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Thread: A Sneak Peek At CFB 2018 News/Views/Highlights !

  1. #91
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    Handicapping Oklahoma (10)
    August 8, 2018


    The Oklahoma Sooners will have a new quarterback this season, as gone is Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Taking over will be Kyler Murray who has a big arm and who is an explosive runner. A lot is expected from Oklahoma this season, as the Sooners are considered national title contenders. Oddsmakers set the win total for Oklahoma at 10 games for this season.

    Let’s look at Oklahoma’s schedule to see if they will go over or under that number.

    2018 Oklahoma Sooners Regular Season Win Total
    10 (over -125)
    10 (under -105)


    2018 Oklahoma Sooners Schedule Analysis

    Week 1 – Sept. 1 vs. Florida Atlantic

    The Sooners get an interesting test in their opening game against a Florida Atlantic team that has Lane Kiffin as their head coach. The Owls will definitely be able to score, but they don’t have the defense to stop the Sooners.

    Week 2 – Sept. 8 vs. UCLA

    The Sooners have to face another high-powered offense in Week 2, as Chip Kelly’s Bruins come to Norman. The best time to face the Bruins might be early before Kelly gets his system in place.

    Week 3 – Sept. 15 at Iowa State

    The only game that the Sooners lost last year in the regular season was to the Cyclones so this will be a revenge game. This one is on the road, but the Sooners should roll.

    Week 4 – Sept. 22 vs. Army

    This is an interesting home and home series that begins in 2018, but it should be very one-sided, as the Sooners are simply too strong for the Black Knights. The Sooners will travel to West Point in 2020.

    Week 5 – Sept. 29 vs. Baylor

    The Bears gave the Sooners a big scare last season before losing 49-41. The Sooners get to play this one in Norman and they should have enough to hold off the Bears.

    Week 6 – Oct. 6 vs. Texas (Cotton Bowl - Dallas)

    The Sooners held off the Longhorns last season but it wasn’t easy, as Texas rallied from a big deficit. The Longhorns are expected to be improved this season, but whether they are close enough to Oklahoma’s level if the question.

    Week 8 – Oct. 20 at TCU

    If you are looking at key games for Oklahoma this season this is definitely one of them. The Sooners have won the last four meetings against TCU, but this game is on the road and it could be Oklahoma’s first loss of the season.

    Week 9 – Oct. 27 vs. Kansas State

    The Wildcats nearly beat Oklahoma last season, but this game is in Norman. That should mean a win for the Sooners, but keep in mind that KSU has won two of the last three at Oklahoma.

    Week 10 – Nov. 3 at Texas Tech

    The Sooners are better on both sides of the ball than Texas Tech and it is hard to see a Kliff Kingsbury team winning a big game.

    Week 11 – Nov. 10 vs. Oklahoma State

    The Cowboys scored a lot of points last season against the Sooners in Stillwater and still lost. This time the game is in Norman and Oklahoma should play better defense and get the win.

    Week 12 – Nov. 17 vs. Kansas

    This will be a rout, as Kansas is considered one of the worst teams in the country. It is only a matter of the final margin of victory for the Sooners.

    Week 13 – Nov. 23 at West Virginia

    This game could actually be a huge one in the Big 12 if West Virginia lives up to their expectations. The Mountaineers have the best quarterback in the conference in Will Grier and they are capable of challenging the Sooners.

    2018 Oklahoma Sooners Regular Season Win Total Prediction

    The schedule for the Sooners in 2018 is really pretty favorable. The season probably comes down to the two road games at TCU and West Virginia. If the Sooners win all of their other games as expected that would get them to 10 wins. They would need to just win one of those other two contests to get to 11 wins and go over their win total. That seems the most likely scenario, so we’ll go over the win total for Oklahoma this season.
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  2. #92
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    Iowa suspends Jackson, Lattimore for opener
    August 8, 2018


    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Iowa tackle Alaric Jackson and defensive lineman Cedrick Lattimore will be suspended for the season opener against Northern Illinois for violating team rules.

    The Hawkeyes say the suspensions aren't for legal matters. But coach Kirk Ferentz says Jackson and Lattimore's issues surfaced in the late spring and both players were given guidelines to meet.

    Ferentz called their response ''excellent.'' However, it apparently wasn't strong enough to avoid missing the opener.

    The loss of Jackson means that Iowa will face the Huskies on Sept. 1 without either of their starting tackles. Tristan Wirfs, like Jackson a sophomore pressed into duty a year ago, is suspended for one game after being charged with drunk driving on July 29.
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    Ole Miss Breakdown
    August 8, 2018

    By Brian Edwards

    Ole Miss enters its second season under head coach Matt Luke looking to improve on last year’s 6-6 straight-up record and 5-7 against-the-spread mark. This will be last year of probation for the Rebels, who can’t go to the SEC Championship Game or a bowl for a third straight year.

    Therefore, many view Ole Miss as a non-factor for one more campaign. However, it says here that the Rebels have enough talent to play spoilers in the race to win both SEC divisions. They return eight starters on offense and seven on defense.

    Most of that talent is on offense. This unit has at least a pair of future first-round picks in offensive tackle Greg Little and wide receiver A.J. Brown. Mel Kiper Jr.’s first Big Board for the 2019 Draft had Brown listed as the No. 4 overall pick with Little at No. 6.

    Brown is the leader of a WR group that’s ranked No. 1 in the nation by most preseason publications, including Phil Steele’s. The junior was a second-team All-American as a true sophomore in 2017, hauling in 75 receptions for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    There are two more elite wideouts in D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge, who had 41 catches for 698 yards and seven TDs last year. Metcalf started all 12 games in 2017, making 39 receptions for 646 yards and seven TDs, including the game-winner in the final seconds of a 37-34 victory at Kentucky.

    Former QB Shea Patterson transferred to Michigan. The former five-star recruit from Texas went down with a torn ACL in a 40-24 home loss to LSU last October. Jordan Ta’amu started the last five games and distinguished himself extremely well. The senior who came to Oxford via the juco route completed 66.5 percent of his throws for 1,682 yards with an 11/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

    Luke also has found the QB of the future in 5-star recruit Matt Corral, a California native that arrived on campus in January and took part in spring practice. Corral was originally a Florida commit before Jim McElwain was fired and replaced by Dan Mullen.

    In Steele’s preseason mag, junior tight end Dawson Knox is listed as a third-team All-SEC pick. Knox had had 24 catches for 321 yards in ’17. Brown and Little are first-team All-SEC selections, while Metcalf is a second-teamer and OG Javon Patterson joins Knox as a third-teamer.

    Ole Miss averaged 32.8 points per game under first-year offensive coordinator Phil Longo, who was hired by former HC Hugh Freeze before his dismissal last summer. Longo had previously been OC in ’16 at Sam Houston State running an ‘Air Raid’ attack.

    Steele ranks the Rebels’ offensive line as the fourth-best in the SEC and the nation’s 17th-best. However, the RBs are 13th in the conference. Juco transfer RB Scottie Phillips was in for the spring and may end up as the starter. Jordan Wilkins has departed after rushing for 1,039 yards and nine TDs with a 6.5 yards-per-carry average.

    D’Vaughn Pennamon ran for 227 yards and four TDs with a 4.1 YPC average last year, while Eric Swinney ran for 209 yards and three TDs with a 4.8 YPC average. However, Pennamon is currently out indefinitely with a knee injury.

    As bullish as I am on the Ole Miss offense, I’m equally down on the defense, if not more so. This unit allowed 34.6 PPP in ’17. The Rebels lost their two leading tacklers and one of the SEC’s best pass rushers in Marquis Haynes, who had 7.5 sacks and five QB hurries last season. (Of course, Haynes is the stud that blindsided Alabama QB Jalen Hurts in Oxford two years ago with as perfect a hit on a QB as you’ll ever see, resulting in a scoop-and-score TD that gave Ole Miss a 24-3 lead. Alas, the Crimson Tide rallied for a 48-43 win to avoid a third straight loss to the Rebels.)

    Steele’s SEC Unit Rankings reflect the challenges that second-year DC Wesley McGriff (co-DC at Auburn in ’16) faces. The defensive line is ranked 12th in the league, the LBs are 14th and the secondary is seventh.

    Three Ole Miss defenders are on Steele’s preseason All-SEC teams. Junior DT Benito Jones is a second-teamer, senior CB Ken Webster is a third-team selection and junior free safety Jaylon Jones is a fourth-teamer. Benito Jones has started 14 career games in his first two seasons, recording 68 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, seven QB hurries and one forced fumble.

    Luke hit the juco trail with hopes of adding immediate help on this side of the ball. Two defensive linemen were added in Noah Jefferson and Hal Northern. Jefferson and juco LB Vernon Dasher arrived early for spring practice and Dasher is probably going to start right away.

    Sportsbook.ag currently has Ole Miss with a season win total of six (‘under’ -150, ‘over’ +120).

    Before looking at this year’s schedule, let’s rewind what went down in ’17. Remember, Luke replaced Freeze on an interim basis. Ole Miss started 2-0 with lopsided home victories over South Alabama (47-27) and UT-Martin (45-23), only to lose three straight road games by double-digit margins. The Rebels stopped the bleeding with a 57-35 home win over Vanderbilt to get back to .500.

    Then Patterson went down in the home loss to 24th-ranked LSU. From there, Ole Miss finished 3-2 in Ta’amu’s five starts, including a 31-28 win at Mississippi State as a 15-point underdog in the Egg Bowl. This victory convinced AD Ross Bjork to give Luke the HC gig on a permanent basis.

    Both defeats down the stretch were one-possession games, as the Rebels lost home games to Arkansas (38-37) and Texas A&M (31-24). They averaged 35.8 PPG with Ta’amu under center.

    Luke’s squad opens the year with a tone-setting showdown with Texas Tech in Houston. As of Aug. 8, most books had the Red Raiders installed as 1.5 or two-point favorites. The other non-conference games are at home vs. Southern Illinois, Kent State and ULM.

    Ole Miss draws South Carolina and Vanderbilt as its games against the SEC East. The Rebels will be in a favorable spot for a Nov. 3 home game vs. the Gamecocks, who will come to Oxford in a potential look-ahead situation (depending on the SEC East standings at the time, obviously) with a game at Florida on deck. Most important, Ole Miss has two weeks to prepare for Will Muschamp’s squad, which hosts Tennessee the prior weekend.

    The spoiler role I noted earlier in both divisions is clearly referencing South Carolina in how Ole Miss can impact the race in the East. Although we don’t give the Rebels a shot against Alabama, they could give Auburn and Mississippi State trouble, especially with both of those contests at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

    In its Games of the Year section, Sportsbook.ag has Ole Miss as a 10.5-point home underdog vs. Mississippi State. Some other shops have the Rebels as 22.5-point home underdogs vs. Alabama on Sept. 15.

    I’m going to pass on Ole Miss’s season win total due to my lack of faith in its defense. With that said, I do believe the Rebels will win at least six games. They might wreak havoc on South Carolina’s season in early November. If Luke’s squad can win the turnover battle in home games vs. Auburn and Mississippi State, it could pull upsets in those home outings as well.

    **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

    -- Ole Miss is ranked 60th in Steele’s preseason Power Rankings.

    -- Ole Miss finished 2017 minus five in turnover margin. The Rebels were +34 on their 12 foes in total offense.

    -- Steele ranks the Rebels’ schedule as the 46th-toughest nationally, which is the SEC’s eighth-toughest slate.

    -- Ole Miss went 3-1 ATS as a road underdog on Luke’s watch last year and is 17-8 in 25 such spots dating back to 2008.

    -- Steele’s National Unit Rankings has the Rebels at No. 27 in the secondary.

    -- Not one team on Ole Miss’s schedule has an open date beforehand. The regular-season finale vs. MSU falls on Thanksgiving Day.

    -- Ole Miss returns 57 lettermen and lost 28.
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    Kentucky Breakdown
    August 10, 2018

    By Brian Edwards

    Going into the crucial sixth season of his tenure, Mark Stoops appears to have his best overall team at Kentucky. The Wildcats, who are off a 7-6 straight-up record and a 4-9 against-the-spread ledger in 2017, return seven starters on offense and eight on defense.

    UK won its first three games last season and was 5-1 going into a road assignment in Starkville. Truth be told, Stoops’s bunch should’ve been 6-0 at that point if not for gift-wrapping Florida a pair of TD passes when UK didn’t even line up a defender on a wide receiver split out wide.

    The first such play came on a fourth-and-short situation from midfield late in the first half. The second came on a third-and-goal play coming out of a timeout in the final minute of a 28-27 loss, UK’s 31st in a row against the Gators. This is the longest active losing streak in an FBS rivalry.

    After getting dusted 45-7 at Mississippi State, UK responded to win a 29-26 decision over Tennessee to clinch a postseason berth. However, the ‘Cats gave up a TD pass in the final five seconds of a 37-34 home loss to Ole Miss. They’d bounce back to throttle Vanderbilt by a 44-21 count as 2.5-point road underdogs to improve to 7-3.

    But Kentucky lost its last two regular-season games in blowout fashion at Georgia (42-13) and vs. Louisville (44-17). Then at the Music City Bowl, UK lost 24-23 to Northwestern after failing on a two-point conversion in the final minute. In other words, three gut-wrenching defeats by five combined points prevented the ‘Cats from winning 10 games.

    Kentucky’s roster has a slew of future NFL players, including junior RB Benny Snell, TE C.J. Conrad, OT Landon Young, OG Logan Stenberg, LB Josh Allen, LB Jordan Jones and safety Mike Edwards. Senior CBs Derrick Baity and Chris Westry are a solid duo that could play on Sundays in the future as well.

    The problem for this UK team – and for gamblers looking to form a preseason opinion or wager on its win total – is that there’s zero experience at the QB position. The battle to take the first snap in the opener vs. Central Michigan is two-man race between Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak. Neither player has taken a collegiate snap.

    Wilson signed with Oregon in the 2016 class before transferring after one year. He had a 26/11 touchdown-to-interception ratio at Garden City Community College in Kansas last season. 247Sports ranked Wilson as the No. 2 dual-threat QB and the No. 34 overall player in the 2018 juco class. He chose UK over offers from Baylor, Ole Miss and Indiana.

    Hoak, a third-year sophomore who enrolled early before the ’16 campaign, arrived at the same time as offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and QBs coach Darin Hinshaw. Therefore, the 3-star recruit out of Dublin (OH) High School has the advantage of being in the same system for three years now.

    Whoever is under center, he’ll be able to lean on one of the nation’s premier RBs in Snell, who ran for 1,333 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry in ’17. Those numbers would’ve been better if not for his ejection from the Music City Bowl in the first quarter. This was one of the most utterly despicable rulings by a referee that I’ve seen in college football history. Snell garnered second-team All-SEC honors last year and is a first-team All-SEC pick in Phil Steele’s preseason magazine.

    Snell will work behind an offensive line that has 60 career starts between them. This group also adds E.J. Price, a former four-star recruit to USC in ’16 who transferred to Lexington and sat out last year.

    Stoops and his staff are optimistic that senior WR Dorian Baker can stay healthy. He went down with a season-ending injury in August of last year. Baker had 55 receptions for 608 yards and three TDs as a sophomore in 2015. He has 88 career catches for 1,015 yards and six TDs.

