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.
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.