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    Default More Conference Previews for 2017

    2017 Big Ten conference betting preview and odds: Beasts of the East

    Penn State won the Big Ten title last season, but it was Ohio State who made it to the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes are the faves to win in 2017, so expect the Nittany Lions to be motivated to prove 2017 was no fluke. Matt Fargo breaks down the whole conference and gives his regular season win total picks.

    Big Ten East

    Ohio State Buckeyes (2016: 11-2 SU, 6-7 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: -115
    Season win total: 10.5

    Why to bet the Buckeyes: Motivation. Ohio St. made it to the College Football Playoff last season but was embarrassed 31-0 by eventual champion Clemson. Going 11-1 during the regular season meant nothing because of that loss to the Tigers and the Buckeyes will be out to return by going 13-0. They bring back quarterback J.T. Barrett and possess one of the best offensive lines in the country so the offense will thrive under new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. Ohio St. is again strong on defense and the schedule is on its side with three of its four toughest games taking place at home.

    Why not to bet the Buckeyes: There is certainly going to be a lot of pressure to make it back to the CFP for the third time in four years and the Big Ten is no pushover. The Buckeyes had some close calls last season with two overtime wins and two other wins by a combined five points and those could go the other way this season should there be close games. While the defense will have one of the best front fours in the nation, the back seven has to replace a lot of talent with the secondary taking the biggest brunt in the NFL draft. Ohio St. also has to replace its top three receivers on offense.

    Season win total pick: Over 10.5

    Penn St. Nittany Lions (2016: 11-3 SU, 10-3-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +500
    Season win total: 10

    Why to bet the Nittany Lions: While motivation is a common theme for the top teams in the Big Ten, Penn St. should be the most motivated. The Nittany Lions defeated Ohio St. during the regular season and then beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship but was not considered for the CFP. There is enough talent in place on both sides of the ball to repeat as Big Ten East Champions but it of course will have to get by Ohio St. for a second straight season. The offense was one of the best in the country last season and will be better in 2017 while the defense will again be tough.

    Why not to bet the Nittany Lions: That trip to Ohio St. could be a season killer as a loss there could make things tougher the next week when they travel to Michigan St. The offense was great last season but they had to play catch up on numerous occasions and not because of the defense but because the Nittany Lions were one of the slowest starting teams on offense in the nation. That put pressure on the defense which this year has to replace key pass rushers so that defense could not be as strong late in games. The Nittany Lions also have other tough road games at Iowa and Northwestern.

    Season win total pick: Under 10

    Michigan Wolverines (2016: 10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +600
    Season win total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Wolverines: There is plenty of motivation for the Wolverines as well after a brutal overtime loss at Ohio St. and a one-point loss to Florida St. in the Orange Bowl last season. Michigan recruited well once again and has some of the best incoming talent in the conference and already possesses an NFL caliber quarterback in Wilton Speight. The Wolverines have finished third in the Big Ten East in two seasons under Jim Harbaugh, both of which finished at 10-3, and now with this being mainly his recruits, it could be time for Michigan to take that next step.

    Why not to bet the Wolverines: While the talent is there, it is very raw. Michigan is returning only five starters this season, which is the fewest in the country. Of this, only one starter is back on the defense which finished No. 1 in the nation in total defense and No. 2 in scoring defense. That is a lot to replace and success will not happen overnight. The Wolverines will be tested right away with an opening game against Florida in Arlington and must take on Penn St. and Wisconsin on the road later in the season. This could be the best team in the country, but not until 2018.

    Season win total pick: Under 8.5

    Michigan St. Spartans (2016: 3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +3300
    Season win total: 5

    Why to bet the Spartans: Michigan St. is coming off its worst season even under head coach Mark Dantonio and its first losing season since 2009. The three wins were the fewest since 1994 and this coming after a berth in the CFP in 2015 but all of this means we can buy low. Both offense and defense were dreadful last season as the offense had too many turnovers and the defense could not get off the field. The Spartans return only nine starters overall so this can be considered a rebuild by some but this is more of a reload as top programs do not stay down long.

    Why not to bet the Spartans: With Michigan and Ohio St. dominating the recruiting, the Spartans may not be getting the talent they once were which could be putting them on the decline. Turnovers were contagious but the Spartans also committed way too many penalties and that can go back to the coaching staff. Michigan St. could not win in the trenches, allowing 27 sacks while generating only 11 of its own. They have arguably the toughest schedule in the Big Ten as they are at Ohio St. and Michigan and host Penn St. and Iowa in addition to five other games against bowl teams from last year.

    Season win total pick: Over 5

    Indiana Hoosiers (2016: 6-7 SU, 6-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +8000
    Season win total: 6.5

    Why to bet the Hoosiers: Head coach Kevin Wilson left for Ohio St. but he did not leave the cupboard bare. The passing attack is potent led by quarterback Richard Lagow who threw for 3.362 yards and 19 touchdowns and he gets a great receiving corps back to pass to. The defense returns nine starters, the most of any Big Ten team, and while that normally would not lead to excitement, Indiana finished No. 45 in total defense, allowing 380.1 ypg, which is the fewest it has allowed since 2001. The schedule sets up well for making it to a third straight bowl game.

    Why not to bet the Hoosiers: While the pieces are in place, the loss of Wilson is big considering he was forced to resign over philosophical differences. The coaching switch should be seamless but how much improvement will there actually be? This team was very solid last season yet still finished 6-7 for a second straight year and now they are being asked to up that this season. Lagow had solid numbers but to go along with his 19 touchdowns, he also threw 17 picks. Opening the season against Ohio St. seems unfair and could put the Hoosiers in a bad place before the season has barely started.

    Season win total pick: Under 6.5

    Maryland Terrapins (2016: 6-7 SU, 4-9 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +10000
    Season win total: 3

    Why to bet the Terrapins: The rebuilding process is taking shape at Maryland as head coach D.J. Durkin got the Terrapins back into a bowl game in his first season and he brought in a loaded recruiting class for this season. 14 starters are back, seven on each side of the ball, and both units are in good position. The offense has solid playmakers and quarterback Kasim Hill comes in as one of the most highly touted recruits in a very long time. The defense has plenty of experience back even beyond the starters and they should improve upon their No. 77 total defense ranking from last season.

    Why not to bet the Terrapins: Hill is a blue-chip recruit but that does not mean a thing until he starts to produce and he may still not even start. Last season, three different Terrapins started, and four quarterbacks had at least 33 passing attempts so a quarterback to emerge is vital. After allowing 25 sacks in 2015, the offensive line gave up nearly double that as they allowed 49 sacks last season. The schedule was brutal last season and while they passed the test, the schedule is even more demanding this year with four tough Big Ten road games and home games against Michigan and Penn St.

    Season win total pick: Over 3

    Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2016: 2-10 SU, 4-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +25000
    Season win total: 3

    Why to bet the Scarlet Knights: Rutgers is coming off its worst season since 2002 as it won just two games and one of those was against Howard of the FCS. The offense was so bad within the conference as it scored seven points or less in six of nine Big Ten games including getting shutout four times. Johnathan Lewis is a four-star recruit at quarterback which is a position that has been desolate for years. He may not have success right away but paves the way for a bright future. Defensively, 10 of the top 13 tacklers are back which given them hope to slow some teams down and stay competitive.

    Why not to bet the Scarlet Knights: Turning around the worst scoring offense in the country is a tall task and it will take Lewis time to get comfortable at the next level, if he even gets a chance as a true freshman. Rutgers was outscored by 127 points in the first quarter last season and playing catch up was something it was unable to do and it will be unable to do so again this season. The Scarlet Knights were unable to even compete with the big boys, losing by a combined 224-0 against Ohio St., Michigan, Michigan St. and Penn St. and all are back on the schedule this year.

    Season win total pick: Over 3


    Big Ten West

    Wisconsin Badgers (2016: 11-3 SU, 9-4-1 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: +300
    Season win total: 10.5

    Why to bet the Badgers: As is the case almost every year, the defense is the strength of Wisconsin and this year it has the potential to be one of the best units in recent program history. The Badgers lost only four starters on defense and while they are big losses, it is a reload and not a rebuild. They are even better off on offense with eight starters back including quarterback Alex Hornibrook who should be much better after getting thrown into the fire as a freshman. The schedule sets up great as they do not face Ohio St. and Penn St. and they get Michigan and Iowa at home.

    Why not to bet the Badgers: Even though the offense returns a bulk of the starters from last season, it was a bad unit as the Badgers were No. 89 in total offense and No. 67 in scoring offense. Wisconsin scored 23 or fewer points seven times and two of those were overtime games. A year later, it will be better but how much better is the question as they relied on their defense too much. Wisconsin must replace another defense coordinator as Justin Wilcox left for the California head coaching job and in comes unproven Jim Leonhard. The defense needs some of the pressure taken off it.

    Season win total pick: Under 10.5

    Northwestern Wildcats (2016: 7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +2000
    Season win total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Wildcats: The Wildcats defense last season was a bend-don’t-break unit as they finished No. 24 in points allowed and did not give up more than 29 points in any game. And this was with a secondary that was decimated with injuries. Northwestern brings back eight starters so the chance for improvement is there. The offense was far from strong however as it scored 21 points or less six times, all resulting in losses. Eight starters return on this side as well including running back Justin Jackson, a 1,500-yard rusher, and quarterback Clayton Thorson.

    Why not to bet the Wildcats: While the offense brings back of bunch of starters from last season, that does not necessarily mean it will be much better. A lot of this comes down to the offensive line which allowed 39 sacks and improving an offensive line does not happen right away. This will continue to put pressure on the defense to again keep games close and that may not happen a second straight season. The Wildcats lost to Western Michigan and Illinois St. to open last season and facing Nevada, Duke and Bowling Green to start this season may look encouraging but they again could be traps.

    Season win total pick: Over 8.5

    Nebraska Cornhuskers (2016: 9-4 SU, 6-5-2 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +2000
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Cornhuskers: Nebraska has won at least nine games in eight of the last nine years but are projected well below that this season which creates some value. Neither the offense nor the defense all great enough to carry the team but both are adequate enough to keep the Cornhuskers in games. The loss of quarterback Tommy Armstrong is a blow but transfer Tanner Lee showed he is capable to make the offense better. The defense should be more physical with the hiring of former Connecticut head coach Bob Diaco as defensive coordinator and the return of six key starters.

    Why not to bet the Cornhuskers: Nebraska brings back the third fewest starters in the Big Ten and that is not a good thing in a conference that is getting stronger overall. This includes just four returnees on offense with half of those coming from the offensive line which is not a strong unit to begin with. A total of 70 percent of the rushing yards, 63 percent of the receiving yards and 62 percent of receptions from 2016 will be gone and that is a lot to replace. A road game at Oregon in Week Two could set the tone and there are only five games on the schedule that can be counted as sure wins.

    Season win total pick: Over 7

    Iowa Hawkeyes (2016: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +2200
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Hawkeyes: There in nothing flamboyant about the Hawkeyes, but there never is. Iowa succeeded last season with a solid running game and strong defense which is usually a carbon copy of every year. It is imperative for the offense to have some sort of passing game as last year, the Hawkeyes finished No. 118 in the country in passing offense but they have one of the best offensive lines around and they should also improve with a new quarterback taking over. The defense returns eight starters that finished No. 23 overall and No. 13 in points allowed.

    Why not to bet the Hawkeyes: Coming up with a downfield passing attack is easier said than done. The Hawkeyes have struggled with this for years and the offense has not been able to generate much to help the defense. Iowa was on the field for only 27 minutes per game last season on offense and that will be a problem again. The schedule is not easy with crossover games against Ohio St. and Penn St. and the three toughest games from the West Division coming on the road.

    Season win total pick: Under 7

    Minnesota Golden Gophers (2016: 9-4 SU, 5-5-3 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +2800
    Season win total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Golden Gophers: Last season was a special one as Minnesota won at least nine games for only the second time since 1906. Was that just an anomaly or have the Gophers turned the corner? They have made five straight bowl appearances and bring in a great coaching prospect in P.J. Fleck that can jumpstart a pretty dormant offense. The offensive line is the biggest in the conference and opens holes for two great running backs so any sort of passing attack upgrade will do wonders. Five of nine Big Ten games are at home while three of the four road games are winnable.