    Conrad, a preseason second-team All-SEC TE in Steele’s preseason mag, has 50 career grabs for 697 yards and nine TDs. Junior Tavin Richardson and sophomore Lynn Bowden are the likely starters at WR alongside Baker. Richardson had 27 receptions for 371 yards and one TD in ’17, while Bowden had 17 catches for 210 yards.

    Kentucky’s defense gave up 381, 346 and 333 rushing yards in its three defeats to close last year. This stop unit allowed an average of 28.2 points per game even though it produced the most sacks (30) since Stoops arrived.

    Edwards was a first-team All-SEC choice in ’17, recording a team-best 97 tackles to go with four interceptions, three tackles for loss, one sack, one QB hurry and seven passes broken up. Steele has him as a preseason second-team All-American, while Allen is a fourth-team All-American.

    Allen earned third-team All-SEC honors last year when he recorded 65 tackles, seven sacks, 3.5 TFL’s, four QB hurries, three PBU, two forced fumbles and one interception. Jones was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2016, but he missed four games and wasn’t 100 percent healthy for a few others in ’17.

    During that ’16 campaign, I realized that I loved Jones as a player. His team was taking its 30th consecutive defeat to UF at The Swamp. If you’ve never been to Gainesville in mid-September, I can assure you that a sunny day makes it feel like the temperature is at least 100 degrees and even hotter sometimes. Kentucky was down 45-0 early in the fourth quarter, but the same LB kept darting into the backfield to make tackles. That UK team clearly quit on that day, but Jones didn’t take a play off. Look for this hard-nosed gamer to bounce back from an injury-riddled year in ’18.

    Steele’s SEC Unit Rankings have the ‘Cats at No. 14 at the QB position, No. 6 at RB, No. 13 at WR, No. 11 on the o-line, No. 13 on the d-line, No. 8 at LB, No. 8 in the secondary, No. 12 on special teams and No. 6 in chemistry.

    Sportsbook.ag has UK’s win total at 5.5 (‘under’ -120, ‘over’ -110). The Wildcats, who have never made the SEC Championship Game, have 300/1 odds to win in Atlanta this year. Those same longshot odds are shared with Arkansas, and only Vanderbilt (500/1) has longer odds. 5Dimes.eu has UK with 45/1 odds to win the SEC East.

    Kentucky’s non-conference schedule has three home games vs. Central Michigan, Murray St. and Middle Tennessee. The lone road assignment is the regular-season finale at U of L, where UK won 41-38 as a 27-point underdog in ’16.

    UK’s draw from the SEC West is a home game vs. Mississippi State and a trip to College Station to face Texas A&M on Oct. 6. The Wildcats get their open date on Oct. 13 ahead of a home game vs. Vandy. They get four of their first five games at home.

    Stoops joins LSU’s Ed Orgeron and Vandy’s Derek Mason as the SEC coaches most likely to be on the hot seat if things don’t go their way in ’18. He is 26-36 overall, 12-28 in league play and 0-2 in bowl games over five seasons at UK. A third straight postseason invite is a must and depending on how it goes down (blowout losses and/or unimpressive wins?), a 6-6 regular-season record might have Big Blue Nation calling for change.

    I think Stoops needs to go 7-5 to feel comfortable about being retained. To get to seven wins, UK must sweep its three non-conference home games, beat Vanderbilt at Commonwealth Stadium and win in Knoxville. Where are the two other victories going to come from? Well, the ‘Cats will be home underdogs at least three times – vs. Mississippi State, vs. South Carolina and vs. Georgia.

    As you’ll see below, Stoops hasn’t exactly thrived in home ‘dog spots. The four other road games are at Florida, at Texas A&M, at Missouri and at U of L.

    Unless Wilson wins the job and has a breakout year, I have a hard time seeing UK winning more than six games. The win total of 5.5 is a good number and it’s a PASS for me.

    **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

    -- Stoops is an atrocious 3-11-2 ATS in 16 games as a home underdog at UK.

    -- 5Dimes has Snell with 300/1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy. The same offshore shop has him with 27/1 odds to get invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation.

    -- Steele’s position rankings of players eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft has Snell listed as the No. 3 RB. Conrad is the No. 7 TE, Young is the No. 20 OT, Stenberg is the No. 16 OG, Allen is the No. 3 OLB, Jones is the No. 23 OLB and Edwards is the No. 11 strong safety.

    -- Kentucky is ranked No. 75 in Steele’s Preseason Power Rankings.

    -- UK hasn’t won at Neyland Stadium since 1984. The ‘Cats will have a great chance to do so on Nov. 10.

    -- According to Steele’s rankings, Kentucky has the SEC’s sixth-toughest schedule and the country’s 39th-toughest slate.

    -- UK took a hit when DE Denzil Ware decided to transfer to Jacksonville St. late this past spring. Ware had 47 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL’s, two QB hurries, one interception and one PBU in '17.

    -- In its Games of the Year section, Sportsbook has Kentucky as a 9.5-point road underdog at Louisville.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  5. #95
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    2018 SEC Preview
    August 12, 2018

    By Marc Lawrence

    SEC2018 SEC PREVIEW

    Gimme 5

    The SEC features 5 first-year new head coaches for the 2018 season. In fact that number actually reaches 6 if you include Ole Miss mentor Matt Luke, who is back after taking the reins on an interim basis last season following the Hugh Freeze fiasco. Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) leads the run with a $75 million dollar contract. In addition, Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State), Chad Morris (Arkansas), Dan Mullen (Florida) and Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee) complete the cast.

    Fast Facts

    Alabama has scored more touchdowns than any team in the SEC only once under Nick Saban’s tenure ... The Crimson Tide is the only FBS school to make it to all four College Football playoffs ... Despite an average drop of 1,409 fans in 2017, the SEC has led the FBS in average attendance every year since 1998. It was the largest drop since 1983 ... Only one time since 2007 has Alabama or Auburn failed to win the SEC West division (LSU in 2011).

    12th Man Tradition

    In case you didn’t know, the 12th Man Tradition at Texas A&M started in 1922 when a person in the stands (a basketball player who had played some football) was called down to the bench and asked to suit up on the sideline because of the toll injuries had taken on the tea, From that time on, A&M students stand to show loyalty and a readiness to help the team if needed. And know you know the rest of the story.

    Note: The numbers following each team name represents the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback.

    ALABAMA (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 3/2, 52 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: ALABAMA SHAKES

    Oh oh. This could get downright ugly. Tide QB Jalen Hurts won the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award as a freshman in 2016, and then threw for 2,081 yards, 17 touchdowns and one interception before he was benched in favor of freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa in the second half of the national championship game against Georgia. Tagovailoa led the Tide to a come-from-behind win and the rest is history. Suddenly, Nick Saban has a two-headed QB situation – and that’s generally not a good thing. And then there’s the fact that the Tide was the 3rd hardest-hit team in the offseason with 5 NFL defections, 14 returning starters and 16 players from the 2-deep gone, with the wide receiving corps hurt the most. Then again, Bama’s 24.4 scoring differential last season was second-best in the nation to Penn State (24.6).

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Nick Saban is an incredible 125-14 at Alabama since 2008, including 70-10 in SEC games.

    PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at LSU (11/3)

    ARKANSAS (Offense - 9/4, Defense - 8/2, 59 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME:
    NEW-LOOK PIGS

    After losing more games than they won (29-34) behind Bret Bielema, Arkansas decided a new look was needed. One of only two Power 5 schools (out of 13 openings) to hire a Group of 5 head coach in the offseason, the Hogs welcome new head coach Chad Morris, former boss at SMU and top assistant with Clemson. He brings a new playbook with his modified spread offense, along with John Chavis, former LSU defensive coordinator, who will implement the third different defensive scheme for the Hogs in as many years. The offense returns 4 starting linemen who allowed 35 sacks last season. They will be expected to improve while adapting to Morris’ new offense. The jury is still out.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Hogs have played UNDER their season win total in four of the last five seasons.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Mississippi (10/13) - *KEY if favored

    AUBURN (Offense - *6/1, Defense - 7/3, 58 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: AIRING IT OUT, PART 2

    When QB Jarrett Stidham transferred in as a former 5-star recruit from Texas A&M, the Tigers would have been ecstatic knowing he would throw for 3,158 yards and 18 TDs, while defeating Alabama and winning the SEC West division title. Safe to say they were euphoric after checking both boxes last year. So what do they do for an encore? For openers, ‘Air’ Stidham is back but he’ll be operating without RBs Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway. In addition, four senior starting OL have departed. Thus, replicating last year’s success will be difficult. But before bailing out entirely on the new-look Tigers, keep this in mind: Over the last two regular season campaigns, the SU stats winner is 25-1 in Tigers’ games. Keep in mind, though, that the Tigers have suffered at least four losses each of the last four years.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Tigers are 33-1 SU at home in non-conference games since 2007.

    PASS

    FLORIDA (Offense - *10/5, Defense - 9/3, 53 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: MISSION BBQ

    New head coach Dan Mullen has handed the keys to the UF offense over to quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, who is commissioned with igniting an offense that has been MIA since Tim Tebow’s days. The Gators’ offense has not been ranked inside the Top 10 in the SEC since 2009 when Tebow was behind center. Florida finished 13th out of 14 SEC teams last season, using three different QBs. Johnson insists redshirt sophomore QB Feleipe Franks’ offseason maturation has gone from the “class to the grass” and is ready for a breakout campaign. He’s being pressed by QB Kyle Trask. After last season’s red-faced 4-win effort, the Gators are a certified ‘mission team’ in 2018. And in payback mode against no less than five foes, expect Mullen to turn up the flames.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Florida’s 10 assistant coaches will earn $4.74 million this season, and $5.4 million in 2019.

    PLAY ON: at Florida State (11/24)

    GEORGIA (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 5/2, 53 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: SMART-SIZED

    After winning the SEC championship and then suffering a heartbreaking loss in the College Football Playoff title game, the Bulldogs are a team on everyone’s radar this season. Before the schedule starts, however, Kirby Smart will be tasked with replacing 17 scholarship seniors, including seven senior starters on defense and two juniors that left early for the NFL draft (read: Roquan Smith, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year). In fact, only three other FBS teams suffered a deeper degree of player losses than the Dawgs, with a total of 14 returning starters and 16 players from the 2-deep gone. The good news is QB Jake Fromm’s 24 TDs and 160.1 ranking was tops among FBS freshmen last year.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: A total of 50 freshmen have played for the Bulldogs over the past three seasons.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Florida (10/27)

    KENTUCKY (Offense - 8/4, Defense - 10/3, 47 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: TOP CATS

    The Mark Stoops effect is taking hold. In 2016 and ’17, UK posted consecutive 7-win seasons, along with 4-4 records in the SEC. It’s the first time the Wildcats have won seven games and finished at least .500 in the league in consecutive seasons in 40 years. Inside those numbers is an 8-4 record in games decided by 7 points or less. The key to the success has been a recruiting effort that has landed Kentucky in the Top 50 each year under Stoops. And with it all, the Wildcats are now playing in a $120 million renovated field in front of throngs of rabid fans. It’s like they say around these parts these days – on game day, Kroger Field often becomes the third-largest city in Kentucky. With the Wildcats starting a first-year quarterback in 2018, look for RB Benny Snell – who owns consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, to challenge for the league’s rushing title.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Kentucky is 0-8 ATS in games following an ATS win of 20 or more points under Stoops.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Tennessee (11/10)

    LSU (Offense - 5/3, Defense - 5/1, 47 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    ORGER GONE

    Now we’re going to find out what Ed Orgeron is all about as a head coach. According to Fansided.com, from the Big Hit List of player defections, LSU’s number one cheerleader ranks #1 overall, losing 14 returning starters and 18 players from the 2-deep gone, including 6 NFL defections. In fact, only Colorado State (15) must replace more total starters than the Tigers, and only Navy (21) and UTSA (20) lost more seniors from their two-deep depth charts. After ranking 105th last year and dead last in 2016 in 4th down conversion percentage, and operating behind his third new OC is as many years, we’re guessing the Big O finds himself back in the hot seat next season. He’ll need a big year from new QB Joe Burrow, an Ohio State transfer.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Ed Orgeron is 5-20 SU as a head coach against winning SEC foes in his career.

    PASS

    MISSISSIPPI (Offense - 8/4, Defense - 7/2, 56 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: BORN A REBEL

    Matt Luke has ties to the Ole Miss program spanning three generations. A 4-year starting center with the Rebels, Luke was thrown into the fray at the start of the season last year following the Hugh Freeze scandal. And had the Rebs not been on probation, they would have earned a bowl bid, thanks to wins in 3 of their final four games of the season. The problem this year, though, is Ole Miss must replace the most players from last year’s 2-deep roster than any team in the nation, including star QB Shea Patterson, who transferred out to Michigan. Fortunately, Luke recruited a Top 25 class in February, and over 38% of all starts last were by underclassmen.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Ole Miss is 25-2 SU and 21-6 ATS as a favorite in lined games against non-conference foes.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Mississippi State (11/22) - *KEY as a favorite

    MISSISSIPPI STATE (Offense - *9/4, Defense -8/4, 49 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: WE WANT MO

    The Dan Mullen era at MSU ends, and the start of the Joe Moorhead era begins. A former head coach at Fordham where he inherited a 1-10 program – and proceeded to go 38-13 during his tenure the next four years – Joe Mo was the OC at Penn State the past two seasons and is one of the best offensive minds in the country. Before Moorhead, PSU averaged 342 yards and 22 points per game the previous two seasons. The Lions improved to 446.5 yards and 39.5 points per game when he left. Returning star dual-threat QB Nick Fitzgerald has tossed for 4,205 yards and 36 TDs the last two seasons. WRs A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf are the league’s top receiving tandem and should surpass 20 TDs this season (Brown is the SEC’s top returning wideout). Despite a schedule filled with landmines, watch those numbers blow up this season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Bulldog defense improved 11 points and 153 YPG last season.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Louisiana Tech (11/3)

    MISSOURI (Offense - *9/5, Defense - 7/1, 51 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: TIGER BY THE TAIL

    In two short seasons under head coach Barry Odom the Tigers have flexed their muscle, averaging over 30 points and 500-plus yards both years. This from a squad he inherited that owned a powder-puff offense that averaged 14 points and 281 yards. After a miserable 1-5 start to the season last year, the Tigers closed with six straight wins while scoring an average 51.3 points per games, vaulting them to their first bowl game in four years. It should be noted, though, that Mizzou went 7-0 against teams with losing records or opponents from the FCS and 0-6 against bowl teams. New OC Derek Dooley welcomes back senior QB Drew Lock, who led the FBS with 44 TD passes last season and is projected as possibly the first quarterback to be selected in this year’s NFL draft. If the defense improves at the same pace this year as last, this team could challenge for the top spot in the SEC East – provided, of course, that they can take down bowl-caliber opposition.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Tigers are 33-8 SU and 26-11 ATS the last five years in games they manage to outgain their opponent.

    PLAY ON: vs. Kentucky (10/27)

    SOUTH CAROLINA (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 6/4, 55 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: ALL GAS, NO BRAKES

    On the heels of a 9-win season in Will Muschamp’s second year at the helm, the mantra in 2018 is “All Gas, No Brakes”. Buoyed by a relatively small graduation class, the Gamecocks welcome a 109-man roster – 18 more than last season. The offense is cocked-and-loaded, returning 100% of its passing yards, 98% of its rushing yards, and 80% of its receiving yards. Plus, electric senior WR Deebo Samuels returns after scoring 6 TDs in just 3 games before suffering a season-ending injury. The defense allowed just 20.7 PPG last year, its best effort since 2012. It’s worth noting that 11 players started every game last season. Five of them are back in 2018. Yes, the ‘Cocks are fueled up and ready to roll.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Seventy-percent of USC’s roster was composed of underclassmen last season.

