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Thread: Cnotes 2018 College Football Thru The Bowl Games News- Trends-Stats-Best Bets !

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002

    Default Cnotes 2018 College Football Thru The Bowl Games News- Trends-Stats-Best Bets !

    NCAAF Team Sites

    ARIZ. ST.-
    BOISE ST.-
    C. MICH-
    COLO ST. -
    E. CAR.-
    E. MICH-
    FRESNO ST. -
    IOWA ST. -
    KANSAS ST. -
    KENT ST. -
    MIAMI FL. -
    MICH ST-
    NO. TEXAS-
    OHIO ST. -
    OHIO U. -
    OKLA ST-
    PENN ST.-
    SO. MISS-
    UTAH ST.
    V. TECH-
    WASH ST. -
    W. MICH-
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    Long Sheet

    Saturday, August 25


    WYOMING (8 - 5) at NEW MEXICO ST (7 - 6) - 8/25/2018, 8:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    WYOMING is 10-22 ATS (-14.2 Units) as a road favorite since 1992.
    NEW MEXICO ST is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) in non-conference games over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW MEXICO ST is 91-123 ATS (-44.3 Units) when playing on a Saturday since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    HAWAII (3 - 9) at COLORADO ST (7 - 6) - 8/25/2018, 7:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    HAWAII is 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
    HAWAII is 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) in all lined games over the last 2 seasons.
    HAWAII is 0-7 ATS (-7.7 Units) against conference opponents over the last 2 seasons.
    HAWAII is 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) when playing on a Saturday over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    COLORADO ST is 1-0 against the spread versus HAWAII over the last 3 seasons
    COLORADO ST is 1-0 straight up against HAWAII over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    Thursday, August 30


    UCF (13 - 0) at CONNECTICUT (3 - 9) - 8/30/2018, 7:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    CONNECTICUT is 7-17 ATS (-11.7 Units) in all games over the last 3 seasons.
    CONNECTICUT is 7-17 ATS (-11.7 Units) in all lined games over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    CONNECTICUT is 1-1 against the spread versus UCF over the last 3 seasons
    UCF is 2-0 straight up against CONNECTICUT over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    NORTHWESTERN (10 - 3) at PURDUE (7 - 6) - 8/30/2018, 8:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NORTHWESTERN is 48-30 ATS (+15.0 Units) as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points since 1992.
    NORTHWESTERN is 81-55 ATS (+20.5 Units) in road games since 1992.
    NORTHWESTERN is 81-55 ATS (+20.5 Units) in road lined games since 1992.
    NORTHWESTERN is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) against conference opponents over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    NORTHWESTERN is 2-0 against the spread versus PURDUE over the last 3 seasons
    NORTHWESTERN is 2-0 straight up against PURDUE over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    NEW MEXICO ST (7 - 6) at MINNESOTA (5 - 7) - 8/30/2018, 7:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NEW MEXICO ST is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) in non-conference games over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    WAKE FOREST (8 - 5) at TULANE (5 - 7) - 8/30/2018, 8:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    TULANE is 94-125 ATS (-43.5 Units) as an underdog since 1992.
    TULANE is 2-11 ATS (-10.1 Units) against ACC opponents since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    TULANE is 1-0 against the spread versus WAKE FOREST over the last 3 seasons
    WAKE FOREST is 1-0 straight up against TULANE over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    Friday, August 31


    UTAH ST (6 - 7) at MICHIGAN ST (10 - 3) - 8/31/2018, 7:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    SYRACUSE (4 - 8) at W MICHIGAN (6 - 6) - 8/31/2018, 6:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    SYRACUSE is 15-3 ATS (+11.7 Units) against MAC opponents since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    W KENTUCKY (6 - 7) at WISCONSIN (13 - 1) - 8/31/2018, 9:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    W KENTUCKY is 1-8 ATS (-7.8 Units) in non-conference games over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    COLORADO (5 - 7) vs. COLORADO ST (7 - 6) - 8/31/2018, 9:30 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    COLORADO is 2-0 against the spread versus COLORADO ST over the last 3 seasons
    COLORADO is 2-0 straight up against COLORADO ST over the last 3 seasons
    2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    SAN DIEGO ST (10 - 3) at STANFORD (9 - 5) - 8/31/2018, 9:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    SAN DIEGO ST is 1-0 against the spread versus STANFORD over the last 3 seasons
    SAN DIEGO ST is 1-0 straight up against STANFORD over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    ARMY (10 - 3) at DUKE (7 - 6) - 8/31/2018, 7:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    DUKE is 1-1 against the spread versus ARMY over the last 3 seasons
    DUKE is 1-1 straight up against ARMY over the last 3 seasons
    2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    Saturday, September 1


    FLA ATLANTIC (11 - 3) at OKLAHOMA (12 - 2) - 9/1/2018, 12:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    FLA ATLANTIC is 0-7 ATS (-7.7 Units) against Big 12 conference opponents since 1992.
    FLA ATLANTIC is 9-2 ATS (+6.8 Units) when playing on a Saturday over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    HOUSTON (7 - 5) at RICE (1 - 11) - 9/1/2018, 12:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    RICE is 76-51 ATS (+19.9 Units) in home games since 1992.
    RICE is 76-51 ATS (+19.9 Units) in home lined games since 1992.
    RICE is 76-51 ATS (+19.9 Units) in home games in games played on turf since 1992.
    RICE is 7-18 ATS (-12.8 Units) as an underdog of 21.5 to 31 points since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    HOUSTON is 1-0 against the spread versus RICE over the last 3 seasons
    HOUSTON is 1-0 straight up against RICE over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    OREGON ST (1 - 11) at OHIO ST (12 - 2) - 9/1/2018, 12:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    OREGON ST is 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) when playing on a Saturday over the last 2 seasons.
    OREGON ST is 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) in games played on turf over the last 2 seasons.
    OREGON ST is 32-51 ATS (-24.1 Units) in September games since 1992.
    OHIO ST is 184-140 ATS (+30.0 Units) in all games since 1992.
    OHIO ST is 184-140 ATS (+30.0 Units) in all lined games since 1992.
    OHIO ST is 14-4 ATS (+9.6 Units) against Pac Twelve conference opponents since 1992.
    OHIO ST is 166-126 ATS (+27.4 Units) when playing on a Saturday since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    APPALACHIAN ST (9 - 4) at PENN ST (11 - 2) - 9/1/2018, 3:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    PENN ST is 18-8 ATS (+9.2 Units) in all games over the last 3 seasons.
    PENN ST is 18-8 ATS (+9.2 Units) in all lined games over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    AKRON (7 - 7) at NEBRASKA (4 - 8) - 9/1/2018, 8:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NEBRASKA is 0-7 ATS (-7.7 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
    NEBRASKA is 0-7 ATS (-7.7 Units) in home lined games over the last 2 seasons.
    NEBRASKA is 0-6 ATS (-6.6 Units) in home games when playing on a Saturday over the last 2 seasons.
    NEBRASKA is 0-7 ATS (-7.7 Units) in home games in games played on turf over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    MASSACHUSETTS (4 - 8) at BOSTON COLLEGE (7 - 6) - 9/1/2018, 1:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    BOSTON COLLEGE is 1-0 against the spread versus MASSACHUSETTS over the last 3 seasons
    BOSTON COLLEGE is 1-0 straight up against MASSACHUSETTS over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    KENT ST (2 - 10) at ILLINOIS (2 - 10) - 9/1/2018, 12:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    ILLINOIS is 127-166 ATS (-55.6 Units) in all games since 1992.
    ILLINOIS is 127-166 ATS (-55.6 Units) in all lined games since 1992.
    ILLINOIS is 63-92 ATS (-38.2 Units) in home games since 1992.
    ILLINOIS is 63-92 ATS (-38.2 Units) in home lined games since 1992.
    ILLINOIS is 63-89 ATS (-34.9 Units) in home games when playing on a Saturday since 1992.
    ILLINOIS is 85-127 ATS (-54.7 Units) in games played on turf since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    TEXAS ST (2 - 10) at RUTGERS (4 - 8) - 9/1/2018, 12:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    INDIANA (5 - 7) at FLA INTERNATIONAL (8 - 5) - 9/1/2018, 7:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    INDIANA is 1-0 against the spread versus FLA INTERNATIONAL over the last 3 seasons
    INDIANA is 1-0 straight up against FLA INTERNATIONAL over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    N ILLINOIS (8 - 5) at IOWA (8 - 5) - 9/1/2018, 3:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    N ILLINOIS is 72-44 ATS (+23.6 Units) in road games since 1992.
    N ILLINOIS is 72-44 ATS (+23.6 Units) in road lined games since 1992.
    N ILLINOIS is 16-6 ATS (+9.4 Units) against Big 10 conference opponents since 1992.
    N ILLINOIS is 97-70 ATS (+20.0 Units) when playing on a Saturday since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    TEXAS (7 - 6) vs. MARYLAND (4 - 8) - 9/1/2018, 12:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    MARYLAND is 1-0 against the spread versus TEXAS over the last 3 seasons
    MARYLAND is 1-0 straight up against TEXAS over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    BOISE ST (11 - 3) at TROY (11 - 2) - 9/1/2018, 6:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    BOISE ST is 140-102 ATS (+27.8 Units) in all games since 1992.
    BOISE ST is 140-102 ATS (+27.8 Units) in all lined games since 1992.
    BOISE ST is 67-44 ATS (+18.6 Units) in road games since 1992.
    BOISE ST is 67-44 ATS (+18.6 Units) in road lined games since 1992.
    BOISE ST is 98-72 ATS (+18.8 Units) when playing on a Saturday since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    TROY is 0-0 against the spread versus BOISE ST over the last 3 seasons
    BOISE ST is 1-0 straight up against TROY over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    LOUISIANA TECH (7 - 6) at S ALABAMA (4 - 8) - 9/1/2018, 7:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    S ALABAMA is 25-42 ATS (-21.2 Units) in games played on turf since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    LOUISIANA TECH is 1-0 against the spread versus S ALABAMA over the last 3 seasons
    LOUISIANA TECH is 1-0 straight up against S ALABAMA over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    MARSHALL (8 - 5) at MIAMI OHIO (5 - 7) - 9/1/2018, 3:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    MARSHALL is 45-68 ATS (-29.8 Units) in road games since 1992.
    MARSHALL is 45-68 ATS (-29.8 Units) in road lined games since 1992.
    MARSHALL is 6-0 ATS (+6.0 Units) as an underdog over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    MARSHALL is 1-0 against the spread versus MIAMI OHIO over the last 3 seasons
    MARSHALL is 1-0 straight up against MIAMI OHIO over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    SMU (7 - 6) at NORTH TEXAS (9 - 5) - 9/1/2018, 7:30 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    SMU is 2-0 against the spread versus NORTH TEXAS over the last 3 seasons
    SMU is 2-0 straight up against NORTH TEXAS over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    MIDDLE TENN ST (7 - 6) at VANDERBILT (5 - 7) - 9/1/2018, 7:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    VANDERBILT is 9-1 ATS (+7.9 Units) against Conference USA opponents since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    VANDERBILT is 2-0 against the spread versus MIDDLE TENN ST over the last 3 seasons
    VANDERBILT is 2-0 straight up against MIDDLE TENN ST over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    BYU (4 - 9) at ARIZONA (7 - 6) - 9/1/2018, 10:45 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    ARIZONA is 12-26 ATS (-16.6 Units) as a favorite of 10.5 to 21 points since 1992.
    ARIZONA is 57-90 ATS (-42.0 Units) as a favorite since 1992.
    ARIZONA is 2-14 ATS (-13.4 Units) as a home favorite of 10.5 to 14 points since 1992.
    ARIZONA is 6-15 ATS (-10.5 Units) when playing on a Saturday over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    BYU is 1-0 against the spread versus ARIZONA over the last 3 seasons
    BYU is 1-0 straight up against ARIZONA over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    UTSA (6 - 5) at ARIZONA ST (7 - 6) - 9/1/2018, 10:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    ARIZONA ST is 82-49 ATS (+28.1 Units) in home games when playing on a Saturday since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    UTSA is 1-0 against the spread versus ARIZONA ST over the last 3 seasons
    ARIZONA ST is 1-0 straight up against UTSA over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    UNLV (5 - 7) at USC (11 - 3) - 9/1/2018, 4:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    UNLV is 86-123 ATS (-49.3 Units) when playing on a Saturday since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    CINCINNATI (4 - 8) at UCLA (6 - 7) - 9/1/2018, 7:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    CINCINNATI is 7-17 ATS (-11.7 Units) in all games over the last 3 seasons.
    CINCINNATI is 7-17 ATS (-11.7 Units) in all lined games over the last 3 seasons.
    UCLA is 29-15 ATS (+12.5 Units) in home games in non-conference games since 1992.
    UCLA is 1-8 ATS (-7.8 Units) in September games over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    WASHINGTON (10 - 3) vs. AUBURN (10 - 4) - 9/1/2018, 3:30 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    C MICHIGAN (8 - 5) at KENTUCKY (7 - 6) - 9/1/2018, 3:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    KENTUCKY is 0-6 ATS (-6.6 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.
    KENTUCKY is 0-6 ATS (-6.6 Units) in home games in non-conference games over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    OLE MISS (6 - 6) vs. TEXAS TECH (6 - 7) - 9/1/2018, 12:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    COASTAL CAROLINA (3 - 9) at S CAROLINA (9 - 4) - 9/1/2018, 12:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    W VIRGINIA (7 - 6) vs. TENNESSEE (4 - 8) - 9/1/2018, 3:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    W VIRGINIA is 6-21 ATS (-17.1 Units) in games played on a neutral field since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    N CAROLINA (3 - 9) at CALIFORNIA (5 - 7) - 9/1/2018, 4:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    CALIFORNIA is 1-0 against the spread versus N CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
    CALIFORNIA is 1-0 straight up against N CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    WASHINGTON ST (9 - 4) at WYOMING (8 - 5) - 9/1/2018, 3:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    WYOMING is 6-0 ATS (+6.0 Units) as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    BOWLING GREEN (2 - 10) at OREGON (7 - 6) - 9/1/2018, 8:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    BOWLING GREEN is 7-17 ATS (-11.7 Units) in all games over the last 3 seasons.
    BOWLING GREEN is 7-17 ATS (-11.7 Units) in all lined games over the last 3 seasons.
    BOWLING GREEN is 3-13 ATS (-11.3 Units) when playing on a Saturday over the last 3 seasons.
    BOWLING GREEN is 0-9 ATS (-9.9 Units) in September games over the last 3 seasons.
    BOWLING GREEN is 0-8 ATS (-8.8 Units) in non-conference games over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    MICHIGAN (8 - 5) at NOTRE DAME (10 - 3) - 9/1/2018, 7:30 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    LOUISVILLE (8 - 5) vs. ALABAMA (13 - 1) - 9/1/2018, 8:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    ALABAMA is 77-54 ATS (+17.6 Units) in road games when playing on a Saturday since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    NAVY (7 - 6) at HAWAII (3 - 9) - 9/1/2018, 11:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NAVY is 167-124 ATS (+30.6 Units) in all games since 1992.
    NAVY is 167-124 ATS (+30.6 Units) in all lined games since 1992.
    NAVY is 81-41 ATS (+35.9 Units) in road games since 1992.
    NAVY is 81-41 ATS (+35.9 Units) in road lined games since 1992.
    NAVY is 19-7 ATS (+11.3 Units) against Mountain West conference opponents since 1992.
    NAVY is 151-111 ATS (+28.9 Units) when playing on a Saturday since 1992.
    NAVY is 58-34 ATS (+20.6 Units) in games played on turf since 1992.
    NAVY is 79-43 ATS (+31.7 Units) in road games in non-conference games since 1992.
    HAWAII is 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
    HAWAII is 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) in all lined games over the last 2 seasons.
    HAWAII is 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) when playing on a Saturday over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    Sunday, September 2