    Why not to bet the Golden Gophers: Minnesota has won eight or more games in consecutive seasons only twice since 1962 and it will have to do it again to surpass the Vegas win total. The defense was surprisingly good last season but there is a new defensive coordinator as well with Robb Smith so that could cause some issues. That means the offense has to get better and with two unproven quarterbacks battling for the starting spot, that may not happen for a while. The back end of the schedule is brutal with the last five games against teams that went bowling a season ago.

    Season win total pick: Under 7.5

    Illinois Fighting Illini (2016: 3-9 SU, 5-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +20000
    Season win total: 3.5

    Why to bet the Illini: The first year of the Lovie Smith era did not go as planned but there was not a lot to work with. The offense had regressed each of the last four years and last season was the worst yet as it finished No. 123 in total offense and No. 122 in scoring offense. There is nowhere to go but up. The same can be said for the defense that underachieved last season and allowed close to 32 ppg. The second year of a new coaching staff usually shows progress and that is the hope here. The nonconference schedule is not bad and there are some winnable home Big Ten games.

    Why not to bet the Illini: The best news coming into the offseason was the signing of JUCO quarterback Dwayne Lawson which was considered a savior for the inept offense. Unfortunately, he had academic issues and he did not enroll so the Illini are stuck at the quarterback position with little talent. Defensively, the Illini lost their entire front four and that is not good considering the defense allowed over 219 ypg on the ground. It is going to be at least another year until the rebuild starts to take shape and with the lack of talent on both sides, surpassing the win total from last year will be tough.

    Season win total pick: Under 3.5

    Purdue Boilermakers (2016: 3-9 SU, 5-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +20000
    Season win total: 2.5

    Why to bet the Boilermakers: Purdue has not been relevant since the Joe Tiller days as Danny Hope and Darrell Hazell could not turn things around with Hazell winning just nine games in his four years. Enter Jeff Brohm who led Western Kentucky to success and produced the top ranked scoring offense last season. Quarterback David Blough will fit well into this system and the offense will no doubt improve upon its No. 101 ranking in points scored. The Boilermakers were even worse on defense but they will improve there as well but the total rebuild will take some time.

    Why not to bet the Boilermakers: Brohm may have the quarterback he wants but he is still lacking the talent to compete with the big boys so this is not going to happen overnight. Lack of receiver depth hurts and the offensive line is below average. The defense was so bad last season that even major improvement may not help. Purdue was awful at stopping the run and was one of the worst teams in the country in third down defense. Continuing to improve as the season goes along is the ultimate goal but anything more than five wins is unlikely.

    Season win total pick: Over 2.5
    Last edited by Udog; 07-30-2017 at 10:47 AM.

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    2017 SEC betting preview and odds: Don't expect Alabama to stop rolling

    A motivated Alabama team is a scary thought. And that's exactly what the Crimson Tide will be after falling short in the national championship last season. But it all starts in the SEC, where 'Bama will try to win their sixth conference title since 2009 and fourth in a row. Steve Merril breaks down each program's chances and gives his season win total picks.

    SEC East

    Florida Gators (2016: 9-4 SU, 5-7-1 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: +800
    Season win total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Gators: There is a lot of hope and optimism surrounding the Florida offense which sees nine starters back. Feleipe Franks was impressive during the offseason and for most of the season he should have Antonio Callaway who is an underrated receiver. The schedule lines up nicely with LSU and Florida State both coming to the Swamp.

    Why not to bet the Gators: Callaway may be suspended for the opener against Michigan due to some offseason issues. While Randy Shannon is a solid defensive coordinator, there are still only three starters back and a lot of inexperience on the stop unit. The offense needs to improve after averaging 24 points per game or less in three of the past four seasons.

    Season win total pick: Under 8.5

    Georgia Bulldogs (2016: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +700
    Season win total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Bulldogs: Georgia's defense has pretty much everyone back from a unit that ranked 16th overall in total yards allowed. Jacob Eason threw for 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year as quarterback. He's got Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in the backfield keeping teams honest and improving their NFL Draft stock. The offensive line is going to help those guys big time.

    Why not to bet the Bulldogs: The wide reciever group other then Terry Godwin and Javon Wims is rather unimpressive. Rodrigo Blankenship struggled from long range as kicker for the Bulldogs and wasn't very good at kickoffs either. They have tough trips to Notre Dame, Auburn and Georgia Tech.

    Season win total pick: Under 8.5

    Kentucky Wildcats (2016: 7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +10000
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Wildcats: Kentucky may have gained a little bit of a winner's mentality after last year's dash to make a bowl. They beat Louisville at their place and return 16 starters overall. Freshman All-American Benny Snell ran for over 1,000 yards in 2016 and should be able to alleviate some pressure on Stephen Johnson under center. Several weapons also are on the team at wide receiver.

    Why not to bet the Wildcats: The defense is strong in the back end, but up front they need to improve from the 110th ranked rush defense. Teams will continue to pound the ball and play time possession against the UK offense. Florida, Tennessee and Louisville all come to Lexington, but the Wildcats need to show they can defend their home field against better schools.

    Season win total pick: Over 7

    Missouri Tigers (2016: 4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +20000
    Season win total: 6.5

    Why to bet the Tigers: The offense experienced a lot of improvement as they averaged over 30 points per game last year. Drew Lock took to Josh Heupel's offense with a 23/10 TD/INT ratio. J'Mon Moore came on strong near the end of the season with almost 30 catches over the last three contests. Four straight home games to open up this season will help build confidence. They play Missouri State, Idaho, Purdue and UConn out of conference.

    Why not to bet the Tigers: Yikes, the defense was pretty bad last year allowing nearly 500 yards per game. Only three starters are back and one of those is in the front seven. There will be some growing pains in the secondary with both Aarion Penton and John Gibson III graduating. Tucker McCann was pretty bad at kicker as a freshman. Finishing out the year with Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas is tough.

    Season win total pick: Under 6.5

    South Carolina Gamecocks (2016: 6-7 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +9000
    Season win total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Gamecocks: Jake Bentley is probably the best quarterback returning in the SEC East. He had just four interceptions in 190 attempts in 2016. Deebo Samuel is worth building around out wide. The offensive line is pretty much intact so there's no excuse for any slow start from the offense. Skai Moore is coming back from an injury after missing last season.

    Why not to bet the Gamecocks: They couldn't get to the quarterback last year and will find it difficult to do so again in 2017. Elliott Fry, the school's all-time leading scorer is gone so they'll have to find a new kicker to replace him. The non-conference schedule has some dangerous games with NC State, Clemson and Louisiana Tech.

    Season win total pick: Over 5.5

    Tennessee Volunteers (2016: 9-4 SU, 6-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +2000
    Season win total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Volunteers: Early reviews of Quinten Dormady have been good this offseason. He has big shoes to fill now that Josh Dobbs has moved on. Jauan Jennings is a good No. 1 receiver and will have to be with a lack of depth behind him. There aren't as many expectations in 2017 after the team fell well short last year of what the public expected.

    Why not to bet the Volunteers: Depth is an issue at some key positions. As mentioned above, the wide receivers aren't great behind Jennings. The running backs behind Ty Kelly need some work as well. Defensively, they have to replace Derek Barnett who went to the Eagles. Injuries kept a lot of the first-team defense off the field during spring practice.

    Season win total pick: Under 7.5

    Vanderbilt Commodores (2016: 6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +22500
    Season win total: 6

    Why to bet the Commodores: Ralph Webb doesn't get enough credit for how good of a running back he is after rushing for 13 touchdowns. If Kyle Shurmur figures things out, he has Trent Sherfield, Caleb Scott and C.J. Duncan at wideout. The offensive line should be solid with three starters returning. Derek Mason finally got this team to a bowl game last year so there should be some confidence.

    Why not to bet the Commodores: Zach Cunningham isn't leaping over offensive lines anymore as he took his talent to the NFL. Shurmur threw nine touchdown passes to 10 interceptions. He obviously needs to pick it up if the offense hopes to use their weapons. Alabama and Georgia both come to Nashville, but the Commodores don't exactly have a strong home field advantage.

    Season win total pick: Under 6


    SEC WEST

    Alabama Crimson Tide (2016: 14-1 SU, 10-5 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: -160
    Season win total: 10.5

    Why to bet the Crimson Tide: An angry Tide team coming off a national championship game loss should be a motivated team this year. Jalen Hurts is showing improvement and he has Tua Tagovailoa right behind him. The ground game will be strong with Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough who punish their opponents. Calvin Ridley had 72 receptions last season and is back this year.

    Why not to bet the Crimson Tide: There's not a lot to hate about the 2017 Crimson Tide. The defense returns only six starters, but still has proven talent on every level. Replacing O.J. Howard will be tough because he was a game changer at tight end. Florida State will provide a challenge in the season opener with a tough road game at Auburn closing things out.

    Season win total pick: Over 10.5

    Arkansas Razorbacks (2016: 7-6 SU, 5-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +6500
    Season win total: 6.5

    Why to bet the Razorbacks: Austin Allen put up some good numbers in this offense and could be one of the better signal callers in the SEC West. Devwah Whaley should be able to find holes with four of five offensive linemen back for the Hogs. Jared Cornelius is both a good wide receiver and punt returner helping with field position.

    Why not to bet the Razorbacks: Rawleigh Williams retired this offseason meaning Whaley will have to carry more of the load. Williams had over 1,300 yards on the ground so it's a big hole to fill. The defense allowed over 30 points per game and is getting younger with one player back from the front seven. Road trips to LSU and Alabama will hurt in the conference standings.

    Season win total pick: Over 6.5

    Auburn Tigers (2016: 8-5 SU, 9-4 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +500
    Season win total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Tigers: The quarterback merry-go-round should stop with the addition of Jarrett Stidham. The signal caller comes over from Baylor and will have to adjust to a new style of offense. Kamryn Pettway is a load to bring down in the backfield. Daniel Carlson is one of the best kickers in the country and will help in close games.

    Why not to bet the Tigers: Gus Malzahn is on the hot seat right now as the team put talent in place for him to win. They lost Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams and Rudy Ford so it may take some time for the defense to gel. Unfortunately, the punting could be an issue with Ian Shannon being a question mark. They play at LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M in a row in mid-October to November.

    Season win total pick: Under 8.5

    LSU Tigers (2016: 8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +550
    Season win total: 9

    Why to bet the Tigers: Derrius Guice may make people forget about Leonard Fournette. Guice ran for almost 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016. The offensive line has three starters back, so Guice should find some holes. Matt Canada will put new wrinkles in the offense and make things spicier. On defense, it looks like Arden Key is ahead of schedule and should be ready early in the season.

    Why not to bet the Tigers: Once again, a strong LSU running back may see a stacked box consistently. Danny Etling doesn't scare anyone and his best receivers from 2016 are gone. The team will have to replace eight starters on defense with Tre'Davious White gone from the secondary. The kicker is a freshman which is a worry in big conference games.

    Season win total pick: Under 9

    Mississippi Rebels (2016: 5-7 SU, 4-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: N/A
    Season win total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Rebels: Shea Patterson is producing a ton of headlines this offseason and giving Rebels fans hope. Many think A.J. Brown, Van Jefferson and D.K. Metcalf will be one of the best trios in the league at wide receiver. Marquis Haynes has 24.5 career sacks and should play well with his NFL Draft status looming. Gary Wunderlich was a semi finalist for the Lou Groza Award.

    Why not to bet the Rebels: There are plenty of headlines already building off the field with the team and the season hasn't even started yet. Will that bleed onto the field if the team is consistently answering questions about it? The team's top two running backs missed the season last year and will be asked to do a lot in 2017. Road trips to California, Alabama and Auburn in a row will not help with team confidence.

    Season win total pick: Over 5.5

    Mississippi St. Bulldogs (2016: 6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +7500
    Season win total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Bulldogs: Nick Fitzgerald is a double threat with 21 passing touchdowns and 16 rushing touchdowns. The schedule lines up nicely with five of their final seven games at home. Todd Grantham takes over the defense and he's the right guy to work with a group that is rather young and inexperienced.

    Why not to bet the Bulldogs: Grantham becomes the fourth defensive coordinator over the last four years. Three starters are gone from the offensive line while the team's skill positions also seem lean. Donald Gray had five touchdowns last year, but now he's going to have to be the number one wide receiver. Playing in the SEC West will be tough for these kids.