    PLAY ON: at Kentucky (9/29)

    TENNESSEE (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 7/3, 47 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: ROCKY FLOP

    Behind the nation’s No. 118 red zone defense, and the first 8-loss and winless SEC season in school history, Butch Jones’ fate was all but sealed. Enter new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, former defensive coordinator at Alabama, Georgia and Florida State, who has coached 41 NFL draft picks. Best of all 4 seniors with lots of playing experience anchor the defensive line. And after last year’s goose egg at home in SEC play, we’re certain Pruitt is reminded of Rocky Top’s 463-128-17 all-time mark at Neyland Stadium. Oh yeah: since 1913 the Vols have endured 10 seasons in which they failed to win 5 games. They went 63-24-10 in follow up seasons, with nary a losing year. Expect Pruitt’s debut to be a smashing success.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Vols are 7-0 SU on neutral fields since 2012. They have not played a game in North Carolina in 57 years, since 1961.

    PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Florida (9/22)

    TEXAS A&M (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 8/2, 52 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: NEW MATH

    Hmm. After a 7-6 season, former A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin was dropkicked in favor of Jimbo Fisher, who enters off an identical 7-6 campaign at Florida State. Nonetheless, Fisher assumes the reins in College Station after a celebrated 8-year tenure with the Seminoles in which he won a BSC Championship, 3 ACC conference championships and 4 AP Poll Top 10 finishes. Through it all he brings an 83-23-career ledger – as opposed to Sumlin’s 87-43-career log. In addition, new OC Darrell Dickey comes over from Memphis (No. 4 offense last season). Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that Aggie freshmen made 20.6% of all starts last season for A&M. Only four teams started more. No matter how you add it up, this looks to be a lateral move.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Aggies are 1-10-1 ATS as home in games following an ATS loss.

    PASS

    VANDERBILT (Offense - *7/5, Defense - 4/1, 47 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: MASON JARRED

    Knowing that Vanderbilt owns 23 losing seasons the last 26 years, it’s safe to say that head coach Derek Mason is officially on the hot seat at Vanderbilt. Averaging just 4.5 wins in four seasons on the sidelines, without a winning record in any campaign, Mason went on the offensive in the offseason when he hired four new coaches. Also looking to save Mason’s hide is senior QB Kyle Shurmer, who broke Vandy’s single-season record with 26 TD passes, and needs 3,163 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes to move ahead of Jay Cutler as the school’s all-time passing leader in each category. The departure of all-time leading rusher Ralph Webb is not good news – not when you’re facing 9 bowl teams.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Commodores are 0-17 SU and 2-15 ATS in Game Six of the season the last 17 years.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. South Carolina (9/22)
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Handicapping Oklahoma State (8)
    August 13, 2018


    The Oklahoma State Cowboys have to replace some key players on both sides of the ball for the 2018 season, but head coach Mike Gundy has turned Oklahoma State into a perennial contender and the Cowboys could be a threat in the Big 12 again this season. The schedule for the Cowboys is favorable, so Oklahoma State is not without a chance to make some noise in the conference this season. Let’s look at their win total and make a prediction.

    2018 Oklahoma State Cowboys Regular Season Win Total
    8 (over -111)
    8 (under -109)


    2018 Oklahoma State Cowboys Schedule Analysis

    Week 1 – Sept. 1 vs. Missouri State


    The opener should be a cakewalk for the Cowboys, as the Bears are an FCS team. This should be a big one for Oklahoma State to start the season.

    Week 2 – Sept. 8 vs. South Alabama

    The competition doesn’t get much tougher in Week 2, as the Cowboys routed the Jaguars last season by a score of 44-7. It may not be much different this time around.

    Week 3 – Sept. 15 vs. Boise State

    The first test of the season for Oklahoma State comes in Week 3. The Broncos finished 11-3 last season and they are very capable of going into Stillwater and getting this win.

    Week 4 – Sept. 22 vs. Texas Tech

    The Cowboys have dominated this series recently, winning each of the last nine meetings. The winning streak should be at ten after this one is over.

    Week 5 – Sept. 29 at Kansas

    The Jayhawks are a bad team and even though this game is on the road the Cowboys should win it easily.

    Week 6 – Oct. 6 vs. Iowa State

    The Cowboys have won six straight in this series, but it was close last year in Ames, as Oklahoma State won 49-42. It probably won’t be that close this time.

    Week 7 – Oct. 13 at Kansas State

    This is one of those tricky games that will decide the season for the Cowboys. The Wildcats have won two of the last three in Manhattan against OSU.

    Week 9 – Oct. 27 vs. Texas

    The Cowboys have done really well against Texas lately, winning six of the last eight meetings. The Longhorns are expected to be improved, but this game is in Stillwater.

    Week 10 – Nov. 3 at Baylor

    This is a huge letdown spot for the Cowboys, as they are coming off the game against Texas and have Oklahoma next week. This is the proverbial trap game.

    Week 11 – Nov. 10 at Oklahoma

    The last time these teams met they combined to score 114 points. It probably won’t be as high scoring this time around. The Cowboys have not won a game in this series since 2014.

    Week 12 – Nov. 17 vs. West Virginia

    This one won’t be easy, as the Mountaineers have an excellent quarterback in Will Grier. This one could be huge for both teams in the Big 12 title race.

    Week 13 – Nov. 24 at TCU

    The late season schedule for OSU is very difficult, as they finish on the road in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs are normally very tough at home and they should get this win.

    2018 Oklahoma State Cowboys Win Total Prediction

    The schedule for the Cowboys is almost like two separate seasons. The early part is very easy, while the second half is brutal. The Cowboys should be 5-1 or 6-0 when they head into Manhattan to face Kansas State. There is a chance they could be 7- when they face Texas. The problem for Oklahoma State is that two of their last three games look like definitely losses and they might lose all three. If the Cowboys don’t dominate their early season schedule and go at least 6-1 they are not likely to win eight games.

    Oddsmakers definitely know what they are doing with the Oklahoma State total, as the most likely scenario has the Cowboys going 8-4 and finishing with exactly eight wins. We’ll lean slightly to the under simply because the games against Kansas State and Texas look like toss-ups and OSU will probably have to win both to get to nine wins.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    COLLEGE FOOTBALL '18: 6 players starring for losing teams
    August 14, 2018


    Football being, in many ways, the ultimate team game can make it difficult for good players to shine when the players around them are ... not so good.

    Stars toiling on losing teams rarely get much recognition. They almost never win the big awards or get selected to the All-America teams. Time to give some love to those overlooked players whose teams did not reach the postseason last year and might have a hard time climbing back into it in 2018.

    Marquise Copeland, DT, Cincinnati

    The Bearcats are in the second year of a rebuild under coach Luke Fickell, who brought in the top-ranked recruiting class in the American Athletic Conference this year. Copeland was one of the few real keepers Fickell inherited and probably the team's best player last year. The senior had 63 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2017. Undersized at 6-foot-2 and 282 pounds, Copeland could develop into an NFL draft pick.

    Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse

    Dungey has been starting for the Orange since his freshman season. The problem is he has not been finishing the seasons healthy. When healthy, Dungey is a two-way threat with athleticism and size (6-4, 228) that could draw NFL attention. He enters 2018 as the only active quarterback in FBS with at least 6,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing. The Orange have not been bowl-eligible since 2013. A full season for Dungey is a must for Syracuse to have any chance to get back, but just in case, best catch him in the regular season.

    Joe Dineen, LB, Kansas

    The fifth-year senior has played on teams that have won six games in four seasons. He also lost most of his 2016 season, when he was poised for a breakout as team captain, to hamstring injury. That big breakout came last season when Dineen led the nation in solo tackles per game (7.6) and set a school record with 25 tackles for loss. Yes, the Jayhawks' defense spends a lot of time on the field and that inflates some stats. But Dineen had almost twice as many tackles as any other Kansas defender. Also, deserving of a shoutout on Kansas is defensive tackle Daniel Wise (16 tackles for loss and seven sacks), who is probably an even better pro prospect than Dineen.

    Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

    The Bears managed just one victory in 2017, but Mims was a problem for opponents. He caught 61 passes for 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns. His three-touchdown performance against Oklahoma gave the Sooners a legitimate scare. Mims was by far Baylor's best receiver last season, but this year the Bears hope the return of senior Chris Platt from injury and the addition of Tennessee transfer Jalen Hurd, the running back-turned-receiver, gives them one of the best sets of pass-catchers in the Big 12.

    Stanley Morgan Jr., WR, Nebraska

    Cornhuskers fans are looking toward a hopeful future with new coach Scott Frost after going 4-8 last season under Mike Riley. There is much rebuilding to do, and Nebraska has a difficult schedule in 2018 with road games at Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin. A major turnaround would take a minor miracle by Frost. Morgan, though, should be one of the best receivers in the Big Ten as a senior. He caught 61 passes for 986 yards and 10 touchdowns last year.

    Trey Smith, OT, Tennessee

    Smith stepped into the Volunteers' starting lineup last season as a freshman and played like a veteran. He started games at guard and tackle, and during an ugly year in Knoxville, Smith's performance was a thing of beauty. The offseason provided a scare. He was treated for blood clots in his lungs. Cleared to play, Smith is a 6-foot-6, 320-pound building block for new coach Jeremy Pruitt.

    ---

    EXTRA POINT

    Six more players to watch on teams that had losing records last season:

    Trevon Brown, WR, East Carolina

    Trevor Morris, LB, Rutgers

    Steven Montez, QB, Colorado

    Kyle Shurmur, QB, Vanderbilt

    Lexington Thomas, RB, UNLV

    Oshane Ximines, DE, Old Dominion
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    QB Starting Props
    August 13, 2018

    By Bookmaker

    The college football season is right around the corner, and some high-profile quarterback battles will soon find a resolution. These coaching decisions can often make or break a season, and even with spring and fall practices to evaluate, many of the choices can cause a lot of sleepless nights.

    The most high-profile battle is the one going on at powerhouse Alabama. Jalen Hurts led the Crimson Tide to the national championship game a year ago, but after the team fell behind, Tua Tagovailoa came in and rallied the team to victory for the title. Both quarterbacks have returned and are competing for the starting spot, with Tagovailoa the heavy favorite to win the job.

    There is a close battle at Florida State, in which Deondre Francois is aiming to hold off James Blackman. Florida has a quarterback battle in which Feleipe Franks is the favorite but is no given to be the starter.

    Arkansas, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC are among the other high-profile programs that are looking to replace their quarterbacks are are looking for a quarterback to seize the starting reins.

    College football coaches have to make a lot of big decisions but anointing the correct starting signal-caller is among the biggest. Most of the starters should start coming into clear focus in the next couple of weeks in college football gambling.

    College Football Starting Quarterback Odds - per BookMaker.eu


    Alabama
    Jalen Hurts +400
    Tua Tagovailoa -650

    Arkansas
    Ty Storey +250
    Cole Kelley -350

    Florida
    Emory Jones +878
    Kyle Trask +281
    Feleipe Franks -267

    Florida State
    Bailey Hockman +1100
    James Blackman +155
    Deondre Francois -160

    LSU
    Justin McMillan +1500
    Lowell Narcisse +900
    Myles Brennan +500
    Joe Burrow -350

    Notre Dame
    Ian Book +900
    Brandon Wimbush -3500

    Ohio State
    Tate Martell +850
    Dwayne Haskins -2500

    Oklahoma
    Austin Kendall +700
    Kyler Murray -1500

    Oklahoma State
    Dru Brown +1600
    Spencer Sanders +650
    Taylor Cornelius -750

    Texas A&M
    Kellen Mond +280
    Nick Starkel -400

    UCLA
    Devon Modster +125
    Wilton Speight +150
    Dorian Thompson-Robinson +300

    USC
    Jack Sears +1100
    Matt Fink +190
    J.T. Daniels -200

    Odds Analysis


    There are a lot of big-time programs looking for their next quarterback. Alabama has the quarterback battle that has gotten national attention. Hurts spoke out in frustration recently, and while coach Nick Saban said that won’t have any effect on the competition, it seems to point toward Tagovailoa behind ahead in the battle.

    UCLA has an interesting competition going on. Josh Rosen was drafted in the first round and his replacement would love to have similar success. Wilton Speight transferred from Michigan and has the most experience among the signal-callers, but doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a Chip Kelly dual threat quarterback. With that in mind, last year’s backup, Devon Modster, is the right pick and at good odds since there is no clear favorite.

    Kyler Murray is in an interesting position at Oklahoma. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics and given a big signing bonus but was allowed to return to the Sooners to play one more football season. Murray is the favorite to take over for Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Murray looked good in his chance to see the field in 2017 and should win the job as he is an ultra-talented player.

    There could be a possible upset brewing at Florida State. Deondre Francois was the starter last season but suffered a serious injury to his patellar tendon which sidelined him for the year. He has talent but if the injury is an issue it could allow for James Blackman to grab the starting spot.

    There is no reason to waste time making wagers on some of the competitions which have clear favorites. Brandon Wimbush is clearly the front-runner for the Notre Dame job but at -3500 he has tremendous odds and it doesn’t pay off anything to be correct.

    Morsels of information about all of these competitions should trickle out daily at this point so keep up to date on the latest news when making the wagers in college football betting.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Handicapping TCU (7.5)
    August 15, 2018


    The TCU Horned Frogs could take a step back this season after playing in the Big 12 Championship Game last season. The Horned Frogs lost a number of key players and oddsmakers don’t think TCU is going to be as good this season, as they set the win total for the Horned Frogs at 7.5.

    Let’s look at the TCU schedule to see if they will go over or under that number.

    2018 TCU Horned Frogs Regular Season Win Total
    7.5 (over -120)
    7.5 (under -100)


    2018 TCU Horned Frogs Schedule Analysis

    Week 1 – Sept. 1 vs. Southern

    The opener is a cakewalk for TCU, as Southern is no threat. They are an FCS team and an FCS team isn’t going into Fort Worth and coming out with a win. The last time Southern played a marquee team they were routed 48-6 by Georgia in 2015.

    Week 2 – Sept. 8 at SMU (Dallas)

    This game will be closer than the opener, but SMU doesn’t have the defense to contain the Horned Frogs. It could be a high scoring game, as SMU has a new head coach in Sonny Dykes who is known for offense.

    Week 3 – Sept. 15 vs. Ohio State (AT&T Stadium - Arlington, Texas)

    This will be a huge game for TCU as they take on the Buckeyes in Arlington. The Buckeyes are considered national title contenders, but who knows what the Urban Meyer mess is going to do to the Buckeyes.

    Week 4 – Sept. 22 at Texas

    The conference opener will be interesting, as Texas is expected to be improved this season. This will be a good litmus test for both teams. TCU has not lost to Texas since 2013.

    Week 5 – Sept. 29 vs. Iowa State

    The Horned Frogs will be home favorites in this game, but Iowa State won eight games last season and is no pushover. The Horned Frogs will be looking for revenge, as they lost in Ames last season.

    Week 7 – Oct. 11 vs. Texas Tech

    The Horned Frogs won 27-3 at Texas Tech last season and there is no reason to think things will be any different this season, especially with this game taking place in Fort Worth.

