Boise State seems like a good ‘under’ play given that it has a great chance of losing the opening game of the season vs. Georgia in the Bulldogs home state, while a couple of Big 12 teams, Texas A&M and Missouri, merit long ‘over’ looks.
One of the most popular types of futures are the season win totals for each team, and here are 10 of our favorites along with the college football odds attached to them for the upcoming season..
Auburn ‘over’ 6½ wins (+110): Let us begin by saying that Auburn will definitely slip significantly this season after winning the national championship while going undefeated last year, as it would be virtually impossible not to have regression given that only eight total starters return from that team and some of the talent lost was of superstar caliber. However, even with the Tigers being worse than last year, that regression should still result in at least a 7-5 record. After all, the coaching staff led by Coach Gene Chizik is back and intact and the Tigers have a great recruiting class. It helps that Auburn opens the year with a couple of cupcakes before what may be the biggest game of the year in regards to cashing this total, a Week 3 non-conference road test at overrated Clemson. We like the Tigers to win that game, but regardless, this should be a team that gets better as the season goes on with so many blue-chip youngsters.
Boise State ‘under’ 10½ wins (+130): The Broncos started 10-0 last season, keeping their national championship hopes alive until losing their 11th game of the season at Nevada. They may not have to wait that long for their first loss this year, as this play may be decided on opening week. Boise State has never ever beaten an SEC school, as we expect the Broncos to get upset by the improved Georgia Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome in the season opener. If we are correct, it would mean that the Broncos would only need to lose one more game for this play to be a winner. The competition in Boise’s new conference, the Mountain West, will be tougher than it was in the WAC , and although TCU, Nevada and Air Force all travel to the blue turf, none of those games will be easy. It also does not help that the Broncos lost a couple of key members from what was statistically one of the best defenses in the country in 2010 in Ryan Winterswyk and Winston Venable.
Miami-Florida ‘under’ 8 wins (-110): The Hurricanes have a terrible habit of underperforming every year, and it is almost unfathomable that a school with such a storied history has yet to reach an ACC Championship Game since joining the conference 10 years ago. Another underachieving 7-6 year in 2010 capped by home losses to South Florida and Virginia Tech to end the regular season and a 33-17 bowl loss to Notre Dame in a game that was not even that close led to the firing of Randy Shannon, and the Hurricanes will probably have little patience with new coach Al Golden also if things don’t improve quickly. To make matters worse, the Miami secondary returns no significant players this season, so opposing teams should be able to pass at will vs. a the Canes. We simply do not see any better than a 7-5 season.
Michigan ‘over’ 7 wins (-125): It turns out that Rich Rodriguez and his spread offense were not such a great fit for Michigan after all, so the school has fired Rodriguez and brought in new Coach Brady Hoke, who is a defensive specialist that will bring in a pro-style offense. The Wolverines’ defense was disgustingly bad in 2010, so if Hoke can make that unit just a little better, it may be enough for Michigan to surprise, as the defense only needs to be adequate given the quality of the offense. The pro offense means that ultra-talented dual threat quarterback Denard Robinson will no longer be asked to run the ball 20 times a game. Sure, that will cut down on his rushing yards, but it also means that Robinson will be fresher after missing time with various injuries last year. Also, the fact that his top three receivers are all returning makes the transition to the new offense easier. The schedule seems favorable too, as Michigan does not face Wisconsin and does host a couple of MAC softies in Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan.
Missouri ‘over’ 8 wins (+135): The Tigers may have lost quarterback Blaine Gabbert to the NFL Draft, but Missouri will still be in the mix for being the second best team in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma. James Franklin seems poised to be the next great Mizzou quarterback, following in the footsteps of Gabbert and Chase Daniel before him, and Franklin merely needs to be efficient as the Tigers return nine offensive starters otherwise. The underrated Missouri defense last season was the best the school has had in many years, and while that unit officially returns six starters, the unit had enough depth last year that there is enough talent on hand to fill the five vacated spots. Besides, two of the returnees are Jacquies Smith and Brad Madison, anchoring one of the best defensive lines in the country. Look at the schedule, except for a non-conference road test at Arizona State and a Big 12 road game at Oklahoma, the Tigers’ other toughest challengers must come to Columbia. And let’s face it, Nebraska leaving the Big 12 to join the Big Ten is a major bonus.
Oregon State ‘over’ 6½ wins (+100): Coach Mike Riley was proud of the fact that the Oregon State win total was never lower than the previous season through his tenure, but that changed last year, which marked the first time since 2005 that the Beavers failed to win eight games. However, a return to that level this year would not be at all surprising, and remember that only seven wins is required to beat this team total. The Beavers return seven starters on offense including four offensive linemen and on the other side of the, the defensive secondary could be one of the best in the newly named Pac-12, which is important in a pass-happy conference. Besides, Oregon State had gotten used to exceeding pre-season expectations before last year, so doing so again would not be much of a stretch.
South Carolina ‘under’ 9 wins (+100): The Gamecocks exceeded expectations by winning the SEC East last year, and now all of a sudden, they are the choice of many experts and novices alike to repeat as division champs. We are not among that group, even with a lot of that overachieving team returning. Normally, having a lot of returning starters is a good thing, but in this case we feel that the team overachieved so much in 2010 that a lot of the player already hit their ceiling. Teams that surprise the way South Carolina did usually regress the following year, and that is exactly what we expect to happen here. Also remember that the annual Gamecocks’ soap opera starring Coach Steve Spurrier and quarterback Stephen Garcia has continued, as the two squabbled again resulting in Garcia being suspended during the summer. That suspension should be lifted in time for the season, but it is still an unneeded distraction.
Tennessee ‘under’ 6½ wins (+105): It was a tale of two seasons fop the Volunteers in 2010, as they got off to a 2-6 start before their first-year coach Derek Dooley mad the big move of replacing struggling quarterback Matt Simms with Tyler Bray. All that Bray did was lead Tennessee to four straight wins to make the Vols bowl eligible at 6-6. Unfortunately, they then lost a virtual home game to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl in Nashville after having the game seemingly won to finish at 6-7. All of that said, that 4-0 finish may have had as much to do with facing some bad competition in Memphis, Mississippi at home, Vanderbilt and Kentucky than it did with improved play, and yes the Volunteers were favored in all four games. The schedule is tougher this time around with the better SEC teams spread out more, not giving Tennessee any long stretches to breathe.
Texas A&M ‘over’ 9 wins (+100): We actually feel that Texas A&M will be the biggest challenge to Oklahoma in the Big 12 this season, as we are picking the Aggies to edge out Missouri for second place in the Big 12. The Aggies began the season 3-3 last year, but they then finished 6-0 in the regular season after Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback, averaging 33.0 points in those last six wins. Tannehill is now the starter from Day 1 for an offense that returns 10 starters. Now the defense must replace all-world linebacker Von Miller from a unit that ranked 21st in the nation in scoring defense last year allowing only 20.3 points per game, but Miller aside, much of that success was also due to new defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter’s great defensive schemes, and he does return to weave his magic once again.
West Virginia ‘under’ 9 wins (-125): Yes, we are sticking to our guns and still picking West Virginia to win the Big East. However, the whole point here is that we expect the Mountaineers to do so with a 9-3 record at the very best, meaning that this play should do no worse than push. West Virginia could have two non-conference losses, as we fully expect a loss to LSU and we would not be shocked if the Mountaineers lose at Maryland also. Moreover, we do not expect them to go undefeated inside the Big East.