    MIAMI (10 - 3) vs. LSU (9 - 4) - 9/2/2018, 7:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    LSU is 1-8 ATS (-7.8 Units) in September games over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    Monday, September 3


    VIRGINIA TECH (9 - 4) at FLORIDA ST (7 - 6) - 9/3/2018, 8:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    VIRGINIA TECH is 14-4 ATS (+9.6 Units) as a road underdog of 3.5 to 7 points since 1992.
    FLORIDA ST is 4-14 ATS (-11.4 Units) as a home favorite of 3.5 to 7 points since 1992.
    FLORIDA ST is 0-7 ATS (-7.7 Units) against conference opponents over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.

    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    This report will update....


    Week 1

    Trend Report

    Saturday, August 25

    Duquesne @ Massachusetts
    Duquesne is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
    Duquesne is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games on the road

    Massachusetts is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
    Massachusetts is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games

    Prairie View @ Rice
    Prairie View
    Prairie View is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games on the road
    Prairie View is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games

    The total has gone OVER in 7 of Rice's last 9 games at home
    Rice is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games

    Hawaii @ Colorado State
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Hawaii's last 5 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Hawaii's last 5 games on the road

    Colorado State
    Colorado State is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Hawaii
    Colorado State is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Hawaii

    Wyoming @ New Mexico State
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Wyoming's last 7 games
    Wyoming is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games

    New Mexico State
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of New Mexico State's last 5 games at home
    New Mexico State is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games

    Thursday, August 30

    UC Davis @ San Jose State
    UC Davis
    UC Davis is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
    UC Davis is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road

    San Jose State
    The total has gone UNDER in 7 of San Jose State's last 10 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of San Jose State's last 6 games

    New Mexico State @ Minnesota
    New Mexico State
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of New Mexico State's last 5 games on the road
    New Mexico State is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games

    Minnesota is 11-4 SU in its last 15 games at home
    Minnesota is 4-8 ATS in its last 12 games at home

    Central Connecticut State @ Ball State
    Central Connecticut State
    No trends to report

    Ball State
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Ball State's last 6 games
    Ball State is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games at home

    Kennesaw State @ Georgia State
    Kennesaw State
    No trends to report

    Georgia State
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Georgia State's last 5 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Georgia State's last 7 games

    Central Florida @ Connecticut
    Central Florida
    Central Florida is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road
    Central Florida is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games

    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Connecticut's last 5 games when playing Central Florida
    Connecticut is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games

    Weber State @ Utah
    Weber State
    Weber State is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games on the road
    Weber State is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games

    Utah is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
    Utah is 16-6 SU in its last 22 games at home

    Wake Forest @ Tulane
    Wake Forest
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Wake Forest's last 5 games on the road
    Wake Forest is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games on the road

    Tulane is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games at home
    Tulane is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games

    Northwestern @ Purdue
    Northwestern is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
    Northwestern is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games

    Purdue is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
    Purdue is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games

    Savannah State @ Alabama-Birmingham
    Savannah State
    Savannah State is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
    Savannah State is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games

    Alabama-Birmingham is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Alabama-Birmingham's last 9 games

    Missouri State @ Oklahoma State
    Missouri State
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Missouri State's last 5 games
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Missouri State's last 5 games on the road

    Oklahoma State
    The total has gone OVER in 7 of Oklahoma State's last 8 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Oklahoma State's last 6 games

    Southeastern Louisiana @ Louisiana-Monroe
    Southeastern Louisiana
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Southeastern Louisiana's last 5 games on the road
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Southeastern Louisiana's last 5 games

    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Louisiana-Monroe's last 5 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 16 of Louisiana-Monroe's last 21 games

    Northwestern State @ Texas A&M
    Northwestern State
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of Northwestern State's last 8 games
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of Northwestern State's last 8 games on the road

    Texas A&M
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Texas A&M's last 5 games
    Texas A&M is 17-8 SU in its last 25 games at home

    Friday, August 31

    Syracuse @ Western Michigan
    Syracuse is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 15 of Syracuse's last 19 games

    Western Michigan
    Western Michigan is 11-2 SU in its last 13 games at home
    Western Michigan is 18-7 SU in its last 25 games

    Monmouth-New Jersey @ Eastern Michigan
    Monmouth-New Jersey
    Monmouth-New Jersey is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games

    Eastern Michigan
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Eastern Michigan's last 5 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Eastern Michigan's last 10 games at home

    Utah State @ Michigan State
    Utah State
    The total has gone OVER in 8 of Utah State's last 11 games on the road
    Utah State is 7-15 SU in its last 22 games

    Michigan State
    Michigan State is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games at home
    Michigan State is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games

    Army @ Duke
    Army is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games
    Army is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games

    Duke is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Duke's last 11 games

    San Diego State @ Stanford
    San Diego State
    San Diego State is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games on the road
    San Diego State is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games on the road

    Stanford is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
    Stanford is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games

    Western Kentucky @ Wisconsin
    Western Kentucky
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of Western Kentucky's last 8 games
    Western Kentucky is 14-7 SU in its last 21 games

    Wisconsin is 14-1 SU in its last 15 games
    Wisconsin is 11-1 SU in its last 12 games at home

    Portland State @ Nevada
    Portland State
    Portland State is 2-16 SU in its last 18 games on the road
    Portland State is 2-16 SU in its last 18 games

    Nevada is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home
    Nevada is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games

    Colorado @ Colorado State
    The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Colorado's last 10 games when playing Colorado State
    Colorado is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games when playing Colorado State

    Colorado State
    The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Colorado State's last 10 games when playing Colorado
    Colorado State is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    This report will update....

    Armadillo's Write-Up

    Week 1

    Saturday, August 25

    New Mexico State played in its first bowl since 1960 LY, but now they’ve got a new QB- their OL has 73 returning starts. Wyoming also has a new QB with Josh Allen in Buffalo; their OL has 116 starts back- expect them to run ball more. Last two years, Aggies were 6-4 vs spread at home; Since 2008, Cowboys are 4-8 vs spread as road favorites. Last two years, Mountain West teams are 6-3-1 vs spread when playing a Sun Belt squad.

    Colorado State (-6) hammered Hawai’i 51-21 in paradise LY; since 2014, Rams are 4-6 vs spread as a home favorite- they’ve got a new QB, who spent 3 years at Washington. State has two new coordinators this year- their OL has only 22 returning starts. Rainbows are 5-7 vs spread on road under Rolovich, 5-5 as underdogs. Hawai’i Both teams have 9 starters back; 4 on offense, 5 on defense. CSU has a rivalry game with Colorado on tap next week.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    2018 Independents Preview
    Marc Lawrence

    Declaration Of Independence

    During its first six years of being an independent team BYU won 52 games, with never fewer than 8 victories in any one season. Last year, however, the Cougars’ fortune suffered a major plummet, winning just 4 games behind an offense that ranked that ranked No. 118 in the nation – worse than Kansas, Rice and Ball State. It was BYU’s first losing season since 2004, making them a true “mission team” - in more ways than one - this campaign.

    If QB Tanner Magnum is good enough to fend off true freshman Zach Wilson the Cougars could find themselves bowling by season’s end. If not head coach Kalani Sitake could be issued a declaration of departure. Stay tuned.

    Ups And Downs

    The ranks of football independents have increased and decreased with each passing season since 2011, when BYU left the Mountain West Conference.

    It increased by two teams in 2013 when the Western Athletic Conference dropped football, paving the way for the inclusion of New Mexico and Idaho. Then is 2014 it lost two teams when Idaho and New Mexico State became football only members of the Sun Belt Conference. In 2015 Navy bolted for the American Athletic Conference as a football-only entrant. 2016 saw the addition of UMass, with New Mexico State returning in 2017. The new kids on the block, Liberty, join the Independents in 2018 as the revolving door continues to swing like a turnstile.

    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.

    ARMY (Offense – 6/2, Defense – 8/1, 47 Lettermen)


    Thanks to a 10-win effort last year, just the second of all-time, Army celebrated consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1990. Yet they managed it despite going backwards on both sides of the ball. The formula was simple: The Black Knights were the No. 1 team in the nation in Rushing Offense, as well as the No. 3 team in Red Zone Defense. This season they will put a new quarterback behind a rebuilding offensive front line. And while the defense returns a good portion of last year’s starters, it loses its two best playmakers in DE John Voit and LB Alex Aukerman. Having to tackle only 3 bowlers this season is a good thing. Facing only one losing foe away from home is not.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Last year was only the second time that Army defeated Navy and won a bowl game in the same year.


    BYU (Offense – *7/1, Defense – 7/3, 62 Lettermen)


    A combination of youth and inexperience, with 25 members of the two-deep missing time with injuries, contributed to a rare losing season for the Cougars last year. It marked their first losing campaign since 2004, making them a true “mission team” in every sense of the word this season. And it could well be lights-out for head coach Kalani Sitake should BYU continue to regress on both sides of the ball for a third-straight year under his watch. Worse, only four foes on last year’s itinerary owned winning seasons the previous year. More concerning is that in two seasons under Sitake, the Cougars have forgotten how to pass the football. Fortunately, senior QB Tanner Magnum returns after a ruptured Achilles tendon curtailed his season last year.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: QB Magnum passed for 3,377 yards in 2015 – Bronco Mendenhall’s final season as BYU head coach.

    PLAY ON: vs. Utah State (10/5) - *KEY

    LIBERTY (Offense – *9/3, Defense – 7/2, 44 Lettermen)


    Liberty makes its FBS debut in 2018 and if the name sounds familiar, it should. The Flames torched Baylor, 48-45, as 34-point dogs in Waco in their season opener last year. The good news is head coach Turner Gill, the former Nebraska star QB, has had a winning record each of the six years he’s been in Lynchburg. The bad news is he was 25-49 at two other FBS schools (Buffalo and Kansas) before becoming the lead Flame. Gill did mange to win the MAC title in 2008. He also beat Coastal Carolina when the Chanticleers were No. 1 in the FCS at the time. And for what it’s worth, LU returns 81% of its overall production from last season, seventh in the FBS. Bon voyage.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Conference USA and the Sun Belt turned down Liberty, the nations’ largest private university, for admission.