    Season win total pick: Under 5.5

    Texas A&M Aggies (2016: 8-5 SU, 4-9 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +4000
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Aggies: While there are some questions at quarterback, there are some known commodities in Christian Kirk, Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford. The middle of the offensive line is really strong with three starters returning. Armani Watts is one of the best safeties in the conference. After a road trip to UCLA, the Aggies don't have another true road game for over a month.

    Why not to bet the Aggies: Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat and he's dragging out his quarterback decision. Jake Hubenak is holding off Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond in that race. While there aren't a ton of true road games, they are at UCLA, Florida, Ole Miss and LSU which will not be easy. The defense will have to play better if they hope to win any of those games.

    Season win total pick: Under 7

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    2017 AAC college football betting preview and odds: Running of the USF Bulls

    It may be Charlie Strong's first season at USF, but expectations couldn't be higher for the Bulls heading into 2017, who are dreaming of an AAC championship and potentially a "New Year's Six" Bowl Game. Will Rogers breaks down their chances, plus the chances to win the AAC crown for every program as well as season win total picks.

    East Division

    USF Bulls (2016: 11-2 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)


    Odds to Win The AAC: 8/5
    Season Win Total: 10.0

    Why to bet the Bulls: They enter 2017 as the overwhelming favorite, not just to win the East Division, but the entire AAC as well. They return 16 starters from what was arguably the best team in the conference last year and figure to be favored in every game. Despite a coaching change, this team has a very legitimate shot at finishing the regular season undefeated and playing in a “New Year’s Six” Bowl Game.

    Why not to be the Bulls: With expectations, the marketplace will adjust accordingly and thus it’s quite likely we’ll find USF “overvalued” on a game-by-game basis. Furthermore, the architect of the program (Willie Taggart) departed for Oregon. The cupboard is by no means bare for first year head man Charlie Strong, but there is a learning curve with a first year coach. Plus, Strong’s track record as a head coach isn’t all that great. USF should win the AAC, but don’t be surprised if they break their backers along the way.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 10.0

    Temple Owls: (2016: 10-4 SU, 12-2 ATS)

    Odds to Win the AAC: 15/1
    Season Win Total: 6.5

    Why to bet the Owls: It was this team, not USF, that represented the East Division in last year’s AAC Title Game (they won it). For the first time in program history, the Owls are coming off back to back 10-plus win seasons where they also won a bowl. Last year, they were by far and away the most dominant team in AAC play, outgaining their foes by almost 209 yards per game in conference play.

    Why not to bet the Owls: Most, if not all, signs are pointing down in 2017. They have some similarities with USF in that they’ll find it difficult to manage expectations under a first year coach. Matt Rhule left for Baylor and his replacement, Geoff Collins, steps into a far more challenging situation. Not only does Temple have to travel to USF this season, but they are the far less experienced of the two teams. In fact, with only 10 starters back, this is the least experienced team in the conference. On offense, they lose a four-year starter at QB and will go with a freshman as his replacement. On defense, they lost five of the six top tacklers from 2016.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 6.5

    UCF Golden Knights (2016: 6-7 SU, 8-5 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 9/2
    Season Win Total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Knights: In his first year as a head coach, Scott Frost did an incredible job last season. He inherited a team that won zero games in 2015 and got them to a bowl. Frost will have nine starters back on offense this year. The program is on a 25-8 SU run in conference home games, which obviously pre-dates Frost’s tenure here. The record could have been even better last season were it not for an 0-3 record in games decided by seven points or less.

    Why not to bet the Knights: I hate to sound like a broken record here, but the prospect of dealing with increased expectations should prove difficult for the top three teams in the AAC East. Also, when a team makes a jump like the Knights did last year, you typically see regression in the win column the following year. They will have to play Temple (road) and USF (home) in the final two games of the regular season, in a six-day span.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 7.5

    UConn Huskies (2016: 3-9 SU, 3-8-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 100/1
    Season Win Total: 3.5

    Why to bet the Huskies: Well, it can’t go much worse than it did last season, right? Randy Edsall, who guided the program to a Fiesta Bowl appearance back in 2010, returns to Storrs after a failed experience at Maryland. They will be a home dog quite a bit as the likes of USF, Memphis, Tulsa and Missouri all come calling to Rentschler Field. The offense was actually quite a bit better than its paltry 14.8 PPG scoring average last year and with Edsall installing a faster pace scheme, the Huskies will score plenty more in 2017.

    Why not to bet the Huskies: New head coaches seem to the rule and not the exception in the AAC East. At least this one is a familiar face to the alumni. But still, there will be a learning curve and that can mean some growing pains. Just because the offense will improve its scoring average doesn’t mean it will necessarily be “good” as last year they ranked 128th out of 128 FBS teams. The faster pace on offense may also adversely affect the defense, which will now be on the field more often.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 3.5

    Cincinnati Bearcats (2016: 4-8 SU, 3-9 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 30/1
    Season Win Total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Bearcats: This team was a massive disappointment in 2016, which led to the ousting of Tommy Tuberville. So that makes it FOUR first year head coaches in this division! Luke Fickell (former DC at Ohio State) may not be walking into the most stocked cupboard, but he’s also coached against far more elite talent than what he’ll see on a weekly basis here in the AAC. The schedule is also somewhat friendly as the top three teams in the West are not on it. I have this team improving far more than most might think.

    Why not to bet the Bearcats: Like the majority of their division rivals, they’ll be learning new schemes on both sides of the ball. The offense has only five returning starters back from a squad that once went 13 quarters without a TD and cycled through three quarterbacks. The three top tacklers on defense are all gone.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 5.5

    East Carolina Pirates (2016: 3-9 SU, 3-8-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 80/1
    Season Win Total: 3.5

    Why to bet the Pirates: Incredibly, Scottie Montgomery joins UCF’s Scott Frost as elder statesmen of the AAC East Coaching fraternity. That means all six head coaches are either in their first or second seasons at the current job. So why can’t the Pirates compete? Yes, there was a sizable gap between the top and bottom three a year ago, but I look for that gap to close here in 2017. The ECU offense put up at least 400 total yards in every game but the final one. Last year’s horrid turnover margin of -16 should be improved upon. Before falling apart, ECU actually beat NC State last year (at home).

    Why not to bet the Pirates: It was an ugly 1-9 SU finish to last season with the lone win coming over UConn at home. While the offense might be good, the defense will continue to struggle after giving up 36.1 points and 453 yards per game last year. The non-conference schedule includes both West Virginia and Virginia Tech. By the time the most “winnable” games on the schedule come around, the Pirates may already be out of bowl contention.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 3.5


    West Division

    Houston Cougars (2016: 9-4 SU, 4-8-1 ATS)


    Odds to win the AAC: 9/2
    Season Win Total: 8.0

    Why to bet the Cougars: Last year’s team was “this year’s USF” in the sense that they were expected to blow through the AAC and possibly play in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. Neither of those things happened, so with expectations somewhat “down” for 2017, we may be able to take advantage. There are two Power 5 teams on the non-conference schedule (Arizona, Texas Tech), but both are winnable, leaving a late season visit to USF as the only remaining question mark. Greg Ward Jr, a two year starter at QB, may be gone. But Kyle Allen, a transfer from Texas A&M is ready to take over the starting gig,

    Why not to bet the Cougars: Guess what? We have another first year head coach here! Although, here it’s a promotion from within at Major Applewhite goes from offensive coordinator under Tom Herman the last two seasons, to the guy in charge. So the learning curve will not be as steep. Another issue is that like USF, the Cougars figure to face some pretty substantial spreads on a game by game basis, at least in league play.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 8.0

    Navy Midshipmen (2016: 9-5 SU, 9-5 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 5/1
    Season Win Total: 7.0

    Why to bet the Midshipmen: In his 10th year on the job, head coach Ken Niumatalolo is by far and away the most experienced coach in the conference. He’s the only one with more than three years logged at his current school. That kind of continuity is huge. The Middies are 10-4 ATS the last four seasons as underdogs and upset Notre Dame, at home, last season. The team is more experienced than last year, although only four starters are back on offense.

    Why not to bet the Midshipmen: While they won the AAC West last year, there’s a case to be made that both Houston and Tulsa were better teams and that could show in the standings this year. They’ll have to travel to Notre Dame this time and don’t forget that last year saw the long win streak over Army come to an end. Sandwiched in between the dates with Notre Dame and Army is a game at Houston. It could be an ugly finish in November, so if the Middies start the season well, look to fade them down the stretch.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 7.0 (likely push)

    Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2016: 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 10/1
    Season Win Total: 7.5

    Why to bet on the Golden Hurricane: They have gone 6-1 ATS as a road dog under Philip Montgomery and will have numerous opportunities to continue cashing in that role, including early season games at Oklahoma State and Toledo. They also play at USF late in the year. This program has been to a bowl 10 of the previous 14 seasons.

    Why not to bet on the Golden Hurricane: This team was a surprise last year and will probably regress. They lose an insane amount of talent, including the all-time leader in passing yardage, two 1,000 yard receivers and RB James Flanders (1629 yards). After watching them go 8-5 against the spread in back to back seasons, you have to figure they’ll give some back this year, but that also depends on how quick the market is to react.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 7.5

    Memphis Tigers (2016: 8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 5/1
    Season Win Total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Tigers: Two years ago, the Tigers started 8-0 and were ranked in the top 15 (beat Ole Miss). But they didn’t finish well and after having to replace both the coach and QB, last year’s group struggled a bit. But still, they finished only a game worse and now figure to be better in the second season under Mike Norvell. They are the most experienced team in the AAC and should have the best offense.

    Why not to bet the Tigers: Well, they do have to travel to play both Houston and Tulsa. UCLA is on the non-conference schedule, though a home game and thus there could be some value there. The defense has to find a way to improve after allowing 40 or more points six times in the final 10 games.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 8.5

    SMU Mustangs (2016: 5-7 SU, 8-4 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 25/1
    Season Win Total: 5.0

    Why to bet the Mustangs: Chad Morris is doing a good job here. He hasn’t been to a bowl yet, but last year’s team had two chances. While they failed, it was because they drew USF and Navy. There’s no USF on the schedule this year, though all four AAC road games look tough. But that means they’ll probably be a dog in all of them, so look to potentially fire away there.

    Why not to bet the Mustangs: There’s a good chance they start 4-1 straight up and that could take away some value down the stretch. The defense is still pretty bad as allowing 453 yards and 36.3 points per game last year actually marked a three-year LOW! Let’s not forget that with a bowl berth hanging in the balance in the regular season finale last year, they gave up 75 points to Navy – at home!

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 5.0

    Tulane Green Wave (2016: 4-8 SU, 6-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the AAC: 60/1
    Season Win Total: 5.0

    Why to bet the Green Wave: Suffice to say, I think everyone has them rated as the weakest team in the conference. That can work both ways. Looking at things from a positive standpoint, they’re likely to be a dog often and many times undervalued. There were three times last year when they lost, yet outgained the opponent. This year’s team is more experienced than the 2016 squad. The option that coach Willie Fritz runs is difficult to prepare for.

    Why not to bet the Green Wave: Well, they are the worst team in the conference. They have won just twice on the AAC road in their last 12 tries. Looking at last year’s four wins, one was against a FCS foe (Southern) while another required four overtimes. This team is probably not as close to getting to a bowl as it might think.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 5.0

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    2017 MAC betting preview and odds: Rockets look to attack MAC through the air

    With the defending champs from Western Michigan losing several key pieces, the Mid-American conference looks wide open in 2017. Toledo and their impressive aerial attack will be looking to take advantage. AAA Sports breaks down each program and gives his win total picks for the MAC-Attack.

    EAST DIVISION

    Miami (Ohio) Redhawks (2016: 6-7 SU, 9-4 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: +500
    Season win total: 8

    Why to bet the Redhawks: Miami is loaded on the offensive side of the ball, led by surprising QB Gus Ragland. As a sophomore last season Ragland basically saved the Redhawks’ season, taking the controls after an 0-6 start and leading Miami to six consecutive victories and a berth in the St. Petersburg Bowl. Ragland had only one interception in 179 passing attempts, and if he can even come close to duplicating that feat, then Miami will be a big factor in the conference.

