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

  1. #46
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    2018 GOY - Best Bets
    July 11, 2018


    Odds per Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

    Week 2

    South Carolina +14.5 vs. Georgia


    I’ve already explained how bullish I am on South Carolina this season. I made this number UGA -4.5, but fully expected it to come out around seven. When South Point opened it at -11 back in June, I was salivating. Turns out, the book moved it to UGA -14 quickly, and now The Westgate SuperBook has opened the Bulldogs at -14.5. Will Muschamp’s team has a great chance to win this game outright. Catching more than two touchdowns at home with a veteran QB, two of the nation’s top wide receivers and Muschamp’s defensive game plan? This is a Week 2 gift! Remember, USC easily cashed tickets in Athens last year as a 24-point road underdog in a 24-10 loss. Let’s also note how Deebo Samuel didn’t play in that game, either. This is a heavy play for me. I’d suggest at least five units and when the money-line return becomes available, at least one unit on that as well.

    Week 3

    Syracuse +9.5 vs. Florida State


    Let’s start by stressing how Syracuse’s 4-8 record last season was such a poor indicator of what sort of team this was. Dino Babers’s second squad was off to a 4-3 start with a win over Clemson, a team that finished 12-2 with its only other loss coming to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals. At that point, the Orange’s only defeats were in a trio of close games. They lost 30-23 at home to Middle Tennessee when the two Blue Raiders’ stars, QB Brent Stockstill and WR Richie James, were healthy. The other two L’s were easy spread covers as double-digit underdogs at LSU (35-26) and at N.C. State (33-25). The Tigers and Wolfpack combined to outgain the ‘Cuse by merely 48 yards of total offense. Syracuse took its 4-3 record down to Miami and committed four first-half turnovers. Nevertheless, the Orange rallied in the second half and they were driving deep in UM territory late in the fourth quarter while trailing 27-19, only to come up short. Then in Tallahassee the next week, star QB Eric Dungey injured his foot early in the first quarter and missed a good chunk of the first half. He would return in the second quarter and lead the Orange to 463 yards of total offense. Meanwhile, FSU could muster just 343 yards of total offense. However, Syracuse kicker Cole Murphy, who would earn third-team All-ACC honors and came into the FSU game with 16-of-18 field-goal accuracy, would go 1-of-3 including a 43-yard miss on the game’s final play that would’ve forced overtime. In addition, Babers opted to pass on a short field goal deep in the red zone on a fourth-and-three play with less than a minute remaining in the first half. The 'Cuse failed on the fourth-down attempt. Furthermore, FSU was inexplicably not called for a clear neutral-zone violation on a fourth-and-one stop in the final stanza that proved to be crucial. ‘Cuse fans were also irate about two holding calls that weren’t flagged on a 54-yard TD run from FSU RB Cam Akers. Dungey wouldn’t play in the last three games, all losses, including a home setback to Wake Forest when the Orange allowed a double-digit halftime lead to get away. Before those final three outings sans Dungey, Syracuse was +817 vs. its first nine foes in total yardage. The Orange was minus seven in turnover ratio in those final three games. They bring back eight starters on offense, six on defense and lost just 18 lettermen. I like the home underdogs here for two units in Week 3 and don't be surprised if the Orange wins outright.

    Week 7

    South Carolina +2.5 vs. Texas A&M


    USC is 53-16 in its home games at Williams-Brice Stadium since 2008. The Aggies will be playing their third game outside of College Station in a four-week span, while the Gamecocks will be playing their fifth home game in seven weeks. Since 2009, South Carolina owns a 9-3 spread record in 12 games as a home underdog. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is 6-9 against the spread in its past 15 games as a road ‘chalk’ since 2011. I’d make Muschamp’s bunch a 3.5 or four-point favorite on a neutral field. Let’s go with 2.5 units on USC here for this Oct. 13 encounter.

    Week 8

    Mississippi State +3 at LSU


    Mississippi State has two weeks to prepare for this trip to Baton Rouge on Oct. 20. On the flip side, LSU will be playing its eighth game in eight weeks. The Tigers are at Florida and then host Georgia before facing the set of Bulldogs from Starkville. That’s a brutal three-week span and let’s remember that Ed Orgeron’s bunch must take on Miami at Jerry World and travel to Auburn in September. Before MSU blasted LSU by a 37-7 count last season, the three previous encounters had been decided by 10 combined points. The Bulldogs won 34-29 at Tiger Stadium in 2014 and lost a 23-20 decision in ’16. This is only a one-unit wager for me simply because I’m a tad hesitant with MSU until I see that star QB Nick Fitzgerald is healthy after that gruesome injury at the Egg Bowl. Both schools finished 9-4 last year, but MSU brings back nine starters on offense and eight on defense. LSU return just 10 total starters, five apiece on each side of the ball.