    NEW MEXICO STATE (Offense – 6/3, Defense – 9/4, 49 Lettermen)


    Doug Martin was another head coach on the hot seat last season, sporting a 10-38 record in four seasons with NMSU. Last year’s surprising 7-win bowl effort staved off the inevitable, though. It was the first bowl season in 57 years for the Aggies – the longest drought of all FBS teams – and it was capped off with a win over Utah State in the Arizona Bowl. With that, Martin will finally have a chance to rely on a defense that improved over 100 YPG last season as just about everyone’s back for DC Frank Spaziani. So dramatic was the improvement that the Aggies yielded 500 yards in only two games last campaign – after coughing up a nickel or more 26 times in five previous seasons under Martin’s direction. Best of all the Aggies will go up against easiest schedule of all FBS schools in 2018 with foes going 54-91 (.372) last season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Recently graduated four-year starting RB Larry Rose III rushed for 4,558 yards and 37 TDs in his career at NMSU.

    PLAY ON: vs. Georgia Southern (10/20)

    NOTRE DAME (Offense – *6/3, Defense – 9/3, 46 Lettermen)


    As expected, the Irish bounced back from a disastrous 4-win effort in 2016 to a 10-win campaign last season. That cleansed a sour taste left from an underachieving November – a pattern that head coach Brian Kelly has recently developed (see Stat You Will Like below). Meanwhile, the Dame was hit extra hard by offseason losses with 3 NFL defections (among 4 players selected in the draft, including two All-American 1st-rounders from the left side of the offensive line), 12 returning starters and 14 players from the 2-deep now gone. In addition, five senior starters from the defense also graduated. Kelly will turn back to QB Brandon Wimbush, who will need to find receivers from a depleted unit. Despite Kelly’s insistence that this could be one of his best squads at Notre Dame, we three Hail Mary’s are in order.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Since 2011, Kelly has won only 10 of 24 games played from Halloween on out.

    PLAY ON: vs. Stanford (9/29)

    UMASS (Offense – *10/4, Defense – 6/1, 47 Lettermen)


    Last year’s 0-6 start lowered the Minutemen’s mark to 2-22 SU in the first six games of the season under HC Mark Whipple. The good news, though, is UMass rallied to close 4-2, lending promise to the 2018 season ahead. However, they’ll need to overcome a death-knell-like 3-14 record in one-possession games under Whipple in order to turn the corner. Behind a loaded offense that returns QB Andrew Ford (22 TDs and 4 INTs last season) and nearly his entire front wall, the turn signal has been activated. As our ‘Stat You Will Like’ below indicates, last year’s unit left a mark in school history behind a bevy of youngsters that witnessed 33% of all starts by underclassmen. Sound the alert... here come the Minutemen.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Minutemen gained more yards than they allowed last year for the first time since becoming an FBS team in 2012.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    2018 Pac-12 Preview
    Marc Lawrence

    We’re Back

    According to the Pac-12, a total of 178 starters, who started at least half of his team’s games or a majority of games at a specific position, return to Pac-12 football squads in 2018. That’s out of a possible 288 (including placekickers and punters) for an average of 14.8 starters returning per team.

    Among those 178 returning starters are a number of key players, including 10 first-team and 12 second-team All-Pac-12 performers. Arizona, California, and Washington each return the most with 18 starters, followed by Oregon State with 16. Washington State returns the fewest starters with 10.


    Five new coaches enter the league this season. It’s the highest number of new coaches on the sidelines in one season for the Pac-12.

    UCLA’s Chip Kelly returns for his second stint in the Pac-12. Kelly posted a 46-7 record in four seasons at Oregon (2009-12) and led the Ducks to the 2010 BCS title game. Other new coaches include Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin (averaged 8.7 wins over 10 seasons), Arizona State’s Herm Edwards (last coached in the NFL from 2001-08), Oregon’s Mario Cristobal (won three national titles as a player and an assistant coach), Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith (returns to his alma mater making his head coaching debut).

    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.

    ARIZONA (Offense – *7/2, Defense – 9/1, 51 Lettermen)


    As is the undoing of many a successful man, it appears Rich’s rod likely sealed his fate. Such was the case when Arizona canned Rich Rodriguez, and his ghastly $6M salary, for sexual misconduct. Enter Kevin Sumlin and his in-your-face spread playbook, custom-designed for new phenom QB Khalil Tate, who burst on the scene in October last season. After being inserted into the starting lineup, Tate recorded a run of 70 more yards in each of his first four starts while earning an unprecedented four straight Pac-12 Player of the Week awards. Safe to say, Sumlin figures to utilize Tate to the max – much like he did with dual-threat QB Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M – to operate the Cats’ potent 3rd ranked rushing attack. “He’s moving from being an athlete that is a quarterback, to being a quarterback that's an athlete,” said Kevin Sumlin.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Freshmen started 25.2% of all Wildcats’ games last season, the 3rd most in the nation.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Washington State (11/17)

    ARIZONA STATE (Offense – *8/3, Defense – 4/1, 42 Lettermen)


    The release of contentious head coach Todd Graham was considered a stunner. However, it was surpassed in magnitude when ASU brought in long-retired and longtime NFL head coach Herm Edwards, who hasn’t coached in college in 30 years – and owned a 54-74 record as an NFL mentor. Yeah, head scratching, to say the least. So as we see it, a 46-game winner over the past six years was replaced with a zero-game coach over the last nine years. Smells like a lobbyist struck that deal. Meanwhile, heavy attrition hit a soft front seven. Against the backdrop of a new staff, new schemes and revamped lines of scrimmage, is a schedule laced with nine bowlers. Sorry, but we don’t see this experiment lasting long.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Arizona State ranked No. 120 in passing yards allowed in 2017 after ranking dead last (No. 128) the previous two seasons.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Arizona (11/24)

    CALIFORNIA (Offense – *10/3, Defense – 7/1, 56 Lettermen)


    New coach Justin Wilcox’s defense lived up to its hype as the former DC guru improved the Bears’ stop-unit by 88 YPG, its best overall effort since 2011. The offense, though, slipped mightily. Through it all, Cal came up one game shy of bowl eligibility despite the fact that freshmen accounted for 20.2% of all starts last season (only six teams started more). QB Ross Bowers is the Pac-12’s leading returner in passing yardage after throwing for 3,039 yards in 2017 (flash: he’s being pushed by South Carolina transfer QB Brandon McIlwain), and the running backs are deep and talented. Operating behind all five starters returning to the offensive line should help them blossom. Two other positives: Cal finished 37th nationally in turnover margin behind all the young talent, and the Bears will take on the 5th easiest schedule of all Power 5 schools in 2018 with foes going 76-77 (.497) last season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Cal held Stanford, USC, Washington and Washington State below its season average in points and total yards last season.

    PLAY ON: at USC (11/10)

    COLORADO (Offense – *5/3, Defense – 7/2, 47 Lettermen)


    Like a mirage to a water-starved victim crossing the desert, the Buffaloes’ 8-2 conference effort in 2016 surely looked like the real deal. After all, they had gone a measly 3-33 in conference play the previous four seasons. And then lo and behold, a 2-7 record in Pac-12 frays last year found them free falling again, ending the season with a losing record for the 11th time in the last 12 years. Things went so sideways that Colorado had forced a turnover in each of its previous 30 home games – the longest skein in the nation – until they hosted USC in their final game at Boulder last year. QB Steven Montez is one of only fours starters back on offense. Pass the canteen.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Colorado is 10-2 ATS in Last Home Games, including 7-0 ATS versus sub .700 opponents.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Oregon St (10/27) – *KEY as a favorite

    OREGON (Offense – *7/3, Defense – 7/2, 43 Lettermen)


    Now with its third coach in as many seasons, the Ducks will soldier on under another new head coach in Mario Cristobal, an Oregon assistant last year and former boss at Florida International. The good news is that Oregon is 37-14 since 1995 the first season under a new head coach, including 24-3 at home. Better news is the Ducks will face the easiest Power 5 schedule in 2018 according to the NCAA, as foes this season were just 65-87 (.428) last year. Aside from a strong initial recruiting class, Cristobal welcomes back junior QB Justin Herbert. The 6’ 6” 225-lb future NFL signal-caller went 6-2 last season before being shut down with a shoulder injury. It’s no coincidence OU led the nation in scoring (49 PPG) when Herbert was in the lineup. It’s important to note that Cristobal is extremely well liked by the players, who campaigned for his hire after Willie Taggart bolted for Florida State.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The straight-up winner ‘in the stats’ is 24-1 in Oregon games the last two years, including 13-0 last season.


    OREGON STATE (Offense – 7/4, Defense – 8/1, 45 Lettermen)


    After two-and-a-half years the Gary Andersen experiment is over following a 7-23 record, including a paltry 3-18 mark in Pac-12 games. Mike Riley is returning to Oregon State – only he will be joining Jonathan Smith’s staff as assistant head coach. Riley previously was the Oregon State head coach from 2003 to 2014, and also 1997 to ’98. Riley was fired Nov. 25 as head coach at Nebraska after going 19-19 over three seasons. Smith, a former Beavers quarterback, was a graduate assistant at Oregon State under Riley in 2003. If it sounds like a well-knit Beaver connection, it is. The key to getting back on the map will be finding a way to win conference games as OSU has dropped 26 of its last 29 Pac-12 performances.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Beavers have been out-yarded in each of their last 19 away games.


    STANFORD (Offense – *9/5, Defense – 6/1, 63 Lettermen)


    While Stanford returns 9 starters on offense, the fact of the matter is they lost players to 4 NFL defections, plus 16 players from the 2-deep are gone. Only seven FBS schools lost more starters from last year’s depth charts, and only four schools saw more players leave early for the NFL. Nonetheless, the Cardinal have captured four Pac-12 championship games since 2012 under David Shaw. The big story is star RB Bryce Love’s decision to return to Stanford rather than leaving early for the NFL. The Heisman Trophy hopeful fuels a resurgence of offensive starters back for the Cardinal – sans OC Mike Bloomgren, who leaves to take over the head coaching duties at Rice. QB K.J. Costello also returns after a strong second half last year.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The 405 YPG allowed by Stanford last season was the most ever under HC David Shaw.

    PLAY ON: vs. USC (9/8)

    UCLA (Offense – 5/2, Defense – 7/2, 38 Lettermen)


    On the 20th anniversary of its last Pac-12 conference championship, the UCLA brass has turned its football fortunes over to Chip Kelly, the former NFL and Oregon head coach, where he went 46-7 with three conference titles and an appearance in the BCS championship game with the Ducks. The biggest task at hand is filling the shoes set by record-setting QB Josh Rosen. Rest assured, Kelly will find his man. The other concern is patching a rush defense that was the worst for a Power 5 program in nearly 20 years. Remember this on your way out: since 1965 UCLA has had six consecutive non-winning seasons. They are 50-22-1 SU the following year while producing a winning record every season. Just sayin’.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Chip Kelly is 28-1 SU against sub .800 college football opponents.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Arizona State (11/10)

    USC (Offense – 7/4, Defense – 7/1, 52 Lettermen)


    True freshman QB J.T. Daniels is expected to be behind center for the defending Pac-12 champion Trojans this season, replacing redshirt sophomore Sam Darnold, who left for the NFL. The only other true freshman signal-caller to start for USC was Matt Barkley who, like Daniels, hailed from Mater Dei High School in California. Note: Daniels carried a 4.16 Grade Average and graduated after only three years in high school. Last year’s 11-win campaign was especially impressive considering USC did not have a bye week. The Trojans can thank a Red Zone Defense that ranked No. 4 in the nation, but they were also the 5th worst team the nation in Most Penalties last season. It’s a good thing that head coach Clay Helton has out-recruited every team in the conference. He loses a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,500-yard rusher and a 1,100-yard receiver. Ouch.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: USC is 16-0 SU in the Coliseum under head coach Clay Helton.

