG. Oklahoma was the “closest” to beating one of them when they lost by 11 to Alabama last year, but the game was quickly 28-0 and from that point the game was never within single digits.

The only team that has come close to beating either of these two in a postseason situation lately is Georgia. If we’re tiering college football, Tier 1 is Alabama and Clemson, Tier 2 is Georgia and maybe Oklahoma, and then there’s everybody else.

The Sooners just haven’t had the defense to finish the job. That may change with the addition of DC Alex Grinch, but I just can’t see the offense being as good this year with Hurts at QB.

Ohio State is a possibility, but the post-Urban world is a little murky for them. Michigan hasn’t made a Big Ten championship, let alone win one, let alone made the playoff, so color me a little skeptical that they can win a national championship against the behemoths. LSU has the talent, but the offense never seems good enough and their games with Alabama have shown that.

I don’t think there’s anybody else in the country with the talent to sniff a victory against the top two in a postseason game.

PLAYOFF

Oregon +1000

2018 Notre Dame (#12), 2017 Georgia (#15), 2016 Washington (#14), 2015 Clemson (#12), 2015 Oklahoma (#19)

Those are the five teams in the last four years that have come from the AP Preseason #11-20 range that have ended up making the playoff. So it’s happened annually from the last four years and it happened twice in 2015. It didn’t happen in the inaugural season of the Playoff.

Here’s the #11-20 teams this year:

Oregon, Texas A&M, Washington, Utah, Penn State, Auburn, UCF, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa

There’s a common trait among the teams that have come from this group to make the playoff: they don’t play many other postseason Top 10 teams throughout the year. Obviously projecting the postseason Top 10 is pretty difficult, but you can probably get close.

Only 2017 Georgia and 2015 Oklahoma played other postseason Top 10 teams throughout the year. Oklahoma played #7 TCU at home and won by one. 2017 Georgia played at Auburn and got slaughtered. The Bulldogs then flipped the script and beat the Tigers in the SEC championship.

And losing a game is usually fine. Notre Dame and Clemson both went undefeated, but the other three all dropped a game.

So with that information, I’m making a few cuts based on schedule difficulty: A&M, Penn State, Auburn, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

That leaves the three Pac-12 teams and UCF. We can also cut UCF because we’ve all seen what happens with them in the Playoff rankings.

So you’re left with three Pac-12 teams to choose from. Pick your choice. I think Washington has way too much to replace to make a run. The defense was depleted and they lose their all-time leading passer and rusher on offense.

There’s not a huge difference in schedule difficulty between Oregon and Utah and they’re priced the same. I just like Oregon’s potential a little more.

HEISMAN

Justin Herbert +2500
Adrian Martinez +2000

There’s been a formula to winning the Heisman the last decade: be an Alabama RB or be the QB on a team that wins 9+ games and put up huge stats in the process.

Trevor and Tua are the obvious favorites, but recent history suggests they shouldn’t be. Of the eight QB’s who have taken the trophy home, here’s where their teams ranked in the preseason: 22, NR, NR, 11, 3, 19, 7, 7. That doesn’t bode well for two guys who are on dominant teams and may miss a lot of opportunities to pad stats due to rest.

That still leaves quite a few options to choose from if you just leave the criteria at 9+ win team and great stats.

To narrow it down, I think you have to look away from QBs with a star RB next to them that might draw attention away. Here’s the last eight QBs to win and their RBs they shared the backfield with:

Year QB RB
2010 Cam Newton Michael Dyer
2011 Robert Griffin III Terrance Ganaway
2012 Johnny Manziel Ben Malena
2013 Jameis Winston Devonta Freeman
2014 Marcus Mariota Royce Freeman
2016 Lamar Jackson Brandon Radcliff
2017 Baker Mayfield Rodney Anderson
2018 Kyler Murray Trey Sermon

Not exactly a star-studded list, especially in name recognition. A few of these guys were freshmen, including Michael Dyer and Rolls Royce Freeman. Devonta Freeman is the biggest name on the list, but at the time he was just another guy in the eyes of most people. Devonta has been a much more recognizable name in the NFL than he ever was in college.

That’s why I’m not betting on Jake Fromm or Justin Fields. D’Andre Swift and JK Dobbins are too big of names and draw attention away from their QBs.

That still leaves quite a few possibilities, but I don’t like D’Eriq King or JT Daniels because I don’t think their teams are good enough and I don’t think guys like Brock Purdy or Bryce Perkins can win because their teams just don’t get much of a national spotlight.

Sam Ehlinger is a great candidate, but I’m a Texas doubter and their schedule’s pretty difficult

Jalen Hurts is a good QB, but I don’t think he’ll put up nearly the stats that Mayfield and Murray did.

I like guys like Joe Burrow and Shea Patterson, but they play on defensive-minded, run-first teams and I also don’t think they can get the numbers needed.

I’ve already given my thoughts on Oregon and if they can make the playoff, Herbert will be a big reason why. I’m not as gung-ho on Nebraska as a lot of people seem to be, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they win nine or ten games and if they do, it’ll almost be entirely because of Martinez.

SEASON WIN TOTAL RECAP

20 official picks this year. Here’s all 130 picks in Excel screenshot form:

1*

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2*

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3*

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4*

4

5*

None

 

 

2019 CFB Season Win Totals: Sun Belt

SEC: West / East
Big Ten: East / West
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
Independents

Pac-12: South / North
MW: West / Mountain
Big 12

AAC: East / West
C-USA
MAC

EAST

Appalachian State – over 9 (-135) – 2*

Nine almost feels like the floor for them, provided the new coaching staff isn’t a disaster, which…it could be. Eliah Drinkwitz has never been a HC before and I don’t love that he’s also the OC. Ted Roof is the DC and if you listen to fans of places he’s worked previously, there aren’t a ton of positives said about his work.

But there’s a ton of experience coming back from an 11-2 team, especially on offense. In Sun Belt games where Zac Thomas actually got to play more than a series, the Mountaineers outscored opponents by more than 23 PPG.

Troy – over 7 (-150) – 1*

It’s tough to know what to expect after the Trojans lost HC Neal Brown and replaced him with Chip Lindsey, who’s in his first head role. They get QB Kaleb Barker back after tearing his ACL midway through last season. His top three targets are gone, but first-teamer BJ Smith is back at RB.

The run defense should be awesome again. The schedule indicates that they’ll probably be favored in nine or ten games this year, but again, coaching changes can change everything.

Georgia Southern – over 6.5 (-120) – 3*

The Eagles took advantage of a favorable schedule last year and went 10-3. They were aided in a big game with App State by Zac Thomas getting hurt nearly immediately. Thomas’s backups threw 4 INTs in the game and GSU rolled. But still, a very good season either way.

They have seven starters back on each side of the ball. The most important on offense is QB Shai Werts, who definitely was not doing any cocaine and that foreign substance was merely bird poop on the interior of his car.