    Why not to bet the Redhawks: Last year’s terrible start might have been a blessing in disguise as everyone had written off Miami by the middle of October. The low-expectations game won’t cut it this time around. Oddsmakers figure the Redhawks to be in the thick of the race from the beginning and will adjust the numbers accordingly. Then there is the look-ahead factor – on Sept. 30 Miami will have an interesting game at Notre Dame as it meets the Irish for the first time ever. It’s hard to concentrate on the Austin Peays and Ball States on your schedule when you’re looking forward to making your mark against the Fighting Irish.

    Season win total pick: Over 8

    Ohio Bobcats (2016: 8-6 SU, 8-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +500
    Season win total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Bobcats: When you lack a top-flight quarterback, the winning formula is simple – run the ball and play defense. That will be the plan of attack for the Bobcats as they defend their MAC East title. Ohio has enough bulk on the offensive line to help make the running game go, and running back A.J. Oullette – who led the team in yards gained in 2014 and 2015 – will be back after missing almost the entire season in 2016 due to injury.

    Why not to bet the Bobcats: The QB spot is a problem and the receivers have a lot of improving to do. That limits what Ohio will be able to do, and puts great pressure on both the running game and the entire defense. Speaking of the defense, it was very good last year but will be missing a lot of the top performers this time around. There is talent, but bettors might want to take a long look and see how things come together before they put down money down. The lack of playmakers will be real concern heading into camp.

    Season win total pick: Under 7.5

    Bowling Green Falcons (2016: 4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +3000
    Season win total: 4

    Why to bet the Falcons: Bowling Green was a little shell-shocked after a 1-8 start in 2016. The offense was going nowhere, the passing game was non-existent and fans couldn’t even give their tickets away. But the Falcons made a mid-course correction, switching to a running game, and the result was three straight wins and a huge boost in confidence for the program heading into this season. RB Josh Cleveland was a hammer down the stretch, averaging more than nine yards a carry in the final three games. And all that should make QB James Morgan more effective this time around.

    Why not to bet the Falcons: Bowling Green may not quite be ready to make a real impact in the conference. Besides not having a top-flight quarterback, the Falcons just don’t appear to have the depth to handle the competition week in and week out in an improved conference. Then there in the not-so-small issue of the schedule – the Falcons will be a raw meat meal for Big 10 powers Michigan State in the opener and Northwestern in Game 3, then face a tough game at Middle Tennessee before even thinking about the MAC schedule, which begins on Sept. 30 vs. Akron.

    Season win total pick: Over 4

    Akron Zips (2016: 5-7 SU, 4-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +1300
    Season win total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Zips: One thing you can say about Akron – it can find a way to put the ball in the end zone. Assuming QB Thomas Woodson is sufficiently recovered from shoulder surgery, the Zips should be able to continue to light up the scoreboard. In anticipation of Woodson coming back, Akron has moved reserve QB Tra’Von Chapman to wideout, where the Zips are somewhat depleted. How that turns out is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for sure – the QB will have time to throw because the O-line features four returning starters.

    Why not to bet the Zips: Points come quickly and often in today’s MAC, and scoring could be a problem for Akron. Quarterback is a concern, and when your QB situation is unsettled, bettors could find themselves wasting cash. Another problem is a tepid pass rush. The Zips had only 16 sacks last season (the lowest total in the conference), and the defenders forced only 14 turnovers. If that semi-drought continues, Akron will spend a lot of time fighting for field position. There’s only so much an offense can do to compensate when the D is struggling.

    Season win total pick: Over 5.5

    Kent State Golden Flashes (2016: 3-9 SU, 6-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +8000
    Season win total: 3.5

    Why to bet the Golden Flashes: There’s no getting around the fact that the numbers are not impressive. Kent State has limped to 3-9 seasons in each of the last two years, and in 2015 ranked dead last in the country in offense. But if you are looking for a bright spot and reason to consider wagering on the Flashes, consider that they were competitive in several games last season and in three losses were one possession away from winning. QB Nick Holley moved from slot receiver last season and was a threat throwing (868 yards) and rushing (873). So there’s that.

    Why not to bet the Golden Flashes: Coach Paul Haynes is in the final year of his five-year contact and is under pressure to show some improvement. But with non-league payday games vs. Clemson, Marshall and Louisville, it will be tough to gain any momentum heading into conference play. The problem with losing close, competitive games is that you haven’t learned how to WIN close, competitive games. When the dust settles on the season, Kent State will be fortunate to have escaped the cellar in the MAC East.

    Season win total pick: Over 3.5

    Buffalo Bulls (2016: 2-10 SU, 4-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +10000
    Season win total: 3.5

    Why to bet the Bulls: Two winning seasons in the last 18 years makes life tough for Buffalo fans, but there is some hope that aggressive recruiting by head coach Lance Leipold is starting to pay dividends. If nothing else the Bulls are a lot faster than previous Buffalo teams have been, and they may have a keeper in quarterback Tyree Jackson. Jackson has size (6-foot-7) and a strong arm; plus he can tuck it and run. He’ll be operating behind a decent offensive line that has experience.

    Why not to bet the Bulls: Buffalo’s regression to 2-10 after being competitive (5-7) in 2015 was a sobering experience for the entire program, and with the rest of the MAC looking improved, it could spell trouble for gamblers. There is a lot of experience returning on the defensive side of the ball, but these are the same players who gave up the most yards in the conference a year ago. Maybe they’re better this time around; maybe not. Caveat emptor.

    Season win total pick: Under 3.5


    WEST DIVISION

    Western Michigan Broncos (2016: 13-1 SU, 10-4 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: +250
    Season win total: 9

    Why to bet the Broncos: All the pieces fell into place last season when Western Michigan finished undefeated in the regular season and gave Wisconsin all it could handle in losing in the Cotton Bowl and while no one expects anything similar this season, the Broncos don’t figure to be rolling over. New head coach Tim Lester has lots of talent to call on – led by a solid running back corps, a powerful offense line and a defense that should be among the best in the league. They’ll be tough again this time around.

    Why not to bet the Broncos: There are concerns any time a team has to plug in a new quarterback, and Western Michigan has bid adieu to four-year starter Zach Terrell. Tom Flacco has the pedigree (his brother Joe is the man in Baltimore) but still has to win the job. Lester will be looking for a game manager-type QB who can hand off and at minimum keep defenses honest. Word out of Kalamazoo is that the receiving corps wasn’t all that impressive in spring practice, so expect other teams to stack the defense to stop the Bronco running game until Western Michigan proves it can move the ball through the air. The first two games (at USC, at Michigan State) are brutal tests.

    Season win total pick: Under 9

    Toledo Rockets (2016: 9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +250
    Season win total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Rockets: Lots of reasons, actually. Toldeo has most of its core back from a team that won nine games last year and looks ready to cause of lot of damage this time around. Most of the offense, including senior QB Logan Woodside, and seven defensive starters return. Woodside threw an eye-popping 45 touchdown passes last season as the Rockets marched up and down the field to the tune of 38 points and 518 yards per game. With so many returning players, expect more of the same.

    Why not to bet the Rockets: As the favorite to win the MAC, Toledo will be laying a lot of points week after week once the Rockets enter conference play. Before that are two very difficult non-leaguers – a home game against Tulsa and a road battle at Miami. Toledo will also be playing the season with the high-pressure expectation that it will make it to its first MAC title game in 13 years.

    Season win total pick: Over 8.5

    Northern Illinois Huskies (2016: 5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +1000
    Season win total: 6

    Why to bet the Huskies: Northern Illinois had been to a bowl game every season since 2008 before that streak was ended last season as one injury after another took its inevitable toll, especially at the quarterback position. Head coach Ron Carey has to be hoping that the law of averages can even things out this season. A solid defense should help keep things from going haywire until the offense can sort itself out.

    Why not to bet the Huskies: The old adage “when you have more than one quarterback, you don’t any any quarterback” applies here. Due to injuries five different QBs have started for NIU over the last 26 games, and that can only mean trouble. The Huskies gave up one point for every one they scored last season, which is huge letdown considering the success of the program over the last decade. It’s tough to be in patch mode before pre-season practices even start, but that’s what’s facing the Huskies as they try to right the program and return it to the elite status it enjoyed just a few seasons ago.

    Season win total pick: Under 6

    Eastern Michigan Eagles (2016: 7-6 SU, 5-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +1400
    Season win total: 4.5

    Why to bet the Eagles: Head coach Chris Creighton has to be happy with the direction of the program. Last season the Eagles played in a bowl game for the first time in three-decades, and 16 starters are back this time around. Lots to like, especially at the quarterback slot where Brogan Roback returned from a suspension and tossed for 2,694 yards and 18 touchdowns in 10 games. EMU is also stacked in the backfield, which should give coaching staff time to straighten out things in an inexperienced O-line.

    Why not to bet the Eagles: Coaches would sell their houses for a solid offensive line, and that’s the problem area for the Eagles this season. Three starters have graduated and only one regular is back, so that area will be scrutinized carefully in the pre-season. Offenses have been known to collapse under the weight of leaky O-lines. Add in the facts that EMU is in the more-talented West Division, and things could get dicey.

    Season win total pick: Over 4.5

    Central Michigan Chippewas (2016: 6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +1200
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Chippewas: Any team that returns 15 starters figures to be at least competitive, and Central Michigan should be able to hang with the iron in the MAC. It might not lead to a league title, but the Chippewas are at least even money to play in a bowl game for the third straight season. There are challenges on the horizon, but Central Michigan has shown over the recent past that it knows how to win. There’s something to be said for that.

    Why not to bet the Chippewas: Sometimes it all comes down to the quarterback, and CMU is still searching for one to replace four-year starter Cooper Rush as pre-season nears. Add in the fact that the Chippewas will be employing a new spread offense, and there could be some problems – especially in the early going. Finally, problems on special teams cropped up last season and CMU will have to spend practice time fixing those issues.

    Season win total pick: Under 7

    Ball State Cardinals (2016: 4-8 SU, 7-5 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +5000
    Season win total: 4

    Why to bet the Cardinals: Unless Mike Neu’s team shows some life early on, the Cardinals figure to be underdogs in just about every game this season, so if you’re an alum of the school and like playing the dogs, this could be your opportunity to cash. If BSU can stay in games into the fourth quarter they have one of the best placekickers in the league in Morgan Hagee (26 of 28 last season) and could steal a game or two.

    Why not to bet the Cardinals: They’re just not “there” yet. There is inexperience everywhere, and on a team with just 12 seniors, trouble is around every corner. Besides the offensive problems inherent on a team without a top-flight QB, the defense gave up the most yards in the league last season and created the fewest turnovers. Ball State is a year or two away from being a factor in the conference.

    Season win total pick: Under 4

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    2017 Big 12 Betting Preview and Odds: Bedlam Series front and center once again

    Much like last year, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the teams to beat heading into the campaign. Teddy Covers breaks down the Big 12, giving his advice on season win totals and winning one of the toughest conferences in college football.

    Oklahoma Sooners (2016: 11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: +110
    Season Win Total: 9.5

    Why To Bet on the Sooners: Lincoln Riley walks into an optimal spot for a first year, first time head coach. The Sooners averaged 555 yards and 44 points per game last season on offense. Despite some skill position losses, Oklahoma returns their Heisman contending quarterback Baker Mayfield and all five offensive line starters; a team that appears capable of, quite simply, outscoring opponents week after week.

    Why to Bet Against the Sooners: From a value standpoint, Oklahoma is the prohibitive favorite to win their third consecutive Big 12 title. With inexperience across their front seven on defense and a challenging road slate, the Sooners aren’t ‘bargain priced’ in the markets and they’ll need to get stops in order to cover consistently inflated pointspreads.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 9.5

    Oklahoma State Cowboys (2016: 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: +325
    Season Win Total: 9

    Why To Bet on the Cowboys: Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield gets all the hype, but it’s Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph who wins my "Preseason QB of the Year" award in the Big 12. Rudolph had a 28-4 TD-INT ratio as a junior and he enters the season as the No. 2 active leader in career passing yards in the country. Wide receiver James Washington averaged more than 19 yards per catch last year, which was tops in the country.