    PLAY AGAINST: at UCLA (11/17)

    UTAH (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 6/1, 55 Lettermen)


    After appearing in every College Football Playoff ranking since its inception in 2014, the Utes extended the streak through the first three weeks in 2017 before finally bowing out. It’s a testament to head coach Kyle Whittingham, the holder of the highest bowl winning percentage (.917, 11-1) of any coach in NCAA history. It was confirmed in the NFL draft this season when Utah led the Pac-12 with eight selections, tying for the third-most in the country. QB Tyler Huntley and a handful of receiving targets are back in 2018, as well as four of last year’s five starting offensive linemen. They make up 18 full-or-part time starters from last season’s bowl-winning squad. Finally, former head coach Gary Andersen is also back as a DL coach.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Head coach Kyle Whittingham is 17-4 SU against the other four Power Five conferences.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Arizona (10/12)

    WASHINGTON (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 9/1, 55 Lettermen)


    Chris Petersen planted the seeds for what may the most talented squad he’ll have in his tenure at Washington. It all started in 2015 when his “young as hell” Huskies were force-fed with plenty of playing time. All of those underclassmen are now upper classmen and as a result, U-Dub welcomes a bevy of returning starters for the 2018 season. At the helm is 4th-year senior starting QB Jake Browning, who has tossed for a school record 9,104 yards while completing over 64% of his pass attempts and accounting for 90 touchdowns. In addition, 3-years starting RB Myles Gaskin is back with 4,055 rushing yards and 49 TDs. Add a fearsome front seven on defense and the Huskies appear headed to the playoffs once again this season – especially going up against the 4th easiest schedule of all Power 5 schools in 2018 with foes going 73-80 (.477) last season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Chris Petersen’s .816 winning percentage is the 2nd highest among all active head coaches with at least 13 years of experience.

    PLAY ON: vs. Arizona State (9/22)

    WASHINGTON STATE (Offense – 4/2, Defense – 6/1, 41 Lettermen)


    The tragic suicide of heir-apparent backup QB Tyler Hilinski in January left fractured hearts and souls in the Washington State program. He was scheduled to fill the shoes of 4-year starting QB Luke Falk, who left with a jaw-dropping 14,881 passing yards on 68.3% completions and 119 TDs. In addition WSU’s top two WRs have transferred out of the program. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cougars lose Hercules Mata’afa, who led the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for a loss last season. Making matters worse, the OL ranked No. 126 in sacks allowed last season. Meanwhile, former Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys is the new defensive coordinator. He reunites with Cougar defensive line coach Jeff Phelps, who coached alongside Claeys at Minnesota from 2011-16.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Cougars are 10-1 ATS as conference road dogs under Mike Leach vs. winning foes off a SUATS win.

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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    ACC Atlantic Preview
    Bruce Marshall

    ACC Coastal

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

    It has become the college football equivalent to the Warriors and Cavaliers meeting in the NBA Finals; will Clemson (2017 SU 12-2; ATS 8-5-1; O/U 5-8-1) run into Alabama for the fourth straight year in the 2018 FBS playoffs? (We can safely assume that the Cavs-Warriors thing finally ended this June, but we digress.) Las Vegas sports books think it is a distinct possibility; several outlets have been posting a prop with a heavy minus price on the national title coming from one between the Tigers, Crimson Tide, Ohio State, Oklahoma, or Washington. The IPTAY crowd at Clemson, however, is feeling a bit less confident about any upcoming battles with Alabama if HC Dabo Swinney is forced to again utilize QB Kelly Bryant, who was not the kryptonite for the Nick Saban defense last season as was predecessor Deshaun Watson. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves; Clemson has plenty of other challenges to overcome before it can return to the Final Four.

    Still, Swinney has succeeded in putting the Tigers on the same elite plateau as the Alabamas and Ohio States (the latter beaten twice in bowl games by Dabo since 2013), so it’s natural for Tigers backers to dream big these days. The only complaint about mobile QB Bryant (665 YR last fall) is that he, unlike Watson, looked unnerved by Bama in the 24-6 Sugar Bowl Final Four loss last January 1. Many ACC sources suggested that Bryant and his accompanying swagger was a good thing for last year’s team; after Watson and his more reserved demeanor, the 2017 squad would benefit from a flashpoint like Bryant, who radiates electricity. But Swinney is now to the point where he is measured like Saban, meaning national titles, and some ACC observers believe Dabo could have a better chance vs. Bama if he sits Bryant and opts for ballyhooed true frosh QB Trevor Lawrence, maybe Clemson’s best-ever recruit. Like Watson,and unlike Bryant, Lawrence is a dangerous downfield passer, which apparently is needed to solve the Tide riddle. The assembly line of Tiger receivers features underneath threat sr. Hunter Renfroe (60 catches LY), he of the winning TD pass from Watson in the previous year's BCS title win vs. the Tide, and several speedburners waiting to emerge. Returnee RBs Travis Etinenne (766 YR & 7.2 ypc LY) and Tavien Feaster (669 YR & 6.3 ypc in 2017) are traditional Clemson quick-hitter. (Wouldn’t Tavis Smiley make for an all-name RB trio?) The line returns 3 starters including mauling sr. LT Mitch Hyatt, considered a likely high NFL draft pick next April.

    It’s on defense, however, where Clemson has also staked its claim with stop units big on size and speed...much Like Alabama’s. After fielding several top ten-rated platoons in recent years, respected d.c. Brent Venables might have his best stop unit yet. Eight starters are back, including almost the entirety of a disruptive front seven; much of the DL could have been in NFL camps this summer had they not collectively decided to stick around another season after the Tigers ranked second in scoring (13.6 ppg) and fourth in total D” (276 ypg) last season. Names to watch include DEs Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, DT Christian Wilkins, and LBs Kendall Joseph and Tre Lamar, who all play with a nasty edge. Injuries thinned the secondary a season ago and there were some key graduation losses, but a couple of frosh blue-chippers, CBs Kyler McDonald and Mario Goodrich, might make immediate impacts.

    Dabo usually has a tough, early non-league date vs. an SEC foe, and this September it intrigues again with a Sept. 8 trip to Texas A&M and new HC Jimbo Fisher, very familiar with Clemson from his Florida State days. As always, in-state rival South Carolina (this November 24 visiting Death Valley) closes the regular season. The usual ACC banana peels dot the remainder of the slate, and worth noting that Clemson has not emerged unscathed from conference play the past two seasons, dropping decisions vs. heavy underdogs Pitt (in 2016) and Syracuse (a year ago), suggesting those types of foes might be more of a concern than high-profile types like the Seminoles, who haven’t beaten Dabo the past three seasons.

    Spread-wise, the rare underdog role (5-1 last six) has suited Dabo well, but we probably won’t have to worry about that until the Final Four...if then. Curiously, Dabo is just 3-8-2 his last 13 as home chalk vs. ACC foes, and just middling overall as oddsmakers long ago began to attach premiums to Clemson pointspreads.

    Everything that could go wrong did seem to go wrong last season for Florida State (2017 SU 7-6; ATS 3-9; O/U 4-8). Things started out bad and got worse; the opener vs. Alabama in Atlanta, one of the most-ballyhooed first-week games in memory, proved the start of the unraveling. If that 24-7 loss to the Crimson Tide wasn’t bad enough, hotshot soph QB Deondre Francois, regarded as a peripheral Heisman candidate, went down in the 4th Q with a knee injury that kept him out the entire season. Then things began to get real screwy, as the next two games vs. UL-Monroe and Miami both had to be postponed due to Hurricane Irma. All of a sudden, HC Jimbo Fisher had an unexpected three-week gap in his schedule after the opener, dealing with all of the storm-related distractions and, when time permitted, forced into another “summer camp” of sorts in hopes of maintaning some sort of sharpness for his team. The ULM and Miami games were rescheduled for later in the year, but the next time the Noles took the field was late September with a green frosh QB, James Blackman, against Bradley Chubb and an angry NC State defense. FSU lost, 27-21, and by the time the season reached November it looked like a bowl streak that extended back to 1982 was in real jeopardy. Only gifted with FCS Delaware State, a collapsing Florida side that had just canned HC Jim McElwain, and Sun Belt ULM in the make-up game did the Noles even get bowl-eligible before beating an outmanned, defense-poor Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl. Before that one, however, Jimbo, rumored to be on the move, jumped ship to Texas A&M in a mega-bucks deal. Nole backers can be excused for wishing that 2017 was like that one aborted season of the old “Dallas” TV show that turned out to be nothing more than Bobby Ewing’s bad dream. They're not used to living in the non-elite college FB world in Tallahassee.

    Enter new HC Willie Taggart, a Florida native who in earlier assignments has propped up sagging Western Kentucky and South Florida programs and forged a modest turnaround in his one season at Oregon a year ago before heeding the call back to more-familiar territory. Taggart’s offenses have always been able to run the football, which should be good news for soph RB Cam Akers, a potential Heisman darkhorse after motoring for 1024 YR in FSU’s disjointed 2017 campaign. Francois and Blackman both return as QBs with effective full seasons under the belts; Francois is regarded to have more upside and a likely better fit for Taggart’s preferred spread-option, but his timetable for a full recovery is ongoing, and some off-field incidents might undermine his cause. Out of spring, Taggart said the QB job will be decided in fall camp...stay tuned. For the moment, the strike force would appear to revolve around Akers, though ACC insiders say Taggart and staff liked what they saw of the receiving corps in spring, especially soph D.J. Matthews, who shined in the absence of leading returning receiver Nyqwan Murray (40 catches LY), recovering from a knee injury in March. Six players with starting experience return along the OL, but it allowed 32 sacks last season and 36 the year before.

    The Noles will test the assumption that their recruiting is a never-ending pipeline of talent for the defense with almost the entirety of last year’s platoon being replaced. Moroever, only DL coach Odell Haggins (who also was interim HC for the bowl win) remains with the stop unit from the Jimbo staff. New d.c Harlon Bennett, formerly at Michigan State, installed an attack-minded 4-2-5 in spring in hopes of unleashing the traditional foot speed that has often marked by the best FSU defenses. There are a couple of established anchors on the line in DE Brian Burns & DT Demarcus Christmas, and jr. CB Levonta Taylor should eventually become yet another Nole DB taken in an NFL draft. But with so much personnel turnover, there are some legit questions for the “D” as well.

    FSU catches a bit of a break with the schedule as it doesn’t have to open against Alabama as a year ago, though the Taggart regime has a challenging kickoff date nonetheless on Labor Day night in an early ACC showdown at Doak Campbell vs. Virginia Tech. The rest of September looks manageable before the meatgrinder begins in October with a revenge date at Miami. Clemson (at home), Notre Dame (on the road), and a variety of tricky ACC dates before the annual regular-season-ender vs. Florida suggest that, to paraphrase long-ago actor John Houseman from long-ago Smith Barney TV commercials, “The Seminoles will have to win the old-fashioned way...they’ll have to u-h-h-n it.”

    Spread-wise, the Noles have endured a few real dips after the big 2013 national title season that distorted spreads thereafter; a year ago FSU dropped its first nine vs. the number until the schedule eased in later November, much like the 2014 season when an overvalued FSU was 3-11 against the line. Taggart has generally fared better; though just 6-7 vs. the spread with the Ducks last fall, he was 17-8-1 vs. the points the previous two years at USF, and was 21-7 his last 28 vs. the mark in his prior stop at WKU.

    . There’s something endearing about the throwback style of Boston College (2017 SU 7-6; ATS 8-4-1; O/U 5-8) under no-nonsense HC Steve Addazio. It’s not exactly what most remember about the Eagles from their highest-flying days in the long-ago Doug Flutie era; Addazio’s teams are more adept at trench warfare. But, as a reminder of how the game used to be played, there is something curiously refreshing about the BC approach. That might not be advised in this era of video football, especially in a high-powered league like the ACC; after a 3-9 skid in 2016, Addazio was widely considered to be on the hot seat last fall. But the pressure was temporarily removed with wins at Lamar Jackson’s Louisville and a Friday night demolition of a laboring Florida State at Chestnut Hill and a fourth bowl visit in five seasons. Now there are legit prospects for a further breakthrough in 2018.

    Addazio’s BC doesn’t have to get too fancy with punishing 240-lb. soph RB A.J. Dillon in the fold. The rugged Dillon, who had de-committed from Michigan before enrolling at Chestnut Hill, blasted for 1589 YR and 14 rush TDs last fall, mostly between the tackles, as the Eagles dared their opponents to slow down the BC freight train. Expect more of the same this fall as the entirety of last year’s roughhouse OL, part of nine offense returning starters overall, returns in tact. Redshirt soph QB Anthony Brown, while no Flutie, can wheel out of trouble and seemed a decent fit for the conservative Addazio attack before a late-season knee injury that also kept him out of spring work. That’s a bit of a concern, especially in September, as serviceable backup Darius Wade, at the controls late in 2017 (including the Pinstripe Bowl vs. Iowa), has transferred to Delaware, so soph EJ Perry will have to be ready in case Brown isn't ready for the UMass opener on Sept. 1. There are established receiving targets, including do-everything sr. Jeff Smith, who has played QB at times the past couple of years. Soph WR Kobay White flashed plenty of upside as a frosh in 2017. Yet some ACC insiders wonder about o.c. Scott Loeffler, who has been Addazio’s occasional sidekick back to their Temple days but whose other recent assignments (Auburn and Virginia Tech) were not memorable. His play-calling has been so conservative at times, however, it seems as if Pat Buchanan might be pushing the buttons for the BC offense. Yet as long as Dillon and the infantry advance, the “O” should not completely bog down.