    Week 8 – Oct. 20 vs. Oklahoma

    This is a rematch of the Big 12 title game. The Sooners won both games against TCU last seasons, but this time TCU is at home and the Sooners will have a new quarterback.

    Week 9 – Oct. 27 at Kansas

    The Horned Frogs rolled 43-0 at home last season. They did struggle two years ago at Lawrence, but this is still a game TCU should win easily.

    Week 10 – Nov. 3 vs. Kansas State

    If the Horned Frogs are going to win eight games this season this is a game they need to win. The Wildcats are not nearly as good on the road as they are at home.

    Week 11 – Nov. 10 at West Virginia

    This will be interesting, as the TCU defense will try and slow down Will Grier and the West Virginia offense. The last three meetings in this series have been decided by a touchdown or less.

    Week 12 – Nov. 17 at Baylor

    The Horned Frogs pulled away last season to win 45-22. This is a dangerous game for TCU, as they are coming off the game vs. West Virginia and have OSU next week.

    Week 13 – Nov. 24 vs. Oklahoma State

    The regular season finale might decide which team goes to a major bowl game and which team gets stuck playing in mid-December. The Horned Frogs are at home and they should get this win.

    2018 TCU Horned Frogs Regular Season Win Total Prediction

    The schedule for TCU is really favorable, as the Horned Frogs have a lot of winnable games. TCU should beat Southern, SMU, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma State. That gets them to seven wins and they would need to win just one other game to get to eight wins. Almost all of their remaining games are winnable, so the total for the Horned Frogs may be listed too low for this season. We’ll go over the total for TCU this season.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    ACC - Best Bets
    August 15, 2018

    By Bookmaker

    The Clemson Tigers have been one of the most dominant football programs in the country the past few years and more success is expected in 2018. Clemson has been tabbed the favorite to come away with the Atlantic Coast Conference title, although there are some worthy foes attempting to knock the Tigers off.

    The Miami Hurricanes had an impressive year in 2017 and have the type of talent to be nationally ranked this season. The Florida State Seminoles are hoping quarterback Deondre Francois can get back up to speed after a serious injury shortened last season. The Seminoles have talent across the board and could be one of the top challengers.

    The Virginia Tech Hokies are more of a longshot because they lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, but they have a solid program and there are some good players waiting in the wings. Most of the other teams are extreme longshots to win the ACC. The Louisville Cardinals were players the last couple of years but lost superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson to the NFL. His absence will send the team back to the middle of the pack as Louisville was often a one-man wrecking crew with only decent talent around him.

    It would be a very notable development if teams such as the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets or the Boston College Eagles were in contention. In the end, Clemson will clearly be the team to beat in college football gambling.

    Odds To Win The ACC - per BookMaker.eu
    Clemson -205
    Miami +508
    Florida State +562
    Virginia Tech +951
    Georgia Tech +3676
    North Carolina State +3676
    Louisville +4000
    Boston College +5000
    Duke +5700
    Wake Forest +5700
    Pittsburgh Panthers +6300
    Syracuse +8500
    North Carolina +12000
    Virginia +23000

    Odds Analysis

    Clemson is going to be a very good team this year no matter what, but stellar quarterback play could lift it into the national championship conversation. Five-star freshman recruit Trevor Lawrence is vying to be the starting quarterback, although it won’t be easy to win that job against senior Kelly Bryant who obviously has much more experience. If either quarterback can consistently move the offense this season, the Tigers could be eyeing a national title. Even at these odds, they are a good bet because it is hard to figure out a way another team surpasses them in the ACC unless Clemson has unforeseen struggles or is hit hard by injuries.

    Miami had a good season a year ago and expectations will be high with many key players back. However, the Hurricanes have some question marks at quarterback, and that is never a good thing. Nothing can torpedo a talented team faster than an erratic passing game, and because of that, Miami should not be the choice to win the division at these odds.

    Florida State is the best choice among the second tier of options as it has a possible star quarterback and plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. North Carolina State is a worthwhile longshot gamble at these odds. They have a star quarterback in Ryan Finley and while the overall talent doesn’t match up to teams at the top, there are times a golden arm can lead a team to some upset wins.

    It would be a surprise if Clemson doesn’t win this conference again because it has a fantastic defense and weapons offensively. The Tigers are so deep across the board that they must be the pick even at odds that won’t result in a huge payout. When it comes to the ACC Championship, it is best to play it safe with one of the most talented teams in the country in college football betting.

    ACC Championship Odds Pick: Clemson Tigers

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    Conference Title Futures
    August 14, 2018

    By Tony Mejia

    College football is creeping up quickly, opening on Aug. 25 with a doubleheader involving three Mountain West schools and new Independent New Mexico State. The Aggies host a Wyoming team looking to replace Top-10 pick Josh Allen, but a half-hour prior, Hawai’I visits Colorado State to get the season started with some high-stakes league play.

    Northwestern-Purdue, UCF-UConn and Virginia Tech-Florida State also fall into the category of playing a conference game in their first action of the season, which ramps up the stakes for coaches to have their teams prepared to avoid the double whammy of falling behind immediately.

    To get in the spirit of Rams-Rainbow Warriors and the other Week 1 league games, here's a look at conference championship futures.

    The Westgate SuperBook has odds up to select the championship game winner in all 10 leagues, so if you’re looking to get in early, here’s who I like to emerge with conference titles.

    American
    Favorite: Central Florida (5/4)
    Other top options: Houston (5/2), Memphis (3/1), South Florida (7/1), Navy (8/1)
    Longshots: Temple (25/1), Cincinnati (30/1), Tulane (40/1), SMU (50/1), Tulsa (100/1), UConn (300/1), East Carolina (500/1)

    Analysis: UCF isn’t likely to finish undefeated again, but it’s not impossible. If they hit the ground running, there’s a good chance to they’ll be favored in every game this season until their Nov. 23 rivalry game against South Florida down in Tampa. With QB McKenzie Milton powering new head coach Josh Heupel’s high-octane offense, the Knights are going to be formidable and are a deserving favorite. Houston is UCF’s most likely opponent as the West Division favorite, so since the championship game is hosted by the team with the top conference record, the Cougs having the tougher schedule hurts their chances. Although DT Ed Oliver is perhaps the best player in the country, I wouldn’t back UH here. Ride the Knights or take a shot at the that hosts both division favorites, Memphis. The Tigers are well-coached but looking for a quarterback to follow in the prolific footsteps of Riley Ferguson and Paxton Lynch.

    ACC
    Favorite: Clemson (1/2)
    Other top options: Miami, FL (3/1), Florida State (6/1), Virginia Tech (12/1)
    Longshots: Georgia Tech (25/1), NC State (30/1), Louisville (30/1), Duke (40/1), Boston College (50/1), Wake Forest (60/1), Syracuse (60/1), Pitt (60/1), UNC (80/1), Virginia (300/1)

    Analysis: Give Dabo Swinney a ton of credit. Despite being surrounded by programs that pull out all the stops for football to dispel the notion that this is still a basketball conference, the Tigers have attained juggernaut status. Kelly Bryant effectively replaced Deshaun Watson and will now have some healthy competition to push him with highly touted freshman Trevor Lawrence on board. The defensive line figures to be the best in the country, so look for Brett Venables to continue getting results. If you insist on fading favored Clemson, go crazy and take a shot with Virginia Tech. The Hokies must replace talent on defense but have exceptional coordinator Bud Foster to lean on in addition to talented QB Josh Jackson, who is likely to make significant in Year 2 under head coach Justin Fuente.

    Big Ten
    Favorite: Ohio State (5/4)
    Other top options: Wisconsin (5/2), Michigan (3/1), Penn State (5/1), Michigan State (10/1)
    Longshots: Nebraska (30/1), Iowa (30/1), Northwestern (40/1), Purdue (100/1), Minnesota (100/1), Indiana (500/1), Maryland (1000/1), Illinois (2000/1), Rutgers (2000/1)

    Analysis: Urban Meyer’s future at Ohio State hasn’t kept the Buckeyes from being favored to win the league since their defense will be fierce and RB J.K. Dobbins will be a force. There are question marks since the Meyer situation and a potential QB carousel loom as potential season-long distractions, so taking a shot at making some money is advisable here. Wisconsin is loaded up front and returns top RB Jonathan Taylor, who ran for 1,977 yards last season, while Penn State brings back the league’s top passer in Trace McSorley. The Nittany Lions lose Saquon Barkley, but do have both Ohio State and Wisconsin coming into Happy Valley this Fall. If you're looking for a lottery ticket, taking a shot with Scott Frost getting immediate results out of the 'Huskers is as solid a Hail Mary as there is in any league. If Nebraska gets solid play at QB, it can surprise.

    Big 12
    Favorite: Oklahoma (10/11)
    Other top options: Texas (5/2), TCU (5/1), West Virginia (5/1), Oklahoma State (8/1)
    Longshots: Iowa State (30/1), Kansas State (35/1), Texas Tech (60/1), Baylor (60/1), Kansas (1000/1)

    Analysis: Oklahoma is the heavy favorite despite losing NFL No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, but there is plenty back to merit the nod, starting with running back Rodney Anderson. QB Kyler Murray has a chance to follow in Mayfield’s Heisman footsteps since he’s got playmakers Marquis Brown and CeeDee Lamb to throw to. If there’s a team capable of taking down the Sooners, West Virginia is the likeliest candidate. Oklahoma has to visit Morgantown on Nov. 23 and may have to deal with snow, potentially slowing them down. A loss still wouldn’t necessarily dismiss OU’s chances to win the title on Dec. 1 at AT&T Stadium, where the Sooners handled TCU easily in ’17.

    Conference USA
    Favorite: Florida Atlantic (10/11)
    Other top options: Marshall (4/1), Middle Tennessee (6/1), North Texas (6/1), UAB (8/1), Louisiana Tech (10/1)
    Longshots: FIU (25/1), Old Dominion (40/1), Southern Miss (40/1), TX-San Antonio (40/1), Western Kentucky (100/1), Charlotte (500/1), Rice (500/1), UTEP (500/1)

    Analysis: Lane Kiffin runs this league. In his first season, he won every single conference clash and dominated the Championship game 41-17 against one of the better North Texas teams in school history. This season should see the Owls again run the table in C-USA play. They’ll have a chance to make national noise in September since they play at Oklahoma and UCF in high-profile games. Back Florida Atlantic to win this league. If you’re interested in hedging or insist on not backing ‘chalk’ here, Middle Tennessee could be interesting since it welcomes FAU into Murfreesboro the week after the duel in Orlando. Perhaps Kiffin’s team runs out of gas wrapping up a taxing month.

    MAC
    Favorite: Northern Illinois (2/1)
    Other top options: Ohio U. (7/2), Toledo (7/2), Miami, OH (6/1), Buffalo (7/1), Western Michigan (8/1), Eastern Michigan (15/1)
    Longshots: Akron (25/1), Central Michigan (25/1), Bowling Green (40/1), Ball State (100/1), Kent State (100/1)

    Analysis: Life after Nebraska has treated Frank Solich well since he’s had great success at Ohio University. The Bobcats aren’t the favorite here due to Northern Illinois but should return to the conference championship game by holding off Buffalo and reigning East champ Akron. NIU has reigning champ Toledo, improving Eastern Michigan and always dangerous Western Michigan to worry about out West, so Ohio will have the easier road behind Canadian QB Nathan Rourke and impressive RB A.J. Ouellette.

    Mountain West
    Favorite: Boise State (4/7)
    Other top options: San Diego State (7/2), Fresno State (5/1), Utah State (8/1), Wyoming (15/1)
    Longshots: Nevada (25/1), UNLV (25/1), Colorado State (30/1), Air Force (50/1), New Mexico (200/1), Hawai'i (300/1), San Jose State (500/1)

    Analysis: This league lost a lot of talent with Wyoming’s Allen (Bills), San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny, who went 27th to the Seahawks after 2,248 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns, and Colorado State WR Michael Gallup (Cowboys) moving on to the pros. That should make it even easier for Boise State and Fresno State to again reach the Mountain West Championship game. The Broncos have great talent back on both sides of the ball but I’d ride the Bulldogs to pull off an upset given their current odds since top WR KeeSean Johnson is capable of teaming with QB Marcus Maryion to steal any game over the course of four quarters.

    Pac-12
    Favorite: Washington (5/9)
    Other top options: Stanford (9/2), USC (9/2), Oregon (8/1), Arizona (12/1), Utah (15/1)
    Longshots: UCLA (30/1), Cal (60/1), Colorado (80/1), Arizona State (100/1), Washington State (100/1), Oregon State (1000/1)

    Analysis: With Chip Kelly, Kevin Sumlin, Herm Edwards and Mario Cristobal on board, this conference has a lot of new blood to get excited about. We’re at least a year away from those guys having a significant impact in leading their schools to a championship game appearance at Levi’s Stadium. For the third time in four years, look for USC and Stanford to meet for the title. That means we’re fading favored Washington, which hosts the Cardinal on Nov. 3 but should struggle to contain Bryce Love as he looks to follow up finishing second for the Heisman with another huge season. I’m backing Stanford to get it done in its backyard after falling 31-28 last December.

    SEC

    Favorite: Alabama (5/9)
    Other top options: Georgia (9/4), Auburn (7/1), Mississippi State (12/1), Florida (20/1)
    Longshots: LSU (25/1), Missouri (30/1), South Carolina (40/1), Texas A&M (40/1), Tennessee (100/1), Arkansas (300/1), Kentucky (300/1), Vanderbilt (500/1)

    Analysis: Alabama lost starters on both sides of the ball from last year’s championship team but have its top two quarterbacks in the mix. We’ll see if everyone can co-exist nicely or whether things go wrong in Tuscaloosa, but I’d stay far away from the 5-to-9 odds currently available. The Crimson Tide have to replace coordinators on both sides of the ball, so while Nick Saban owns a 41-3 record and three title game appearances in as many seasons, this as vulnerable as this group has been. Hosting the Iron Bowl against Auburn should give them the edge in the West Division, but with likely East champ Georgia likely to win the East, the ‘Dawgs appear to be the better option here. Although two talented RBs and eight defensive starters are gone, there’s a ton of talent back for Kirby Smart, including polished QB Jake Fromm back with a year’s experience under his belt. Versatile playmaker D’Andre Swift is electric.

    Sun Belt
    Favorite: Arkansas State (5/4)
    Other top options: Troy (9/5), Appalachian State (5/2), Georgia Southern (12/1), UL-Monroe (12/1)
    Longshots: Georgia State (30/1), UL-Lafayette (30/1), South Alabama (50/1), Coastal Carolina (100/1), Texas State (100/1)

    Analysis: The quirkiest conference in all the land, the Fun Belt, has a clear favorite in Arkansas State and another clear option in Troy. The Red Wolves are led by QB Justice Hansen, whose 37 TD throws and nearly 4,000 yards passing have expectations through the roof. The Trojans went 11-2 last season and won their last seven contests, but must replace a four-year starter at QB in Brandon Silvers. While Neal Brown has a fairly full cupboard, my recommendation is to ride Appalachian State, which returns a stout defense in addition to the conference ‘s top offensive player, RB Jalin Moore. The Mountaineers will likely control their destiny in the regular season’s final two games, hosting Georgia State and Troy.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    ACC Coastal Preview
    August 16, 2018


    2018 ACC COASTAL PREVIEW

    (SU - Straight Up, ATS - Against the Spread, O/U - Over/Under)

    Here's a look at the Coastal half of the ACC. As usual, teams are listed in their predicted order of finish, with 2017 straight-up, against the spread, and over/under records included.

