For the most part the top of the 2012 pre-season college
football rankings will read like a list of the usual suspects. LSU, USC,
Alabama, Oklahoma etc. But what many college football bettors want to know is
who the sleeper teams will be.
What teams might play, for at least a while, below the radar
of the oddsmakers and the betting public. Where college football bettors can find value, where
others might not see it.
So to further that effort here's a half-dozen teams that,
when all is said and done and wagered upon, we might look back and say “yep,
they were a nice sleeper” when this upcoming season is over. In no particular
Coach Snyder's boys
Kansas State gets 15 starters back, eight on defense, from a
team that finished a surprising second in the Big 12 last year before losing to
Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Most importantly quarterback Collin Klein, who ran for
1,100 yards and 27 TDs last year, returns. But there are holes on the O line to
fill, and the 'Cats will have to play a very tough schedule. We've been big
fans of Coach Snyder for a long time, though, and will probably back his outfit
several times this season.
In the same boat
Stanford and Michigan State fall into the same category;
good teams that must replace key people but might therefore go into this season
underestimated. The Cardinal, who went 11-2 in their first season under new
head coach David Shaw, lost No. 1 overall draft pick QB Andrew Luck and several
others. They only get nine starters back. But Stanford brings in a great
freshman class, which includes RB Barry Sanders, Jr., and a handful of
highly-regarded prospects along the offensive line. However, like K State, the
Farmers will go up against a tough slate.
The Spartans lost QB Kirk Cousins and his favorite target BJ
Cunningham on offense and DT Jerel Worthy on D, but they get 13 starters back,
including RB Le'Von Bell, and eight on defense, led by monster LB William
Gholston. And three of their tougher games are at home.
The other USC
South Carolina returns 15 starters from a team that went
11-2 last year and played the last half of the season without its best
offensive weapon. Coach Spurrier just hasn't quite been able to break through
to the big-time with the Gamecocks, but this could be the year. They get back
QB Connor Shaw and RB Marcus Lattimore, the Heisman candidate who missed the
last six games last year with a knee injury, on offense, and eight starters on
defense. First steps toward the big-time; winning the East Division, then
knocking off LSU or 'Bama in the SEC title game.
Best of the Big East
Louisville is the early favorite to win the Big East, with
14 starters back from a 7-6 team of last year, including QB Teddy Bridgewater
and seven on defense. But the Cardinals will only be a real national sleeper
threat if they can go undefeated through the regular season. Fortunately for
them West Virginia is no longer a member of the Big East, with its move to the
Big 12, and their toughest road game is at Pitt.
Utah disappointed in the first half of its first season as a
member of the Pac-12 last year, then won five of its last six to finish 8-5.
This year the Utes return 15 starters, eight on offense and seven on defense.
Also, they get USC at home and don't have to play Oregon. Until, that is, the
Pac-12 championship game.
College football 2012 sleeper Championship odds
BetOnline is listing Kansas State at +800 to win the Big
12 championship this season; Stanford is getting +1,600 to win the Pac-12;
Michigan State is getting +375 to win the Big Ten; South Carolina is lined at
+925 to win the SEC; Louisville is getting +175 to win the Big East; and Utah
is getting +2,600 to win the Pac-12.
On college football's odds board the Wildcats
are getting +5,000 to win the BCS championship, the Cardinals +10,000, the
Spartans +8,000, the Gamecocks +3,500, and the Cardinals and Utes are both part
of “The Field” at +1,500.