    As a carryover from the preceding Frank Spaziani regime, Addazio’s Eagles continue to feature rock-ribbed defenses, though the 2017 stop unit dropped off a bit from recent nation’s-leading platoons that at one time featured in–demand d.c. Don Brown (at Michigan the past two years). After NFL-bound DE Harold Landry (Titans 2nd round) went down with injury late last season, DE Zach Allen stepped up and suggested he could become BC’s next NFL draftee; Allen recorded 100 tackles and 15.5 of those for a loss, plus 6 sacks, in 2017, all superb numbers for a college DE. There were some real injury issues last season, especially in the LB corps, as BC ranked lower vs. the rush than usual, though soph MLB John Lamot looks like he could become a breakout star. Like DE Landry, key CB Isaac Yiadom moved to the NFL (Broncos 3rd round), but the secondary still has an experienced, all-upperclass look, and sr. FS Lukas Denis emerged as a top playmaker last fall with seven interceptions, as well as a 13-tackle showcase vs. Clemson.

    Addazio, who has finished at 7-6 in four of his previous five seasons at Chestnut Hill, will be expected to do better than that this fall, as the schedule seems to break pretty well. We’ll know if it has the potential to be a big year if the Eagles can survive September road dates at Wake Forest and Purdue. Addazio’s old employer Temple also invades Alumni Stadium for an interesting Sept. 29 clash. Hitting Clemson and a revenge-minded Florida State in back-to-back weeks in mid-November, however, suggests the Eagles can likely to do no better than a mid-range bowl. The fan base will start to believe Addazio will always bump his head on a lower ceiling if the Eagles can’t at least improve to 8 wins this fall.

    Spread-wise, BC enters the fall on an 11-4-1 spread run, and Addazio is 7-2-1 vs. the spread his last ten as an underdog. Also no surprise that the low-variance Eagles are “under” 26-12 since the 2015 season.

    We often wonder what Tennessee fans think whenever they watch Wake Forest (2017 SU 8-5' ATS 9-3-1; O/U 7-6) continue to punch above its weight for HC Dave Clawson. Rewind a decade, back to 2008, and Clawson, off of a highly-successful run as HC at Richmond, was hired by Phil Fulmer to the o.c. post for the Vols. Well, 2008 went a bit pear-shaped in Knoxville, and Fulmer and staff were forced out in an awkward-at-best autumn. Since then, UT has cycled through Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, Butch Jones, and finally Jeremy Pruitt as successors to Fulmer, not to mention employing a few different ADs along the way (and Fulmer is the AD! Go figure!) . It is not lost upon introspective Vol backers that the best coaching alternative for them was probably right there under their noses ten years ago.

    Clawson, who subsequently revived Bowling Green before taking the challenge in Winston-Salem, needed a couple of years before similarly putting the Demon Deacons on solid footing in the ACC, not the easiest of tasks, especially after inheriting the end of the Jim Grobe regime, which had lost considerable momentum. Now, Wake enters 2018 having won bowl games in back-to-back years. Such is our respect for Clawson that we suspect he makes it three bowl trips in a row, though he has already been dealt a potentially-troubling detour. After four-year starting QB John Wolford graduated from the top-scoring team in Deac history, news was not good in spring when Clawson suspended QB heir apparent, jr. Kendall Hilton, for the first three games of the season. Hinton had flashed much upside in previous appearances that included a short span when wresting the starting job from Wolford in 2016, only to be KO’d by a knee injury. Hinton, a better runner and with a bigger arm than Wolford, is due back for the Sept. 22 game at Notre Dame, but Clawson will likely have to navigate the first three games with untested soph Jamie Newman at the controls. Still, eight starters return on the attack side, including the entirety of an OL that helped Wake runners gain almost 200 ypg in 2017. Matt Colburn (904 YR LY) is a punishing between-the-tackles threat. Clawson also must replace key TE Cam Serigne, but returns plenty of established targets, led by soph slot receiver Greg Dortch (53 catches LY). Redshirt frosh Sage Surratt could emerge as a legit deep threat after wowing ’em in spring.

    The “D” was not necessarily a strength a year ago after respected d.c. Mike Elko was hired away by Notre Dame (Elko has since parlayed that to an even bigger-bucks assignment at Texas A&M). Concerns for 2nd-year d.c. Jay Sawvel have mostly to do with the edge, with new DEs and OLBs asked to step into the breach, though soph DE Carlos Basham could be a difference-maker. Three starters are back in the secondary, but the pass defense leaked badly down the stretch last season, and the best-regarded component, S Jessie Bates, left early for the NFL and was taken in the 2nd round of the draft by the Bengals. A key development in spring was moving former wideout Chuck Wade to Bates’ old FS role; the success of that transition could help define any improvements on the stop end.

    Hinton’s 3-game absence adds a bit more unease to the September outlook, as he’ll miss games at Tulane and home vs. Towson and Boston College. Clawson will be doing well to survive that stretch unscathed, preceding a gauntlet of aforementioned Notre Dame, Clemson, and Florida State in a three-games-in-four stretch. The slate appears to ease somewhat in the second half of the campaign; if Wake is sitting no worse than 3-4 after facing the Seminoles, expect Clawson to get the Deacs bowling again. The risk of Hinton’s early absence in three winnable games, however, can’t be minimized.

    Spread-wise, Clawson teams have often provided excellent value throughout his career, and his Wake enters this fall on a 15-5-1 spread run. Most notable is the Deacs’ 10-2 mark their last 12 as an underdog. Wake is also 11-3-1 vs. the line its last 15 away from Winston-Salem.

    Was last year going to be the high-water mark for the Dave Doeren era at NC State (2017 SU 9-4; ATS 5-7-1; O/U 5-8)? The Wolfpack recorded its first Top 25 finish under Doeren and only third in the past 20 years. Still, this is the same Doeren who was reportedly one loss away from losing his job the previous year (NC State won in the reg.-season at Chapel Hill vs. North Carolina, apparently sparing Doeren). And AD Debbie Yow has been known to swing the axe in her career. True, Doeren is looking to qualify for a fifth straight bowl, but ACC sources report that Doeren is one subpar season away from falling back into some trouble. Once the AD loses confidence in the coach (as was apparently the case in Raleigh late in 2016), it’s hard to get it back.

    Making things more difficult will be life without eight starters from last season’s robust stop unit, including ACC Defensive Player of the year DE Bradley Chubb, picked with the fifth choice in the first round of April’s NFL draft by the Broncos. The Pack got its first taste of life without Chubb in the Sun Bowl vs. a dispirited Arizona State side with HC Todd Graham heading out the door. The Sun Devils played no defense and NCS won, 52-31, but no more Chubb and the other regulars figures to be a challenge for holdover d.c. Dave Huxtable, who will have assistance from recent Georgia Tech d.c Ted Rood this season. NCS ranked only 106th vs. the pass in 2017, and it is hoped that nickel-back Stephen Griffin, a Tennessee transfer, can upgrade the secondary after pass defense was strafed by injuries a year ago. No starters return along the front six in Huxtable’s 4-2-5. OLB Germaine Pratt did display a big-play bent last season when scoring a pair of TDs, and will be counted upon to provide some badly-needed leadership.

    Of course, maybe the formula that worked in the Sun Bowl, with the offense scoring just about every possession, can compensate for the defensive rebuild. Former Boise State transfer QB Ryan Finley returns for one more spin after passing for better than 3500 yards last year. He has some help, with perhaps the ACC’s best collection of returning wideouts led by jr. Kelvin Harmon, who caught 69 aerials worth 1017 yards a year ago. After both Matt Dayes and Nyheim Hines broke the 1000-yard rushing barrier the past two seasons, Doeren and o.c. Eliah Drinkwitz (like Finely also having arrived at Carter-Finely Stadium from Boise State) hope sr. Reggie Gallaspy (506 YR mostly spelling Hines last fall) will be next in line. The forward wall, however, will be breaking in three new starters.

    The schedule provides a chance for a fast break from the gate, with three games at Raleigh out of the chute, though the Sept. 15 machup vs. West Virginia could be tricky. There’s a chance the Wolfpack could be 6-0 by the time it travels to Clemson, which has had its hands full with NCS the past two seasons, on Oct. 20. There’s also a chance the Pack could stumble early if the defense finds replacing Chubb and the others to be too much of a chore. Can Finley be counted upon to simply outgun most of the NCS foes this fall?

    Spread-wise, the Pack had more problems a year ago than its 9-4 SU record suggests. A good bully in recent seasons (13-5 last 18 as chalk entering last season), the Pack was just 2-5-1 laying points a year ago, including 0-4 as double-digit chalk after recording a 7-2 mark in that role the previous 2015-16 campaigns. Interestingly, the Pack has covered all four the past two seasons vs. Clemson and Florida State, though that was with Bradley Chubb in the fold.

    We’ve been down this road before with Bobby Petrino, which makes us believe his current run at Louisville (2017 SU 8-5; ATS 5-8; O/U 6-7) might not end smoothly...or have long to go. Petrino has never stuck around anywhere long enough to endure a slump; his many previous HC moves have either been pre-emptive or caused by his own shenanigians, as was the case at Arkansas before the 2012 season, when Petrino was forced out in tabloid-like scandal. But in the past decade, he’s also spent all of one season at stops in the NFL (Falcons in 2007) and Western Kentucky (2013) before jumping to other jobs. He already left the ‘Ville once (after 2006) following a glorious run. Salad days like those and the heyday of the Lamar Jackson era with the Cards are now in the rear-view mirror. Indeed, Petrino’s ‘Ville underachieved the last two years, losing nine games even with Jackson in the fold. In the past, Petrino might have picked right about now to bail out, but with his marketability reduced after past job-jumping in his career, he has few landing spots at the moment.

    The departure of a once-in-a-decade like force in Jackson, whose 2017 did not quite match his 2016 Heisman exploits, has caused most ACC observers to deeply discount the Cards this fall. And maybe for good reason. Jackson’s dual-threat dimension at QB will not be replaced; in fact, Petrino will return to his pass-first roots with a pure thrower, aptly-named 6'4 soph Jawon Pass. He will have some experienced targets, as the trio of Jaylen Smith, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Seth Dawkins combined for over 2300 yards worth of receptions and 20 TDs a year ago. But Pass is not going to put the fear of God into opposing defenses as did Jackson. The RBs might get more opportunities in the post-Jackson world at the ‘Ville, and the OL does return four starters. Without Jackson, however, hard to see the Cards scoring anything near last year’s 38 ppg, or ranking 3rd nationally in total offense (545 ypg) as in 2017.

    Then there’s the defense, which has cycled coordinators the way Petrino used to change his jobs. After last year’s d.c. Peter Sirmon left for Justin Wilcox’s staff at Cal, Petrino has turned to Brian Van Gorder, who when last seen was getting fired by Brian Kelly at Notre Dame just four games into the 2016 campaign. Moreover, the stop unit will be almost completely rebuilt this fall, with just two returning starters. Platoon leaders will likely be a couple of breakout performers as frosh last season, LB Dorian Etheridge (the only returnee who started all 13 games last fall) and CB Ross Yeast. More questions abound for the “D” than handicapping a maiden race at nearby Churchill Downs.

    A look at the schedule and the first reaction is the opener vs. Alabama (at Orlando) is a year too late; last September it would have been a much-better attraction with Jackson still in the fold. There’s also a trip later in the season to Atlantic rival Clemson, making the ‘Ville and Texas A&M the only teams with both the Tide and Tigers on their 2018 slates. Keep in mind that even with Jackson, the Cards still lost four ACC games last season. They’ll be hard-pressed to do any better this fall. We’ll see how Petrino reacts (or maybe how the ‘Ville reacts) if the Cards miss a bowl. Remember, too, that the AD who hired Petrino (Tom Jurich) is himself gone after last year’s athletic department scandal which mostly hit basketball. We’d say the tea leaves seem to be stacking up against Petrino.

    Spread-wise, after the intense over-hype of the first month of the Jackson Heisman year in 2016, the ‘Ville was severely overvalued, and brings a 7-15 spread mark its last 22 into this season. The former Jackson premiums won’t be attached this fall, but “Petrino II” has mostly been a pointspread non-event, as the Cards are sub-.500 (25-27) vs. the number since 2014.