    We’ll take a look at the Atlantic half of the league in our next update.

    Looking for a “super sleeper” this fall? Try Georgia Tech (2017 SU 5-6, ATS 7-3-1, O/U 4-6-1). Maybe the Yellow Jackets are a bit of a hard sell as a title contender, but this is exactly the sort of situation in which shrewd HC Paul Johnson has succeeded before. Rewind to 2014, when Tech was off of a lackluster 7-6 campaign; Johnson, with a similar team to what he will have this fall, surged to 11 wins and an Orange Bowl romp past Dak Prescott and Mississippi State. After things went pear-shaped in 2015, and Tech lost almost every close decision in a 3-9 skid, Johnson bounced back with a 9-win season capped by another bowl win over an SEC rep (this time Kentucky in the Taxslayer Bowl). Last year’s 5-6 mark might have been one of the most-deceiving in the country, with the Jackets blowing at least three games they should have won, including bitter 1-point losses vs. Tennessee and Miami. A mid-September date vs. UCF was also cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. Considering that Johnson beat top Coastal contender Virginia Tech and narrowly missed vs. the Canes, the gap between the Ramblin’ Wreck and the Coastal favorites is negligible...if at all.

    Johnson’s option offense returns its catalyst in sr. QB Taquon Marshall, who might be the best runner Johnson has ever fielded at that position after rushing for 1146 yards and 17 TDs last season. Unfortunately, the pass-averse Army QBs were among the few less effective in the air as Marshall could complete only 43 passes all season (though 10 went for TDs) and just 37% of his throws. While the pass has mostly been a sneaky diversions for Johnson offenses since his days at Georgia Southern and Navy, Marshall didn’t even provide that much last season. Still, Johnson is confident in his QB, and isn’t asking much. “If he’s over 50 (percent completions) he’s going to be pretty good,” says the coach. There isn’t a lot experience in the receiving corps after the departure of Ricky Jones, who caught 58% of GT’s completions last fall, but from a school that has produced Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, there are usually a couple of long striders in the mix. A homerun hitter also usually emerges among the RB platoon which already features slamming 5-9, 211-lb. “B-back” KirVonte Benson (1053 TR LY, giving Tech a pair of 1000-yard rushers). Add in Marshall as the ultimate option QB run threat, and Johnson’s offense should again keep most foes off balance.

    It’s on defense, however, where Tech might be able to upgrade itself into contention. Johnson has replaced veteran coordinator Ted Roof (who moved to NC State) with Nate Woody, hired from App State and tasked with implementing a simpler, more-aggressive scheme more easily deployed from his 3-4 base than the 4-2-5 looks preferred by Roof. The new alignment will hopefully make it easier to feature speedy types such as edge pass rushers Anree Saint-Amour and Victor Alexander, the latter now more of a stand-up OLB. Johnson hopes the new style better camouflages a smaller DL that was often pushed around too much under Roof. The concern is in the secondary, where three new starters must be plugged in around sr. FS A.J. Gray. RS frosh Tre Swilling, a highly-rated recruit in 2017 and son of Tech great Pat Swilling, might make an immediate impact at a CB spot, while spring work suggested that touted true frosh Charlie Thomas, a hybrid OLB/S, should find a role somewhere in Woody’s new-look stop unit.

    The Jackets will get to work out a few kinks in the opener vs. Alcorn State before a two-game road test at South Florida and Pitt that should indicate whether or not Johnson has the sleeper we envision this fall. A trap could thus be set for Clemson at Atlanta the following week. The ACC schedule presents the usual challenges, but Johnson has mostly stayed a step ahead of the league, which is still trying to figure out how to slow the quirky Johnson option after ten years. Getting to the BCS looks a bit of a longshot because Clemson likely awaits if Tech can get to the ACC title game, but the Coastal appears within reach.

    Spread-wise, Johnson has often proven formidable in his career, and enters 2018 on an 11-3-1 spread run (6-2-1 last eight as a dog). Note that the visiting team is 13-1-1 vs. the spread the last 15 in the traditional regular-season ender vs. Georgia; good news for the Jackets, as this year’s game is in Athens.

    Pump the brakes! Egged on by ESPN and others, one could be forgiven for believing that it was the glory days of the ‘80s all over again for Miami-Fla. (2017 SU 10-3; ATS 5-8; O/U 3-10) after the Canes blitzed Notre Dame, 41-8, in a battle of unbeatens last November 11. The Howard Schnellenger/Jimmy Johnson era had returned! Only it hadn’t; the Canes were never that good, and had been more than fortunate to previously survive miracle finishes vs. Florida State and Georgia Tech, while barely outscoring suspect ACC also-rans Syracuse and North Carolina. No surprise, then, that Miami would eventually be unmasked as a national title pretender, flat in a regular-season ending loss at double-digit dog Pitt, steamrollered by Clemson in the ACC title game, and then outclassed by Big Ten Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. Sure, progress has been made the past two seasons under alum and former Georgia HC Mark Richt, but it was a bit presumptuous to put the Canes among the nation’s elite.

    The great Miami teams of the past always had stellar QB play, but we are hardly sure that sr. Malik Rosier or any of the other untested newcomers who likely challenge him this fall are the next comings of Bernie Kosar or Vinny Testaverde. Out of spring, Rosier appeared to remain in the pilot‘s chair, but tenuously so after completing just 40 of 89 passes in the final three games of 2017, all losses. Pay attention to well-regarded RS frosh N-Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon, and ballyhooed true frosh Jarren Williams, as any could supplant Rosier if the senior, who has been streaky his entire career, slumps again. There are plenty of speedy targets, including exciting jr. Ahmmon Richards, who missed most of 2017 with injuries but broke Michael Irvin’s frosh receiving yardage record (934) in 2016. At RB, jr. Travis Homer (966 YR last fall) has run with some flair, but the OL was inconsistent at times a year ago, and will be flipping soph G Navaughn Donaldson from a guard to a tackle spot. A new PK must also emerge after school career FG leader Michael Badgley’s graduation.

    Perhaps nowhere more than the defense did LY’s Canes pretend they were their 1980s predecessors, with their swagger and "turnover chains" impressing the likes of Michelle Beadle and various others in the media, but in crunch time down the stretch they proved more bluster than substance, especially a secondary that struggled in coverage and allowed better than 70% completions (with just one pick) over the last four games. Still, well-traveled d.c. Manny Diaz has credentials, and there remains plenty of foot speed and disruptive elements on a platoon that returns seven starters. DEs Joe (Joseph!) Jackson and Jonathan Garvin have high-round NFL potential, and the Miami “havoc rate” (combined tackles for loss, forced fumbles, and passed defenses divided by number of defensive plays) ranked fourth in FBS last season. Moreover, LBs Shaq Quartermann, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud will be in their third seasons together as starters. McCloud’s absence in spring prompted Diaz to experiment with some 4-2-5 looks that might transfer into the fall.

    After hanging in the Final Four race into December last season, the Canes risk potential elimination early this term if they can’t beat LSU at Jerry Jones AT&T Stadium in the September 2 opener. A bit later, after facing the revenge-minded Seminoles on Oct. 7, Miami plays four of five on the road. On the plus side, the Canes miss Clemson (unless Miami reaches the ACC title game, where the Tigers likely wait for a rematch). Whatever, getting back into the BCS discussion looks like it will be a challenge for Richt.

    Spread-wise, Miami became overvalued very early last season and ended up dropping 7 of its last 9 vs. the spread. Worth noting that Richt teams at Georgia and Miami are only 6-15-1 as an underdog since 2008 (1-3 since 2016 with the Canes).

    They’re pretty pleased at Virginia Tech (2017 SU 9-4; ATS 6-7; O/U 2-8-3), which was fretting for what seemed a decade about what might happen to the program after Frank Beamer’s eventual retirement. In just two seasons since Beamer hung ‘em up, however, Justin Fuente (19-8 SU since 2016) has quelled most of those fears, as the former Memphis HC has proven not only a proper fit, but perhaps an upgrade from the last few Beamer years, when the offense went stale and the Hokies barely kept alive a bowl streak that has now reached 25 in a row. Moreover, sources say Fuente hasn’t even bothered to pay attention to a few high-profile openings elsewhere in which his name was mentioned. Insiders know that a good ACC job can be hard to top, and since Beamer opened up and successfully mined the talent-rich Tidewater area (from where Michael Vick and countless other Hokies have hailed) in the ‘90s, a steady stream of in-state talent has been finding its way to Blacksburg. Fuente has a good thing going, and he knows it.

    Still, it was a troubling and uncharacteristic offseason for VPI, as assistant coach Galen Scott, recently promoted to a co-d.c. spot to take some of the load off of veteran Bud Foster, resigned in the spring due to an off-field controversy (ahem!). Starting CB Adonis Alexander was declared academically ineligible for the fall, and soph QB Josh Jackson was in danger of meeting the same fate, though it appears he has satisfied some of his academic shortcomings. Then, in early July, first-string nickel-back Mook Alexander was dismissed from the team. Definitely not business as usual in Blacksburg.

    Even before Jackson’s classroom troubles, some ACC sources believed Fuente was going to open up the QB competition this fall, with RS frosh Hendon Hooker (thought at this time last year to be the frontrunner for the job Jackson eventually won) and ballyhooed true frosh Quincy Patterson II in the mix. Jackson passed for nearly 3000 yards and 20 TDs while starting all 13 games last fall, but his efforts became more erratic down the stretch as the Hokies didn’t score more than 24 points in any of their last six games. Moreover, two of last year’s key supporting weapons, WR Cam Phillips (all-time leading Gobbler pass catcher; Buffalo Bills camp) and RB Travon McMillan (transfer to Colorado), are no longer in the fold. Fuente will be looking toward Ball State transfer WR Damon Hazelton (51 catches for the Cards in 2016) as a potential deep threat, while hoping that once-touted jr. RB Deshawn McClease (530 YR LY) can shake nagging injuries that have slowed his career.

    After his hire, Fuente proved sage when persuading Beamer’s longtime sidekick, the aforementioned d.c. Bud Foster, to stick around. The respected Foster enters his 32nd year on the job but also is confronted with some unexpected rebuilding due to the late personnel losses in his secondary on top of some of the early defections from his platoon to the NFL including LB Tremaine Edmunds (Bills 1st round), S Terrell Edmunds (Steelers 1st round), and DT Tim Settle (Redskins 5th round). Now Foster looks at replacing seven starters, though as usual VPI begins from a higher plateau after ranking 4th in scoring (14.8 ppg) and 13th overall in defense last fall. The cupboard is not bare; three starters are back along the line, and sr. DT Ricky Walker could be next VPI NFL first-round pick. But even with a familiar supply of talent, the LB corps and now the secondary are areas without much experience, creating a few more areas of concern than usual for Foster.

    The tenor for the entire season could be set in the high-profile, Labor Day-night opener at Florida State in Willie Taggart’s HC debut for the Seminoles. A win there and VPI could be 5-0 when it treks to Notre Dame in early October. But the schedule has its share of ACC banana peels, and Fuente lost three of those games last season. Given some of the offseason developments, he might be doing well to fare similarly this fall.

    Spread-wise, VPI did not punch above its weight too well last season, dropping all three as a dog. Fuente, however, has made sure to continue the VPI dominance vs. in-state Virginia, having won and covered both of his tries vs. the Cavs, whose losing streak against the Hokies now stands at 14 (last Wahoo win in series back in 2003). The mere two “overs” in 2017 was mostly a result of the offensive downturn the second half of the season.

    They measure football success a bit differently at Duke (2017 SU 7-6; ATS 8-5; O/U 4-9), with the variable being at what point the locals tune out the pigskin action and start to count the days until the beginning of basketball season. If things are really going bad on the gridiron, the start of Coach K’s hoop practices in October becomes the measurable. Last year, it landed somewhere in between, as there was plenty of excitement in Durham after David Cutcliffe’s team jumped to a 4-0 break from the gate. By the time the Blue Devils notched their next win, however, it was November 18 (vs. stumbling Georgia Tech), and full attention was being paid to Grayson Allen and his frosh teammates on the hardwood. That Duke actually closed pretty well with that win vs. the Yellow Jackets and subsequent vs. Wake Forest, plus throttling Northern Illinois in Detroit’s Quick Lane Bowl, went almost unnoticed on Tobacco Road. Such is life for Blue Devil football.

    Cutcliffe, however, has done what seemed nearly impossible when he took the job a decade ago, stabilizing Duke as a competitive ACC entry that is expected to qualify for a bowl each season. Not since the era of HC Bill Murray in the 50s and early 60s has Duke sustained in a similar manner (the Steve Spurrier era lasted just three seasons from 1987-89). Still, it was odd to see the Cutcliffe offense fluctuate as it did a year ago; after scoring a robust 41 ppg in their first four wins, the “O” sagged and barely scored 12 ppg in the 6-game skid, before reappearing to salvage the bowl bid and score 37 ppg over the last three outings. Pass protection inconsistencies and lack of a homerun threat WR contributed to an uneven season for now-jr. QB Daniel Jones, who passed for 2691 yards but only 14 TDP (plus 11 picks). For what it’s worth, Cutcliffe believes his OL will be improved, enough so that soph Brittain Brown (701 YR LY) can become a true feature RB, and the modern Duke offense has balance. Cutcliffe will also be looking for sr. WR T.J. Rahming (65 catches LY) to convert a few more of those receptions into scores after notching just 2 TDs last season.

    That Duke has not been roadkill on defense for years might be the real secret to Cutcliffe stabilizing the program over the past decade. The Blue Devils ranked a respectable 21st in both total and scoring “D” last season and return almost the entirety of their front seven, featuring MLB jr. Joe Giles-Harris, an acknowledged destroyer and potential A-A candidate. The secondary was pretty airtight last season, too (pass “D” ranked 16th nationally), though co-d.c.’s Ben Albert & Matt Guerreri must work in three new starters if S Jeremy McDuffie can’t return in time from a serious knee injury last November.

    The schedule is not a picnic, with Army, Northwestern, and a potentially-revived Baylor (the latter two on the road) out of the chute, and Virginia Tech also on the slate before September is complete. Oddly, for a Cutcliffe Duke team, the questions are more on offense, though the program has progressed to the point where a bowl miss would be a disappointment.

    Spread-wise, note that Cutcliffe has covered six openers in a row (Army has been forewarned!), and has not had a losing mark vs. the number the past five seasons, a span in which the Blue Devils are 41-23-1 vs. the number. Cutcliffe is also 22-10 as a dog over that span.

    What’s up with Pittsburgh (2017 SU 5-7; ATS 7-5; O/U 3-9)? Wins over Penn State, Clemson, and Miami suggest there hasn’t been a better giant-killer in the country over the past two years than the Panthers. But Pitt was also bad enough to miss out on the bowl process entirely last season despite membership in the lesser (Coastal) half of the ACC. Entering its fourth season, the regime of HC Pat Narduzzi has been one of schizophrenia. Moreover, the recurring slip-ups along with the occasional eye-openers have not helped the program develop much consistency or an identity, the latter something various boosters feared when the program left on-campus Pitt Stadium almost 20 years ago to take up residence at Heinz Field with the Steelers. Rather than some of the latter’s prestige rubbing off, the Panthers, even with their move to the ACC, have seen their profile lessen the past two decades, with the hometown NFL team inhaling most of the gridiron oxygen at the confluence of the three rivers.