    Week 8

    Utah +4 vs. Southern California


    Three of the past four games in this rivalry have been decided by eight combined points. Since 2012, Utah is 6-3 ATS in nine games as a home underdog. As for USC, it has limped to a 15-24 spread record as a road favorite dating back to 2008. This will be the fourth road assignment for the Trojans in seven weeks. Utah hosts Arizona on a Friday night the previous week, giving it an extra day of preparation. The Utes will be in revenge mode after allowing a 21-7 intermission lead to get away at The Coliseum last year. They missed a two-point conversion with 42 ticks left in a 28-27 loss. Utah went just 7-6 straight up last season, but it finished 10-3 ATS with four defeats coming in one-possessions games. Three of those L’s were by seven combined points. Kyle Whittingham’s punter and place-kicker are back and they were both All-Americans last season. Let’s go with 1.5 units on the Utes in this Oct. 20 Pac-12 showdown.

    Week 8

    Arizona pick ‘em at UCLA


    UCLA lost its head coach, a QB who was the 10th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, its two best wide receivers and its best player on defense. We have a huge edge at the QB position with Arizona’s Khalil Tate, who rushed for 230 yards and two TDs in a 47-30 win over the Bruins last year. I think UA is a Pac-12 South contender, while I have UCLA pegged for the basement of this division. We also have an extra day of preparation with the Wildcats playing at Utah the Friday before. This is another 1.5-unit wager on Oct. 20.

    Week 10

    Stanford +9.5 at Washington


    I’m bullish on both teams this year. Washington is playing its 10th game in 10 weeks in this spot. Stanford has beaten the Huskies in four of the past five season and 10 of the last 13. The Cardinal has lost by double digits only seven times during David Shaw’s seven years at the helm that covers 95 games. They’re 13-4-1 in 18 games as underdogs on Shaw’s watch, winning outright in all three contests in which they were ‘dogs of 9.5 points or more. Stanford has the nation’s best RB (Bryce Love), perhaps the country’s best TE (Kaden Smith), a solid QB (K.J. Costello), two outstanding WRs (J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Trenton Irwin) and the fourth-best offensive line (per Phil Steele’s national unit rankings). Other than at Alabama, I’d probably take the Cardinal +9.5 against any team at any venue. Two units here on Stanford in this Nov. 12 scrap that’ll likely decide the winner of the Pac-12 North.

    Week 13

    South Carolina +23 at Clemson


    Clemson has outscored South Carolina by a combined score of 90-17 in the past two meetings. However, this is Muschamp’s best team and I’d take the Gamecocks +23 against any opponent at any venue this season. Clemson wins by 10-17 points. Just a small one-unit play here.

    Several other leans not mentioned include Stanford pick ‘em at Oregon (9/22), Wisconsin -16.5 vs. Nebraska (10/6) and West Virginia +9.5 at Texas (11/3).
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #47
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    CFB notebook: Florida to induct Tebow into Ring of Honor
    July 11, 2018


    Former quarterback Tim Tebow will be inducted into Florida's Ring of Honor, the school announced on Wednesday.

    The two-time national champion and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner will be recognized during the Gators' game against LSU on Oct. 6. Tebow's name will be unveiled and displayed in the north end zone of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

    "I am so humbled and thankful to be able to receive this blessing, being inducted into the Ring of Honor," the 30-year-old Tebow said in a statement. "I know in my heart that I truly couldn't have done it without amazing coaches and teammates who loved and sacrificed for each other so that we could accomplish our goals.

    "Loving Florida wasn't just something I did for four years, but it has been a lifelong passion. I want to thank the University of Florida and all the fans for making Gator Nation so special. I was born a Gator, I played as a Gator, and I'll always be a Gator!"

    Tebow is the sixth player to receive the honor. He will join linebacker Wilber Marshall, running back Emmitt Smith, 1966 Heisman winner and coach Steve Spurrier, 1996 Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel and defensive end Jack Youngblood.

    A three-time Heisman Trophy finalist, Tebow posted a 35-6 mark during his four seasons (2006-09) at Florida.