    Ben Schwartzwalder must be rolling over in his grave at what his Syracuse (2017 SU 4-8, ATS 6-6; O/U 3-9) has become. Back in the glory era of the 50s and 60s and when his teams were the “Orangemen” (and not the sanitized “Orange” of today), Schwartzwalder coached a physical brand of football that more resembled Greco-Roman wrestling. The Woody Hayes Ohio State teams of the day almost looked like Joe Namath’s New York Jets by comparison to the ‘Cuse, whose games were trench warfare, physical battles conducted within the tackle box. Schwartzwalder’s Orangemen applied pure brute force, as they did in the 1959 national title campaign when allowing just 193 rushing yards...the entire season! Eventually, the Schwartzwalder style became antiquated, but not before the ‘Cuse would crumple many foes not used to such football basics; West Coast UCLA was a familiar victim, often beaten mercilessly. Such as in 1964, when an unbeaten Bruin side with designs on breaking into the Top Ten invaded old Archbold Stadium right about the time the Tokyo Olympics were getting underway. But UCLA QB Larry Zeno, the nation’s total offense leader, could only complete 4 of 15 passes for 45 yards, and the Bruins lost 4 yards rushing. Schwartzwalder’s big FB Jim Nance plowed ahead for a couple of short TD runs, and the incomparable Floyd Little took back a punt 90 yards for a score. Add in a pair of interception TDs and the final score would be 39-0. UCLA wasn’t just beaten, it was emasculated, never recovering for the remainder of the season. Indeed, in four meetings between the Bruins and the Orangemen in 1959, '62, '63, and '64, UCLA had minus rushing yardage in each game!

    Fast-forward to the current Dino Babers era, and the now-called Orange don’t win games that way any longer, instead with a pitch-and-catch style bearing no resemblance to the Schwartzwalder years. The “O” operates out of a modern-day spread, and traditional running plays that used to feature the likes of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Larry Csonka, Nance and Little are non-existent. Modern rushing numbers are deceiving because most of the yards come on scrambles and non-designed runs by the current Orange QBs, credited with almost 200 carries between them last season. Babers has a good one, sr. Eric Dungey, to pilot the speed-based spread, though keeping healthy has been a problem; Dungey missed the last three games each of the past two seasons. When on the field, Dungey can do a bit of everything; playing parts of seasons since 2015, he’s tossed 40 TDP and rushed for over 1200 yards. There is some experience in the supporting cast, but Dungey could use more help. Even though the style of the “O” more resembles volleyball, Babers would still like to get more production from holdover RBs Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal. There is plenty of speed in the receiving corps, where it is hoped that former S Antwan Corley can successfully transition from defense. The OL returns four starters, though protection was spotty in 2017; Texas A&M grad transfer Koda Martin might provide some help at the RT spot. Most importantly, however, the Orange is 0-6 SU in games missed by Dungey the past two seasons, so keeping him healthy cannot be underestimated as a key for Babers to improve upon his 8-16 SU mark since arriving in 2016.

    Syracuse seemingly hasn’t won games with its defense since the Schwartzwalder era, and probably won’t this fall, either. At best, the Orange could hold some opponents at bay long enough for the offense to take advantage. The “D” does have a quality NT in sr. Chris Shelton, and a couple of experienced pass rushers in DEs Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson. Both starting CBs return from last season, too. But the LB corps, probably the strength (such as it was) of last year’s platoon, is completely rebuilt. And let’s not forget this stop unit ranked a poor 106th in total “D” last fall and surrendered 53 ppg in a 3-game skid to close the season.

    Babers has scored a couple of notable upsets the past two years at the Carrier Dome, including Virginia Tech in 2016 and a real shocker over Clemson last October. The chance always remains that a foe, even a good one, might find the spread a handful. But Babers has topped out at 4 wins each of the past two seasons. The non-league slate provides a few chances at wins, but at this stage, we’d project the Orange to be underdogs in every ACC tilt. For the moment, they’re staying patient at the ‘Cuse, but if Babers can’t crack the 4-win mark again this fall, pressure ramps up for 2019.

    Spread-wise, Babers has not been able to make much of a fortress of the Carrier Dome, where the ‘Cuse is 4-9 vs. the line the past two seasons. Babers did cover 4 of 5 as a double-digit dog in 2017, however, a role in which he should have a few more chances this fall.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    ACC Coastal Preview
    Bruce Marshall

    ACC Coastal

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

    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.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    SEC Preview
    Marc Lawrence

    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)


    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)


    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)


    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.


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


    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)


    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)


    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)


    Now we’re going to find out what Ed Orgeron is all about as a head coach. According to, 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.


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


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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.


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


    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.....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    Big 12 Preview
    Bruce Marshall

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

    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 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.....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    Big Ten Preview
    Marc Lawrence

    Bring It On

    Thirteen Big Ten teams – sans Rutgers - will square off against at least one non-conference team that participated in a bowl game last season, with 24 of all 39 non-conference games featuring opponents coming off bowl trips. Michigan State and Northwestern will each face bowl teams in all three of their 2018 non-conference contests.

    Counting conference and non-conference contests, every Big Ten team will face at least five teams that played in a bowl game last season. Nebraska leads the way with nine such contests, followed by Indiana, Michigan State and Northwestern with eight apiece.

    Back For More

    Ohio State and Wisconsin will look to repeat as division champions this season. The Badgers finished 9-0 to win the West Division for the second consecutive season and the Buckeyes completed the season with an 8-1 mark to claim the East Division, giving the Buckeyes at least a share of their sixth straight division title. Last season's divisional crowns marked the fourth for the Badgers and sixth for the Buckeyes.

    Bad Ass Bowlers

    Big Ten teams rolled in the bowl games last season, going 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS. The only loss was Michigan’s mystifying disappearance against South Carolina. It reversed a lackluster 3-7 SU and 4-5-1 ATS effort the previous bowl season.

    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.

    ILLINOIS (Offense - 8/4, Defense - 8/3, 41 Lettermen)


    Lovie Smith went one better in 2017 when, after starting the second-most amount of freshmen in 2016 (29.2 percent of all starts), no less than 37.1% of all starts were made by freshmen last year – the most in the nation – including 31 first-time starters. Now, behind new OC Rod Smith, a long-time former offensive coordinator under Rich Rodriguez, who brings a fast-paced, run-often scheme, the Illini will hope RB Mike Epstein (who rushed for 350 yards in five games as a freshman before a season-ending injury last year) and fifth-year senior WR Mike Dudek (former Big Ten Freshman POY) can push the pace like a fast break basketball team. "I'm so excited for this offense," Epstein said. "I think it's an offense tailored to our skill guys.”

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Illinois is 3-37 SU and 14-26 ATS in its last forty Big Ten games versus .500 or greater opponents.

    PLAY ON: at Rutgers (10/6)

    INDIANA (Offense - 8/4, Defense - 4/1, 56 Lettermen)


    Talk about a great hire, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden insists, “Tom Allen is a great fit for IU. I really believe that Mike DeBord on the offensive side and Allen on the defensive side is unique. They are very experienced, thorough game-planning coaches.” Furthermore, L.A. Chargers OL Dan Feeney firmly believes that Allen has the mantra ‘LEO’, Love Each Other, working in his favor. "Everybody is buying into that.” Allen is also a devout Christian and a defensive strategist par excellence. Since his arrival, Indiana is the most improved team nationally in total defense (169.4 YPG). And that was on the heels of improving 11 PPG and 130 YPG in 2016. A school-record 13 Hoosiers earned all Big Ten honors in 2017. Color them dangerous.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Over the last 22 years, the teams for which Allen has been a member of the coaching staff have posted a combined 227-76 (.754).

    PLAY ON: vs. Purdue (11/24)

    IOWA (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 6/3, 45 Lettermen)


    The signs of regression are in the air. The Hawkeyes lost 2 players to NFL defections, 11 returning starters have departed, and 14 players from the 2-deep are gone. Two Iowa defenders voted unanimous All-Americans are gone, including LB Josey Jewell (101.5 tackles), who was one of 5 starting seniors to depart from the defense. On offense, RBs Akrum Wadley and James Butler each graduated after combining for nearly three-quarters of the team’s rushing yardage in 2017. The good news is QB Nate Stanley had a 137.4 passing efficiency in the fourth quarter last season as the Hawkeyes outscored the opposition, 123-60, in the final stanza and overtime. Our concern is they have won 16 games the last two seasons despite being out yarded 27 YPG in the process.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Kirk Ferentz is the longest tenured FBS head football coach in the nation.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Illinois (11/17)

    MARYLAND (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 5/1, 48 Lettermen)


    The Terrapins most dynamic player, WR DJ Moore, opted to leave early for the NFL. The first-team All-Big Ten receiver led the conference in both receptions (80) and receiving yards (1,033) while pacing Maryland with 9 touchdowns. Meanwhile head coach DJ Durkin hopes to patch a defensive line that managed to produce only 16 sacks in 12 games last season (only two Power 5 conference teams, Nebraska and Oregon State, had fewer). Meanwhile, new OC Matt Canada (LSU) will look to ignite an offense that went backwards in 2017, ranking 100th or worse in three of the four major categories (scoring, total and passing offense). Interestingly, this will be Canada’s sixth school in the last eight years.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Terps are 0-9 SUATS following a win from Game Seven out the last five years.


    MICHIGAN (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 9/3, 63 Lettermen)


    We warned last year that Michigan was in line for a fall in 2017. That’s because the Wolverines’ seniors had accounted for the highest percentage of starts of all FBS teams in 2016 (76.6%). It was a wickedly high number and meant that Jim Harbaugh would need to rely on a bevy of underclassmen to compensate for the losses. As a result, the baby Wolves are back with sharpened teeth as those same underclassmen accounted for nearly 50% of all starts made by UM last season, the 7th most in the nation. With three Big Ten revenge games on tap, and former Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson now behind center, look for a the Wolves to be howling in 2018.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The SU winner ‘In The Stats’ is 35-4 in UM games with Harbaugh as its head coach.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Maryland (10/6)

    MICHIGAN STATE (Offense - *10/3, Defense - 9/3, 49 Lettermen)


    Featuring one of the youngest teams in the nation last year, the Spartans’ 10-3 effort marked the biggest single-season turnaround in MSU football history, capped off with a resounding 42-17 win over Washington State in the Holiday Bowl. As a result, Michigan State brings back a plethora of starting experience (33 players) with confidence beyond compare that most coaches would die for. According to SB Nation, MSU has the most returning production of any team in the FBS. The Spartans are returning 239 starts (84 percent) out of a combined 286 possible starting positions from 2017’s offense and defense. The 19 position starters are second only to Kansas (20). It’s likely enough to make HC Mark Dantonio forget that all three of their non-conference games will come against bowlers.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Underclassmen accounted for 56.6% of MSU’s total team starts last season – the 4th most in the land.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Michigan (10/20)

    MINNESOTA (Offense - 7/3, Defense - 7/2, 40 Lettermen)


    As expected when taking over a program in the midst of a complete overhaul, new head coach P.J. Fleck’s boat sprung a leak last season. Through all the seepage, the Gophers managed to win every game in which they won the stats, while losing every game in which they were out-yarded. Surprisingly, they led the nation in Fewest Penalties (39) last season. Meanwhile, top-rated JUCO transfer QB Vic Viramontes appears set to take over. The strong-armed former Cal quarterback is a dual-threat option passer built like a linebacker with deceptive speed. He will operate behind an experienced OL that was pressed into action because of injuries last season. A mass exodus on the DL, though, means the lifejackets will need to be ready and standing by. FYI: Minny’s mighty 13-2 ATS mark as a conference dog of 7 or more points is noteworthy. But then again they were 13-0 ATS until Fleck arrived.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Fleck’s teams are 27-1 SU in their L28 games in which they’ve won the stats, including 16-0 the last 16.


    NEBRASKA (Offense – 6/4, Defense - 8/3, 52 Lettermen)


    After mentoring the only team to ever go from zero wins to zero losses in just two seasons, and one of only two Power 5 schools (out of 13 openings) to hire a Group of 5 head coach in the offseason, Scott Frost finally returns to Nebraska where he won two Big Ten titles as a quarterback for the Huskers. He’ll also be looking to return Nebraska to its glory days as a storied football program. It won’t be easy, though, as the Huskers will take on the most bowlers (9) of all Big Ten teams this season, including all 5-road contests. That’s not promising for a team that was 2nd worst in the nation in Tackles For A Loss last season (3.7).

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Nebraska is 31-1 SU in season-opening games the last thirty-two years.