    Why to Bet Against the Cowboys: In a conference loaded with strong quarterbacks and potent offenses, the Cowboys biggest defensive question mark is in their secondary, where both starters at cornerback last year must be replaced. Mike Gundy’s squad has struggled to get over the hump against their in-state rivals, finishing second behind the Sooners in each of the last two years.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 9

    Texas Longhorns (2016: 5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: +400
    Season Win Total: 8

    Why To Bet on the Longhorns: Tom Herman walks into a "the cupboard is full" situation in Austin, as Charlie Strong left a loaded roster, capable of contending for Big 12 supremacy. Herman’s track record is nothing short of outstanding. Dating back to his tenure as the Ohio State offensive coordinator and including his time as the Houston Cougars head coach, Herman’s teams are 48-8 SU including a ridiculous 11-0 SU mark as underdogs.

    Why to Bet Against the Longhorns: This program has fallen a long way from the National Championship contending teams of the Mack Brown era, and they’ve shown no signs that they’re ready to compete at the highest levels in any recent season. Coming off a third consecutive losing campaign and another coaching change, with new systems on both sides of the football, expecting a major turnaround in Herman’s first year on the job may be too much to ask.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 8

    Kansas State Wildcats (2016: 9-4 SU, 6-7 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: +800
    Season Win Total: 8

    Why To Bet on the Wildcats: Fade 26-year-head coaching veteran Bill Snyder at your own risk. Last year, Kansas State was an underdog or pick ‘em in more than half of their games, yet they finished with a 9-4 record. This year, Snyder has a returning senior starter at quarterback in Zack Ertz; exactly the type of dual threat QB that he’s had in seasons where the Wildcats have contended for a Big 12 title.

    Why to Bet Against the Wildcats: It’ll be hard for the Wildcats to match their +13 turnover margin from last year, as well as the 22 points per game that the defense allowed in 2016, a nine point improvement from their 2015 defense. Despite their 9-4 record, K-State was outgained by more than 50 yards per game in Big 12 play, and their defense suffered major graduation losses; a pair of signs that point downwards.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 8

    TCU Horned Frogs (2016: 6-7 SU, 3-10 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: +850
    Season Win Total: 8

    Why To Bet on the Horned Frogs: Gary Patterson’s squad went 23-3 SU in 2014 and 2015 before taking a major step backwards in what was expected to be a rebuilding season last year. New play caller Sonny Cumbie has 10 starters back on offense to work with, including senior signal caller Kenny Hill. Hill was victimized by a whopping 38 dropped passes last year, a number that should decline precipitously in 2017

    Why to Bet Against the Horned Frogs: Kenny Hill wasn’t very good at Texas A&M and he didn’t come close to matching Trevone Boykin’s production in his first year as the starter at TCU last year. He threw more interceptions than any other full time starter in the Big 12 and he was pulled from games twice for ineffective play. A hyped quarterback who doesn’t play well can be a pointspread disaster just waiting to happen.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 8

    West Virginia Mountaineers (2016 10-3 SU, 5-8 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: +1500
    Season Win Total: 7

    Why To Bet on the Mountaineers: Dana Holgorsen hired Jake Spavital to call the plays on offense this year; fresh off successful tenures running uptempo attacks at Texas A&M and Cal. Plus, with former Florida transfer Will Grier ready to assume the starting quarterback position, a Mountaineers offense that has averaged at least 31 points per game in each of the last three years is primed to do it again in 2017.

    Why to Bet Against the Mountaineers: West Virginia finished tied for second place in the Big 12 last year in large part due to the best defense in the conference, particularly in the secondary. But most of those defenders graduated in the offseason, leaving coordinator Tony Gibson a tall task – replacing his entire starting defensive line and both starting cornerbacks; bad news in an ‘offense first’ conference like this one.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 7

    Baylor Bears (2016: 7-6 SU, 4-9 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: +2800
    Season Win Total: 7

    Why To Bet on the Bears: After winning at least 10 games in the three previous seasons, Baylor opened up last year with a 6-0 mark before things fell apart, as the Bears lost their final six regular season games. Now that the coaching situation is settled, with Matt Rhule (Temple last year) firmly in charge, there’s no reason to expect a second half collapse in 2017, especially with the skill position talent and depth on this roster.

    Why to Bet Against the Bears: Rhule is installing a new ‘blended’ offense, using his power running schemes from Temple as well as the spread option attack that Baylor has been running (and recruiting for) in recent seasons. That doesn’t sound like an ideal gameplan on paper, especially with the holes on defense from a squad that has suffered MAJOR attrition on the roster and with recruiting since former head coach Art Briles was forced out of town.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 7

    Texas Tech Red Raiders (2016: 5-7 SU, 8-4 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: +5000
    Season Win Total: 4.5

    Why To Bet on the Red Raiders: In his fifth season on the job, Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury is in "win now or get fired" mode. This offense is loaded with talented receivers and the defense added a handful of highly regarded freshmen and JUCO transfers who are expected to get playing time right away. Despite a losing record last year, the Red Raiders were undervalued in the betting marketplace, cashing at a 67 percent clip for the season.

    Why to Bet Against the Red Raiders: Texas Tech is replacing the best QB in school history, Patrick Mahomes, a first round draft choice by the Kansas City Chiefs. Iowa transfer Nic Shimonek doesn’t have that level of upside, and the offensive line protecting him is loaded with question marks. That’s bad news for an ugly looking defense that has allowed more than 40 points per game in each of the last three seasons.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 4.5

    Iowa State Cyclones (2016: 3-9 SU, 7-5 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: 150/1
    Season Win Total: 4.5

    Why To Bet on the Cyclones: Matt Campbell guided Iowa State to only three victories last season, his first on the job. But Iowa State was competitive in defeat, week after week, hanging tough with the likes of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Georgia transfer Jacob Park looked impressive down the stretch, primed for continued success as the full time starter in 2017.

    Why to Bet Against the Cyclones: Iowa State is lined at O/U 4.5 wins despite the fact that they haven’t won more than three games in a season since 2012; not exactly a program on the rise. The Cyclones lack depth just about everywhere, and their front seven on defense suffered significant graduation losses; a unit that lacks size, speed and returning talent.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 4.5

    Kansas Jayhawks (2016: 2-10 SU, 6-6 ATS)

    Odds To Win Big 12: 300/1
    Season Win Total: 3

    Why To Bet on the Jayhawks: Well, you’ll probably be the only guy doing it – from a "value" standpoint, Kansas is loaded, because there’s no bandwagon of Jayhawks supporters. Incredibly, this squad hasn’t put together a single winning season ATS since 2008, the year before Mark Mangino was forced out of town. If the Jayhawks improve incrementally in David Beaty’s third year on the job, it’ll take a while before the betting markets start to adjust in any significant way.

    Why to Bet Against the Jayhawks: Kansas hasn’t been the worst team in the Big 12 for the past decade by accident. They are behind the curve at nearly every position; unable to recruit well enough to compete with even the middling teams from this conference. They were outscored by 17 points per game last year; better than the 31 ppg they were outscored by in 2015 but still a long, long way from respectability.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 3

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    2017 ACC Betting Preview and Odds: Favored FSU will have to hold off high-flying Louisville

    Florida State is the favorite to win the ACC thanks to a deep and talented roster, but Hesiman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson hopes to be the difference-maker in the conference once again and bring Louisville their first ACC title. Steve Merril breaks down the conference odds and gives his season win total pick for each program.

    Atlantic Division

    Boston College Eagles (2016: 7-6 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: +20000
    Season win total: 4

    Why to bet the Eagles: BC's defense is a strength led by Harold Landry up front. He had 16.5 sacks in 2016. Jon Hilliman was an effective running back in his limited time in the backfield. Three of their final four games are in the state of Massachusetts.

    Why not to bet the Eagles: Quarterback is a big time question mark no matter who wins the job. The wide receiver group isn't that great either, so the defense will be in a lot of tight, low-scoring battles if they do their job. There are several tough games to start the schedule, especially in the first game with an interesting matchup at Northern Illinois.

    Season win total pick: Under 4

    Clemson Tigers (2016: 14-1 SU, 8-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +400
    Season win total: 9.5

    Why to bet the Tigers: Whoever is under center will have a great group of wide receivers to throw to. Deon Cain, Ray Ray McCloud and Hunter Renfrow are all very talented. The front line of Clemson's defense is going to have little trouble getting to the quarterback. Clelin Farrell, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence are fantastic as a group.

    Why not to bet the Tigers: There will be a target on the national champ's backs, so we'll see how they handle being the hunted. The signal caller has yet to be decided and there will be growing pains trying to replace Deshaun Watson. Clemson gets Auburn and Louisville in the first three weeks of the season, so the new QB will not be eased into action. The team also has a tough road game at Virginia Tech at the end September.

    Season win total pick: Under 9.5

    Florida State Seminoles (2016: 10-3 SU, 8-4 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +100
    Season win total: 9.5

    Why to bet the Seminoles: Much like Clemson, Florida State's defense is led by their front line. The Seminoles do have one of the best corners in the conference in Tavarus McFadden. He had eight interceptions last year. Deondre Francois flashed some brilliance as quarterback in 2016 and will be a year older. He's a threat to leave the pocket.

    Why not to bet the Seminoles: Unlike Clemson, FSU's wide receivers are unproven. On paper, the athleticism is there, but can they perform when it matters. The offensive line also has to replace some talent from last year. Games against Clemson, Florida and Alabama are all away from home. We've seen many good teams struggle after facing the Crimson Tide in a season opener.

    Season win total pick: Over 9.5

    Louisville Cardinals (2016: 9-4 SU, 5-7-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +600
    Season win total: 9

    Why to bet the Cardinals: Plain and simple, when you have Lamar Jackson you are going to win a lot of ballgames. The Heisman Trophy winner accounted for over 5,000 yards and 51 touchdowns in 2016. Reggie Bonnafon is a former quarterback that converted nicely to wide receiver. The team's secondary figures to be a strength led by Jaire Alexander.

    Why not to bet the Cardinals: Jackson's weapons are very unproven and the offensive line is going to be young in spots. Jeremy Smith is a solid running back, but the quarterback could be asked to do more. The team played poorly at the end of last season with a three-game losing streak.

    Season win total pick: Over 9

    NC State Wolfpack (2016: 7-6 SU, 9-4 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +2500
    Season win total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Wolfpack: Eight starters are back on both sides of the ball, including pretty much all of the front seven on defense. Bradley Chubb would be getting talked about more if not for the copious amount of talent on the defensive line in this conference. Jaylen Samuels is such a weapon that NC State will line him up all over the field in different formations to get him open.

    Why not to bet the Wolfpack: Ask almost any NC State fan about how their team performs with expectations. The Pack has consistently fallen short when people expect them to do well. For as good as the front seven will be, the secondary could be a weak point. Only Shawn Boone is back. They have a tough four-game stretch against Louisville, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Clemson.

    Season win total pick: Under 7.5

    Syracuse Orange (2016: 4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +17500
    Season win total: 4.5

    Why to bet the Orange: Experience is huge with 19 starters back and an offense that is capable of keeping up with almost anyone. When healthy, Eric Dungey is a game changer with the ability to beat you on the ground and through the air. Amba Etta-Tawo had a great 2016 season at wide receiver so Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips could be busy.

    Why not to bet the Orange: The majority of a defense that allowed 76 points in the season finale is back. The secondary was one of the worst in the country and could be under siege once again if the front line doesn't get pressure on the quarterback. They travel to LSU, Miami, Florida State and Louisville, so wins could be an issue late in the season.

    Season win total pick: Over 4.5

    Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2016: 7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +17500
    Season win total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Demon Deacons: Confidence is high after finishing last season with a bowl victory over Temple. The offense showed some rare production that can be built on this year. Cade Carney is a bruising back, while Cam Serigne is a weapon across the middle of the field. The defense should continue to be a strength, despite losing their coordinator.

    Why not to bet the Demon Deacons: Kendall Hinton and John Wolford are alright at quarterback, but their biggest problem is staying healthy. There is not much in the way of depth behind them. The defense has only five starters back so it might take time for them to gel. They've got four games on the road over a six-week stretch which includes a bye week.

    Season win total pick: Under 5.5


    Coastal Division

    Duke Blue Devils (2016: 4-8 SU, 7-5 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: +8000
    Season win total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Blue Devils: David Cutcliffe is a very good coach, especially on the offensive side of the ball where he has Daniel Jones back. The sophomore only had nine interceptions in 430 attempts in 2016 as a freshman. The Blue Devils have six of their first eight at home, so they can try and build some momentum there.