The defense made huge strides last year, especially in the run game. They lose their leading sack man, but they return DEs Raymond Johnson and Quan Griffin, who were both actually more disruptive in the pass game. The linebackers could be the best in the league and have depth. It’s hard to argue that the Eagles also don’t have the top secondary with two All-Sun Belt senior CBs back to anchor the defense.

I don’t think I’ve made a single comment about special teams this year, but I’d like to point out that GSU has an awesome kicker in Tyler Bass. He was 45-45 on PATs last year and 19-21 on FGS, going 10-11 from beyond 40.

You pretty much know what you’re going to get with the schedule. Barring a sizable upset, they’re probably not going to win at LSU, Minnesota, or App State. On the flip side, you can pencil in five wins against Maine, South Alabama, Coastal Carolina, NMSU, and Georgia State. They’ll be clear favorites against ULM, too, but they did lose to the Warhawks on the road last year.

If you’ve got those six wins, they just have to win one more of these three: Louisiana at home and road games against Troy and Arkansas State. None of them will be easy, but Troy and ASU both have much bigger question marks entering the season and they get the Ragin’ Cajuns at home and coming off a bye when Louisiana will be at Ohio the week before.

Georgia State – under 3.5 (+135) – 1*

The offense made minor improvements last year, but still didn’t put up many points. The defense went off the deep end and then some. They held Kennesaw State and ULM to 10 and 14 points, respectively. The other 10 opponents scored a minimum of 34 each.

Coastal Carolina – over 4.5 (+140) – 1*

There’s a lot of winnable games on the schedule for the Chants. It’s not inconceivable that they start the season 4-0.

WEST

Arkansas State – under 7.5 (+120) – 1*

A difficult one to discuss right now as HC Blake Anderson took a leave of absence from the team as his wife, Wendy, passed away from breast cancer last week.

Louisiana – over 6 (-135) – 2*

There’s a lot to love about the Ragin’ Cajuns this year. The offense should be awesome with a trio of All-Conference level backs and the entire starting O-line returns with them. They have to replace their starting QB, but Levi Lewis will be the guy and Billy Napier played him in every game last year and he played well.

The defense should continue to make strides this year. The Hudspeth era left Napier a disaster to start with. A great recruiting class will probably make some contributions this year.

The schedule is a real problem. They play a neutral site game with Mississippi State and road games at Ohio, Georgia Southern, and Arkansas State. They also have to play App State and Troy at home.

UL Monroe – over 5 (-125) – 1*

The Warhawks have similar production returning without maybe the high-end talent their in-state rivals have. They also have a tough road with away games at Florida State, Iowa State, App State, Georgia Southern, and Louisiana. They also play Memphis at home out of conference.

Texas State – under 4.5 (+135) – 1*

They have a ton coming back, but it was a 3-9 team last year and a program that hasn’t averaged 20 PPG since 2015. I can’t help but think there’s been so much steam on the over lately since a couple of fairly popular podcast hosts recommended the over.

South Alabama – under 2.5 (-115) – 1*

Their four home conference games are all against teams that made a bowl last year. They also have a home game with Memphis and road games at Nebraska, UAB, and Troy.

BEST BET TO WIN SUN BELT

Louisiana +1350

App State is the clear favorite for obvious reasons and there are good arguments to be made to take the Mountaineers, but I’m not willing to pay the juice in these situations. I’d rather take a team like Louisiana in a low-risk, high-reward scenario with a team that has a ton of potential to take off this year.

I obviously also really like Georgia Southern, but the schedule doesn’t set up great for them in the league and it’s much more crowded at the top in the East.

2019 CFB Season Win Totals: MAC

SEC: West / East
Big Ten: East / West
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
Independents

Pac-12: South / North
MW: West / Mountain
Big 12

AAC: East / West
C-USA

EAST

Ohio – over 7.5 (-130) – 1*

Nathan Rourke is clearly the best QB in the MAC, but he’s not joined by a lot of his best friends from last year. RB AJ Ouellette leaves after back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Rourke’s two top targets are gone and so are three of his starting O-linemen.

But the defense is pretty much always good and I’ll never bet against Frank Solich.

Miami (OH) – over 5.5 (even) – 2*

We are right in that 6-6 pocket the Redhawks have lived in the past three years. Analytics contend that Miami has gotten better the last three years, but the records have remained stagnant because they’ve sucked in close games. They’ll play a lot more of those this year, so take them at your own risk.

Buffalo – under 6 (+125) – 2*

Buffalo has become a much stronger program under Lance Leipold, but the losses are pretty severe this year. They lose QB Tyree Jackson and 75% of the receiving production from last year. Their two-headed monster at RB is back, though, and will have to carry the load behind an experienced O-line.

The defense only has three starters back and none of them are Khalil Hodge, who had 144 tackles, which was 67 more than anybody else.

Kent State – over 4 (+155) – 1*

The Flashes have basically everyone who mattered last year back on offense. The defense may stay steady this year (still bad).

The non-conference schedule is brutal with road trips to Auburn, Wisconsin, and Arizona State and a home game with a Top 10 FCS team in Kennesaw State.

Akron – under 3.5 (-155) – 1*

The offense scored less than ten points on four occasions last year and now their defense only has three starters back.

Bowling Green – under 3 (+110) – 2*

They were 3-9 last year and now lose their QB and top WR. They play a pretty tough non-con schedule, have the two best teams from the MAC West, and they have a first-year head coach who’s basically only had one truly good offense as a coordinator.

WEST

Toledo – over 8 (+135) – 2*

The Toledo offense couldn’t make up its mind last year. They scored more than 50 points on six occasions. They also scored less than 30 on five occasions and just twice in-between.

They were about as balanced as you could hope for, but the backfield may have to carry the heavy load this year. Both starting QBs from last year are back, but the three starting receivers who combined for over 2,000 yards and 27 TDS, are gone.

The defense was less than steady last year and now they only have five starters back. They’ll probably need to win some shootouts again this year.

The schedule is extremely favorable for the Rockets this year. They get their top three West contenders at home and they avoid Ohio and Miami out of the East.

Western Michigan – over 7.5 (-130) – 2*

The Broncos are kind of the opposite of Toledo. They have nearly everyone that matters back, yet the MAC schedule breaks horribly for them.

They do lose their top receiver and their starting center on offense, but QB Jon Wassink and RB LeVante Bellamy give them the best backfield in the league.

The defense has ten starters back, which is always nice, but the defense was pretty lackluster last year.

The Broncos have road games with Michigan State, Syracuse, Toledo, Ohio, EMU, and NIU. That’s tough.

Northern Illinois – under 7 (-185) – 1*

It’s hard to bet against such a stable program, but there are a lot of questions this year. The offense was rather sucky last year and now they lose their two best receivers and two All-Conference linemen.

The defense has been stellar the last couple years, but now two guys – Sutton Smith and Josh Corcoran – are gone, who themselves combined for 25 of the team’s 50 sacks.

Thomas Hammock is the new HC. Hammock has only been a RB coach in his career and the last five have been in the NFL, away from CFB.

The Huskies have to play Utah, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Ohio, Toledo, and Miami on the road this year. They have seven true road games in total and have to play three teams coming off of a bye.