    NORTHWESTERN (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 7/3, 61 Lettermen)


    Coming off their second 10-win season in three campaigns, the Wildcats are one of two Big Ten teams (Michigan State the other) that will square off against postseason foes in all three of their non-conference games this year. Hopefully, SR QB Clayton Thorson returns healthy after tossing for nearly 6,000 yards and 37 TDs the past two seasons. QB coach guru Terry Shea insists the 6’ 4” Thorson has NFL skills and likely would have left early for the draft had he not suffered a knee injury in the Music City Bowl last season. The bigger hole is replacing RB Justin Jackson, the Wildcats’ all-time leading rusher (now with the San Diego Chargers). In addition, three new coaches have been added to the staff.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Pat Fitzgerald has never had a player selected in the first three rounds since taking over the program 12 years ago.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Michigan State (10/6)

    OHIO STATE (Offense - 7/3, Defense - 4/2, 49 Lettermen)


    That Urban Meyer’s .851 winning percentage is the highest among active – and 3rd highest all-time (Knute Rockne .881 is No. 1) – of all coaches with at least 10 years of experience, speaks for itself. The Buckeyes won their 36th Big Ten title last season and will look to repeat as conference champions for the first time since last doing so in 2009. Having the nation’s strongest running back tandem in 1,000-yard rushers J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber (each gained 1,000 yards while starting every game as freshmen in 2017 and 2016, respectively) is a powerful weapon, to say the least. That and 229 career starts back on both sides of the ball makes Brutus a badass Buckeye this season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: When Ohio State visits Maryland in November, it will mark only its 3rd back-to-back road game in four years.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Michigan State (11/10)

    PENN STATE (Offense - *8/5, Defense - 3/2, 39 Lettermen)


    If it seems like James Franklin’s Penn State squads have closely resembled Joe Paterno’s glory teams its because they have. Last year was the first time since 1985 and 1986 that the Lions appeared in a second-straight New Year’s Six bowl game. And a 20-3 record in its last 23 games is the best span since going 20-3 from 1990-1995 – not to mention its 24.6 scoring differential in 2017 was tops in the nation. Big holes must be filled, though, with the loss of star RB Saquon Barkley to the NFL, as well as the void of 69.6% of games started by seniors last year. QB Trace McSorley (57 TD passes the last two seasons) helps fill some of the vacuum. Meanwhile, five new coaches have been added to the staff.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Of the 780 minutes played in 2017, Penn State only trailed for 37 minutes, 42 seconds.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Pittsburgh (9/8)

    PURDUE (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 4/1, 53 Lettermen)


    Safe to say that behind numbers that improved across the board on both sides of the ball, Jeff Brohm’s first season with Purdue last year was a total success. In fact, a 3-0 SUATS mark in the Boilers’ final three games banished an awful 0-12 SU and 5-7 ATS record established over the course of Purdue’s final three games the previous four years. And according to Ralph Michaels of Cal Sports, the Boilermakers snapped a 5-year streak of having played UNDER their season win-total. As a result they also increased attendance 13,433 per games last season – best of all Power Five teams. Unfortunately, seven of the eleven starters that led to a defensive resurgence for the Boilermakers are gone. Instead, Brohm must rebuild a front seven that improved over 100 rushing yards per game. A 9-win ATS season looks to be a reach this season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Brohm is 14-0 SU and 13-1 ATS from Game Eleven out.

    PLAY AGAINST: as a dog vs. Wisconsin (11/17)

    RUTGERS (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 8/2, 42 Lettermen)


    Rutgers welcomes its 9th offensive coordinator, John McNulty, in as many years. He certainly has the experience and the potential to bring a spark to an offense that needs new life, having coached the likes of Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Gates and many others. His offense thrived in a previous stint with Rutgers (under Greg Schiano) when the Knights became the first team in FBS history with a 3,000-yard passer and two 1,000-yard rushers in 2007. The good news is the Knights will take on just six bowl foes this season. The bad news is they conclude the season with five of them. Fortunately, the defense has improved in both seasons under Chris Ash. It’s time for the offense to stand and deliver.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Rutgers has outgained 3 foes in 24 games under Ash: Kansas, Morgan State and Norfolk State.

    PLAY ON: vs. Illinois (10/6)

    WISCONSIN (Offense - *9/5, Defense - 4/1, 44 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: LOADED FOR BADGER The best news for Wisconsin this year is likely the absence of an Ohio State sighting on the schedule: the Badgers are 44-6 during the regular season since 2006 when they don't play the Buckeyes. More important, though, is the fact that 10 of UW’s offensive starters in the Orange Bowl are back. They also return 100% of their offensive line starts (including 3 All-Americans), 100% of their passing yards (QB Alex Hornibrook 20-3 as a starter) and 92.3% of their rushing yards (RB Jonathan Taylor 2,072 total yards). Plus, UW returns its kicker, holder, long snapper, punter and kickoff specialist from last year from a team that was No. 2 team in the nation in Time Of Possession last season. Lots to like about the Badgers this year.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Wisconsin and Penn State are the only Big Ten teams that have posted a winning season the last 13 consecutive years.

    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    Conference USA Preview
    Marc Lawrence

    We’re Back

    Conference USA welcomes the return of six 2017 individual award winners for the 2018 season. They include MVP Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic, Offensive Player of the Year Mason Fine, QB, North Texas, Special Teams Player of the Year Isaiah Harper, KR, Old Dominion, Freshman of the Year Spencer Brown, RB, UAB, and Newcomers of the Year Teddy Veal, WR, Louisiana Tech and Jalen Guyton, WR, North Texas.

    In addition, C-USA had six (6) individual leaders and three (3) team leaders in national statistical categories last season and each of those individual performers return for the 2018 season. Team leaders included FAU (No. 1 Interceptions-20), UTSA (No. 1 Fewest First Downs Allowed-166) and FIU (No. 1 Red Zone Offense-.976).

    It’s Us Again

    For the first time since the 2011-2012 season, Conference USA Football will feature the same configuration of teams competing for the league championship in consecutive years, each playing eight conference games, along with four non-league contests.

    In Your Face

    Conference USA teams never shy away from playing challenging non-conference competition and this season is no exception. Conference USA will face at least one opponent from each of the nine other FBS conferences in 2018 and a total of 22 games are scheduled against teams that played in a bowl game last season.

    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.

    CHARLOTTE (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 10/3, 53 Lettermen)


    A major benefit of going full-youth is that after taking your lumps, there is generally only one way to go, and that’s up. Spring chickens turn into barnyard roosters and with it an air of hidden confidence is shaped. A young core of sophomores and juniors are now upper classmen. Head coach Brad Lambert, who learned as a 10-year assistant under Jim Grobe, rebuilt lines on both sides of the ball last season while breaking in the pimply faces. As a result, his job is on the line. Thus, two new coordinators will look to revive a potentially strong ground game while better stuffing the run. An imbalanced schedule that finds the 49ers meeting bowlers in 7 of their final 8 games could prove to be the turning point.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Since becoming an FBS school, Charlotte is 1-11 SU and 4-7-1 ATS in its final six games of the season.

    PLAY ON: vs. Florida Int’l (11/17)

    FLORIDA ATLANTIC (Offense – 5/2, Defense – 10/3, 47 Lettermen)


    Ask head coach Lane Kiffin about the trap of living off last season’s success – the best season in school history – and the coach says, “That team is over with. We made sure to understand this is a different team. We’re 0-0. That’s in the history books, a very special season. Just like the preseason rankings mean nothing.” A season-ending 10-game win skein was the catalyst. Having talented RB Devin “Motor” Singletary back is a good starting point. In addition, the defense returns 10 starters. Still, a salty schedule (all 6 road games against bowl squads) and a major bulls-eye on their back means another 11 wins are highly unlikely in 2018. Because, after all, last season is officially in the history books.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Owls are 7-19 SU in one-possession games since Howard Schnellenberger resigned, including 3-9 the L3 seasons.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Middle Tennessee (9/29)

    FIU (Offense – 7/4, Defense – 4/3, 55 Lettermen)


    Butch Davis’ return to south Florida last season was measurably impactful when FIU doubled its win total, and then enjoyed its best recruiting class in school history during the offseason. To put it in a better perspective, SB Nation’s Bill Connelly reported, “UCF went 13-0 and claimed a share of the national title. FAU won 11 games and its first CUSA title. FIU lost by a combined 113-41 to those in-state rivals… and then out-recruited both of them.” Granted, the Golden Panthers weren’t as good as their 8-5 record suggests since they allowed more YPG than they actually gained. They also benefited mightily by returning 85% of the production on both sides of the ball last season. Let’s see if the recruiting effort offsets a natural letdown.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: FIU is 12-1 SU and 10-3 ATS versus sub .333 conference foes without Ron Turner since 2010.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Old Dominion (9/8)

    LOUISIANA TECH (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 7/3, 52 Lettermen)


    The hard-luck Bulldogs suffered three 1-point losses in 2017, and dipped to 7-6 after consecutive nine-win seasons, costing the Bulldogs a third division title in four years in the process. A 3-0 SUATS win skein left them playing their best ball of the season following a 41-point win over SMU in the Frisco Bowl. Meanwhile, Skip Holtz returns a good portion of last year’s nucleus (#30 nationally in returning production), including QB J’Mar Smith (143.5 passer rating away from home), four if its top five WRs, two all-CUSA OL, and the best player in the loop on defense in DL Jaylon Ferguson. Best of all, Holtz inked a whopping 16 three-star recruits this offseason. With Holtz in his sixth year with the program, the pieces are in place for a return to 9-win territory.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Holtz is 44-23-1 ATS as a dog in his career, including 20-2-1 ATS when coming off an ATS win of more than 8 points.

    PLAY ON: at Florida Atlantic (10/27)

    MARSHALL (Offense – 9/5, Defense – 9/4, 52 Lettermen)


    Roll back the clock. The only Group of 5 program to record a third straight 10-win season in 2015, the Herd went from a thundering 33 wins in three seasons to a blundering 3 victories in 2016. Strangely, Marshall committed only 16 turnovers in 2016, the fewest for the program since it entered FBS waters in 1997. Shell-shocked, the Herd stormed back with 8 wins last season, including three losses during the final month of the campaign by a combined total of just 8 points. The challenge this season will be replacing QB Chase Litton (declared for the NFL draft, with Alex Thomson the likely successor) and both coordinators. Fortunately 9 starters are back from a defense that improved 113 YPG in 2017. That should make the Herd relevant again.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Marshall is 8-0-1 ATS at home with revenge against greater than .800 opponents.

    PLAY ON: at Florida International (11/24) - *KEY

    MIDDLE TENNESSEE (Offense – *8/3, Defense – 8/3, 47 Lettermen)


    Let’s tell it like it is. Injuries wrecked any chance at improvement last season when both starting quarterback Brent Stockstill and star WR Richie James missed at least half of the season (the Raiders were 5-2 with Brent and 2-4 without him). QB Stockstill returns while James bypassed his final year of eligibility for the NFL Draft. Still, behind a deep squad, MTSU rates a solid chance to win the CUSA as the Blue Raiders return every running back and their top three wide receivers (other than James), along with two all-conference linemen on offense. Plus, six of the top seven defensive linemen, as well as three of four linebackers and five of eight defensive backs, are also back. Despite three road games at SEC schools that won 25 games last season, we’re on the Stockstills like Ozzie on Harriet.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: MTSU has been bowl eligible nine times in 12 years under HC Rick Stockstill, competing in seven bowl games.

    PLAY ON: at Vanderbilt (9/1) – KEY as a dog

    NORTH TEXAS (Offense – *9/4, Defense – 8/2, 44 Lettermen)


    After inheriting a 1-11 team, head coach Seth Littrell has won 14 games and a division title in his first two years in Denton. How much of an improvement did the Mean Green make in 2017? Consider: after having gone 2-17 SU and 4-15 ATS away the previous three years, outyarded by 175 YPG, they proceeded to go 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS while being outgained by only 29 YPG in road games last season. It’s what happens when you possess a Top 25 ranked offense. Those numbers are likely to ascend in 2018 behind JR QB Mason Fine (4,052 yards, 31 TDs last season), who has his top three WRs back, including walk-on Michael Lawrence – a likely NFL slot receiver – while being tutored by OC Graham Harrell, the ex-Texas Tech quarterback.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Mean Green are 36-6 ATS in games in which they score 32 or more points.


    OLD DOMINION (Offense – *9/4, Defense – 7/3, 46 Lettermen)


    After their FCS debut in 2009, the Monarchs have suffered highs (10-win season in 2016) and lows. Through a series of injuries and inexperience, last year was taking on the appearance of the Titanic until a 3-1 finish literally salvaged the ship. Seventeen year-old true freshman QB Steven Williams stepped in and saved the day (71% completions in his last 3 starts with a 146.2 passer rating). He’s back, along with five OL with at least 10 career starts. In addition, four of last year’s five leading WRs, and leading RB Jeremy Cox (2,115 career yards) combine to form an offensive assault that promises to more than make up for last year’s 102-yard slippage. We’re putting the danger warning on Old Dominion. Beware.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Old Dominion has sold out all 60 home games in school history and has a 44-16 SU record in those games.

    PLAY ON: at Western Kentucky (10/20)

    RICE (Offense – *6/2, Defense – 5/2, 46 Lettermen)


    Following four straight years of regression, the David Bailiff regime at Rice is finally over. Somehow through it all, Bailiff recorded the 2nd most wins in school history. Replacing him is Mike Bloomgren, a former OC at Stanford. He’ll turn the keys over to SO QB Miklo Smalls, who stepped in late last season when the Owls offense improved from 13.1 PPG over their first eight games to 22.5 over the last four. New DC Brian Smith, a former Michigan DBs coach, must patch a defense that has allowed more then 36 PPG the last three seasons. It starts with a rush unit that has coughed up 200 rushing YPG at 5.2 yards per rush clip. A new voyage is about to begin.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Rice is 30-9-3 ATS as a conference home dog, including 16-1-2 ATS when taking less than 7 points.

