By: Denery Noone, Scott Brock-Wilson, and Justin Lynch
Denery, Scott, and Lynch share their best bets for the upcoming college football season.
(Note: All Lines from Bovada.com)
Missouri: over 8 (+110)
Mizzouri always seems to find a way to win the SEC East, but that will change this year. However, their success will not. Since they’ve been in the SEC, they have gone 5-7, 12-2, and 11-3. The last two seasons have been very impressive, because even after they won the East in 2013, no one expected them to repeat. This shows the tremendous success Gary Pinkel has had so far even when people were expecting Missouri to have to take time to adjust to the SEC.
This year, they have Maty Mauk returning as starting QB. Mauk struggled mightily last year near the beginning against South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, but people forget that he had two of his WR’s out for those games versus top opponents. Mauk came back in both the Arkansas and Tennessee games to have some clutch performances. They graduated some key WR’s, star defensive end Shane Ray, and their starting LT from last season, but they never have too high of expectations and they always exceed them under Pinkel.
Now this line will come down to the Arkansas and Tennessee games once again as they are the last two games of the season. It is a good bet at +110, so bet on Pinkel.
Arkansas: over 8 (-130)
Arkansas looks to keep the momentum rolling from the end of last season where they shutout LSU and Ole Miss in back-to-back games, dropped a tight game at Mizzou, and proceeded to beat Texas 31-7 in the AdvoCare Texas Bowl (whatever that is). They return RB Alex Collins who looks to complete his third straight 1,000 yard season and QB Brandon Allen who recorded a 129.2 passer rating last season on about 56% completion.
The main reason I lean towards the over for the Razorbacks is the weakness of the out of conference schedule. Out of conference opponents include UTEP, Toledo, Texas Tech, and UT-Martin. They should be able to breeze through those teams as well as Texas A&M, who they face in the fourth matchup. Their toughest game will be at Alabama, and that is not a game I expect them to win. However, they get Auburn at home after a bye week, and finish with home games against Mississippi St. and Mizzou. They should be able to grab two of those three (likely loss vs. Auburn). Their three make-or-break games will be at Tennessee, at Ole Miss, and at LSU. They beat up on Ole Miss and LSU last year and will definitely compete in all three of those games. I see them grabbing two of those three and getting to nine wins.
Nebraska: under 8 (+120)
The loss of Amir Abdullah will be a huge blow to a team that relied on the speedy back for over 1800 yards from scrimmage and 22 touchdowns last year. The Cornhuskers are also losing top wideout Kenny Bell. They do, however, return Tommy Armstrong at quarterback, and he hopes to improve on a year that saw him throw for 22 TD’s and 12 picks.
The defense is also a concern. They gave up 35+ points in three of their final four games last season. They will also be slim in the front seven and young in the secondary. That combination might be the worst possible combo for a team to have. The lack of depth up front will be especially bad considering a key cog, Michael Rose-Ivey, is returning from a serious knee injury, and you can never be sure he won't re-injure it. When your top players are coming off of injury and you don’t have guys behind him that can be effective, you’re in trouble. Not to mention the fact that young secondaries tend to have a real tough time, especially early in the season.
I see Nebraska being shaky, but prevailing versus BYU in the opener, before rolling South Alabama. However, they are likely to drop at least three of five from there when they face Miami, Southern Miss, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, with that Illinois game being a major trap game. Northwestern is another trap game that I see them dropping. They can handle business at Purdue, but then face-off with Michigan State, Rutgers, and Iowa to close the season. Rutgers is the only game of those three I see them winning, putting Nebraska at the 6-7 win range.
Mississippi State: Over 7 Wins (-140)
If you listened to the most recent addition of the Big Three Podcast, I had Mississippi St. being one of the top four teams in college football when the season ends, and getting into the playoff. The Bulldogs are lead by Dan Mullen, who has been at the helm since the beginning of the 2009 season. Mullen is already third in school history in total wins with 46, and he lead the team to their second ten win season in school history. They are also returning quarterback Dak Prescott, who was unbelievable last season with 3,449 yards and 27 touchdowns passing, and had 986 yards rushing with 14 rushing touchdowns. Their defense will be very solid again, but they will have a difficult road playing in the SEC West. Their toughest matchups will be home against LSU, at Auburn, home against Alabama, and home against Ole Miss. If they can get by those teams, expect big things from them. I would suggest that everyone pounds this over.
Will two teams from the same conference make the 4-team playoff: yes (+300)
Put it this way. If we call Ohio State, the SEC winner, and TCU as locks for the playoff, the rest of the teams fighting for that spot will likely be USC, Oregon, Baylor, Michigan State, Auburn, Georgia, and Florida State. If Auburn, Georgia, Michigan State, or Baylor get the final spot, you win. Oregon lost its best player, Florida State’s Everett Golson has serious turnover issues, and USC has underperformed since they’ve gotten off probation. At +300, I like the odds.
Total Passing Touchdowns for Trevone Boykin: Over 30.5 (-120)
He’s a Heisman favorite and should only improve on last season. He threw for 33 touchdowns last season and returns his three top receivers. Boykin is really, really good, and he’s only gotten better with each season. If TCU wants to compete for the national title, Boykin will have to have a huge year, and 31 passing touchdowns seems more than likely. And, besides, do you really want to bet against this...