    There is some encouragement for 2018, however, spawned mostly from the season-ending shocker over the Hurricanes that knocked Miami from the unbeaten ranks. Now-soph QB Kenny Pickett, who came off the bench to nearly lead an upset vs. Virginia Tech the previous week, was at the helm the whole way vs. Mark Richt’s bunch and was more than serviceable, passing for 193 yards and a TD (with no picks) and rushing for another 60 yards with 2 TDs. Ben DiNucci, who had taken over at QB (with mixed results) for USC transfer Max Browne at midseason, has subsequently transferred to James Madison, leaving to job to Pickett. Improvement, however, is needed along an OL that was inconsistent a season ago and now breaks in three new starters. After gaining 1121 YR as a frosh in 2015 but battling injuries since, sr. QB Quadree Ollison is back for one more spin, and will probably split carries with fellow-sr. Darrin Hall (628 YR LY). Narduzzi will also be looking for a deep-treat wideout to emerge opposite sure-handed sr. Rafael Araujo-Lopes (43 catches LY) and will hope that his aerial game can produce more than a paltry 12 TDP as a year ago. More consistency from soph PK Alex Kessman (just 11 of 19 FGs in 2017) would also be a plus.

    If there has been a real downer to the current coaching regime it has been a succession of middling defenses, which most in the Steel City figured would be a strength of Narduzzi’s teams, considering his long run as Mark Dantonio’s defensive mastermind at Cincinnati and Michigan State. Randy Bates comes over from Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern staff as the new d.c. after last year’s rebuilt platoon took some lumps. By late November, however, the “D” had progressed, and most of the front 7 returns, including the LB trio of Saleem Brightwell, Oluwaseun Idowu, and Elijah Zeise who combined for 216 tackles last fall. Among Bates’ first tasks will be to juice a pass rush that recording only 23 sacks and inconsistent pressure a year ago. The secondary was also a bit of a disappointment, and there is room for touted RS frosh Paris Ford to make an immediate impact at one of the corners.

    Pitt usually doesn’t duck anybody in its non-conference slate and this year is no different; after an opener against the FCS Albany Great Danes (a game the Panthers won’t overlook after being pushed into OT by the Youngstown State Penguins in the 2017 opener), the old rivalry with Penn State resurfaces for another year, while last year’s BCS sensation UCF and Notre Dame are also on the schedule by midseason. The slate eases a bit before the finale vs. Miami, but unless Pickett proves his late-November work from last season is no fluke, Narduzzi could miss the bowl party again, which would ramp up the pressure for 2019.

    Narduzzi’s Pitt has developed a few noteworthy spread trends the past few years, most notably as a big underacheiver at chalk (5-12) and, related, at home (just 5-14 vs. the line at Heinz since 2015), but value-laden as a visiting dog, covering 10 of 14 in that role.

    Is HC Larry Fedora on the hot seat at North Carolina (2017 SU 3-9; ATS 5-7; O/U 6-6)? Perhaps. To be fair, Fedora didn't ask for some of the distractions he found once hired at Chapel Hill from Southern Miss after the 2011 campaign. Though he was asked to clean up the mess from the aborted regime of Butch Davis (who had already been sacrificed before interim Everett Withers succeeded him), the academic fraud scandal, bubbling beneath the surface before Fedora was hired, caused unexpected distractions for several years before the Tar Heels finally wriggled free (controversially so) last autumn. Whatever, it has left a cloud layer over Kenan Stadium that has yet to lift. After a slow start to his Chapel Hill tenure, Fedora forged a modest breakthrough, capped by the 2015 Coastal winners and the Mitchell Trubisky team of 2016, but slipped back to 3-9 last season. Then Fedora dug a deeper hole for himself at ACC Media Days by sounding downright foolish when downplaying the CTE situation. Not good. Combined with last year's skid, Fedora might be painting himself into a box if the Heels are anything close to resembling last season’s nosedive.

    Fedora, originally hired for his offensive acumen, saw that rep take a hit last year in the wake of the departure of Trubisky to the NFL. Injuries were a problem on the attack end, but no reliable successor to Trubisky emerged, either. Back for another crack is now-soph Chazz Surratt, who performed with a bit of flair when in the lineup last season, though consistency could improve. Junior southpaw Nathan Elliott lacks Surratt’s mobility, but arguably performed better when installed by Fedora in the last month of the campaign, and winning two of four starts in the process. Whoever takes snaps will be relying on a bevy of frosh wideouts led by blue-chip prospects Jordyn Adams and Dyami Brown (both in-state products), hoping to complement big-play jr. wideout Anthony Ratliff-Williams (18 yards per catch LY). The 1-2 TB punch of Jordon Brown and Michael Carter returns after combining for 1171 YR a year ago, but questions abound up front on a rebuilt OL.

    Even in Fedora’s three bowl seasons at Chapel Hill, his defenses have often leaked alarmingly, exacerbated, perhaps, by a merry-go-round of defensive coordinators. John Papuchis, in his second year on the job after several years on Bo Pelini’s Nebraska staff, is looking to provide some stability, but an acute problem has been rush defense; the Heels have ranked last in that category in the conference each of the past five years. Papuchis does return 8 of his top 9 linemen, as sr. DE Malik Carney looks to lead the platoon in sacks for a third straight year. Also back is sr. OLB Cole Holcomb, who has led the team in tackles the past two seasons. A newcomer to watch could be frosh OLB Matthew Flint, who originally committed to Tennessee before the coaching change in Knoxville. The Heels could also use a few playmakers to emerge in their secondary after recording only 7 picks all of 2017.

    The schedule is front-loaded, with two road games (at Cal and East Carolina, though the Pirates are very beatable) out of the chute, then the home opener vs. UCF, the same Golden Knights who finished unbeaten last season and beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl. By midseason, UNC will also have faced Coastal heavyweights Miami (on the road) and VPI (at home). Fedora will be doing well to split those first six which would increase the chances to get to a bowl, as the slate would appear to ease up a bit down the stretch. After last fall’s various struggles, however, being cautiously optimistic is about as far as we’ll go with the Heels.

    Spread-wise, UNC did fare better down the stretch last season when covering its last four, all with Elliott at QB. Note that Fedora has also failed to cover his last five openers. Series trends of interest include covers in five straight for the visitor in the Tobacco Road rivalry with nearby NC State.

    When last seen, Virginia (2017 SU 6-7, ATS 6-7; O/U 6-7) looked like a candidate for witness protection after a disappearing act in the second half of the 2017 campaign. For a while last season, they were dreaming big in Charlottesville, as the Cavs had bolted to a 5-1 mark by mid-October, seeming to have turned the corner for second-year HC Bronco Mendenhall. A bowl berth seemed a mere formality at that point. But the season would quickly go sideways, and only a desperate early-November win over a snakebit Georgia Tech would salvage a postseason berth. Barely bowl-eligible, Virginia would have been better not to show up in Annapolis for the Military Bowl, where on its home field, Navy torpedoed the Cavs, 49-7. About the only eventual consolation for the UVa gridders was that the top-ranked hoops team would slink out of March Madness in even-more humiliating fashion, becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed when UMBC romped in March. Comparing humiliations between sports, however, is not what Wahoo alums like Brit Hume and Fred Barnes would care to be doing each year.

    While Mendenhall’s qualifications are still considered sturdy, especially after his former BYU took only two years to collapse without his presence, the manner in which last season unraveled has Hume and others a bit concerned. Every one of the six losses in the last seven games was by a double-digit margin. Though in the end it was all much better than the 2-win fiasco of Mendenhall’s first season in 2016, there are fair questions to ask about the immediate trajectory of the program that will be scrambling to replace several key contributors and leaders from a year ago.

    The offense stalled down the stretch last season, managing only a combined 7 points in the last two games (bitter, and ugly, losses to Virginia Tech and in the bowl vs. Navy). Mendenhall and his sidekick from the Provo years, o.c. Robert Anae, would ideally like a QB with more mobility than the departed Kurt Benkert, who took most of the snaps the last two seasons. Enter juco Bryce Perkins, a former Arizona State recruit who seems to fit the mobile mold that Mendenhall and Anae prefer. Anything to goose a dormant infantry that barely gained 93 ypg a year ago and ranked an anemic 128th nationally would be a plus. The OL, which played well for the first month of last season, again looms as a question mark as it tries to open holes for LY’s leading rusher, Jordan Ellis (836 YR but less than 4 ypc). It would also be nice for a deep threat to emerge in the receiving corps after Benkert was mostly throwing short and intermediate last season; leading returning receiver Olamide Zaccheaus caught 85 passes a year ago, but at barely 10 yards per reception.

    Mendenhall, a disciple of Rocky Long, has always been considered a defensive specialist, but will be mostly hoping his stop unit doesn’t have to carry too much of the load this fall. The platoon loses a key component at each level from a year ago, with the majority of questions up front in Mendenhall’s 3-4 after the ‘Hoos leaked a bit too much vs. the run (199.3 ypg ranked 102nd) in 2017. Three of the top five on the DL from last season have departed, including DE Andrew Brown, drafted by the Bengals, while LB Micah Kiser was tabbed by the Rams. More experienced depth is present in the back seven, especially the secondary, where sr. Juan Thornhill has moved from a corner to a FS spot.

    The schedule should provide Virginia with a shot to get back to a bowl, with winnable dates vs. Indiana and Ohio U appearing the toughest non-ACC challenges, while Richmond and FBS newcomer Liberty round out the intersectional slate. The natives, however, are getting very restless in regard to in-state rival Virginia Tech, which hasn’t lost to the ‘Hoos since 2003. Eventually, if Mendenhall wants to have a lengthy run in Charlottesville, he is going to have to beat the Hokies, after predecessors Al Groh and Mike London were partially undermined by failures vs. the big Commonwealth rival.

    Spread-wise, note that Mendenhall, once a considerable force in an underdog role back to his BYU days, has now dropped 10 of his last 14 getting points with the Cavaliers since midway in the 2016 campaign.
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    Big 12 - Best Bets
    August 16, 2018

    By Bookmaker


    Baker Mayfield is off to the NFL, taking his Heisman Trophy talent with him. Even so, the Oklahoma Sooners are projected to once again finish atop the Big 12 in 2018. Kyler Murray is a dual-sport star who is expected to pursue a career in baseball. However, the Oakland Athletics are allowing him to play college football this year for the Sooners and Murray is aiming to star before switching sports.

    He is supremely talented and while putting up the type of mind-boggling numbers Mayfield managed may not be in the cards, Murray has enough ability to keep the offense humming. He will have some nice weapons around him, including 1,000-yard rusher Rodney Anderson and 1,000-yard receiver Marquise Brown. Murray hopes to lead the Sooners to a fourth consecutive conference crown.

    Texas’ 7-6 record a year ago wasn’t special, but the team lost a lot of close games. The Longhorns fell in double-overtime to USC and dropped four total games by single digits. Texas has a lot of talented players coming back and could be one of the main contenders to Oklahoma’s crown.

    West Virginia has never won the Big 12 title but the Mountaineers have a good squad and a star quarterback in Will Grier. He threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns with 12 interceptions a year ago and will look to ascend higher in 2018.

    Oklahoma State is in the mix but has a couple of key players to replace in quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington, who are both in the NFL. The Cowboys need to settle on a new signal-caller, but whoever it is will be able to lean on running back Justice Hill, who figures to put up big numbers in 2018.

    TCU boasts the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in Ben Banogu, who hopes to keep the Horned Frogs in contention in the conference. The rest of the teams are longshots. Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas have steep odds to win the conference crown.

    Odds To Win The Big 12 - per BookMaker.eu
    Oklahoma +103
    Texas +280
    West Virginia +595
    Oklahoma State +750
    TCU +865
    Baylor +2300
    Kansas State +3000
    Iowa State +3300
    Texas Tech +4500
    Kansas +50000

    Odds Analysis

    Oklahoma is not expected to be the same offensive juggernaut it was under Mayfield, who went No. 1 overall in the NFL draft to the Browns. Murray is a talented player but he has not been in football full-time because of his baseball career, which could lead to some hiccups at times.

    West Virginia’s odds are the most intriguing among the contenders. The team was picked second in the media poll behind Oklahoma so there is a bit of a divide between the writers and the oddsmakers. Generally the oddsmakers are correct but the Mountaineers do have some intriguing talent. Wide receiver David Sills had 60 catches for 980 yards and a whopping 18 touchdowns a season ago and should go over the 1,000-yard plateau in 2018.

    Texas always looks good on paper but the team has not lived up to expectations of late. That is going to be the case once again as the Longhorns are not a good choice to win the Big 12.

    Iowa State is an interesting group as it went 8-5 a season ago and returns nine starters. The Cyclones stunned Oklahoma last season and would love to pull the feat again to get into the conference race.

    While Oklahoma may be more vulnerable than usual because there is some inexperience in the lineup, there is no challenger that will be able to step up to the plate and knock it off. West Virginia could be the biggest threat but in the end the Sooners will come away with yet another Big 12 championship in NFL betting.

    Big 12 Championship Odds Pick: Oklahoma Sooners
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    Big 12 Preview
    August 15, 2018

    By Bruce Marshall


    BIG 12 PREVIEW


    (SU - Straight Up, ATS - Against the Spread, O/U - Over/Under)

    Following is a look at the Big 12. As usual, teams are listed in their predicted order of finish, with 2017 straight-up, spread, and over/under records included.

    Maybe we saw something in Texas (2017 SU 7–6; ATS 8-4-1; O/U 3-10) last season that few in the sports media bothered to notice. While the majority of those sorts on ESPN and elsewhere seemed to be going out of their way not to put new HC Tom Herman in a more-positive light than the deposed Charlie Strong (who landed at South Florida), from our vantage point it looked like the Longhorns were much upgraded and very close to a breakthrough. After underwhelming (that‘s putting it mildly) in an opening loss to Maryland, Texas was a different team, desperately unlikely to lose in OT two weeks later at USC, then pushing Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma to the limit in Dallas a few weeks later. Another OT loss to Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State, plus a late loss to desperate and dangerous Texas Tech in the regular-season finale, meant Herman’s UT lost four times by five points or fewer, all games in which the Horns could have won. Like we said, not far away, and nothing like losing to Kansas as Strong had done to seal his fate the previous year. Throttling a hot Missouri and QB Drew Lock in the Texas Bowl indicated that Herman has the program more on track than LY’s 7-6 SU mark would suggest. Then, in the offseason, Herman went about securing one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Why aren’t the masses more impressed?

    We don’t mind going out on the limb with the Horns because we think the coaching is in place, as are the players. A rough-hewn true frosh last year, QB Sam Ehlinger almost engineered those upsets over the Trojans and Sooners, and with a bit more refinement looks a better bet than jr. Shane Buechele, not the physical force as is Ehlinger (also the leading returning Horn rusher with 385 yards). Now, Herman and co-o.c.’s Tim Beck and Herb Hand (over from Auburn) are going to have to find a featured RB; one of those ballyhooed frosh, RB Keontay Ingram, might be the man. Leading receivers jr. Collin Johnson (54 catches LY) and all-name jr. Lil’Jordan Humphrey are back in the fold, and Rice grad transfer LT Calvin Anderson should help along a promising OL, now tutored by Hand, considered one of the best in the biz. After the “O” scored almost 30 ppg in a transition year, expect more pop this fall.

