Vegas released the win total over/unders for each college football team awhile back, but as the start of the season approaches, here are a few predictions.
These totals are for regular season win totals.
Virginia Tech: 9 – UNDER
The Hokies had a solid start to the Justin Fuente era in Blacksburg, but this year’s schedule is more challenging. Losses to West Virginia, Clemson, Miami, and Georgia Tech will prevent Va Tech from getting to nine wins.
Kansas State: 8 – OVER
Everyone has been riding the Oklahoma State “Dark Horse” bandwagon (which disqualifies them from being a dark horse, but I digress), but I think the playoff dark horse in the Big XII resides in Manhattan. Jesse Ertz returns at starting quarterback for the Wildcats as well as seven other offensive starters.
Ertz is a sneaky contender for the Heisman and you are a fool if you bet against Bill Snyder. The schedule is fairly friendly with the three keys games being two road contests at Texas and Oklahoma State and a home contest vs. Oklahoma
North Carolina State: 7.5 – OVER
N.C. State boasts one of the best defensive lines in the country and will be a handful for any opposing offensive line. Offensively, the Wolfpack return Ryan Finley who is more than capable behind center. The biggest question mark for the Pack is their coach Dave Doeren, who did not have a win over a team that finished the regular season with a winning record in his tenure in Raleigh until late last year.
The schedule is also a problem as N.C. State faces the likes of South Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Louisville. They have the talent to compete for a conference championship, but the schedule will keep them from seriously contending. The Wolfpack will win at least eight games, but will come up short in the ACC race.
Wisconsin: 9.5 – OVER
Please don’t misconstrue this as an endorsement for Wisconsin as an elite team, it is simply an indication of what a joke their schedule is. The Badgers will be favored in every game they play and will not face a ranked opponent until Michigan comes to town in late November. Wisconsin will be Iowa 2015 2.0 and get their doors blown off whenever they play a legitimate team in a bowl game.
Purdue: 2.5 – OVER
Jeff Brohm was one of the best hires of the offseason and although the Boilermakers will not make a bowl game, they will surprise some people and there will noticeable improvements in West Lafayette. Expect Purdue to give Louisville a scare this weekend and to tally some wins against the bottom of the Big Ten to easily win more than three games. The Boilers have some challenging road games to keep them from getting to a bowl, but it is a program headed in the right direction.
Texas: 7.5 – OVER
Charlie Strong was not a fit at Texas, but he has not left the cupboard bare for incoming coach Tom Herman. Texas is still Texas and Herman will help the Longhorns realize their potential. Early predictions have Oklahoma and Oklahoma State battling out for the Big XII crown, but UT plays Oklahoma at a neutral site as always and hosts the Cowboys. Expect the Longhorns to win at least nine games and contend for a conference championship.
Texas Tech: 5.5 – UNDER
Unfortunately for the girls out there (my wife included), this will be the last year of Coach Handsome in Lubbock. The Red Raiders defense is simply too much of a liability and although that has been apart of the identity of the program for nearly 20 years, the high-powered offenses in the Big XII will be too much to contend with. A 5-7 record will spell the end of Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech.
Stanford: 8.5 – OVER
Although the Cardinal lost their best playmaker in Christian McCaffrey, there is still plenty of talent on the farm. The Cardinal dominated Rice Saturday and Stanford didn’t miss a beat with McCaffrey’s replacement, Bryce Love. The Cardinal have a tough schedule, but they have the talent and coaching to get to nine wins. The Cardinal play USC in their second game and if they are able to defeat the Trojans, they will establish themselves as the favorite to win the PAC 12 and a legitimate contender for the National Championship.
USC: 9.5 – UNDER
This has the feel of the 2012 Trojans. That edition of USC had a star quarterback (Matt Barkley) that many pundits pegged as the Heisman favorite and No. 1 pick in the draft. The 2012 Trojans came into the season as the preseason No.1 and although this year’s team is at No. 4, the preseason hype is comparable.
USC may have the best pro prospect behind center, but they do not have the best college quarterback. The Trojans lost a ton of talented playmakers on the outside and have to rebuild their offensive line, which is why I see USC losing two of their first three games (Stanford and Texas) and falling out of the National Championship conversation early.
South Florida: 10 – OVER
For as bad of a fit as Texas was for Charlie Strong, returning to his Florida roots is a match made in heaven. Willie Taggert left a lot of talent in Tampa before he bolted to Oregon and Strong inherits one of the most dynamic playmakers in all of college football.
The Bulls started out a little slow vs. San Jose State on Saturday, but managed to wake up in time to put the Spartans away comfortable.
Quinton Flowers will supplant Lamar Jackson has the best dual threat quarterback in the nation and will lead USF to an undefeated season. The schedule sets up nicely for the Bulls. Most of their tougher games (Illinois, Houston, Cincinnati) come at home and they are by far the most talented team in the AAC. The one stumbling block I could see is in USF’s last game on the road vs. an up-and-coming UCF team.
Notre Dame: 7.5 – OVER
It could just be the preseason optimism talking, but this team has the talent to win at least nine games. The fact is, they were an 8-4/9-3 team last season, but they were coached down to a 4-8 level. Early season success will be critical for the Irish. If ND can build confidence in September, especially with a win over Georgia, they will be well on their way to redeeming the 2016 season.
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