Eastern Michigan – under 6.5 (-125) – 1*

With the slow play, good defense, and all of the close games that leads to, it just seems like the Eagles are the epitome of 6-6 every year.

Ball State – over 4 (-120) – 1*

The Cardinals would’ve really had some high hopes this year, if not for QB Riley Neal and RB James Gilbert transferring to Power 5 schools. Even still, Ball U still has 17 starters coming back and a lot of depth to go with it.

Central Michigan – under 4 (-130) – 1*

Somebody’s gotta lose the games and a team with a new HC, a dreadful offense, and a lack of returning production on defense seems like a pretty good candidate.

BEST BET TO WIN MAC

Ohio +300

I just don’t see where the competition comes from in the East this year. The Bobcats probably should’ve been in the title game the past couple years, but now Buffalo has a lot to replace, Miami is firmly Miami and the other three will be happy to just compete for a bowl.

2019 CFB Season Win Totals: C-USA

SEC: West / East
Big Ten: East / West
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
Independents

Pac-12: South / North
MW: West / Mountain
Big 12

AAC: East / West

EAST

Florida Atlantic – under 7.5 (-110) – 1*

I can’t possibly bring myself to bet the Owls again, but they have some real signs of a bounce back this year. For starters, they had five losses by one possession last year. The other two losses were at Oklahoma and UCF.

But they’re hurt by the loss of stud RB Devin Singletary. They thought they were getting Deondre Francois, but that ended up not working out as Francois is at Hampton. Not sure what to make of the defense, as they had a big drop-off last year despite returning ten starters.

The schedule is easier this year, but there will be a lot of close games again.

Marshall – over 7.5 (-190) – 1*

The Thundering Herd have a lot coming back, but I can’t justify swallowing that juice when their best asset from last year – the front seven – has been depleted.

The front seven was already going to have a lot to replace, but the late transfer of their best pass rusher – Ty Tyler – was a big blow.

Florida International – over 7.5 (+105) – 4*

I feel like I’m missing something – and that’s very possible – but getting $1.05 on the dollar seems crazy to me.

To begin with, the Panthers have won eight regular season games in each of Butch Davis’s first two seasons. Now they have eight starters coming back on each side of the ball, they’re among the most experienced teams in CFB, the home schedule is kind of a breeze, and Davis has recruited ridiculously well the past couple years to fill in his two-deeps.

James Morgan came in as a transfer QB last year, took over for a three-year starter, and somehow might’ve improved the position. He’s got all four of his RBs back and together they make one of the best groups in the C-USA. He loses his top WR CJ Worton, but it’s not a huge loss. Worton caught 37 passes and yet there’s still five (5) guys coming back that caught at least 24. Morgan distributes it well. Also back are three starters from the O-line.

The defense had little returning last year and still got better. The run defense wasn’t great, but a horrid game against Devin Singletary and FAU really skewed the numbers. The secondary was awesome when it really mattered and nearly the entire unit is coming back. Given that FIU his improved in nearly every area each of the last two years under Davis, it’s not unreasonable to think the run defense will be better this year.

We’ll start with the easier part of the schedule: six home games in which right now they’d be favored by at least a touchdown in all of them, and probably double digits.

The road schedule is less forgiving. They have to play at Marshall, FAU, MTSU, Tulane, and LA Tech. They also will play the crosstown battle with Miami.

It’s a tough road schedule for sure, but this is also a team that was 5-1 away from their home stadium last year. They were also 6-0 ATS in those games and covered by an average of 12.8 PPG.

Middle Tennessee – under 5.5 (-165) – 1*

It’s a new era as Rick Stockstill loses his four-year starting QB who also doubled as his son, Brent. The top RB and WR are back, but they also have to replace three starters on the O-line. The defense will probably be able to tread water, but they might have to be better than that if the Blue Raiders are getting back to a bowl.

The road schedule features Michigan, Iowa, North Texas, and FAU. They also have Duke, Marshall, and FIU at home.

Old Dominion – over 4.5 (+170) – 1*

Almost worth the gamble when you consider they get Norfolk State, ECU, WKU, UTSA, and Charlotte at home.

This is the most production Bobby Wilder has had to replace since the Monarchs joined the FBS.

Western Kentucky – under 5 (+110) – 2*

There’s a lot of production coming back, but I can’t find a shred of evidence of why I should believe in Tyson Helton as a head coach. He was the OC at Tennessee last year where they averaged 22.8 PPG. Before that he was the QB coach under his brother at USC for a couple of years. He was the OC here under Jeff Brohm when they were lighting the world on fire, but Brohm is really his own OC.

Charlotte – over 4.5 (+110) – 2*

Hard to bet against new HC Will Healy. He took over maybe the worst program at either the FBS or FCS level – Austin Peay – and won eight games in his second season. Known for his recruiting prowess, the 49er program might not feel the Healy Effect for a year or two, but Charlotte is in a much better spot than AP was.

WEST

Southern Miss – over 7.5 (+125) – 1*

USM has ten starters coming back from their incredibly young, incredibly boring offense that they had a year ago. QB Jack Abraham led the country in completion percentage, but also finished nearly dead last in yards per completion. They should be improved with so much production coming back and their entire offensive line.

The defense was the star of the show last year and I wouldn’t expect much to change with a lot of their best players coming back.

The schedule is the big hiccup here. Before it even gets to October the Golden Eagles have to play Mississippi State, Alabama, and Troy on the road.

UAB – under 7.5 (-110) – 2*

The last two years have been a miracle and Bill Clark is still a great coach, but this team ranks 130th out of 130 in returning production. It’s too hard to actually bet against them after the past couple years, but Clark should win National Coach of the Year again if they win eight games.

North Texas – over 7.5 (-140) – 1*

It’s easy to be excited about the offense as they bring back the best three-headed monster in C-USA with QB Mason Fine, RB DeAndre Torrey, and WR Rico Bussey. All of Torrey’s backups are still around and Jaelon Darden makes for a nice WR2.

The defense has heavy losses at LB and CB, though. The D improved greatly last year and kept them in a lot of road conference games last year when the offense didn’t really deliver.

Louisiana Tech – over 7.5 (-125) – 1*

The Bulldogs regular season wins the last five years: 8, 8, 8, 6, 7.

The offense should be better after a subpar season. They’ve got QB J’Mar Smith, their top two backs, and leading receiver Adrian Hardy back.

The defense is almost assuredly going to take a step back, though. They only have five starters back and they lost All-American Jaylon Ferguston, who had 17.5 sacks last year. It’s almost impossible for a program like La Tech to maintain with that type of attrition.

UTSA – over 2.5 (-185) – 1*

The offense can’t be worse. They’re the best of this trio of cellar dwellers.

UTEP – under 3 (-140) – 1*

If they lose to Houston Baptist, fold the program.

Rice – under 2.5 (-210) – 1*

I think the juice speaks for itself. They’ll be double-digit dogs in ten games.