    Why not to bet the Blue Devils: The skill positions on offense are solid, but unspectacular. There are a lot of question marks on defense especially in the secondary. Some of those early home games are against Northwestern, Baylor, Miami and Florida State, so wins will be tough. Duke is still trying to build a consistent fan base when it comes to football.

    Season win total pick: Under 5.5

    Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2016: 9-4 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +3000
    Season win total: 6.5

    Why to bet the Yellow Jackets: The triple-option will be in good hands with Matthew Jordan running things. He's got Clinton Lynch, J.J. Green and Dedrick Mills back at running back, along with four returning starters on the offensive line. The back end of the defense will be very experienced with everyone returning.

    Why not to bet the Yellow Jackets: Special teams could be a struggle with a couple of freshmen in the mix at kicker and punter. The front seven is rather young, so getting to the quarterback might be an issue. They play UCF, Miami and Clemson on the road and none of those games will be easy. Conference opponents are becoming more familiar with defending the triple-option each season.

    Season win total pick: Under 6.5

    Miami Hurricanes (2016: 9-4 SU, 9-4 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +600
    Season win total: 9

    Why to bet the Hurricanes: Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards are among the players on this offense that will bring back memories of the talented teams from the past. The defense also has a ton of talent returning led by Shaq Quarterman and Chad Thomas. The Hurricanes get three straight games at home at the beginning of November.

    Why not to bet the Hurricanes: There are some tricky games out of conference with a trip to Arkansas State before a big matchup in Tallahassee against Florida State. They also host Toledo who will not be an easy out. The quarterback position is undecided since Brad Kaaya left. Malik Rosier and N'Kosi Perry are both highly touted, but are unproven on the field.

    Season win total pick: Under 9

    North Carolina Tar Heels (2016: 8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +3500
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Tar Heels: QB Mitchell Trubisky's departure was softened a bit by the pickup of Brandon Harris out of LSU. He has good experience and Austin Proehl out wide. Larry Fedora will do good things with this offense, especially if his preferred fast pace tires out the opposing defenses.

    Why not to bet the Tar Heels: UNC's defense was better last year, but they still struggled against the run. There is returning talent on every level, but they need to show continued improvement. Running back is a potential weakness as they need to find a reliable ball carrier.

    Season win total pick: Over 7

    Pittsburgh Panthers (2016: 8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +5000
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Panthers: Much like the Heels, Pittsburgh got a nice transfer to help with their transition at quarterback. Nate Peterman is gone and USC's Max Browne steps in to replace him. He's has game breakers in Quadree Henderson and Jester Weah out wide, along with Qadree Ollison in the backfield. The offensive production should remain solid this season.

    Why not to bet the Panthers: The defense took a pair of hits in the offseason when the coaching staff suspended Jordan Whitehead for three games and kicked defensive lineman Rori Blair off the team. They were two of the four returning starters from a group that allowed 35.2 points per game in 2016. Chris Blewitt is gone, so a new kicker has to step up.

    Season win total pick: Under 7

    Virginia Cavaliers (2016: 2-10 SU, 4-7-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +20000
    Season win total: 5

    Why to bet the Cavaliers: In a conference of talented defenses, the Cavaliers have Andrew Brown, Micah Kiser and Quin Blanding to rely on. It's nice to have a really good player on each level of the stop unit. Kurt Benkert provides some consistency at quarterback and the team hopes to use Olamide Zaccheaus more.

    Why not to bet the Cavaliers: It's hard to get a winning attitude when you haven't been winning as a program. The offensive line has some holes to fill. While it's nice having the same quarterback returning from last year in Benkert, he wasn't that great, averaging just 6.3 yards per pass with only 56% completions. Virginia closes the season with tough games against Louisville, Miami and Virginia Tech.

    Season win total pick: Over 5

    Virginia Tech Hokies (2016: 10-4 SU, 8-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +900
    Season win total: 9

    Why to bet the Hokies: Bud Foster's defense will be strong once again with arguably the best secondary in the ACC. Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman will be playing on Sundays and Adonis Alexander provides good depth. The linebackers should flow nicely to the ball led by Andrew Motuapuaka. Joey Slye is a good kicker to have in close games.

    Why not to bet the Hokies: Jerod Evans' unexpected departure leaves a hole at quarterback where several players are vying for the position. Cam Phillips represents the lone known quantity at wide receiver with Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges leaving. The offense as a whole will take some time to improve. They jump right into the season with a tough game against West Virginia at FedEx Field in Maryland.

    Season win total pick: Over 9

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    2017 C-USA betting preview and odds: Western Kentucky the faves to three-peat

    Western Kentucky is the favorite to win their third consecutive C-USA title in 2017, but they'll have to do so with a new head coach as Jeff Brohm left for Purdue. Steve Merril breaks down the conference team-by-team and gives his regular season win total picks for each program.

    East Division

    Charlotte 49ers (2016: 4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: +15000
    Season win total: 4

    Why to bet the 49ers: Charlotte is in their third year as a FBS school, so they are starting to get more FBS level talent. Workpeh Kofa and T.L. Ford II are a solid pair of wide receivers for Hasaan Klugh to throw to. The defense was 35th against the rush last season and six starters are back.

    Why not to bet the 49ers: The team is 1-9 against FBS opponents that finished above .500. The running back group is a mess. Larry Ogunjobi and Brandon Banks are gone so the defensive line will probably get pushed around which puts more pressure on the rest of the defense. Charlotte has to go to Kansas State, Western Kentucky, Old Dominion and Southern Miss this season.

    Season win total pick: Under 4

    Florida Atlantic Owls (2016: 3-9 SU, 2-9-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +2200
    Season win total: 4.5

    Why to bet the Owls: Lane Kiffin and Kendal Briles give legitimacy to this team especially on the offensive side of the ball. New head coach Kiffin has stepped up recruiting, so there's some talent in Boca Raton. De'Andre Johnson comes over after briefly being at Florida State to play quarterback. He's got Devin Singletary and Buddy Howell at running back and they combined for nearly 1,900 rushing yards in last year.

    Why not to bet the Owls: The defense was horrendous last year allowing nearly 40 points per game. Trey Hendrickson has graduated and he was the program's career sack leader. There is also uncertainty with leading wide receiver Kalib Woods who was suspended indefinitely following his arrest. Opening up with Navy and Wisconsin is tough.

    Season win total pick: Over 4.5

    FIU Panthers (2016: 4-8 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +4500
    Season win total: 4.5

    Why to bet the Panthers: An intriguing hire with Butch Davis taking over as the new head coach. If Alex McGough can cut down on his turnovers this offense should flourish with Alex Gardner at running back and Thomas Owens out wide. Nine starters are back on defense and Brent Guy is a good coordinator to get them playing well.

    Why not to bet the Panthers: The offensive line has just two starters back. FIU had only 17 sacks in 2016 so that will have to improve if they hope to pressure the opposing QB. Kicker could be an issue with freshman Jose Borregales hoping to replace Austin Taylor. Three of the first four games are on the road, including tilts at Central Florida and Indiana.

    Season win total pick: Over 4.5

    Marshall Thundering Herd (2016: 3-9 SU, 4-7-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +1900
    Season win total: 5

    Why to bet the Thundering Herd: Ryan Yurachek is the leading returning receiver and he's a solid weapon for Chase Litton who had 24 passing touchdowns with five of those going to Yurachek in 2016. On the defensive side, the secondary will be a lot better. They return Rodney Allen and Chris Jackson along with Kendall Gant.

    Why not to bet the Thundering Herd: Outside of Yurachek, it is going to take some time to find WR and RB talent. Both of those groups are relatively young which means they'll be inconsistent. Marshall needs to find a kicker after missing six of their 10 field goal attempts last year. They've got three road games over the first five weeks.

    Season win total pick: Under 5

    MTSU Blue Raiders (2016: 8-5 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +550
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Blue Raiders: Brent Stockstill is only a junior and getting better every season. Stockstill threw for 31 touchdowns to just seven interceptions in 2016. His top receiver Richie James is back and he accounted for almost 2,000 yards of offense. If Shane Tucker can stay healthy at running back, they will be good there as well.

    Why not to bet the Blue Raiders: The offensive line will need to almost be completely rebuilt with just Chandler Brewer back as starter. The defense has eight starters back, but they allowed nearly 36 points per game in 2016. The front four needs to be completely replaced although Walter Brady comes in from Missouri.

    Season win total pick: Under 7

    Old Dominion Monarchs (2016: 10-3 SU, 8-4-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +1200
    Season win total: 6.5

    Why to bet the Monarchs: Confidence is high surrounding this team after they finished last year with six straight wins including a bowl victory over Eastern Michigan. They return 15 starters including running backs Ray Lawry and Jeremy Cox. Head coach Bobby Wilder has pieces to keep the offensive momentum going. Jonathan Duhart and Travis Fulgham will try to replace Zach Pascal who went to the pros.

    Why not to bet the Monarchs: Quarterback is a question after David Washington departed. Blake LaRussa is among the candidates, but he has thrown only 24 passes in his college career. Linebacker could be a problem with the group being so young. How will the Monarchs handle being a target now after such a good season? They also play North Carolina and Virginia Tech out-of-conference.

    Season win total pick: Over 6.5

    Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2016: 11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: -140
    Season win total: 9.5

    Why to bet the Hilltoppers: Mike White joins Stockstill as the best quarterbacks in the conference. White had just seven interceptions in 416 attempts so he knows how to prevent turnovers. D'Andre Ferby and Quinton Baker are a solid duo of running backs who could see more time with the wide receiver group losing some talent.

    Why not to bet the Hilltoppers: Nicholas Norris, Taywan Taylor and Forrest Lamp all graduated so they have to be replaced in the lineup. The defense brings back five starters from a group that was 2nd in the nation against the run. Mike Sanford is only 35 years old, so we'll see how he handles being the head coach after being an assistant for so long.

    Season win total pick: Under 9.5


    West Division

    Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2016: 9-5 SU, 8-6 ATS)


    Odds to win the conference: +550
    Season win total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Bulldogs: Skip Holtz has done good things at the school in his fifth season. He was able to bring over Teddy Veal from Tulane and Adrian Hardy who was once an Oklahoma signee to sure up the wide receiver corps. Jarred Craft and Boston Scott form a solid running back duo. Jaylon Ferguson is back at defensive end and he had 14.5 sacks in 2016.

    Why not to bet the Bulldogs: There will be some pressure on QB J'mar Smith to succeed as he takes over for the graduated Ryan Higgins. Louisiana Tech was pretty bad against the pass last year and will need to break in new cornerbacks. They play at Western Kentucky and South Carolina in the first month of the season.

    Season win total pick: Over 8.5

    North Texas Mean Green (2016: 5-8 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +4500
    Season win total: 4.5

    Why to bet the Mean Green: The switch to a spread offense saw some success at times in 2016. Mason Fine got a lot of work as a freshman and was able to throw for almost 1,600 yards in 10 games. Jeffery Wilson is back for his senior season and he's rushed for almost 2,000 yards in his three-year career. The team is also in the second year of their 3-3-5 defensive scheme so there should be more improvement there.

    Why not to bet the Mean Green: The offensive line allowed 43 sacks last year and will have to replace two starters in the middle. There's a lot of inexperience at wide receiver outside of Turner Smiley. Kicker Trevor Moore has hit just two field goals beyond 40 yards. They have road trips to Iowa, SMU, Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, so the schedule is pretty tough.

    Season win total pick: Over 4.5

    Rice Owls (2016: 3-9 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +4500
    Season win total: 3.5

    Why to bet the Owls: There's not a lot to like about the Owls this coming season. They do return all five starters from the offensive line, so whoever wins the quarterback race should have some time in the pocket. On defense there are seven starters back with Emmanuel Ellerbee leading the way with 118 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

    Why not to bet the Owls: Three different candidates are vying for the quarterback job with two of them being sophomores J.T. Granato and Jackson Tyner. The defense last year allowed 30 points or more nine times and gave up over 500 yards per game on average. They are scrapping the 4-2-5 defensive format for multiple fronts which they hope will confuse opposing offenses. Special teams is weak. The Owls open with three straight games away from home.