    --Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun told reporters that he is under no obligation to name the team's defensive coordinator.

    The team hasn't named a replacement for Steve Russ, who became the Carolina Panthers' linebackers coach in January. Russ had spent the previous four seasons as Air Force's defensive coordinator and defensive backfield coach.

    Calhoun told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the experience of the defensive staff and its ability to collaborate on play calls and scheme creates little urgency for a designated coordinator.

    Potential in-house candidates for the position are Tim Cross (assistant head coach, defensive line coach), Ron Vanderlinden (inside linebackers), Brian Knorr (edge defenders), John Rudzinski or Chip Vaughn (secondary) and Matt Weikert (outside linebackers).

    --Rutgers defensive back K.J. Gray and linebacker Brendan DeVera have been dismissed from the program for violating team rules, multiple media outlets reported.

    Gray, a junior, and DeVera, a sophomore, were expected to play key roles on defense and special teams this season.

    The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Gray recorded a secondary-best 58 tackles last season to go along with two interceptions.

    DeVera, who is listed at 6-1 and 242 pounds, notched two tackles while playing in 11 games as a true freshman last fall.

    --Defensive end Mark Brown has left San Diego State and transferred to Texas Tech, the Red Raiders confirmed after several weeks of rumors that he would make the move.

    Brown, who played at Arlington Heights High in Fort Worth, Texas, was a three-star recruit for the Aztecs in 2017 and took a redshirt year as a freshman last season.

    Although he did not play in a game, Brown made an impression at San Diego State, being named as the program's Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year.

    Brown will sit out this season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules and have three years of eligibility remaining.

    --Georgia wide receiver Michael Chigbu, who during the spring indicated he might give up football because of injuries, is not listed in the Bulldogs' 2018 media guide.

    The 6-foot-2, 213-pound Chigbu, once a highly rated prospect who would be a senior this season, has battled shoulder and knee injuries the last two years.

    Head coach Kirby Smart acknowledged in April that Chigbu "may be thinking about hanging it up."

    As a sophomore at Georgia, Chigbu enjoyed his best season by starting seven of the nine games in which he played and making nine receptions for 88 yards. Chigbu did not catch a pass last season and has 13 receptions and 116 receiving yards for his career.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #48
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    Handicapping Northwestern (7.5)
    July 12, 2018


    The Northwestern Wildcats are coming off a 10-win season, but they have to replace their all-time leading rusher and they have to hope that quarterback Clayton Thorson is healthy. Winning 10 games again in 2018 will not be easy, but most of the tough games for Northwestern in 2018 are at home and they don’t have to play Ohio State or Penn State.

    Let’s look at the Wildcats schedule to see if they will go over of under their win total of 7.5.

    2018 Northwestern Wildcats Regular Season Win Total
    Over 7.5 (-115)
    Under 7.5 (-115)


    2018 Northwestern Wildcats Schedule Analysis

    Aug. 30 at Purdue
    The Wildcats don’t have a non-conference opponent to fatten up on to start the season, as they have to get right into Big Ten play against Purdue. The Wildcats should win this game, but only if Thorson is completely healthy and ready to go.

    Sept. 8 Duke
    This is a tricky home opener for Northwestern, as Duke is capable of springing the upset. The good news for Northwestern is that they have won the last two games in this series.

    Sept. 15 Akron
    This should be a breather for the Wildcats before they have to run the gauntlet. The Zips have not won a game against a Big Ten team this decade and they shouldn’t win this one.

    Sept. 29 Michigan
    The first huge game of the season comes in late September, as the Wildcats host Michigan. The Wolverines are expected to be improved, so this is a huge litmus test for Northwestern and a likely home loss.

    Oct. 6 at Michigan State
    The Wildcats have actually won the last two games in this series, so Michigan State will not be overlooking Northwestern. This looks like a road defeat for the Wildcats.

    Oct. 13 Nebraska

    The Cornhuskers have a new head coach in Scott Frost and a new outlook. This could be a tough home contest for the Wildcats.

    Oct. 20 at Rutgers
    The Scarlet Knights have been an easy win for most Big Ten teams, as Rutgers is just 5-22 in the Big Ten since 2015. This should be a road win for Northwestern.

    Oct. 27 Wisconsin
    The Wildcats have the home field edge in this contest, but Wisconsin is considered one of the top teams in the Big Ten, so this looks like a home loss.

    Nov. 3 Notre Dame
    The Wildcats get to play at home again, but they will be home underdogs to a Notre Dame team that could be a national title contender.