BEST BET TO WIN C-USA

FIU +500

I’m not sure that the schedule sets up the best for the Panthers, but I think they have the highest floor in the conference and I’ll take that in this league full of parity.

2019 CFB Season Win Totals: AAC West

SEC: West / East
Big Ten: East / West
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
Independents

Pac-12: South / North
MW: West / Mountain
Big 12

AAC: East

Memphis – under 9.5 (-105) – 1*

There’s a lot of hype around the Tigers this year, but I can’t fully get on board.

The offense has QB Brady White back and a couple of his best receivers, but they also loses three multi-year starters on the O-line. They also lose RB Darrell Henderson. I feel like it’s getting a bit overlooked because his backup – Patrick Taylor – is back and he ran for 1,100 yards himself. But Henderson was different. He’s averaged 8.9 YPC each of the last two years. His two years as the lead back gave them rushing efficiencies way beyond anything they’ve had in the Norvell/Fuente era.

The defense returns eight starters and 11 of their top 12 tacklers, but they’ve had plenty of continuity the past few years and things have stayed relatively the same, if not gotten worse.

The Tigers also have three new coordinators. They all have good backgrounds, but still.

The schedule isn’t very difficult, but they do have six road games. Seven of their nine losses have been away from home the last couple years. Compared to most teams, the offense still traveled well last year, but the 34 PPG away from home was still 17 less than when they play in Memphis.

Houston – over 7.5 (+125) – 1*

The Cougars are the epitome of a half-team. The offense is going to be must-watch TV and so is every offense going against the UH defense.

The big news of the offseason  was that Houston threw a boatload of money at Dana Holgorsen. Holgs has proven himself to be a high-level coach, but he didn’t exactly bring the highest level of coordinators with him. DC Joe Cauthen did a pretty good job at Arkansas State, but not a good enough one that makes you feel like he can totally turnaround this mess of a defense in one year.

The schedule is pretty tough. They open at Oklahoma and they draw both UCF (in Orlando) and Cincinnati out of the East. They also have to play Wazzu in Houston, but at the Texans stadium. While the schedule is difficult, it’s hard to count them out of any game with such an explosive offense.

SMU – over 6 (-130) – 2*

The offense didn’t deliver as expected with Sonny Dykes running the show and an experienced QB behind center, but that’s not to say it was bad by any stretch. Now they add in Texas transfer Shane Buechele and all of the receivers are back.

The defense made a ton of strides last year from an efficiency standpoint and it’s hard not to see that continuing with nine starters back. They’re expected to have seven senior starters.

A brutal road schedule restricts the high-end potential in terms of record. The Mustangs will travel to TCU, Memphis, Houston, USF, Arkansas State, and Navy.

Tulane – over 5.5 (-150) – 3*

I spend a lot of time writing about returning production, key players, schedules, transfers,and a whole bunch else, but sometimes you just gotta believe in a coach. I believe in Harvey Dent Willie Fritz.

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Fritz succeeds everywhere he goes. He’s the winningest coach in Central Missouri history and also has the highest winning percentage of any coach in the last century there. He then went to Sam Houston State where he went to the national championship game in his second and third years. He has the second-highest winning percentage there.

Fritz then led the Georgia Southern program into the FBS level. His first year there – GSU’s first year in the FBS – he led them to an 8-0 record in the Sun Belt. That’s the first and only time a program has gone undefeated in conference play during their first year.

Now he’s at Tulane. He took over a program that was coming off back-to-back 3-9 seasons. He’s led the Green Wave to 4-8, 5-7, and 7-6 seasons. That seven win season last year was just the third time it’s happened in the last 20 years at Tulane.

So the belief is warranted and this team looks primed to keep growing. The entire backfield is back, including QB Justin McMillan. The former LSU transfer took over last year when his team was 2-5, started the last six, and led them to a 5-1 record. He’s also got his top receiver back and they add in Oklahoma State transfer Jalen McCleskey, who had 1,865 receiving yards and 19 total TDs during his time in Stillwater.

They lose two starters on the O-line, but add in an All-Ivy league grad transfer from Brown and a 6-7, 325 behemoth transfer from Virginia that has played a decent amount.

The defense was super young last year, but somehow moved up over 50 spots in the S&P+ rankings. They had 41 sacks last year and 33 of them are coming back. Only Cincinnati may be able to claim they had a better D-line last year, but the Bearcats lost three starters, while the Green Wave front remains intact.

The secondary loses a couple of All-Conference guys, but their replacements got plenty of experience last year and produced a ton considering they were backups.

Tulane isn’t gonna win at Auburn, but every other game on the schedule is within reach. They have to travel to Memphis, Temple, and Army. All tough games for sure, but they beat Memphis by 16 last year and proved their mettle on the road last year by rolling USF by 26.

Believe in Fritz.

Navy – over under 5.5 (+110) – 2*

It’s a scary time for Navy football. They’re coming off their worst season in recent memory, they have very little production coming back, and their two service academy rivals are expected to have big seasons.

All is not lost though. The record stunk last year, but it was a little unlucky. They lost four close games and the schedule was more difficult than it will be this year. Malcolm Perry is back at QB. New DC Brian Newberry put up unfathomably great numbers as Kennesaw State’s DC and may be able to get the defensive ship steered back in the right direction.

Tulsa – under 4.5 (-130) – 1*

Tulsa’s wins by year over the past decade:

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You figure it out.

BEST BET TO WIN AAC

UCF +250

I don’t love anything here, but I think only four teams – UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, and Memphis – probably have a realistic shot at it and the more I look at schedules (and talent), all roads lead back to the Knights.

They avoid Memphis out of the West and get Houston at home. They do have to play at Cincinnati this year, which you would think gives the Bearcats the advantage to win the East division. However, Cinci has to play both Memphis and Houston on the road.

 

2019 CFB Season Win Totals: AAC East

SEC: West / East
Big Ten: East / West
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
Independents

Pac-12: South / North
MW: West / Mountain
Big 12

UCF – over 9 (-140) – 1*

12-0 is probably unlikely without McKenzie Milton, but it’s likely that the Knights are still one of the best teams in the Group of 5.

Milton isn’t the only injured QB as his backup Darriel Mack has also been hampered with a broken ankle. The third option is still a pretty good one: Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush, who had mixed results during his time in South Bend.

Wimbush will have plenty of toys to play with. Adrian Killins and Greg McRae make up a ridiculous backfield. Gabriel Davis, Tre Nixon, and Otis Anderson are all back at receiver.

Last year’s defense was even better than the 13-0 team, but they do lose some of their best guys. The replacements are littered with Power 5 transfers, so I wouldn’t expect much of a talent drop-off.

Overall, the schedule is a little tougher this year. They avoid Memphis, but now are going on the road to Pitt, Cincinnati, Temple, and FAU this year. They also add a home game with Stanford.

Cincinnati – over 7.5 (-145) – 2*

The Bearcats quietly achieved one of the most ridiculous feats last year: they went from four wins to 11 wins starting a freshman quarterback. Obviously Desmond Ridder is back this year and so is a whole stable of quality running backs.