    Season win total pick: Under 3.5

    Southern Miss Golden Eagles (2016: 7-6 SU, 4-8-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +1000
    Season win total: 7

    Why to bet the Golden Eagles: The offense has the pieces in place to be as strong as they were last year. Virtually everyone who caught or ran the ball in 2016 is back led by Ito Smith at running back and Allenzae Staggers out wide. The defense was 10th against the pass in 2016 and three of the five starters return this year.

    Why not to bet the Golden Eagles: Kwadra Griggs and Keon Howard are going after the quarterback job. Howard had four interceptions and one touchdown pass in 50 attempts last year. The offensive line is going to have to fill some holes with three of the five starters gone. Defensively, the depth chart looks to be filled with juniors and seniors, but will they play like veterans?

    Season win total pick: Over 7

    UAB Blazers (2016: 0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +15000
    Season win total: 2.5

    Why to bet the Blazers: Bill Clark was able to extract six wins from his first UAB team back in 2014. He's the right man to take over a program built almost completely from scratch. Shaq Jones played for the team and was the third leading tackler that year. He decided to stay on campus and will be counted on as a senior.

    Why not to bet the Blazers: It's going to take some time for this team to re-accumulate talent as they have not played a real game the past two years. The quarterback options aren't that great while the skill positions are underwhelming. This is a team that may see some ugly scores especially early on. They have a five-game stretch beginning in late October with four road tilts.

    Season win total pick: Over 2.5

    UTEP Miners (2016: 4-8 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +20000
    Season win total: 2.5

    Why to bet the Miners: It's going to be another long season for UTEP, but at least they have a strong offensive line back. The team rushed for over 180 yards per game in 2016, but will be without RB Aaron Jones. Seven returnees on defense gives the fans hope that they will improve upon their 34.9 points per game allowed last year.

    Why not to bet the Miners: Jones was such a big part of the offense and now the running back position is left to Joshua Fields and Walter Dawn. The team was hoping Quadraiz Wadley would take over, but he got hurt in the spring and is out for the season. They are also looking for a kicker after making just five field goals last year.

    Season win total pick: Under 2.5

    UTSA Roadrunners (2016: 6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS)

    Odds to win the conference: +700
    Season win total: 6.5

    Why to bet the Roadrunners: Both sides of the ball experienced fantastic improvement last year which should continue with 13 total starters back this season. Marcus Davenport was second team all-conference in 2016 with 6.5 sacks. He's back along with four others in the front-six of the 4-2-5 defensive alignment. They avoid both Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee on the schedule.

    Why not to bet the Roadrunners: This is a balanced group across the board that should contend in the Western Division. They could use some improvement at kicker where two guys will combine to do the job. Opening up the season with Houston and Baylor will likely lead to a 0-2 SU start.

    Season win total pick: Over 6.5

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    2017 Pac-12 betting preview: Will USC return to glory to claim first conference title since 2008?

    USC is the even money favorite to win the Pac-12, but programs like Washington and Stanford will have something to say about that, or will the Trojans win their first conference crown since 2008? Will Rogers gives us a team-by-team breakdown for each Pac-12 program and his regular season win total picks.

    NORTH DIVISION

    Cal Bears (2016: 5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS)


    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 500/1
    Season Win Total: 3.5

    Why to bet the Bears: Justin Wilcox was an assistant at Cal under Jeff Tedford and after a 10-year journey as a DC at Boise St, Tennessee, Washington, USC and Wisconsin (last year, when the Badgers allowed just 13.7 PPG to lead all FBS teams), gets his first head coaching job at Berkeley, replacing the fired Sonny Dykes. Wilcox knows how to coach a defense and eight starters return but that unit allowed a whopping 42.6 PPG in 2016. Cal did win four of six home games in 2016 and have winnable Berkeley games this season against Weber St, Arizona (HC) and Oregon St, so winning four games is not out of the question.

    Why not to be the Bears: One can't avoid the fact that this is truly a rebuilding year, so matching last year's five-win total highly unlikely. Cal lost all five of its road games last season (won neutral site game vs. Hawaii) and will take an eight-game road losing streak into its season-opener at North Carolina. If Cal can somehow 'steal' a road win, four or five wins is possible. However, I don't see that happening.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 3.5

    Oregon Ducks (2016: 4-8 SU, 2-9-1 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 15/1
    Season Win Total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Ducks: Oregon saw its streak of 10-plus wins end in 2015 with a 9-4 record (Ducks had won 10 or more the previous seven years). Then came last year's disaster. Mark Helfrich was fired on November 29, following a 4-8 season, Oregon's worst record in 25 years. In comes Willie Taggert, who takes over after doing a wonderful job at USF, reviving that program by going 18-7 the last two seasons. He steps into a great situation in which 17 starters return. QB Herbert took over in Oregon's last seven games and although the Ducks won just once, he had a 19-4 TD-to-INT ratio. He's got quality and depth around him at the RB position, with his receivers and his OL. All five Pac-12 home games are winnable, as are home games with Southern Utah and Nebraska (?). Watch out.

    Why not to be the Ducks: The Ducks draw both Washington and Stanford on the road but do have just five road contests against seven home ones in 2017. Still, there could easily be an adjustment period for Taggert (huge step up in clas for him). Yes, Oregon's defense returns nine starters but this unit allowed 37.5 PPG in 2015 and then 41.4 PPG last season. The team's 2-9-1 ATS record last year should shout caution! Oregon hosts Southern Utah and Nebraska, then plays at Wyoming and Arizona St, before hosting Cal. Anything less than a 4-1 start will make getting to nine wins too much of a hill to climb. Seven or eight wins seems about right and I don't want to count on a bowl victory to reach eight (push) or nine wins (cha-ching).

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 8.0

    Oregon State Beavers (2016: 4-8 SU, 9-3 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 100/1
    Season Win Total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Beavers: "They say" that new head coaches typically "hit their stride" in Year-3 and will that be the case for Gary Andersen? He has a trio of QBs battling for the job and the best may be 6-7 JUCO Jake Luton from Idaho. Andersen turned things around at Utah St in Year-3 and after an 11-2 season the next year, jumped ship for Wisconsin. Not sure why he left Madison for Corvallis but here he is.

    Why not to be the Beavers: Oregon St draws Washington and Stanford at home, which basically means the Beavers only have four winnable chances at home. That bodes poorly when one considers OSU is 0-11 SU on the road the last two seasons and will take a 13-game road losing streak into its season-opener at Colorado St.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 5.5

    Stanford Cardinal (2016: 10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 5/1
    Season Win Total: 8.5

    Why to bet the Cardinal: Jim Harbaugh began the turnaround and David Shaw has continued it in Palo Alto. Shaw's teams have averaged 10.7 wins per season and captured four of six bowl games under his tenure. The team's best offensive player is gone (RB McCaffrey) and so is its best defensive player (DT Thomas) but 16 starters return. The team's OL is strong and defensively, Stanford's LBs and DBs may be the best units in the entire Pac-12.return.

    Why not to be the Cardinal: Can't imagine Stanford will struggle with Rice in its opener (in Australia) but the fact is that the Cardinal don't play their first home game until September 23. After Rice, they play at USC (conference preseason favorite) and then at San Diego St, which owns back-to-back 11-win seasons. That said, even a less-than-spectacular start shouldn't keep the Cardinal from having an "average" season for them (10 wins).

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 8.5

    Washington Huskies (2016: 12-2 SU, 7-7 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 9/5
    Season Win Total: 10.0

    Why to bet the Huskies: Chris Peterson led the Huskies to the Pac-12 championship last season in his third season in Seattle (remember that Year-3 'rule?'). Washington couldn't handle Alabama's defense in the CFP semis but finished 12-2. QB Jake Browning (43/9 ratio) is back as is RB Gaskin (1373 rush yards), so expect more fireworks for an offense that averaged 41.8 PPG. The defense followed a 2015 season when it allowed 18.8 PPG but allowing only 17.7 PPG last season and while a modest six starers return, four of the team's top-four tacklers are back. Washington has just five road games this season (again) but went a perfect 5-0 away from home last season (only Standford on Nov. 10 looms as a possible loss).

    Why not to be the Huskies: Their are no compelling reasons, except one must be wary of the team's 7-7 ATS record from last year, as Washington will likely be even bigger favorites week-to-week in 2017. USC, which upset the Huskies in Seattle last year is not on the schedule but will likely be Washington's opponent in the Pac-12 championship game. However, by then, both teams will likely be at 10 wins (or more).

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 10.0

    Washington State Cougars (2016: 8-5 SU & 6-7 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 15/1
    Season Win Total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Cougars: Mike Leach struggled in his first few seasons at Pullman but his most recent two teams have won nine and eight games. Luke Falk is poised for a big year at QB in Leach's pass-happy offense and nine starters return on defense. The Cougars open with five straight home games, the last being a Friday night game at USC.

    Why not to be the Cougars: The team will finish with five away games in its last seven and while Leach brings an exciting offense to each contest, one just gets the feeling he can't be trusted. Case in point was they way WSU ended last season. On an eight-game losing streak, WSU lsot 38-24 at Colorado, then 'laid a huge egg' in the Apple Cup (lost 45-17 at home to Washington) plus ) then the Cougars lost 17-12 againstt a Minnesota team depleted by suspensions in the Holiday Bowl.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 7.5


    SOUTH DIVISION

    Arizona Wildcats (2016: 3-9 SU, 2-10 ATS)


    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 100/1
    Season Win Total: 5.5

    Why to bet the Wildcats: After four straight bowl trips, Rich-Rod's Wildcats imploded in 2016, winning just three games. Arizona's offensive backfield was devastated by injuries last season but a healthy Brandon Dawkins at QB will be a huge bonus. Arizona has nowhere to g o by up on the defensive side of the ball, as seven starers return from a unit which allowed 38.3 PPG. Arizona is the lone South division team that will avoid both Washington and Stanford from the North, which is a big bonus. The Wildcats open with three home games in September, visiting only a UTEP team coming off a 4-8 season

    Why not to be the Wildcats: Arizona will be better in 2017 but a .500 team? The Wildcats will open the season having lost seven straight road games and only UTEP and Cal seem like possible (likely) wins. After losing eight of their last nine games in 2016, a fast start is almost a must. However, after opening at home with Northern Arizona, the Wildcats will likely be underdogs in their next four games until they host Oregon St on Nov. 11

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 5.5

    Arizona State Sun Devils (2016: 5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 60/1
    Season Win Total: 5.0

    Why to bet the Sun Devils: Todd Graham led ASU to four straight bowls from 2012-2015, winning 10 games in both '13 and '15. The Sun Devils opened 5-1 last season but lost their final six games. However, the team's top-two RBs plus QB Wilkins (3rd-leading rusher) are all back (among seven offensive starters). ASU gets seven home games which is good news, as under Graham, they are 25-8 SU in Tempe. In Graham's previous 11 seasons as a head coach, none of his teams have failed to win five games, with nine of the11 winning six or more (five of those teams had double-digit wins).

    Why not to be the Sun Devils: The bad news is that the Pac-12's two best teams (Washington & USC) are part of ASU's home schedule, as are San Diego St. (B2B 11-win seasons) and South Division winner from 2016, Colorado.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 5.0

    Colorado Buffs (2016: 10-4 SU, 10-4 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 40/1
    Season Win Total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Buffs: Mike MacIntyre hit a 'grand slam' in his 4th season in Boulder, winning the South Division at 8-1 (10-4 overall), after his Buffs had won just 10 games in his first three seasons, including going 2-25 in Pac-12 play. The offense returns nine starters but not starting QB Liufau. MacIntyre has greatly improved Colorado's defense, cutting almost a TD off the teams' previous year's points allowed numbers to 21.7 per game in 2016. The team's season opener, a neutral-site rivalry with Colo. St will be a huge. A win and the Buffs get North Texas and No. Colorado at home before hosting Washington (would likely be 3-0 and well on their way to at least an eight-win season). The game in Denver with the Rams leaves Colorado with just five true road games and three of those five Pac-12 opponents had losing records in 2016.