    Nov. 10 at Iowa
    The Wildcats have won the last two in this series, but this game is on the road and Iowa is normally very good at home.

    Nov. 17 at Minnesota

    The Gophers will want revenge for last season when they were shutout by Northwestern. This will not be an easy game for the Wildcats, but one they need to win if they are to finish with a winning record.

    Nov. 24 Illinois
    This is a rivalry game and it should go the way of the Wildcats, as they are at home and they have taken four of the last five in the series.

    2018 Northwestern Wildcats Regular Season Win Total Prediction


    The Wildcats don’t have to play Ohio State or Penn State, but their schedule is still difficult. The only real advantage they have is getting to play some of their tough games at home. That may not be enough of an edge, as Northwestern is not known as a team that has a big home field advantage.

    The win total for the Wildcats is set at 7.5 games. That number seems too high, considering the team will have to win eight games to go over that number. Breaking down the schedule we find five games that Northwestern should win (Purdue, Duke, Akron, Rutgers, Illinois), four games they are likely to lose (Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin) and three toss-up games (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota). The Wildcats would need to win all three of their toss-up games to get to eight wins and go over their win total of 7.5.

    That seems unlikely, so we’ll go under the win total of 7.5 for the 2018 Northwestern Wildcats.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #49
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    2018 MAC Preview
    July 15, 2018

    2018 MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE PREVIEW


    FU Northwestern

    A promising high school career for Damair Roberson, a dynamic 6-foot-2, 195-pound receiver/linebacker/return man and a three-star prospect, is over abruptly. He will miss his entire senior high school season this fall after re-injuring the same knee mid-season last year.

    The betrayal that Roberson felt after learning the scholarship offer from Northwestern University was no longer valid really hurt. Even after the second injury, Western Michigan University honored its commitment to Roberson and kept its offer on the table. In turn, Roberson rewarded that loyalty with a commitment to the Broncos. Remember his name down the road.

    Rivalries Abound

    The MAC has its fair share of intense rivalries, including the Battle of the Bricks (Ohio vs. Miami), the Michigan MAC Trophy (Central, Eastern and Western Michigan), the Battle of I-75 (Toledo vs. Bowling Green) and the Wagon Wheel (Akron vs. Kent State). Rest assured, despite being Group of Fivers, these rivalries remain intense.

    Bowl Busts

    The MAC has disappointed in bowl games, especially the past 10 seasons as they are just 15-41 SU and 18-36-2 ATS overall.

    Worse, in bowl games against foes coming off a loss the MAC has gone 3-21 SU and 4-19-1 ATS since 2008, including 0-6 SUATS as either a pick or a favorite. Yikes.

    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.

    AKRON (Offense – *6/3, Defense – 9/3, 58 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    AS GOOD FORTUNE WOULD HAVE IT

    The saying “you’re better off being lucky than good” applied in spades to the Zips last season when Terry Bowden’s troops went bowling despite surrendering 126 YPG more than they gained. However, thanks to a +10 net turnover ratio, and winning three games by a total of 5 points, Akron somehow won the MAC East title in 2017. They were ultimately obliterated by Toledo and Florida Atlantic in the MAC title and Boca Raton Bowl games, respectively, when they surrendered 95 points and 1,153 yards. To top it off, longtime DC Chuck Amato has retired. Fortunately, the Zips bring back an experienced crew of underclassmen. Soph QB Kato Nelson holds promise, but they’ll likely need Lady Luck to come calling again.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Zips head coach Bowden is 3-18 SU and 4-16-1 ATS as a home dog against .400 or greater opponents.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Kent State (10/20)

    BALL STATE (Offense – *9/4, Defense – 7/0, 51 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: A NEU APPROACH

    After a 2-1 start last season under new coach Mike Neu, it appeared that Ball State was about to shake a 4-year losing skid. And then faster than you can say there goes Riley (QB Neal, 68% completions in his first three games, then done with an injury), the season went to hell in a hand bag thanks to a cruiseship of injuries as the Cardinals were forced to close out with a group of replacemant “neubies”. By season’s end, they were down to a 4th string freshman signal caller. Their starting WRs played a combined 5 games and only half of the starters on defense made it through unscathed. Neal’s 5,000 career passing yards are back along with a skill corps loaded with experience, led by RB James Gilbert. Take two.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Ball State freshmen started 32.2% of all games last season – the 2nd most in the nation.