The defense was awesome last year and should be again, given that six of the back seven are returning. They do however lose three all-conference linemen. This will still be one of the best defenses at the Group of 5 level.

The schedule is where things might hit a snag. They have road games with Ohio State, Memphis, Houston, Marshall, and USF. The OSU game is the only one they don’t have a realistic shot at, however. They also have home games with UCF, UCLA, and Temple. UCF and Temple were the two teams to beat them last year.

South Florida – under 6.5 (-120) – 1*

It’s hard to feel great about where the Bull program is headed. They went 10-2 in Charlie Strong’s first year and were then 7-0 last year and then the wheels came off and USF careened into the wall and exploded on impact. They lost their last six games by nearly 20 PPG. It was ugly and looking back now, those first seven games were against a super-soft schedule.

The Bulls have a lot coming back on offense and an exciting new coordinator, but it’s scary to believe in much with this team after the self-destruction last year.

Temple – over 6.5 (-140) – 3*

Rod Carey seems like a perfect for Temple, both good and bad. The defense will no doubt be strong, but you have to worry about the direction of the offense. It was kind of dreadful at NIU and the emphasis was much more on the run game.

What Temple’s got on O is much better suited to throw with Anthony Russo coming back and some of his top receivers. They lose stud RB Ryquell Armstead.

The front seven of the defense should be one of the best in the league. The secondary was great last year, but they lose big-time players in Rock Ya-sin and Delvon Randall.

The schedule sets up pretty well to at least get over the total. They’ll probably be favored in their first five games. They have to play Memphis out of the West, but at least it’s at home, as is their game with UCF. Tulane and UConn both visit Philly towards the end of the year.

East Carolina – under 4.5 (+175) – 1*

The over on this one has been beyond steamed and I get where the optimism is coming from. The Pirates are finally free from the Scottie Montgomery era and they’ve actually got halfway decent talent.

Mike Houston won a national championship at James Madison and he’s been successful at all three of his lower-level coaching jobs, but there is a lot of ground to make up defensively still.

UConn – under 2.5 (-115) – 3*

It’s such a low number, but my goodness, man. They gave up over 50 PPG last year and it was debatable if it was possibly the worst FBS defense in the history of modern football.

That defense was extremely young last year, and they have nowhere to go but up, but they could give up two touchdowns less a game and still be terrible.

The offense wasn’t the worst of all-time, but wasn’t without its problems. Now they lose QB David Pindell, who not only did all the passing, but also was the leading rusher. Four of the top five pass-catchers are also gone, but four starters do return to the O-line.

The Huskies should at least beat Wagner to open the season, but they’ll be underdogs in the other 11 and will be three-touchdown dogs in maybe nine of those. Even the UMass game is on the road. Home games with Navy and ECU are possibilities, but both of them are also expected to be improved this year.

2019 CFB Season Win Totals: Big 12

SEC: West / East
Big Ten: East / West
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
Independents

Pac-12: South / North
MW: West / Mountain

Oklahoma – under 10.5 (+105) – 1*

I still think the Sooners should be the favorite to win the league, but it’s more in doubt than it has been the past couple years.

Baker Mayfield was awesome and led a couple of the greatest offenses in CFB history. I didn’t think that would be replicated last year, but Kyler Murray was able to do it, if not make it better.

This creates impossible expectations for Jalen Hurts. Hurts could average 40 PPG and it would be a letdown compared to the previous four years that Lincoln Riley has ran the offense in Norman. I like Hurts, but he’s always struck me more as a runner who could pass than a passer who could run. He had good numbers at Alabama, but the Tide also improved more than a TD per game once he was benched.

The Sooner O also loses four starters from their dominant O-line. I wouldn’t expect a massive drop-off offensively, but it would be a surprise to see them match the Mayfield/Murray years.

Defensively, I think it’s fair to expect the opposite. Lately, they’ve been just average enough to allow their offense to seal the game. You can’t merely chalk up their struggles to playing with a fast-paced offense. They weren’t efficient at all. But they bring back 17 of their top 20 tacklers and bring in DC Alex Grinch. Grinch played second fiddle to Greg Schiano at Ohio State the past couple years, but was responsible for turning around the Wazzu defense before that.

History shows that the Sooners will falter at least once. They’ve lost five games in the regular season the past four years and they’ve been favored by an average of 13 PPG in those games. On the surface, they probably will be favorites in every game, but if the defense doesn’t make strides, you could see a 9-3 or 10-2 season.

Texas – under 9 (-105) – 1*

The value is long gone on this one. Deep down I’d like to think that my never-ending under betting on the Longhorns has caused this. But this probably is more of a function of Texas returning only eight starters this year. And for the record: I like them more than usual this year.

I talk about returning starters a lot, but they are just a factor of the equation. It matters less when the replacements have experience and are more talented than the guys they are replacing, which is the case with Texas this year.

Sam Ehlinger loses his top rusher, top receiver, and three offensive linemen. To me, the only real loss is leading receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey. The run game was subpar anyway, it can’t get much worse when they have as much talent as they do.

The defense only has three starters back and none of them come in the front six of their 3-3-5 defense. However, all the replacements as a group are probably more talented than their predecessors.

The schedule is tricky for Texas. The Week 2 game with LSU at home is a massive one and I’m not sure the home field advantage is enough. There’s a group from 3-to-6 in the league that may contend for a conference championship berth. The Horns have three of those matchups on the road. The OU game is on a neutral field, as always. It still feels like if Texas has a year coming, it’s next year.

Iowa State – over 8 (-105) – 1*

After back-to-back 8-5 seasons, it wouldn’t be a stunner to see the Cyclones in the Big 12 Championship this year. There are eight starters back on each side of the ball.

The two biggest losses to the roster are both offensive skill guys, RB David Montgomery and WR Hakeem Butler. Montgomery was a tackle-breaking machine the past couple years.

There’s a couple ways to view Montgomery’s departure. While he did break a ton of tackles, the ISU running game was still pretty inefficient. With all five starters back on the O-line and a stable of capable backs, it’s possible the running game could improve. On the flip side, maybe the O-line doesn’t improve much and now things get worse without someone breaking a million tackles.

Butler may be tougher to replace. After the Cyclones lost Allen Lazard, Butler stepped into the WR1 role last year and averaged four more yards per catch than any other Big 12 receiver, which is really saying something in this league, specifically.

But the #2 and #3 guys are back and they add in Arkansas’s leading receiver. The passing game should still be very good with Brock Purdy back at QB1. The offense averaged 13.4 more PPG after Purdy took over during the Oklahoma State game last year.

I think the Cyclone defense will be the best in the Big 12 this year. They held nearly everyone under their season average last year. The corners are both being replaced, but nearly every one of the DBs has experience because they had so many injuries last year. I think the front six is clearly the best in the league.

There’s a couple of notable stretches in the schedule this year for ISU. Starting on Sep. 28 they’ll travel to Baylor, back home for TCU, and then road trips to WVU and Texas Tech. That’s three road games in four weeks and they’ll probably need all of them to make the title game.