    The “D” was good enough a year ago that d.c. Todd Orlando has been given a salary bump up to $1.7 mil per. That’s what happens after your defense allows only 21 ppg, paces the Big 12 in 3rd-down defense, and leads the nation on non-offensive touchdowns (seven). Of the many incoming Texas blue-chippers, most Big 12 insiders believe the majority of them step right into the breach on the stop unit. The recruiting haul includes the nation’s No. 1 (Caden Sterns) and No. 3 (B.J. Foster)-rated safeties, both of whom enrolling in time for spring work. Meanwhile, CBs Jalen Green and Anthony Cook were each rated as top 100 recruits by various services, and DeMarvion Overshown was “only” the No. 6-rated safety. Expect some or all of these newbies to make their presence felt as the shrewd Orlando navigates around some not insignificant departures from 2017.

    Herman, who won big at previous stop Houston after a decorated run as Urban Meyer’s o.c. at Ohio State, gets a chance to atone for those losses to Maryland and USC within the first three weeks, and the Horns need to be up to speed with TCU, Kansas State, and Oklahoma in a row to kick off Big 12 play. But UT was close to beating everybody in 2017, and if the Horns are as good as we think for Herman, they won’t flinch at any of the assignments in front of them. Here might be your stealth Final Four contender.

    Spread-wise, Herman’s prowess as an underdog, stretching back to his Houston days, has been an eye-opener; last year, his Texas was 5-1 as the “short” and back to 2015 at Houston, he’s 10-1 as a dog. Note also that Herman’s teams are “under” 18-7 their last 25.

    We never thought Bob Stoops was capable of the sort of apparent Machiavellian move that he pulled off before last season when stepping down from his 18-season run as HC at Oklahoma (2017 SU 12-2; ATS 8-6; O/U 7-6-1) in early June. Ask some Big 12 insiders, and they’ll tell you that Stoops believed the late switch would prove the best for o.c. and designated successor Lincoln Riley. An experienced staff would likely stay in place at that stage, easing the transition for Riley, who maintained his play-calling duties. The only significant staff change was adding mentor and former East Carolina HC Ruffin McNeill as assistant HC. Only Barry Switzer in 1973 would have a better first year at Norman than Riley, who took OU to the Rose Bowl and Final Four before a bitter OT loss to Georgia ended the dream.

    The encore might be a bit more treacherous, though we hardly envision OU slipping too much. The offense is going to have to make a go of it minus Heisman winning QB Baker Mayfield, the heart-and-soul of recent Sooner attacks and not easily replaced after moving to the Browns as the number one overall pick in April’s NFL draft. Moreover, Mayfield isn’t the only key departure; TE Mark Andrews and T Orlando Brown were both third-round picks by the Ravens and will also play for pay this fall. Still, the cupboard is hardly bare for Riley. Electric RB Rodney Anderson was carnival tilt-a-whirl fun last fall when piling up 1161 YR despite not starting until the eighth game. Deep threat WRs Marquise Brown (nearly 20 yards per on his 57 receptions last fall) and CeeDee Lamb can stretch the field, and even minus Brown, the OL looks a strength. But Mayfield’s shoes are big to fill, and we’ll see if pocket-sized former Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray (also an Oakland A's baseball draftee), whose skills suggest more comfort piloting a read option, or soph Austin Kendall can step into the breach. Riley likely retains play-calling chores even after adding respected asst. Shane Beamer, heisted from Kirby Smart’s staff.

    Mayfield’s presence also camouflaged some defensive flaws that were fully exposed by Georgia on New Year’s Day, and the stop units of d.c. Mike Stoops have finished outside the top 50 in total “D” four times in six seasons (including a year ago, at 67th). The platoon is young, with only two seniors (DT Marquise Overton & SS Khalil Haughton) back in projected starting roles from last year’s Rose Bowl team, and must proceed minus 2017 Big 12 Defensive MVP, edge rusher Ogbonnio Okoronkwo (17 TFL and 8 sacks LY), drafted by the Rams. If jr. DE Amani Bledsoe can play up to his projections, Stoops might have a disruptive force in the Okoronkwo mold. But only four upperclassmen are among the 13 scholarship players in the secondary, and more playmakers must step to the fore.

    The Sooners don’t usually have an easy go of it in their non-conference schedule and have a few banana peels to worry about in September, though Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic, UCLA with new HC Chip Kelly, and the Army option (a potentially very awkward assignment) all visit Norman, sandwiched around a revenge game at Iowa State. Safe to say that Mayfield ruffled some feathers in the Big 12 and several league foes will be taking direct aim at OU, wearing a very big target this fall. We’re thinking OU falls a bit short of its accomplishments from a memorable 2017.

    Spread-wise, Bob Stoops had ceased to become a pointspread force after the Sam Bradford era, partly due to inflated premiums. Interesting, then, that Riley handled most of the big numbers last season (Sooners 4-1 laying 20 or more). No Mayfield might reduce the spreads this fall, but without him, can OU handle what still figure to be numerous hefty imposts?

    For the past 50 years, since Clay Stapleton retired and moved full-time into the AD chair, coaches have rarely stuck around Iowa State (2017 SU 8-5; ATS 9-2-2; O/U 4-9) for any testimonials. Those who won the most “sold high” and moved when they were hot commodities; think Johnny Majors (to Pitt in 1973) and Earle Bruce (the only Cyclone HC since Charles Mayser from 1915-19 to finish his Ames career with a winning record; to Ohio State in 1979). Gene Chizik didn’t win in his two years at Ames in 2007-08, but was well-regarded enough from past assistant work to jump right into the Auburn HC job. Several other coaches from the past half-century hung around for a few years (think Donnie Duncan, Dan McCarney, Jim Walden, and Paul Rhoads) before they were either pushed out the door, or jumped themselves before they were pushed. Which brings us to 3rd-year HC Matt Campbell, who looks a candidate to go the Majors-Bruce-Chizik route to a bigger job after the Cyclones’ surprise 8-5 mark a year ago. All before Campbell reportedly said “no, thanks” to several openings after last season, though prospective suitors could also have been spooked by a heavy buyout price. Whatever, Campbell, only 38, has proven he can win (35-15 at previous stop Toledo), impressed us and others greatly during media days last summer, and apparently believes he has unfinished business in Ames.

    We have no problem pushing ISU into the top half of the Big 12 after last year’s breakthrough that saw the Cyclones open many eyes with a win at Oklahoma on October 7. That was the first career start for QB Kyle Kempt, who had made a brief earlier stop at Oregon State but whose savvy and ability to limit mistakes (reflected in 15 TDP and only 3 picks in just over a half-season of work, despite playing with a bad shoulder down the stretch) proved a perfect fit for the Campbell offense. The real good news for Campbell, however, is that Kempt was granted a sixth year of eligibility in the offseason and returns to pilot an attack that returns much of what should be an improved OL, not to mention underrated RB David Montgomery (1146 YR LY), who among other things was the nation’s leading runner in forced missed tackles. The NFL has taken note. Primo target Allen Lazard has moved to the NFL (Jaguars camp this summer) but another receiving corps that could pass for an NBA frontline remains, led by 6-6 jr. Hakeem Butler (41 catches in 2017), 6-4 sr. WR Matt Eaton, and 6-7 TE Chase Allen.

    As much as the “O” impressed last fall, so did a stop unit that shaved more than 10 ppg off of its 2016 allowance and leaped from 86th in scoring “D” to 26th (20.9 ppg), not to mention also jumping 60 spots (to 23rd) in rush defense, on top of ranking 6th in forced TOs and contributing to a superb +10 TO margin (good for 13th nationally). Spiritual leader LB Joel Lanning (a onetime QB) must be replaced, but the presence of near-immovable jr. NT Ray Lima allowed ISU to switch to 3-4 looks which fueled the turnaround and allowed jr. JaQuan Bailey to move to an OLB spot, where he finished fifth in Big 12 sacks with 7. The front seven is deep, with OLB Marcel Spears (sixth in Big 12 tackles LY) another honors candidate, and sr. CBs D’Andre Payne and Brian Peavy have 54 career starts between them. A newcomer to watch is juco S Greg Eisworth, a former Ole Miss signee who was all over the field in spring.

    The return of Kempt gives Campbell a shot in two big September back-to-back dates at Iowa and home vs. Oklahoma; realistically, ISU does well to be 2-1 after the Sooners tilt, then can go about the rest of the Big 12 slate. The Cyclones lost three games by four or fewer last season and had a look at the other two losses, then beat a dangerous Memphis on its home field in the Liberty Bowl. So we don’t think we’re sticking our necks out to project results at least as good this fall in Ames.

    Spread-wise, Campbell has been a force for years, reflected in the 9-2-2 mark LY, and now 16-5-2 since early in the 2016 season. His teams are also 22-11-2 as a dog since his Toledo days.

    By this point it seems safe to say that HC Gary Patterson isn’t leaving TCU (2017 SU 11-3; ATS 7-7; O/U 4-10) anytime soon. Patterson has had his chances to bolt and is a name du jour every year when a major opening occurs somewhere. On Patterson’s watch, however, TCU has become one of those major jobs, with facility upgrades befitting a top-tier program. When visiting Fort Worth and the campus for the first time in several years in April, we couldn’t believe the changes (all for the better) in what is now a state-of-the-art athletic complex, with the remodeled Amon Carter Stadium the jewel. Patterson is now into his 18th year on the job, usually threatens the top ten, and bowls almost every year (only two misses in 17 seasons), sometimes in the big games (with a Rose Bowl win in the mix). The neat campus also sits in a dynamic city right in the middle of a recruiting hotbed. Why go anywhere else?

    As has often been the case in the Patterson era, defense will likely carry the load this fall. Though sage coordinator and longtime Patterson sidekick Dick Bumpas retired a few years ago, the Frogs have not dropped off much, if at all, on the stop end, and ranked in the top 20 in most stat categories a year ago. Plenty of playmakers return, including star sr. DE Ben Banogu, who bypassed early entry into the NFL draft for one more shot at the Big 12 after recording 8.5 sacks a year ago, when TCU also owned the Big 12's top rush defense (and fifth best nationally). Patterson and d.c. Chad Glasgow are high on soph DTs Ross Blacklock and Corey Bethley, who both shined as frosh a year ago. Meanwhile, sr. LB Ty Summers enters this fall on course to set a school tackle record (he’s only 72 away). Northern Illinois transfer Jawuan Johnson likely fills in at another LB spot. There is also a veteran look in the secondary with sr. returning starters such as FS Niko Small and SS Ridwan Isaahaku.

    Only three starters return on offense but Big 12 sources insist that o.c. Sonny Cumbie has plenty to work with, especially soph QB Shawn Robinson, a ballyhooed recruit last year who flashed some of that upside in limited work that included a win on short notice at Texas Tech. Another touted QB recruit, frosh Justin Rogers, enrolled early but likely redshirts as he rehabs from a knee injury in HS. The recent blue-chip brigade also includes three four-star RBs (including frosh Fabian Franklin, who flipped late from Mississippi State) and three four-star WRs (watch two in-state frosh, Tevailance Hunt from Texarkana and Taye Barber from Cypress). If the OL can successfully replace three starters, and the talent is as good as advertised, the “O” might hum, but it also might take much of the season for the gears to mesh.

    It will be hard to not get distracted by the Sept. 15 intersectional vs. Ohio State at nearby Jerry Jones AT&T Stadium in Arlington; the Frogs are advised not to overlook Metroplex rival SMU the preceding Friday. Then TCU travels to Texas the week after facing the Buckeyes. If the Frogs come out of September above .500 they’ll be doing well; if they emerge unbeaten, they’ll be in the top five and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram will be filled with Final Four talk. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

    Spread-wise, Patterson has uncorked the occasional “wow-sa” season (like 2014 when 11-2 vs. the line), but has been a bit overvalued the past three years and is just 17-23 vs. the line since. The Frogs didn’t cover a game at home in 2016, but at least remedied that a bit a year ago when 3-3 vs. the line at Fort Worth. Note the current 4-game win and cover streak vs. Texas, outscoring the Horns 153-33 (!) in the process.

    We’ve seen this type of team before, at West Virginia (20-17 SU 7-5; ATS 5-7-1; O/U 7-5-1) and elsewhere in places like Conference USA and the MAC. Lots and lots of offense. But not a lot of defense. A similar Big 12 version of video football in recent years at Texas Tech has usually resulted in a series of .500-type finishes. We’ve seem the Mountaineers in this sort of situation before, too, most recently 2012, when a Geno Smith-led offense looked like it could outscore everybody. Except what turned out to be six different foes that would score more than WVU.

    So, here’s what we’ve got this fall in the latest lab experiment for HC Dana Holgorsen; the Mountaineers look like they can score on the New England Patriots. Former Florida transfer QB Will Grier is on a short list of serious Heisman candidates after passing for almost 3500 yards and 34 TDs last season. That includes missing a couple of late-season games that the Mountaineers lost, including a hideous Dallas Bowl vs. Utah when Holgorsen didn’t have a QB (or a competent one; not sure backup Chris Chugonov qualified). But Grier, fully recovered from the broken finger that set him down late in 2017, plus AA-WR David Sills (nation’s best 18 TD catches last season) and LT Yodny Cajuste, all decided to bypass the NFL draft to give it one more shot in Morgantown. Grier has most of his targets in tow; besides the big-play Sills, sr. wideout Gary Jennings caught 97 passes a year ago. Alabama transfer C.J. Simmons adds more depth to the WR corps. A seasoned OL returns four starters, with both tackles (the aforementioned Cajuste and Colton McKivitz) likely high NFL draft picks. At RB, Kennedy McKoy gained almost 600 YR spelling the graduated Justin Crawford last fall and looks ready to step into a featured role. Local eateries are forewarned to be careful of promotions that reward customers for points and TDs scored by the Mounties...it might prove costly.

    So much for the good news. The defense even gave up 34 points to Kansas last September and finished a poor 106th overall, and we’re not sure things are going to get better after the platoon was ravaged by departures and injuries in the offseason. It started when DT LaMonte McDougal, a Frosh A-A in 2017, left Morgantown in the spring for Washington State. Adam Shuler, a DE who started 10 games last fall, has moved as a grad transfer, likely to land at Florida. A couple of key LBs, Quondarius Qualls and Brendan Ferns, went down with ACLs in spring drills. Standout WLB David Long missed all of spring after shoulder surgery, status unknown for fall. Both starters need to be replaced on the corners. There are a couple of reinforcements, including USC transfer DE Kenny Bigelow (who has battled knee injuries) and a few jucos brought in for immediate help, including touted LB Charlie Benton. But the “D” was subpar last year and not sure it improves any this fall.

    The only soft landing on the schedule is a visit by the DeBartolo’s hometown team, Youngstown State, on Sept. 8. Mountaineer fans will be wearing out the route from I-64 to I-85 in September with a pair of games in North Carolina, the opener vs. Tennessee (in Jeremy Pruitt’s Vol HC debut) at Charlotte on Sept. 1, and two weeks later at Raleigh vs. NC State. If the defense is gassed by November, things could get really tough with a brutal closing stretch that finishes on Thanksgiving Friday vs. Oklahoma. Holgorsen will have a puncher’s chance in every game, but if WVU turns out to have another glass jaw, it will suffer some KOs, too.

    Spread-wise, note the Mounties haven’t recorded a winning mark vs. the number since 2014, not covering more than five in any of the three years since. Holgorsen is also 2-9 his last 11 as a dog.

