2016 College Football Season Wins Wagers: Best of the Rest
Now that 5Dimes has numbers up for every FBS team at -110 juice, it's the perfect time to see which lines still have value and are worth putting a chunk down on. For tracking purposes I'm going with just a 1/2 unit flat for each play.
To recap, in write ups I've so far recommended plays on Toledo Over 6.5 ***Winner*** (now 7.5 +120, still enough value for a 1/2 unit play), Navy Over 6.5 ***Winner*** (7 at +130 just slightly worse), SDSU Over 8.5 ***Winner***(at 9 -155 juiced to the Over of far less value now, would probably pass), and Washington State Under 7.5 ***Loser***.
Air Force Over 8.5 (-125). ***Winner*** 8s were available at South Point earlier this summer, but we'll stick with the 5Dimes lines, even though it's much worse here. As long as Air Force's offensive line and QB play doesn't regress too much this season (up to 15-20% less in the passing game projections and 7-10% worse in the run projections are acceptable regressions for my projections) Air Force has a chance to run the table this season. Their defense was underrated last year, and returns almost 83% of its' tackles. The only toss up games for them I see are @USU, vs. Navy and vs. Boise. Games vs. UNM, @Army and @SJSU won't be gimmies, but I like AFA to win them by about a touchdown.
Appalachian State Over 8.5 (-110). ***Winner*** The Mountaineers will start the season off with a loss at Tennessee, but then has a chance to scoop up a win in every remaining game. Vs. Miami and @Georgia Southern will be their two biggest tests, and if they drop those the buffer is gone. Fortunately I have APP favored by more than a touchdown in every other game on their schedule, so as long as they don't trip up @Akron or @Troy it should be good. APP loses about 1/2 of their receiving yards and a couple of key lineman, but even with some regression they should hit the 9 wins. Defensively they return 78.5% of their tackles.
Army Over 5 (-130). ***Winner*** With two FCS games, a home game against Rice and a game @ UNT I really like Army's win floor at 4 games, meaning they just have to grab one more to push the 5. Games @ UTEP, vs. Buffalo vs. AFA are their best candidates for another win. This is Army's most veteran squad in several years, so the time is right for them to start winning some of the close games, instead of losing them all, lol. *Losing both their punter and kicker is not good, but I've factored that into the projections.
Cincinnati Under 7.5 (-130). ***Winner*** CIN had a down year by HC Tuberville's standards, and I don't project much of a rebound this year. Their rush defense was 123rd last year. They do return a high 80.6% of their tackles, including some freshmen who saw a decent amount of playing time last year, so I do expect some improvement against the run. Offensively losing QB Kiel to injury for some games last year was detrimental to the team, in spite of QB Moore's record setting first game when thrust into action. The problem this year is that CIN only returns 16% of their receiving yards, their top running back, and both their starting tackles. Cincinnati should be competitive in all of their games, but I project them to go 3-4 in games decided by less than a touchdown and just a 5-7 record overall. I know I project Cincinnati to finish lower in the conference than just about everyone else, so their record at the end of the year will be one of the ones I'm most interested in.
Florida International Under 5.5 (-140). ***Winner*** The Under has been hammered really hard but there's still some value here. FIU was pretty bad last year and I've given them some small improvement bumps across the board. Still, it should be a rough year. They don't have a single lock game on their schedule, in no small part because they don't have an FCS opponent scheduled this season. I do project them to win 3 games vs. FAU, @UTEP and @CHAR. UTEP is projected to make a bigger bounce back than I'm giving them credit for, and if that's the case, that toss up game will instead be a 3-4 point loss on average. FIU does have some closely scheduled losses that I project, @ MASS (virtual coin flip) and vs UCF being the most winnable, and games vs. Louisiana Tech and @Old Dominion should be kept within a score. FIU will have to win pretty much all of their close games for the bet to lose, though, so for a second straight year I like FIU to go Under on the season wins.
Fresno State Under 4 (EV). ***Winner*** Fresno was a horror show at QB last year, a long bloody string of injuries and suspensions. You have to expect at least some kind of consistency from the position this year, if in jersey number only. As such, I've given them a 15% bump to passing projections. Other than that I'm not optimistic for their improving as they lose both starting tackles and center, workhouse RB Marteze Waller (55% of Fresno's rush yards), while returning a below average 58.2% of their defensive tackles. Fresno should get an FCS win and a probable home win late in the season against Hawaii, but that might just be it. Of the remaining games, I only project them to be less than a touchdown dog in one of them, in the final week at home against San Jose State.
Iowa State Over 3.5 (-135). ***Loser*** Matt Campbell takes over as HC and inherits a pretty veteran squad whose only real issue is implementing a new starting offensive line. Rushing the ball was ISU's strength last year -- it will be interesting to see how they rank at year's end. ISU opens with a home game against FCS Northern Iowa in which they are just 7 point favorites, a smaller number than what I like them at against both San Jose State and Kansas. That should be three wins there, though they're not prohibitive favorites in any game this year. I put ISU's win ceiling at 6 games, as I think the only other winnable games on their schedule are vs. Kansas State (a 2 point win), @Texas Tech (a 1 point loss), and versus West Virginia (a 6 point loss). It would be cool to see the Cyclones pull off a bigger upset against one of the top half conference teams. I'm not banking on it for the play, but it would obviously be some great insurance.