After their bye week they have to play Oklahoma and Texas back-to-back.

TCU – under 7.5 (-110) – 2*

Quarterback is arguably the most important position of any sport and the Gary Patterson era at TCU might illustrate that point better than any other out there. There’s a lot of offenses or defenses out there that you can pretty much pin down how many points they’re going to put up on a year-to-year basis, no matter who leaves or joins the roster. Boise State is a prime example.

TCU does not have one of those offenses. In 2013 they averaged 25.1 PPG. In 2014 they jumped over three touchdowns a game and averaged 46.5 and followed that up with 42.1 in 2015. The next couple years they were in the low 30s and last year they were all the way back down to 23.5 PPG.

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It’s not that hard of an equation to figure out. The Horned Frog offense has peaked with Andy Dalton and Trevone Boykin as upperclassmen. It bottomed out with young Boykin and Casey Pachall when Pachall was getting suspended and Boykin was splitting time between QB and WR as an underclassmen.

They found a new bottom last year with a rotation between Shawn Robinson, Mike Collins, and Grayson Muehlstein starting. Robinson and Muehlstein are now gone. They add in Kansas State transfer Alex Delton, Ohio State transfer Matthew Baldwin, Georgia transfer Matthew Downing, redshirt freshman Justin Rogers (played in the bowl game), and true freshman Max Duggan.

Apparently the six-way battle has been narrowed down to Delton and Duggan.

Delton played some at Kansas State, but has always been a better thrower than runner. Duggan is obviously a true freshman, a very good recruit, but not an elite one. Neither of those guys give me a lot of hope that the offense is going to make a big jump this year, although they have Jalen Reagor back at WR, their top two backs, and four starters from the O-line.

The defense is usually pretty good under Patterson and much more predictable than the offense, but they do lose seven of their top eight tacklers. Included in that is two stud DEs that were early draft choices. In fact, 26 of their 36 sacks from last year are gone.

The schedule rates easier overall, but they’ll need to win some road games. They have six of them. You can pencil in the Frogs winning their first three home games, but Texas and Baylor will both give them games in Fort Worth. All six road games are with potential bowl teams and teams like Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State may be playing for more than that.

Baylor – over 7.5 (-115) – 3*

Matt Rhule’s first two years at Baylor have a striking resemblance to his first two years at Temple, at least in terms of his record.

Year 1 at Temple: 2-10, 1-7 in AAC
Year 1 at Baylor: 1-11, 1-8 in Big 12

Year 2 at Temple: 6-6, 4-4 in AAC
Year 2 at Baylor: 7-6, 4-5 in Big 12

Year 3 at Temple: 10-4, 7-1 in AAC, played in AAC title game, ranked for 2nd half of season
Year 3 at Baylor: ?

You can lose a lot of money betting by just assuming that history is going to repeat itself when the history is a pretty limited sample size. But in this case, it’s not outlandish to think it just might.

The Bears have continuity on both sides of the ball. Charlie Brewer is back and appears to be getting better all the time. Bowl games are overrated, but Brewer had nearly 500 yards of offense against Vandy without his top WR.

The only loss in the skill group is Jalen Hurd. He was their top WR, but the passing game will be fine without him. O-line will still be a question mark this season. They’ve given up a ton of sacks the last couple years, but were much better last year in run-blocking than Rhule’s first year.

The defense showed some mild improvement last year, but I’d expect more this year with most of their best players back.

The schedule sets up about as good as one could hope. The non-con should be three easy wins. They get the top three – OU, Texas, and ISU – in Waco. Two of their road games are at the Kansas schools. It could be a great year for the Bears.

Oklahoma State – under 7.5 (-125) – 1*

How do you properly evaluate a team that went 4-1 against Top 25 teams, lost by a point at Oklahoma, but then also got killed at home by Texas Tech and at Kansas State and finished 7-6?

It appears that Mike Gundy is planning on playing two quarterbacks. This is a cause for concern at a lot of places, but Gundy usually figures it out in QB situations like this. He’s got two pretty good options.

He also has a new OC. Mike Yurcich was a good one, but he brings in Sean Gleeson from Princeton. Not the most conventional hire, but it appears to be another good one. Gleeson’s Princeton offense averaged 47.0 PPG last year on their way to going 10-0. The Tigers scored 50+ in half of their games. Not bad.

As long as the QB situation gets figured out, it should be a great offense. Chuba Hubbard averaged 6.0 yards per carry last year and the line will be more experienced this year. Tylan Wallace is one of the best WRs in the country and both of the slot guys are back.

The defense has less reason to be optimistic. They were bad last year and now they have to replace their entire defensive line and will be relying on transfers and JUCOs to make a difference.

The schedule in conference is a mix of good and bad. They play at Texas and Iowa State, but get OU, TCU, and Baylor at home. The non-con appears pretty weak, but early road trips to Oregon State and Tulsa could be tricky if the QBs aren’t ready to go.

Texas Tech – under 6.5 (-140) – 1*

Texas Tech’s regular season records since Craig James got Mike Leach fired: 7-5, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5, 4-8, 7-5, 5-7, 6-6, 5-7. That’s pretty damn consistent.

Now throw in new head coach Matt Wells, whose last five years as a HC look like this: 10-4, 6-7, 3-9, 6-7, 11-2. That’s pretty damn inconsistently consistent.

Wells is also a guy that is known much more for his steady defenses. The offenses he had at Utah State were all over the map, ending with an elite one that propelled him to this job.

It’ll be interesting to see what Wells and his DC Keith Patterson can do in Lubbock. While there were significant strides made the past couple years on defense here, it’s far from a finished project.

Health of the QB position will be the key to the offense. Alan Bowman clearly established himself as the best option, but battled a collapsing lung and was in and out of the job. There’s experience back at RB, but obviously that hasn’t been a featured position. The leading returning rusher is actually backup QB Jeff Duffey.

The top two receivers are gone, but the O-line has four starters returning.

The Red Raiders have six road games this year and two of them are Oklahoma and Texas. They start the year with two layups, but have to go to Arizona for Week 3.

Kansas State – over 5.5 (+130) – 1*

Best of luck to Chris Klieman. The last guy they picked to take over for Bill Snyder had the second-highest winning percentage in school history and they ran him out of town after three years. Of course, Klieman is a little more experienced with this role than Ron Prince. Klieman took over for Craig Bohl after Bohl won three straight national titles. Klieman responded by winning four out of his five years as the head man.

Klieman isn’t taking over the Wildcat program at its peak. They were just 5-7 last year and only averaged 22.5 PPG.

Skylar Thompson is back at QB, but he loses basically all of his backfield mates and now will be joined by a pair of transfers. Also gone is basically anyone Thompson threw to last year, with the exception of Dalton Schoen. Three starters are back on the O-line, but one of the losses is All-American Dalton Risner.

The defense has eight starters back. Getting pressure on the QB has been an issue the past couple of years. While new DC Scottie Hazelton did a good job at Wyoming, they didn’t get a lot of pressure on the QB, either. With that said, this is clearly the stronger side of the football for K-State.