    Why not to be the Buffs: Two of the team's six home games will be against Washington and USC, contests Colorado is unlikely to win. What's more, UCLA and Arizona St, two teams with losing records last year, figure to be much better in 2017, making visits to the Rose Bowl and Tempe tough venues. MacIntyre did wonders with last year's defense but this year's team returns just t three starters.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 7.5

    UCLA Bruins (2016: 4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 8/1
    Season Win Total: 7.5

    Why to bet the Bruins: UCLA's season was already a disappointing 3-3 with QB Seth Rosen was lost for the season. The Bruins lost the game in which Rosen got hurt, beginning a 1-6 slide. However, Rosen in back healthy, one of nine offensive starters wo are back. Few don't expect UCLA to rebound, considering that Mora's first five teams at UCLA have averaged 8.6 wins per season.

    Why not to be the Bruins: Rosen may be back but UCLA has to find a way to run the ball better, after averaging a pathetic 84.6 YPG on the ground (ranked 127th in the nation!). UCLA has a brutal road schedule with visits to Stanford, Washington and USC (no wins likely, there). Home wins will be a must.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 7.5

    USC Trojans (2016: 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: Even
    Season Win Total: 10.5

    Why to bet the Trojans: Sam Darnold got the start in USC's fourth game of the season, a 31-27 loss at Utah. However, the true freshman then led USC to nine straight wins, including a wild comeback win over Penn St. in the Rose Bowl. Clay Helton's team enters 2017 as the Pac-12 favorite and rightly so. Darnold (31-9 ratio) may have just one season left in LA but it is expected to a be a memorable one. USC gets seven home games (went 6-0 SU at home in 2016) and will be favored in all five road games. The Trojans avoid Washington during the regular season and the team's toughest opponents all will visit the Coliseum.

    Why not to be the Trojans: No real reasons at all.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 10.5

    Utah Utes (2016: 9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS)

    Odds to Win The Pac 12: 40/1
    Season Win Total: 6.5

    Why to bet the Utes: Utah finished last season 9-4 after a bowl win over Indiana. So what else is new? The Utes have gone to 10 bowl games in Kyle Whittingham's 12 seasons at Salt Lake City. Only nine starters return in 2017 but Utah gets seven home games. Yes, Utah draws the top-four teams from the North but the Utes get most of their Pac-12 peers at home. I like Whittingham's consistency.

    Why not to be the Utes: Only nine returning starters in this highly-competitive conference spells trouble. Road games at USC and Washington are 'killers' plus visits to BYU and Oregon will be no "walk in the park." Besting Stanford and Colorado at home won't be easy and home games against Arizona St. and Washington St. are no gimmes.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 6.5

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    2017 Mountain West Conference betting preview and odds: More than a one-horse race

    Teddy Covers breaks down the Mountain West, giving his advice on season win totals and winning one of the toughest mid-major conferences in college football. Much like last year, Boise State and San Diego State are the favorites heading into the campaign, with Wyoming and Colorado State poised to step up as contenders should the favorites underachieve.

    Air Force Falcons (2016 10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: 25/1
    Season Win Total: 5

    Why TO bet Air Force: The Falcons unique style makes them difficult to prepare for, even for MWC teams that see them every year. And very quietly, under the radar, Air Force has won 28 games over the past three seasons. After injuries forced Troy Calhoun to start four different quarterbacks last year, the Falcons are loaded with quality depth at the position heading into 2017.

    Why NOT bet Air Force: The Falcons defense is going to have their work cut out for them after graduating 12 of their top 13 tacklers from last year, a completely decimated stop unit. As recently as 2013, the Air Force stop unit allowed 40 points per game after replacing most of their defense. They went 2-10 SU, 3-9 ATS that year.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 5

    Boise State Broncos (2016 10-3 SU, 3-10 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: +150
    Season Win Total: 8.5

    Why TO bet Boise State: The Broncos led the Mountain West in total yardage on offense last year, but only finished sixth in the conference in scoring thanks to a -9 turnover margin. That was the first time this decade that the Broncos finished with a negative margin; so there’s ample reason to expect improvement. Plus, Boise has had the best defense in the MWC since they joined the conference, which hasn’t changed heading into 2017.

    Why to NOT bet Boise State: The Broncos won ten games last year, but covered only three pointspreads, a clear illustration of how the betting markets have overvalued this squad. They just 2-10 ATS at home over the past two seasons, no longer one of the strongest home fields in college football and the Broncos created only nine turnovers all season last year – this D might not have the type of playmakers that we’re used to seeing at Boise.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 8.5

    Colorado State Rams (2016 7-6 SU, 10-3 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: +375
    Season Win Total: 8

    Why TO bet Colorado State: After starting the season 0-2 ATS last year, Mike Bobo’s squad proceeded to cover the spread at a 10-1 clip in their final eleven ballgames, consistently undervalued by the betting markets. With a returning senior QB n Nick Stevens and a defense primed for improvement with eight starters back, the Rams are poised to make a run at the conference title if Boise State has a hiccup or two.

    Why to NOT bet Colorado State: This defense was not good down the stretch, allowing 31+ in each of their last four games; no sure thing to be improved just because they have eight starters back. And don’t underestimate the graduation loss of Hayden Hunt, one of the best punters in the country last year. He’ll likely be replaced by a true freshman; bad news for a team that has been consistently winning the field position battle.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 8

    Fresno State Bulldogs (2016 1-11 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: 250/1
    Season Win Total: 3.5

    Why TO bet Fresno State: There’s nowhere to go for the Fresno State program but up, after last year’s complete debacle. This program went 20-6 SU as recently as 2012-2013, and went bowling as recently as 2014 – this isn’t one of the ‘hopeless’ programs in the Mountain West. First year head coach Jeff Tedford did a remarkable job at Cal, turning a ‘bottom feeder’ program into a PAC-12 contending squad.

    Why to NOT bet Fresno State: The Tim DeRuyter era at Fresno did not end well, a squad that has ranked in the bottom half of the conference in recruit ratings in recent seasons. In other words, the reason this program has declined so quickly is because the talent on hand isn’t very good. Expect Tedford to get his recruits on the field rather quickly, which means ample playing time for the youngsters on this rebuilding squad.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 3.5

    Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (2016: 7-7 SU, 6-7-1 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: 45/1
    Season Win Total: 4.5

    Why TO bet Hawaii: After five straight years of uncertainty at the QB position, the Warriors have a returning starter at QB in Dru Brown this season. While Brown may not be able to match the elite numbers posted by former Warriors QB’s Colt Brennan or Timmy Chang (both of whom went on to the NFL), he is most assuredly primed for a breakout sophomore season, with solid skill position talent surrounding him.

    Why to NOT bet Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors enters fall camp with a major special teams problem after graduating Kody Kroening, who handled kickoffs, punts and field goals for the last four years. Hawaii’s defense has allowed more than 35 points per game four times in the last five seasons, and their rebuilt secondary, in particular, looks very vulnerable again this year.
    Season Win Total Pick: Over 4.5

    Nevada Wolfpack (2016: 5-7 SU, 4-8 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: 100/1
    Season Win Total: 3.5

    Why TO bet Nevada: The Mountain West Conference doesn’t end up with much SEC level talent, but Nevada has Alabama transfer David Cornwell -- a Top 10 recruit nationally coming out of high school -- locked in as the starting quarterback for the upcoming campaign. First year head coach Jay Norvell has designed numerous potent offenses before in coordinator stints at Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona State.

    Why to NOT bet Nevada: The Wolfpack is changing defensive schemes from a 3-3-5 to a 4-3. They’re changing offensive systems too, moving from a run first attack with star back James Butler to a more passer friendly offense – Norvell has been running an ‘Air Raid’ type offense for the better part of the last decade. Nevada’s current pieces don’t seem to fit what the coach wants to implement.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 3.5

    New Mexico Lobos (2016: 9-4 SU, 6-7 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: 25/1
    Season Win Total: 5.5

    Why TO Bet New Mexico: When Bob Davie got fired at Notre Dame and went into the broadcast booth for a decade, few pundits expected him to ever get back into coaching, let alone at a second tier program like New Mexico. But Davie has succeeded against the odds, turning a squad that went 3-33 SU in the three years before he arrived into a bowl team in both 2015 and 2016. Returning senior QB Lamar Jordan is quite capable of getting them back to a bowl again this year.

    Why to NOT bet New Mexico: A lot of things broke right for the Lobos last year; their best season in more than a decade. They were the most experienced team in the conference and they had only three true road games in MWC play. Those factors were paramount as the Lobos went 5-1 SU in games decided by a TD or less. Matching that mark in close games this year won’t be easy, and they’re not the most experienced team this year, not even close.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 5.5

    San Diego State Aztecs (2016: 11-3 SU, 7-6-1 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: +140
    Season Win Total: 9

    Why TO bet San Diego State: The Aztecs have been the class of the conference, fresh off their second consecutive victory in the MWC Championship Game. Their division – the West – is by far the weaker of the two – this team has a very clear path to a third straight appearance in the MWC Title Game. Rocky Long ran a consistent winning program at New Mexico and he’s doing it again in San Diego.

    Why to NOT bet San Diego State: The Aztecs aren’t built to win games by big margins, a team that tends to play conservatively on offense and relies on their strong stop unit to win games. That’s why, despite back-to-back conference titles, they’ve only gone 13-13 ATS in those two seasons (not counting bowls). And all three units on defense lost their best player to graduation in the offseason; a stop unit that might not be quite as good as it was in 2016.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 9

    San Jose State Spartans (2016: 4-8 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: 100/1
    Season Win Total: 3.5

    Why TO bet San Jose State: If the concept is ‘buy low, sell high’ than San Jose is certainly a ‘value’ team – there’s not much market support for the Spartans in Vegas (or anywhere else for that matter). First year, first time head coach Brent Brennan was an assistant coach on the Spartans 2012 team that came out of nowhere to finish 11-2, so he knows that it’s possible to overachieve in a conference with relatively few top notch programs.

    Why to NOT bet San Jose State: The Spartans entered fall camp still looking for a starting quarterback. Their skill position talent is as weak as any in the conference and their defense is changing schemes and short on impact players. Non-conference games against USF, Texas and Utah are likely to leave this team battered and bruised before conference play even starts.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 3.5

    UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (2016: 4-8 SU, 6-6 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: 50/1
    Season Win Total: 5

    WhyTO bet UNLV: If you’re looking for a deep sleeper in the Mountain West, the Rebels have that potential upside. Head coach Tony Sanchez is now in his third season on the job trying to build this long moribund program. Sanchez has his recruits in place to make a move, with nine returning starters on offense and a redshirt frosh QB in Armani Rodgers who has been turning heads in practice.

    Why to NOT bet UNLV: The Rebels haven’t exactly been printing money for their backers, without a winning season ATS in the Sanchez era. And while the offense might be capable of putting up points in bunches this year, UNLV’s defense returns only two starters; a bottom tier stop unit in terms of both experience and talent level.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 5

    Utah State Aggies (2016: 3-9 SU, 3-9 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: 30/1
    Season Win Total: 4.5

    Why TO bet Utah State: It’s a ‘win now or face the chopping block’ type season for fifth year head coach Matt Wells, coming off back to back losing campaigns – there’s no shortage of motivation or urgency in Logan this year. Wells has a senior QB in Kent Myers, with enough veteran skill position talent surrounding him to win some shootouts.

    Why to NOT bet Utah State: None of that offensive skill position talent will excel unless the offensive line can block. Yes, the Aggies brought in four JUCO transfers for the OL, but they return only one starter, a unit with big holes to fill. It’s a similar story on the defensive line, replacing all three starters from last year without a ‘sure thing’ recruit to help fill the void.

    Season Win Total Pick: Under 4.5

    Wyoming Cowboys (2016: 8-6 SU, 9-5 ATS)

    Odds to Win MWC: +800
    Season Win Total: 7.5

    Why TO bet Wyoming: When Craig Bohl got hired in Laramie prior to the start of the 2014 campaign, I had several good sources tell me to ‘watch out for the Cowboys, they’re going to win for this guy’. And, after two mediocre seasons, that’s exactly what Wyoming did last year, making it all the way to the MWC Championship Game. Their QB, Josh Allen, is solid, and their offensive line is loaded with four quality returning starters.

    Why to NOT bet Wyoming: This team lost to Eastern Michigan and UNLV last year, not an easy squad to back as a favorite – they’ve covered only four pointspreads as chalk in the first three years of the Bohl era. And the Cowboys basically lost every impact skill position player they had in the offseason – QB Josh Allen is going to have to develop some chemistry with a whole new group.

    Season Win Total Pick: Over 7.5

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