Marshall Under 8.5 (+105). ***Winner*** Marshall posted a 9-3 record last year, which was a disappointment for them considering their recent successes, yet they probably weren't even as good as that 9-3 record would indicate. While defensively they were still a pretty good team (2nd in the CUSA by my rankings, just two spots behind Louisiana Tech at 71st), their offense completely fell apart without QB Cato to lead them. They finally settled on freshman QB Litton, and with him they started to put up decent passing numbers. RB Johnson was hampered with injury for much of the year, and they really missed him. Johnson averaged 1.2 ypc more than anyone else on the team. Now he is gone, as well as another starting back, Remi Watson. The top two wide receivers, Davonte Allen and Deandre Reaves are gone as well. The good news for the Marshall offense, other than some returning experience at QB is a more mature offensive line. Defensively Marshall returns a below average 55.8% of their tackles. Marshall should lose vs. Louisville and @PITT, especially with those games being early in the season. Now they have only one more loss to give to still go Over 8.5. I project them to lose at Southern Miss., and to lose a squeaker at home against Western Kentucky in the final game. If they end up splitting those games, they still have toughish games at Old Dominion, Middle Tennessee and Florida International. ODU and MTU will be tougher outs than they were last year.
Nevada Under 6.5 wins (+110). ***Winner*** I swear that earlier today when this line came out the juice on 7 wins was -160 on the Over and +120 on the Under! lol. Baited and hammered, it would seem. Nevada's offense will probably be a little bit better this year, but their already so-so defense stands to be much weaker up front, where they already struggled against the run. Outside of a game @Notre Dame, Nevada's schedule isn't overly tough. They get SDSU and USU at home, though I project them to lose both. Home games against Fresno and Wyoming should be wins. An FCS opener and a week #3 game versus Buffalo should be a couple more wins. Heck, I even think they'll pull off a squeaker at UNLV to close the season, as well as a tough roadie @ Hawaii. That's 6 wins, so I'm not working with a very large margin here, lol, but I still prefer the +110 on the Under 6.5 to the -155 on the Under 7, though 7 of course is the safer number at the stiffer price. Because I project a fair number of relatively close games, though, Nevada's win total is not necessarily focused on that 5-7 range where it's worth it to take the 7.
Purdue Under 4.5 wins (-110). ***Winner*** Purdue has a brutal conference schedule this year, in that they play their strongest opponents at home, and their weaker (but still better than Purdue) opponents on the road. As such, I don't project Purdue to win any conference games, and in fact have them dogs betweeen 10.2 and 15.3 in 6 of those 9 games (plus 19 point dogs @NEB and 8 and 9 points dogs @MD and @ILL). Week #2 features what should be a close game versus Cincinnati, which is kinda' handy with Under bets on both teams. If Purdue has a saving grace this season, it's that they return a lot of production, well above average on both sides of the ball. Considering their poor play last year, though...
Rice Under 5.5 wins (+120). ***Winner*** Rice was garbage last year. The only category they didn't finish worse than 100th in was pass offense, at 94th, and now QB Jackson is gone, with no great prospects behind. Rice also returns a lot of their defense, but it was a really bad defense, including having the worst pass defense in the FBS, by my rankings. If Rice somehow finds answers out of nowhere this year, I have their win ceiling set at 6 games, and their floor at 1 with an FCS game. I project Rice to go 4-1 in games decided by less than a touchdown, and that still only puts them at 5 wins. They will have to win literally every winnable game for the Under 5.5 to lose.
Louisiana Lafayette Under 6.5 wins (-110). ***Winner*** ULL struggled to a 4-8 finish last year, and they didn't really deserve to be any better than that, ending up with my 8th worst ranked pass offense and 13th worst ranked pass defense. They were better in the trenches, but their offensive line gets younger, though it looks like center Eddie Gordon was granted an extra year or eligibility, which will help. Their offensive hopes will once again be pinned to RB Elijah McGuire. While I think they'll be about the same offensively, defensively I think ULL will improve. I've given them 8% projection bumps for both run and pass defense. ULL's problem this season will be that they'll be bumping up against a win ceiling that I've set for them 7 games. Games against Boise, App. State, @Georgia Southern, @Georgia and vs Arkansas State all project at double digit + losses. Their only sure win is the week #2 FCS opponent game. The fact of the matter is that I do project them to win all 6 of their remaining games, which would make this a losing bet, lol. But the other fact of the matter is that they only have to lose one of those games in which they project to be less than 10 point favorites in every one for the bet to win. Value, baby.
Southern Miss Over 8 wins (-145). ***Loser*** I don't like the extra juice, but USM should be freerolling on 8 wins unless somehow the team performs notably worse with new head coach Jay Hopson. I like QB Mullens a lot and figure even at worse case he gives them a chance to win every conference game. Defensively they should be about where they were last year, which is much better than the average C-USA team. They'll lose at LSU, and slightly more than likely at Kentucky to open the season, but after that their toughest game will be at home against Marshall.
Washington over 9 wins (-130). ***Winner*** I project Washington to run the table, and only have them listed as less than 10 point favorites in 4 games, against Stanford, @ Oregon, @ Utah and vs. USC. I don't think they'll lose all 4.