    PLAY ON: vs. Eastern Michigan (10/20)

    BOWLING GREEN (Offense – *6/3, Defense – 8/2, 38 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    LO JINKS ERA OFF TO ROUGH START

    When new coaches inherit 10-win programs, there is almost always no place to go but downhill. In Mike Jinks’ case, the Falcons have been on a slippery slalom run with just 4-and-2 win seasons in his tenure with Bowling Green. The good news is that after inking strong recruiting classes the last two years (26 three-star recruits), the course finally appears manageable. Sophomores (from Jinks’ first class) logged plenty of playing time last season, led by QB Jarret Doege (64% completions with 12 TDs and 3 INTs) and RB’s Andrew Clair and Matt Domer (819 combined rush yards on 6.5 YPR). FYI: Doege is the younger brother of former Texas Tech QB Seth Doege. With new DC Carl Pelini in tow, look for the ascent to begin.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Falcons have gone 37-5 SU in games in which they won the stats, and 5-30 SU in games in which they lost the stats over the last six years.

    PLAY ON: vs. Akron (11/17)

    BUFFALO (Offense – *8/3, Defense – 6/2, 51 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE

    Call the 2017 season a steppingstone for the Bulls. A 6-6 record saw all six losses coming by a combined 29 points. Despite being forced to start three different quarterbacks due to injuries, they rolled up a school-record 5,183 yards of total offense while leading the MAC in passing yardage. It’s not often a team features a QB (Drew Anderson) that threw for a conference-record 597 yards and seven TDs in one game that may not be its starter. He’ll be in a heated battle with talented incumbent starter Tyree Jackson. On defense, the firepower comes from SR MLB Khalil Hodge who ranked second in the nation in tackles in 2017, and owns 277 total the last two seasons. No bull. This team looks primed for a breakthrough season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Since joining the MAC in 1999, Buffalo is 9-59 SU versus winning opponents.

    PLAY ON: vs. Akron (10/13)

    CENTRAL MICHIGAN (Offense – 4/2, Defense – 6/2, 40 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: GIMME FIVE

    After winning 7, 6, 7, 7 and 6 games each of the previous five seasons, the Chippewas broke rank last year to go 8-5, thanks largely to a 4-0 record in one-possession games, and a five-game season-ending win skein. Michigan transfer QB Shane Morris produced an eyebrow-raising 164.1 passer rating during his final five starts for the Chips last season, but he and four of his top five targets are gone. In addition, RB Jonathan Ward also stepped up down the stretch, rushing for 625 yards (7.1 YPR) over the same span late in the season. If 6’7” sophomore QB Tony Poljan can fill Morris’ shoes, CMU should reach its 5th straight bowl game in 2018. Stay tuned. STAT YOU WILL LIKE: CMU is 18-7 SU and 19-6 ATS away from Game Six out the last six years.

    PASS

    EASTERN MICHIGAN (Offense – 6/5, Defense – 7/2, 46 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: TURN UP THE GREEN

    Head coach Chris Creighton has put his stamp on the EMU program. One of 14 active FBS coaches to record more than 150 wins, the 49-year-old Creighton guided the school to its first win in 126 seasons over a Big Ten or Power Five team last season. The Eagles’ 12 wins over the last two seasons is Eastern Michigan’s best two-year stretch since 1988-89. More important, nine of those 12 wins have been by a TD of less, meaning they’ve learned how to win close-call games. It’s no coincidence that Creighton’s teams at Drake sport the highest win percentage in school history (21-2 in home games). It’s now time he takes this program to the next level. Don’t bet against him.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Eastern Michigan allowed the fewest points (280) in school history last season.

    PLAY ON: at Western Michigan (10/6)

    KENT STATE (Offense – 7/3, Defense – 6/2, 49 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    FLASH: EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD AGAIN

    The Paul Haynes experiment lasted five years before the Flashes finally pulled the plug, as a 14-41 record was all the proof they needed. What more could you expect from a team that finished dead last in Red Zone Defense last season, and a program that’s won more than six games in a season just once in the last 30 years. Enter new boss Sean Lewis, a former Dino Babers assistant at Syracuse. And with Lewis comes a major shift in offensive identity. But for a team that does not have the proper personnel on the roster to effectuate the planned attack – and one that might not find itself favored in any game this season – expecting immediate improvement is certainly a stretch for KSU.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Flashes were 4-40 SU and 9-34 ATS in games in which they scored less than 24 points under Paul Haynes.