West Virginia – over 5.5 (+150) – 3*

I probably like a few 2* picks a bit better than this one, but the value here supersedes some of the fears I have with this team.

The market’s predicting a bowl-less season for the Mountaineers and it’s not hard to figure why. They only have eight starters back, gone are Will Grier and his top four pass-catchers, and Dana Holgorsen is gone, too. They also play a pretty tough schedule.

Two big reasons I’m going the other way: program history and Neal Brown.

WVU has made a bowl game in 16 of the last 17 seasons. Not many programs can boast that type of consistency.

And Neal Brown is why I expect that run to keep going, if not get even better. Brown spent four years at Troy. He took over a 3-9 program and immediately turned it around. They went just 4-8 in Year 1, but that doesn’t really signify how much better they got immediately. They improved the scoring margin by 14 PPG, despite playing three Power 5 teams on the road. All four wins were blowouts and they lost three close games.

The Trojans then rattled off three seasons with double-digit wins. They went 20-4 in the Sun Belt. Their three losses outside of conference play were to Clemson (by six) and Boise State twice. They also won at Nebraska last year. They won all three bowl games.

What I’m trying to say is that Neal Brown is an awesome fucking coach and it’s an unbelievable win for WVU that they were able to get him so late in the coaching carousel.

Now there is a lot of turnover to deal with on the roster. But a good place to start is transfer QB Austin Kendall. From the sounds of it, Kendall pretty clearly won the job this offseason. And it should come as no surprise. Kendall was a stud recruit who’s been waiting his turn at Oklahoma until all the Heisman winners and #1 overall picks clear out of the room.

They do lose the top four pass-catchers, but all is not lost in the receiving department. They still have four guys coming back that caught over 15 passes and had a touchdown. The running back room is loaded and should be a great benefit to Kendall.

The defense loses their top tackler and pass rusher in LB David Long, but Alabama transfer VanDarius Cowan may end up being just as good. The problem is he’s suspended for the first four games.

The secondary should be the star of the show, but don’t sleep on the D-line. DC Vic Koenning turned Troy’s front in to one of the best in the Group of 5.

The schedule is fairly difficult. James Madison shouldn’t be a problem in the opener, but still, they’re probably the second-best FCS program in the country. The Mountaineers then go at Missouri and home for NC State to round out the non-con. The road schedule in league play: OU, Baylor, TCU, K-State, and Kansas.

Kansas – under 3 (-130) – 1*

Les Miles taking over makes a depressing program infinitely more fun, but they’re probably still going to suck.

BEST BET TO WIN BIG 12

Baylor +1800

The schedule sets up really well for the Bears and if they improve as much as they did last year, they’ll be a contender.

2019 CFB Season Win Totals: MW Mountain

SEC: West / East
Big Ten: East / West
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
Independents

Pac-12: South / North
MW: West

Boise State – under 10 (-130) – 1*

The Broncos are staggeringly consistent. They’re going to win nine or ten games in the regular season, they’re going to score in the mid-to-high 30s, they’re going to give up somewhere in the low 20s, and they’re going to be a real tough out on the blue turf.

Usually, there’s not much sense in discussing who’s moved on and who’s coming back because it never seems to matter, but there is a pretty noteworthy departure this year: QB Brett Rypien. Rypien has been the starting QB for the last four years. He’s not irreplaceable, but it’s hard not to expect some form of drop-off. The battle to replace him is still ongoing.

While the QB situation is a reason to expect the under, the schedule is not. Aside from the opener against Florida State and road games at BYU and Utah State, it’s hard to find potential losses. Boise avoids SDSU, Fresno, and Nevada out of the West and gets Hawaii at home.

Air Force – over 7.5 (-110) – 2*

The Falcons went 5-7 for a second consecutive year last year, but the most they lost by in those seven defeats was 10 points. Their average margin of victory in those five wins was 19.6 PPG. Those type of figures typically indicate that things are going to get better the next year.

Also a good indicator: seven starters coming back on both sides of the ball. The last couple times Troy Calhoun has had this amount of experience coming back, they’ve gone 10-3 each season.

The running game will be great, even by triple-option standards. They even developed a bit of a passing game when DJ Hammond took over at QB, although he needs to find some new receivers.

The schedule indicates that Air Force could be in for a lot of close games again. There’s no game out of reach, but they’ll have to win some road games to hit the over. That’s spelled some trouble for them over the years, as they’re 21-37 (36%) on the road the last ten years compared to 45-17 (73%) at home. With home games against Fresno, Utah State, and Army, it likely won’t be a clean sweep in Colorado Springs this year.

Utah State – over 6.5 (-125) – 1*

The Aggies are a tough read this season. They’re coming of an 11-2 season in which their only losses were at Michigan State and Boise State. However, they have massive turnover on offense. The one guy they didn’t lose though – Jordan Love – is one of the best QBs in the country. The defense will likely be excellent.

However, the big news is that Gary Andersen is back as HC. Andersen built up the program for one great year, left, Matt Wells maintained for a couple years, dipped down to 3-9 in his fourth year, and then went 11-2 in his sixth. Now we’re here. This is not a Boise situation where you know they’re going to win at least eight games a year. There has been three seasons of double digit wins the past decade. There have been three seasons of 4-8 or worse and four seasons of in-between. I have no clue where they’ll land this year.

Wyoming – over 5.5 (-110) – 2*

The progression of the Cowboys in Craig Bohl’s five years, via Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings:

bohl.png

It’s hard to bet against that steady, never-ending progression. Especially when they’re coached by a guy that grew a program for eight years and then rattled off three straight national championships.

But they do have some big losses this year, specifically 1,300 yard rusher Nico Evans, two multi-year starters on the O-line, and three starters from the D-line. Those are kind of the essentials of Bohl teams.

New Mexico – under 4.5 (-130) – 4*

Every indication out there is that New Mexico is a sinking ship: declining records, declining attendance, conference competition rising, turnover on the coaching staff, a head coach that’s a dead man walking, and now an influx of JUCOs to try to patch together a miracle.

The offense could be interesting, but they’re primarily an option team that struggled to run the ball last year and whose leading returning rusher had 286 yards last year and was projected to be the second-string QB this year. “Was” is the operative word. Projected starter Tevaka Tuioti has missed the majority of camp while he’s at home with his family.

The 26.6 PPG average doesn’t look horrible from last year, but they did it only averaging 12.4 yards per play. A number that low typically indicates that there was some luck involved and the scoring numbers will drop the following season. For example, the Lobos averaged 12.5 YPP in 2016 and averaged 16 less points a game in 2017.

They also have a new OC – Joe Dailey – who comes from Liberty, where they do not primarily run the option. Dailey had some good offenses at Liberty, but it took a little while and this scheme will be new to the Lobos. Dailey essentially got the job because he was out of one and Liberty hung 52 points on UNM last year.