    PLAY ON: vs. UAB (10/13) - *KEY as a dog

    SOUTHERN MISS (Offense – *5/3, Defense – 4/2, 42 Lettermen)


    Last year we called for an uptick in the Golden Eagles program and they delivered the goods, improving their production both straight up and against the spread. The problem now, though, is the “Smith Barney” syndrome. Simply put, they didn’t ‘earn it’ as their overall stats declined on both sides of the ball. Compounding the issue, Jay Hopson was forced to go the JUCO route and will hope three-star transfer QB Jack Abraham beats out incumbent Kwadra Griggs. USM will lean heavily on a trio of returning WRs, including Korey Robertson, who had a breakout season in 2017 with 76 receptions, 1,106 yards and 12 TDS. Still, when reconstructed teams look to rely on JUCOs, the results seldom meet expectations.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Golden Eagles’ seniors started 59.4% of their games last season, the 3rd most in the nation.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Marshall (11/3)

    UAB (Offense – *10/4, Defense – 7/2, 55 Lettermen)


    After closing the football program down for blasphemous reasons in 2015 and 2016, the Blazers re-emerged in a statement-making way last season. After going 6-0 at home, 6-2 in CUSA and fielding a 41st-ranked defense – and going bowling for only the second time in school history – it meant little losing 41-6 to Ohio U in the Bahamas Bowl. UAB was back and was indeed the feel-good story in college football last season (sorry, UCF, but you’ll need to get in line). The better news is the offense returns literally everyone and the defense is stacked. The bad news is a huge contingent of seniors will be gone after this season. Rest assured, Bill Clark’s troops will savor every moment, especially going up against the 2nd easiest schedule of all FBS schools in 2018 with foes going 57-91 (.385) last season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Blazers are 7-1 ATS under Clark when facing an opponent coming off a win, including 5-0 ATS when UAB is coming off a loss.

    PLAY AGAINST: 11/3 vs. UTSA

    UTEP (Offense – *5/0, Defense – 6/2, 50 Lettermen)


    New Miners’ head coach Dana Dimel has been tasked with reviving arguably the worst program in the FBS, one whose offense gained a mere 230.5 yards and 11.8 points per game in 2017 – dead last. And if that isn’t bad enough, the UTEP defense allowed 446.6 yards and 36.8 points per contest. Egad. A 30-year veteran Dimel, is a former Kansas State assistant under Bill Snyder, as well as a former head coach at Houston and Wyoming. That Dimel, just 4-17 ATS as a conference favorite, hired 33-year veteran Mike Canales as his OC speaks volumes as Canales’ North Texas teams as OC under Dan McCarney finished No. 122 in offense in both 2014 and 2015. And this offense is worse. Meanwhile, 30-year veteran Mike Cox will run the defense.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Miners are 9-65-1 SU and 16-54-3 ATS in the last 75 games in which they have been outgained in the stats.


    UTSA (Offense – 4/2, Defense – 6/3, 38 Lettermen)


    It’s safe to say that UTSA will take the field with a massive chip on its shoulder. Not only did they measurably improve their numbers on both sides of the ball while leading all FBS teams in First Down Defense, they also finished No. 2 in fewest Passing Yards Allowed. In the process, they outgained 8 of their 11 opponents and finished with a winning record – only to peculiarly be shut out of a bowl invite. Faced with numerous personnel and coaching changes, they will need to heavily rely on that massive chip we alluded to. Leaving no stone unturned, our guess is the rebuilding Roadrunners may likely be referred to as the Slate Rock and Gravel Company this season. Yabba dabba doo.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Roadrunners are 2-19 ATS in SU conference losses.

    PLAY ON: at Southern Miss (10/20)

    WESTERN KENTUCKY (Offense – 4/2, Defense – 7/2, 55 Lettermen)


    Talk about a bummer. When WKU hired former assistant Mike Sanford as its new head coach last year, they were fully expecting to win the CUSA for a third straight season. After all Sanford, one of college football brightest offensive minds, returned SR QB Mike White from the nation’s top scoring offense. What he didn’t count on was the total disappearance of a rushing game that was MIA on both sides of the ball all season. The Hilltoppers’ dead-last ranked rush offense declined 124 YPG while its rush defense deteriorated 73 YPG. That’s a combined total of 197-degenerated rushing yards. As a result, they fell from 23-5 to 6-7 and recorded their first losing season since 2010. With White gone, Sanford is burning the midnight oil as you read this hoping his replacement – FR QB Kevaris Thomas – lives up to his billing.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: WKU has gone OVER its season win total five of the last six years.

    PLAY ON: at Florida Atlantic (11/10) *KEY as a dog
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    MAC Preview
    Marc Lawrence

    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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.


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


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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.


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


    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)


    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)


    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.....

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    No. 1 Alabama tops preseason Top 25
    August 20, 2018

    Alabama will begin its quest for a second consecutive national championship with a rare three-peat.

    The Crimson Tide is just the second team to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll for three straight seasons. Alabama received 42 out of 61 first-place votes.

    No. 2 Clemson received 18 first-place votes. Georgia is No. 3 and Wisconsin is fourth. The Badgers received one first-place vote. Ohio State was ranked No. 5.

    The preseason AP poll started in 1950 and since then only Oklahoma from 1985-87 had started No. 1 in three straight years until now.

    Ring up another milestone for coach Nick Saban's Tide dynasty. Alabama has won five national championships since 2009 and now has been No. 1 to start the season five times under Saban. Last season was the first time Saban's team started and finished the season No. 1.

    The Tide enter this season with a question at quarterback, but there appears to be two good answers from which Saban has to choose: Tua Tagovailoa won the College Football Playoff championship game for Alabama with a second-half comeback and overtime touchdown pass. Jalen Hurts has led the Tide to the national title game in each of his two seasons as a starter.

    Whoever is quarterback, Alabama's offense should be potent with running back Damien Harris working behind a powerful line anchored by tackle Jonah Williams.

    The Tide's always tough defense will have all new starters in the secondary, but defensive end Raekwon Davis and linebackers Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses are primed to be Alabama's next All-Americans.

    The machine never stops in Tuscaloosa. One again, everybody is chasing Alabama.

    NO. 1 AT BEING NO. 1

    The AP poll began in 1936 and Alabama is approaching the top of a very storied list:

    Ohio State - 105 weeks at No. 1

    Alabama - 104

    Oklahoma - 101

    Notre Dame - 98

    Southern California - 91

    Florida State - 72

    Nebraska - 70


    This is Alabama's seventh time overall being a preseason No. 1, matching USC for fourth most.

    Oklahoma - 10 preseason No. 1 rankings

    Ohio State - 8

    Alabama - 7

    USC - 7

    Florida State 6

    Nebraska - 6


    Central Florida was the only team in the country to go undefeated last season and - you might have heard - the school decided to declare the Knights national champions because why not? This is college football and nobody is really in charge.

    UCF is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time to the start the season, coming in 21st in the preseason poll. The Knights are the highest-ranked team not in a Power Five conference, one spot ahead of Boise State from the Mountain West. If that ranking after going unbeaten seems unusually low, it is but it is not unprecedented. In the CFP/BCS era (1998-present), 19 teams have had unbeaten seasons. Three of those teams - 1998 Tulane, 1999 Marshall, 2004 Utah - were unranked in the preseason poll the next season. Not surprisingly, all those teams played outside of what were then called BCS automatic qualifying conferences. Five other teams were ranked outside the top 10, including three from outside BCS-auto bid leagues. Boise State in 2007 was No. 24 in the preseason. Utah in 2009 started 19th. TCU began 2011 at No. 14.

    The only so-called power conference team to go unbeaten in the BCS/CFP era and be ranked similarly low the next season was Auburn - twice. After going 13-0 in 2004, the Tigers started 2005 ranked 16th. After Cam Newton led Auburn to the 2010 national title, the Newton-less Tigers were ranked No. 23 to begin 2011.


    Urban Meyer's uncertain status as Ohio State coach cost the Buckeyes some points in the AP poll, and probably at least one rankings spot.

    The AP asked voters whether Meyer being on administrative leave as Ohio State investigates what he knew about domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach influenced how they voted in the preseason poll. Thirteen voters responded saying the uncertainty caused them to move Ohio State down.

    ''It's hard not to bump Ohio State down a tick,'' said Andy Greder of the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press. ''It's an undoubted distraction. I feel like going through fall camp without your head coach only adds to it. I gave Wisconsin a corresponding slight bump up.''

    Ohio State had 1,256 points, 15 behind Wisconsin (1,271). No. 3 Georgia had 1,350 points.

    The deadline for voters to submit preseason ballots was Aug. 13. The AP allowed voters to adjust their votes if any major news happened in college football from the deadline until Aug. 15 at noon ET.


    - No. 2 Clemson matched its best preseason ranking. The Tigers were No. 2 in 2016 and went on to win the national championship.

    - No. 4 Wisconsin has its best preseason ranking since 2000, when it was also No. 4. The Badgers also had one first-place vote that year.

    - No. 5 Ohio State is making it 30th straight appearance in the preseason rankings (1989-2018). Only Penn State (34) and Nebraska (33) have had longer streaks.

    - No. 6 Washington has its best preseason ranking since 1997, when the Huskies were No. 4.

    - No. 8 Miami has its best preseason ranking since being No. 6 to start the 2004 season.

    - No. 18 Mississippi State has its best preseason ranking since 1981, when the Bulldogs were No. 14.


    Big Ten - 5 (all top 15)

    SEC - 5 (3 top 10)

    ACC - 4

    Big 12 - 4

    Pac-12 - 4

    American - 1

    Mountain West - 1

    Independent - 1
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    Mountain West - Best Bets
    August 22, 2018
    By Bookmaker

    The Boise State Broncos have been the class of the Mountain West Conference of late and that spot is not expected to be relinquished in 2018. Boise State boasts the most complete roster in the conference and will be favored to capture another championship.

    While the Broncos aren’t quite at the level they used to be in their best years, this is still a mighty fine team and one that should put together another impressive season. Quarterback Brett Rypien returns to lead the offense, and it could be an explosive group. The defense is anchored by star pass-rusher Curtis Weaver, who will aim to harass opposing quarterbacks all season.

    There is a second tier of contending hopefuls looking up at Boise State. The San Diego State Aztecs, the Fresno State Bulldogs and the Utah State Aggies are the teams most likely to push them in the Mountain West.

    San Diego State has two conference titles in the past three years but has a decent amount of replenishing to do. The Aztecs lost star running back Rashaad Penny to the NFL and might take a step back, but still has the second-best odds to win the conference.

    Fresno State and Utah State could in the mix but will need plenty of things to go their way. Wyoming is probably the only other team that has a realistic shot at winning the conference, but it has to replace first-round pick Josh Allen, who was the team’s standout quarterback the past few years.

    Boise State doesn’t have overwhelming odds to win the conference, but it’s hard to peg which contender will be able to knock off the Broncos if that does indeed happen in college football gambling.

    Odds To Win The Mountain West - per
    Boise State -150
    San Diego +483
    Fresno State +651
    Utah State +669
    Wyoming +1175
    UNLV +3079
    Colorado State +4000
    Air Force +4500
    Hawaii +15000
    Nevada +1874
    New Mexico +10000
    San Jose State +50000

    Odds Analysis

    Boise State is the heavy favorite but it is hard arguing with these odds. Rypien is a fantastic quarterback and could put up some big numbers in 2018. The defense loses Leighton Vander Esch but there is so much talent that this team should be dynamic on that side of the ball as well. The Broncos have plenty of top-tier talent but what really stands out is the team’s lack of weakness. As long as Rypien stays healthy it’s hard to imagine this team losing more than once in the conference season.

    San Diego State is the type of plucky team that can make life miserable when it is the underdog and pull off some upsets. It would not be a shock if the Aztecs get things together by the time conference play rolls around and put a scare into Boise State. San Diego State will look to dominate in the rushing game once again as Juwan Washington will take over as the next in a long line of talented running backs.

    Fresno State put together a huge turnaround in 2017 and brings back many key pieces, including quarterback Marcus McMaryion and some impressive wide receiving weapons. The Bulldogs have to prove they can sustain the success, but at these odds they are the best play among the contenders to Boise State’s throne.

    Utah State went from three wins to six the past two years and now brings back a lot of starters on both sides of the ball. The Aggies need quarterback Jordan Love to continue developing and if he does so this looks like the second best team in the Mountain Division behind Boise State.

    Wyoming couldn’t win the conference a year ago with Allen and it seems unlikely the Cowboys put a serious charge in 2018. While Fresno State and San Diego State are worthy foes, it will be Boise State winning the Mountain West Conference once again in college football betting lines.

    Mountain West Championship Odds Pick: Boise State Broncos
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....



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