    PLAY ON: at Buffalo (11/6)

    MIAMI-OHIO (Offense – *8/5, Defense – 8/3, 47 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    MY FAVORITE MARTIN

    Despite a seventh consecutive losing season, the RedHawks are actually 11-8 in their last nineteen games overall – with five of the losses coming in one-possession games. Read: Miami is making strides under Chuck Martin who, unfortunately, will likely have to win this year if he wishes to return next season. The good news is Miami welcomes back 18 seniors, including one at nearly every position. A settled offensive line (an unstable one last year that started eight different linemen) operates in front of QB Gus Ragland (10-6 as a starter and an all MAC nominee). Coupled with a defense loaded with upperclassmen that finds seven of the top eight linemen, four of the top five linebackers and five of the top seven defensive back all returning, this team looks ready to turn the page.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Miami is 5-17 in one-possession games under Chuck Martin.

    PLAY ON: vs. Marshall (9/1) - *KEY

    NORTHERN ILLINOIS (Offense – *8/5, Defense – 6/2, 54 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    BEWARE OF THE DOGS

    Talk about a statistical anomaly: despite improving from 5 wins to 8 last season, the Huskies’ offense evaporated 85 YPG, whereas the defense finished No. 26 overall in the land, improving 113 YPG. The bad news this season is NIU’s first three non-conference games are against Power 5 bowlers, including visits to Florida State and Iowa. The good news is most of the starters from the stop-unit are back, including DL Sutton Smith who led the nation in Tackles For a Loss last season. Should they finally find continuity behind center (forced to use 8 different quarterbacks over the past 31 games) to go with the best Group of 5-defense while facing a daunting non-conference slate, NIU becomes the team to beat in the MAC this season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Huskies are 30-10 SU and 27-12-1 ATS in their last forty road games.

    PASS

    OHIO (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 5/2, 50 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    FRANKLY SPEAKING

    As we alluded to last year on this page, in Frank Solich’s 73 years on this earth, including 13 with the Bobcats, they’ve managed to win four MAC division titles while also going bowling 9 of the last ten years. It would have been five had they not folded during the final two games of last season. Safe to say, Solich is certainly battle tested. The former head coach and running back at Nebraska has raised OU from the depths of despair to a highly competitive program, one that seems to play an abundance of close games (21 decided by a TD or less the last four seasons). Star QB Nathan Rourke and RB A.J. Ouellette each return along with a boatload of other starters from an offense that improved 13 PPG last season. Mixed in with the Bobcats taking on 3rd easiest schedule of all Group of 5 schools in 2018 with foes going 59-88 (.401) last season, we frankly expect more from OU in 2018.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: For the second season in a row, the Bobcats will face only two teams this year that owned a winning record last season.

    PLAY ON: vs. Buffalo (11/14)

    TOLEDO (Offense – 6/2, Defense – 6/1, 53 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    CANDLE IN THE WIND

    For the first time in 13 years, the Rockets return as MAC champions. This year, though, they must replace 2017 MAC Player of the Year quarterback Logan Woodside, who set just about every Toledo passing record in the books. That being said, they will not be lacking at wide receiver as UT is the first team in NCAA history to return three players – Cody Thompson, Diontae Johnson and Jon’Vea Johnson – who have earned all-league honors and caught at least 10 TD passes in a season. In addition, the offensive line returns five players with starting experience. Like his predecessor Matt Campbell with 20 wins under his belt in his first two seasons at Toledo, Candle could move up to a Power 5 school sooner than later.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The straight-up winner In The Stats in Toledo’s games last season won every game on the scoreboard.

    PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Miami Florida (9/15)

    WESTERN MICHIGAN (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 5/3, 29 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    LES IS MORE

    The warning signs were in place for first year head coach Tim Lester last season. Inheriting the winningest program in WMU history, he was left to ‘row the boat’ sans a stud QB and his three top WRs, including Corey Davis (a first-round pick in the NFL Draft). In addition, Lester lost his best offensive lineman, his top pass rusher and his top safety in the second game to season-ending knee injuries. The poor guy never stood a chance. To his credit, though, Lester reeled in the second-best class in the MAC with 19 three-star recruits. Add to that 74 career starts back on the OL to protect QB Jon Wassink, who shined over the second half of the season. Suddenly, the oars are back in the water.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Broncos were No. 2 in the nation in fumbles recovered last season.

    PLAY ON: vs. Northern Illinois (11/20)
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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