Which brings us to the defense. They’ve largely been a doormat and there is little continuity on that side of the ball. They only have two starters coming back and over half of the guys that merely played last year are gone. 10 of the top 11 tacklers have moved on. The line may be relatively okay, but the back seven is entirely new and being stitched together with transfers, JUCOs, and guys coming off major injuries. Their new DC is their safeties coach from the last couple years.

The back half of the schedule looks like a nightmare for them right now. Analytics would suggest that the Lobos would be at least touchdown dogs in all six.

That means they’ve gotta make hay while the sun peaks over the clouds in the front half. The easy one should be the opener with Sam Houston State, but the Bearkats are one of the best FCS programs in the country and they’re coming off a disappointing season. They’ll be fired up to get their shot at an FBS team for the first time in years.

Even if you give them that win, they’ll lose at Notre Dame in game two. From there they have four tossup games: NMSU, @ Liberty, @ SJSU, and Colorado State. The NMSU rivalry has been back-and-forth the last five years. Liberty beat them in Albuquerque last year. SJSU stinks, but they’ve at least been trending up. And finally, the Lobos haven’t beat CSU in their last nine tries.

Also noteworthy: the Lobos don’t have a bye for ten straight weeks during the season.

Again, I think this program is headed down the wrong path. They’ve ended the last two years on seven-game losing streaks.

Colorado State – over 3.5 (-110) – 1*

Things really couldn’t have been more setup for the Rams to fail last year. They were the least-experienced team in the country last year and Mike Bobo had major health issues all the way from training camp to the middle of the season. The schedule doesn’t set them up for a huge year, but they’ve got enough talent to make a bowl with a little more experience this year.

BEST BET TO WIN MOUNTAIN WEST

Boise State +110

The QB position is an unknown, but otherwise, it’s hard to find many concerns. The schedule just sets up so well for them in league play. Of the three potential losses I mentioned for them, two of them are out of conference. They don’t have to play three of the top four teams from the West – the deeper division this year – and the one they do play is at home.

It’s hard to see Utah State maintaining at a top level again this year with so much turnover. Air Force may be the best competition in the division and the Falcons will have to visit Boise. I don’t think there’s much doubt that Boise is going to win the Mountain.

I think there’s going to be much more competition in the West and that will likely lead their champion to have a couple losses. Whoever has the better conference record will be the host of the championship game and I’d expect that to be the Broncos.

2019 CFB Season Win Totals: MW West

SEC: West / East
Big Ten: East / West
ACC: Atlantic / Coastal
Independents

Pac-12: South / North

San Diego State – over 8 (even) – 2*

San Diego State’s regular season records since Rocky Long took over in 2011: 8-4, 9-3, 7-5, 7-5, 9-3, 9-3, 10-2, 7-5. So we’re right in the pocket with the total.

Last year was a bit confusing with the Aztecs. After beating Arizona State in Week 3 and winning at Boise State in Week 5 to get to 4-1 (lone loss was at Stanford), things slowly slipped off the rails. They struggled to beat AFA and SJSU at home, and then lost five of their last six. Several of them were close losses, but the defense unraveled a bit.

The O-line loses three starters, but it might not be the worst thing because they weren’t very good last year. Juwan Washington is back at RB and so are several other backs that will contribute. QB Ryan Agnew will take over full-time after a weird back-and-forth with Christian Chapman last year. Apparently the Aztecs are going to spread things out more this year, which may help both in the run and pass game that often felt congested.

The defense only returns five starters and loses all three defensive linemen, but they’ve still got some of the Mountain West’s best defenders and the back eight may be the best in the league. Rocky Long hasn’t had a bad defense in years.

The schedule is extremely manageable this year. They have a road game that’s a tossup at UCLA, otherwise they’re clear favorites right now in their five other road games. The place where the season will be decided is SDCCU Stadium where they play play Utah State, Fresno State, and BYU.

Fresno State – over 8 (even) – 1*

Fresno has ruled the West since Jeff Tedford took back control of the program, but a total rebuild on offense will make it tough to win the division for a third straight time.

It’s hard to envision the offense operating on the same level with Marcus McMaryion gone, his three starting WRs, and four starting offensive linemen. Between throwing and running, McMaryion had his hands in two-thirds of the offensive yardage last year.

The front four and back four of the defense are elite units at the Group of 5 level. The linebackers are the only real question of the defense after losing five of their top six from 2018.

It’s hard to envision the Bulldogs being as good this year, but it’s also really hard to envision too much of a drop under Tedford. He took over a 1-11 team and won 22 games with them the next two years. He’s earned a great deal of respect.

Nevada – over 6 (-115) – 1*

The Wolf Pack haven’t experienced the unfathomable turnaround under Jay Norvell like Fresno has under Tedford, but there’s been steady gains in every area since Norvell took over in 2017. An 8-5 season and great recruiting have things looking up in Reno.

But the big jump probably won’t be happening just yet. There are some big losses on both sides of the ball and the schedule puts a cap on their potential. They have road games at Oregon, Utah State, SDSU, and Fresno.

Hawaii – over 5.5 (-130) – 3*

First things first, the Rainbow Warriors have the best QB in the division. Cole McDonald was on an absolute tear until he injured his foot midway through the season. Regardless, he still ended up with 40 TDs. He loses his best WR, but he still has his second and third best who combined for 130 catches and 18 TDs. He also has his top three RBs and the entire O-line. The OL was problematic in 2018, but it was an entirely new unit and you’d expect major improvement with so much continuity.

Admittedly, the defense has not been good under Nick Rolovich. However, there’s reasons to be optimistic this year. Rolovich had three different DCs in his first three years. Corey Batoon will be the first DC to come back for a second year.

The defense has also had only five starters returning each of the last three years. This year, they have nearly double that with nine starters returning, including 14 of their top 17 tacklers. It’s an aggressive unit that will start ten upperclassmen this year. If they can limit big plays, they should be much improved.

The biggest thing about the schedule: there’s 13 games on it and eight of them are in Honolulu. They open with a mini Pac-12 schedule: Arizona and Oregon State at home and Washington on the road. They’re not going to win at Washington and probably won’t later on in the season at Boise, either. But you can also pencil in wins at home against Central Arkansas and San Jose State. Essentially, they have nine tossup games that they have to win four of and six of them will be at home. In addition to the homefield advantage, not a single one of them has more production coming back this year that the Warriors.

UNLV – under 4.5 (-140) – 1*

I just have zero feel for the Rebels and it pretty much all has to do with Armani Rogers. UNLV is a lot better when Rogers is running the offense, but he’s had trouble staying in the lineup the last two years. The defense hasn’t been good for years. They’d only be clear favorites in two games right now and they’d be double-digit dogs in five games.

San Jose State – under 2.5 (+165) – 2*

There’s reasons to think the Spartans are going to be better than their 1-11 record last year, but it’s currently -190 that they at least go 3-9 this year. They don’t have an overwhelming amount of contributors coming back, they don’t add in a bunch of talented transfer castoffs, and the schedule doesn’t get considerably easier. They’ll win their opener against NCU, but then they’re probably only going to be favored one more time and only have a puncher’s chance in two more games.