    He’s still here! We’re talking out indefatigable 78-year-old HC Bill Snyder, now amazingly into his tenth season of a second run at Kansas State (2017 SU 8-5; ATS 6–6-1; O/U 6-7) that bookended a magical 17-season span from 1989-2005 in which the Wildcats rose from the depths of the college football ranks into annual contender status. K-State has not been quite as dominant in Snyder II, but the locals would not mind if Snyder coaches until he’s 100, especially those who recall the abject depression of the pre-Snyder decades, and the quick dip into irrelevance in the three-year reign of Ron Prince between 2006-08. Still, we’re well into a phase where Snyder’s status is a year-to-year proposition, and while few believe Snyder outstays his welcome as did Bobby Bowden at Florida State (after all, there are certain perks when your name is on the stadium), there is no clear succession plan yet in place in Manhattan. Part of the reason is that Snyder has never given blessing to any suggested successors; some sources say Snyder is lobbying for son Sean, on staff as special teams coordinator. Other Big 12 sources wonder if someone like Bret Bielema, who once worked for Snyder and available again, might be the answer. The situation hasn’t yet gotten to the point where it becomes an overriding distraction (as it did at FSU with Bowden), but at some point, provisions need to be made. We’re not there quite yet.

    In the meantime they’re more than happy at K-State as Snyder reached a bowl for the eighth straight season (indeed, the Wildcats have only made two bowls all-time minus Snyder, who has qualified for 19 of ‘em) and figures to do at least as much this fall. This looks like a prototypical Snyder offense, able to pound on the ground (as was the case in bullying UCLA during the Cactus Bowl win last December) with all five starters back along the OL. A platoon of runners led by punishing 227-lb. Jr. Alex Barnes (819 YR LY) can get physical as Snyder prefers, and there is some experience in the receiving corps led by jr. Isaiah Zuber (51 catches LY), though it would help if a deep threat would emerge (watch RS frosh Chabastin Taylor). At QB, both Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton were injury fill-ins last season and flashed considerable upside; Delton rushed for 158 yards and 3 TDs in the bowl win. New o.c. Andre Coleman will likely wait until fall camp to name his starter.

    Snyder’s defenses are usually gnarly and this year should be no exception, though graduation took a bite out of the stop unit, and star CB D.J. Reed left early for the NFL draft, where he was picked by the 49ers. Junior SS Denzel Goolsby, however, was Defensive MVP of the Cactus Bowl, and jr. DT Trey Dishon can pick up the slack for departed All-Big 12 Will Geary, spending summer in the NFL Eagles camp. The LB corps must be replaced en masse but Big 12 sources are impressed with the athleticism on hand.

    Snyder usually eases into the season and as is often the case begins the campaign with three straight at home, with a Sept. 8 date vs. Mississippi State a featured early test. Lose that one, and hard to see the Cats moving into the top half of the Big 12, but as usual for a Snyder team, K-State will not be an easy out. The main question is whether Snyder announces at some point that this season might be his last; stay tuned for further developments.

    Spread-wise, it’s been a while since Snyder flashed his old bully tendencies that long ago prompted us to routinely lay big points with the Cats. The link to the glory days, however, remains Snyder’s prowess as a dog (3-2-1 last season; 27-14-1 since 2011).

    It is understandable that the knee-jerk reaction these days for Oklahoma State (2017 SU 10-3; ATS 7-5-1; O/U 9-4) is to assume the best. After all, the Cowboys have notched three consecutive 10-win seasons for the “Mullet Man” himself, HC Mike Gundy. But there are some in the Big 12 who believe OSU undershot a year ago, as hopes were high with QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington returning to Stillwater for their senior seasons. But OSU lost three at home a year ago to derail any plans of threatening the Final Four. Now Rudolph and Washington are both with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and four other All-Big 12 selections have departed. Gundy hasn’t yet changed his hairstyle, but we suspect he might before this campaign completes.

    Before assuming the worst for the offense, consider that Gundy’s strike forces have been humming for most of the last decade, and it’s not as if there is no experience at the QB spot. That’s because Dru Brown arrived from Hawaii as a grad transfer after spending most of the past two seasons taking snaps in Nick Rolovich’s offense that was not too different in design from Gundy’s. Big 12 observers believe Gundy would prefer to start the season with the experienced Brown rather than immediately handing the reins to touted true frosh dual-threat Spencer Sanders. Though the strike force will likely lean heavily upon jr. RB Justice Hill, who rocked for 1467 YR a year ago. Senior wideout Jaden McCleskey looks ready for a more-featured role after snaring 152 receptions the past three seasons as a secondary option behind Washington, and true frosh WR C.J. Moore is a blue-chip addition. But a pair of new tackles must also adjust quickly as the offense learns to live minus Rudolph, who was in the saddle since late in the 2014 season.

    Gundy has been a bit disappointed in his defense the past few years and stole respected coordinator Jim Knowles away from David Cutcliffe at Duke in hopes of bolstering the Cowboy stop unit this fall. Knowles brings his 4-2-5 alignments with him from Durham and inherits a platoon that returns seven starters. Gundy believes the Knowles scheme better fits the talent on hand that includes established playmakers at every level (DE Jordan Brailford, LB Justin Phillips, and CBs A.J. Green and Rodarias Williams, all honors candidates).

    The schedule ramps up slowly with Mizzou State and South Alabama before the first real test on Sept. 15 when Boise State invades Boone Pickens Stadium for an intriguing intersectional. The meat of the schedule looks to come in the second half of the slate, by which time Gundy hopes to have settled any questions at QB and elsewhere on the offense. If it doesn’t, however, Gundy might visit his local barber and get himself a different haircut. OSU will be doing real well to reach double digits wins again.

    Spread-wise, Gundy has been ho-hum for a while now, especially in a Stillwater chalk role that he once excelled; OSU is just 10-10 laying points at home since 2014. The Cowboys have, however, covered six straight non-Big 12 tilts.

    It’s an odd dynamic, when a coach on the hot seat remains a rock star with the fan base. Meet Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech (2017 SU 6-7; ATS 6-6-1; O/U 5-8), though no-nonsense AD Kirby Hocutt is not the type to swoon. The fact everyone in Lubbock seems to like Kingsbury, a onetime Red Raider QB and architect of a high-tech, guns-blazing offense, has helped with the locals, but from Hocutt’s perspective, Kingsbury probably needed to win that reg.-season finale last November at Texas, which finally got Tech bowl-eligible after losing 5 of 6 down the stretch. For Kingsbury, pulling that one out of the fire was akin to Belgium’s last-second goal against Japan to advance from the Round of 16 in the recent World Cup; it likely saved his job for another year. But at some point, Kingsbury has to get off of this .500-level merry-go-round if he wants to extend his stay much longer at his alma mater.

    Kingsbury’s offenses always move the ball in the air, and the lack of an established QB does not make us believe the Red Raiders are about to turn into a Big 12 version of Army or Navy. After all, last season, sr. QB Nic Shimonek was an unknown quantity, yet Tech again finished in the top ten of national passing stats. More of a legit concern this fall might be lack of established weapons around the QB; the receiving corps, in particular, is rebuilt, losing 70% of its production from a year ago. There’s a chance the Tech attack might have a slightly different look and feel, as top QB candidates McLane Carter and Jett Duffey are more dual-threat types who can run and throw, unlike the many pure fastball pitchers in recent Tech offenses. The OL returns in tact. Expect more work for ex-juco RB Tre King, who blasted out of nowhere last fall to gain an impressive 623 YR. Improvement, though, is needed from the PKs who made only 12 of 23 FG attempts in 2017.

    Lost amid the Kingsbury storyline last fall was that the Tech defense finally did make some improvements under beleaguered co-coordinators David Gibbs and Zac Spavital, both well-regarded at previous stops. Ranking 98th in scoring defense a year ago might not sound like much, but it was a 30-spot jump from the previous year. The rush defense did that one a bit better by improving from 116th to 62nd, but that was nothing compared to a Bob Beamon-like 106-spot leap in TOs gained from 112th to 6th. Nine starters are also back in the 4-2-5 looks, led by LB Dakota Allen, a potential A-A candidate, and ball-hawking nickel back Justus Parker. For the first time in memory, might the Red Raiders actually win some games with their stop unit this fall?

    The opener vs. Ole Miss in Houston has a fork-in-the-road type feel to it for Tech; a win there and a 3-0 break from the gate into Big 12 play looks possible. When the dust clears, we can envision the Red Raiders squeezing into another bowl, but whether AD Hocutt is satisfied with another 6-6 type of season remains to be seen.

    Spread-wise, Kingsbury has been pretty good as Lubbock chalk lately (7-3-1 last 11), and is 8-3 his last 11 as a visiting dog, so would keep an eye on those spots for the Red Raiders this fall.

    Be careful what you wish for! That might apply at Baylor (2017 SU 1-11; ATS 5-7; O/U 5-7) to second-year HC Matt Rhule, who about 20 months ago was one of the hottest stocks in the coaching world at Temple. Now,CNBC’s Jim “Mad Money” Cramer would likely to be charting Rhule with one of his inverse graphs indicating “sell” on the Mike Piazza look-alike, whose hire in Waco after 2016 puzzled a bit. Rhule was able to almost write his own ticket after rampant success with the Owls, yet picked a school recovering from the Art Briles scandal and in a definite transition phase. For all of the anti-Briles rhetoric the past two seasons, on the field, his teams were pretty good, and the offenses dynamic. Throw out Briles, as Baylor did, and everything associated with his regime, and don’t expect a quick recovery. After sinking to 7-6 under interim Jim Grobe in 2016, losing the opener to Liberty set the a nightmare tone in the debut campaign for Rhule, whose only W would come against woeful Kansas in November. Oh, how Rhule must have missed tuning into WIP or ordering a hoagie at a local Wawa last fall.

    Rhule’s Bears fell behind early in almost every game last season and had to throw to make up ground, so in the end the pass statistics don’t look too terrible. The 98th rank in scoring (24.3 ppg), however, was a bit more indicative of the Bears’ 2017 plight, and a precipitous drop from the high-flying days of the Briles era. The QB position has been a merry-go-round since Bryce Petty departed after 2014; six QBs have taken snaps since (including Jarrett Stidham, now a Heisman candidate at Auburn). Soph Charlie Brewer stepped into the breach late last season and in his four starts showed enough promise to be considered “the man” moving forward, not to mention being named Big 12 Co-Offensive Frosh MVP after 1562 YP and 11 TDP in limited work. Brewer’s go-to receiver, jr. Denzel Mims (61 catches LY), returns, but the infantry, a dangerous diversion in the Briles era, sagged a year ago. There is hope an OL that returns 4 of 5 starters plus Clemson transfer LT Jake Fruhmorgen is on the upswing. One thing that worked last season was now-jr. PK Connor Martin, who converted 20 of 24 FG attempts.

    The Bears didn’t often win with defense in the Briles era and that dynamic didn’t change last fall. But finishing up the track in national defense stats when the offense was forcing ping-pong type matches is different than allowing 36 ppg when the offense isn’t scoring much. It is hoped that d.c Phil Snow’s schemes will become better absorbed in the second year with the defenders, but some Big 12 observers believe Snow is well past his sell-by date as a coordinator, and don’t expect an immediate turnaround. Much reloading is needed along a graduation-depleted front seven, where it’s hoped that Texas A&M transfer DE James Lochkart can make an immediate impact. Slowing the learning curve for the Snow defense was a spate of injuries that kept most of the key LBs out in spring. The stop unit is also in desperate need of playmakers as last season’s poor 124th ranking in TO margin suggests.

    After last year’s Liberty debacle, Rhule will not be overlooking Abilene Christian in the Sept. 1 opener. With Kansas later in the month, Baylor could easily be 3-1 by the time it faces Oklahoma in Norman on Sept. 29. The Bears, who listed 28 frosh and soph and just 7 seniors among their season-ending two-deep last November, should be better this fall. But a bowl looks a reach, and still hard to see the light at the end of this tunnel for Rhule.

    Spread-wise, Baylor has been sagging since late in the Briles regime, just 12-20 vs. the line since mid 2015. Not developing more of an edge at modern McLane Stadium (just 2-6 last 8 vs. points at home) has been another minus. We’re compelled to remind, however, that Rhule was 22-6 vs. the line his last 28 on the board at Temple.

    Were Kansas (2017 SU 1-11; ATS 3-8-1; O/U 7-5) the old Washington Generals, and HC David Beaty a substitute for the unforgettable Red Klotz, then it could be said he has succeeded wildly with the Jayhawks. Indeed, Klotz might have thought Beaty’s 3-33 mark since 2015 with KU to be out of this world. In the land of modern college football, however, Beaty has less job security than a member of Trump’s cabinet. More so now that a new AD, Jeff Long (formerly at Arkansas), has been hired to replace the redoubtable Sheahon Zenger, forever more known as the only man who thought hiring Charlie Weis was a good idea in 2012. The well-meaning Beaty had proven even less adept since plucked off of the Texas A&M staff (compare his hire to Iowa State pulling Matt Campbell from Toledo, when the Cyclones were ostensibly at the same level as KU a few years ago). Beaty, however, knows he’s looking at an 0-2 count, as if he had to be reminded when Chancellor Douglas Girod, upon announcing Zenger’s dismissal in spring, included a not-so-thinly-veiled warning to Beaty that things had better start improving on the field...and fast. Lots of Big 12 observers believe the chances are less than 50-50 that Beaty lasts the season.

    With that as a backdrop, Beaty goes about trying to keep his job this fall, but this might be a save beyond Mariano Rivera at his best. Nine starters do return on defense, but from a platoon that allowed a nation’s worst 43.4 ppg, we’re not sure that’s a good thing. Clint Bowen, the d.c. who filled in admirably as interim HC after the Weis dismissal in 2014, is wisely considering wholesale personnel changes despite the experience on hand. Several of Beaty’s many juco recruits are likely to see action, and maybe some true frosh, including CB Corione Harris, who might be able to help with the anemic four interceptions recorded by the stop unit in 2017. Among the returnees, LB Joe Dineen, Jr. led the nation in solo tackles per game (7.6) in 2017. But the best thing to say about the Jayhawk “D” is that it can’t be worse than a year ago.

    History is already repeating itself on offense, as for the fourth straight season, Beaty exited spring without naming a starting QB. It could be former juco Peyton Bender, who took most of the snaps last fall but was predictably inconsistent (just 10 TDP and 10 picks). The RBs were slowed by injuries last fall, and another of Beaty’s top recruits, all-name true frosh Pooka Williams, should get some carries. Senior wideout Steve Sims (59 catches LY) looked to be the one KU weapon that could have earned playing time elsewhere in the Big 12 a year ago. The OL exited spring a right mess, with hope that LT Hakeem Adenjii can return from two offseason shoulder surgeries.

    Like a year ago, when beating FCS SE Mizzou State for the only win of the season in the opener, KU gets Nicholls State at Lawrence to kick things off on Sept. 1. Beaty loses that one, and he might not make the Sept. 8 game at Central Michigan. For Beaty to last to Columbus Day he likely needs two wins in September; new AD Long knows he has a former interim HC (Bowen) on staff. Rest assured Beaty doesn’t need to check a weather vane to know how the winds are blowing in Lawrence.

    Spread-wise, aside from a surprise four covers in a row to end 2016, Beaty is 9-23-1 vs. the line since 2015. Before betting the farm against KU, however, perhaps avoid games where Beaty is a home dog, as he is 5-2-2 in that role the past two seasons.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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