We are less than three months away from the start of the 2012 College Football season, so here’s an early look at team win totals.
Summer has yet to officially begin, but 5 Dimes has already posted 2012 College Football win totals and it is never to early to begin your preparation, as now may be the best time to find some value on these plays.
Granted the team totals are not up for every FBS team, but there are enough up where we have found 10 plays that we like that do not have a lot of juice, although that may change if you do not act quickly, as books like 5 Dimes are adjusting the vigorish on these totals instead of changing the win totals themselves.
Thus, we in effect are kicking off our college football picks for this season with these 10 team totals, as we like seven teams to go ‘over’ and three to stay ‘under’ their win projections.
Arkansas ‘over’ 8½ (-120): Last year, the Razorbacks went 11-2 culminating with a 29-16 win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, Furthermore, their only two losses came to the two participants in the BCS National Championship Game, Alabama and LSU, and the season also marked the second straight that the Razorbacks posted double-digit wins. Best of all, they return most of their skill position players on offense including quarterback Tyler Wilson and they return seven starters on defense, a unit that figures to improve with the added experience. This low win total seems like an overreaction to the Bobby Petrino scandal, and while yes the coaching situation is a valid concern, this team seems too loaded to fall short of nine wins, especially getting Alabama and LSU both at home.
Clemson ‘over’ 8½ (-110): Clemson was rather erratic last season, and the final image viewers had of them was a 70-33 shellacking by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Still, this team did begin the year 8-0 and it did punish Virginia Tech twice to get to a BCS bowl as the ACC Champion. The Tigers finished the regular season 9-3, and that would be the minimum requirement this year to cash this ‘over’. Well, the team returns quarterback Tajh Boyd, game-breaking wide receiver Sammy Watkins and several other speedballs at the offensive skill positions. The Tigers also figure to be favored in seven of their eight ACC games, with the lone exception being at Florida State as they get Virginia Tech at home. Thus, another 9-3 year seems to be on the horizon.
Mississippi State ‘over’ 7½ (-120): Yes, we understand that the Bulldogs have been an underachieving team that has reached eight wins just once in the last 11 years, and that they finished just 2-6 in SEC play last year while going 5-0 out of conference, including a win over Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl. However, quarterback Tyler Russell should be more relaxed this year now that he is the man with Chris Relf gone, MSU has some bona fide stars on defense and the schedule seems manageable enough to get eight wins. It would seem that to reach that magic number, the Bulldogs will need to secure two wins among their four home dates with Auburn, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Arkansas. The Razorbacks could be tough but we do feel that two home wins against the first three teams is doable.
Nebraska ‘over’ 8½ (-135): The Cornhuskers had some growing pains in their first season in the Big Ten last season, but they still finished 9-3 during the regular season before losing to South Carolina 30-13 in the Capital One Bowl. They only need to match that record to cash this ‘over’ and we see them doing that at the very least, especially getting Wisconsin and Michigan at home. Whether or not the Huskers can move up to double-digit wins and Big 10 title contention falls squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Taylor Martinez. If he can improve his passing mechanics to catch up to his great running ability, Nebraska will be tough to beat every single week. If we see the same inaccurate Martinez as last season, the Cornhuskers are still good enough to match last year’s nine-win total with their running game and defense alone.
TCU ‘over’ 8½ (-115): TCU makes the jump to the Big 12 after winning the Mountain West last season by virtue of beating Boise State on the road, which is no easy feat. The Horned Frogs have prided themselves on defense in recent years, and before playing a game in the Big 12, they may already have the best defense in the conference. Yes, the secondary looked vulnerable at times last year vs. Baylor and Boise State, but the front seven has the potential to be great this year, especially with the team’s leading tackler from 2010, linebacker Tanner Brock coming back after missing all of last year with a foot injury. On offense, quarterback Casey Pachall and top running backs Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James all return to form one of the most formidable backfields in the conference.
Virginia Tech ‘over’ 9½ (+130): The Hokies return 10 starters on defense this season, which is music to defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s ears as he has gotten plenty out of Hokies’ defenses in the past with far fewer returnees. Remember that this is a team that went 11-1 during the regular season last year, losing only to Clemson, and that quarterback Logan Thomas matured to a championship level quarter back with each passing start after looking inconsistent early on. Considering that the Hokies play in the weak ACC and that they get Florida State at home, we do not feel that 10 wins is too much to ask for and those +130 odds are certainly enticing.
West Virginia ‘over’ 8½ (-130): West Virginia is making the move from the Big East to the Big 12 in 2012, and unlike other teams changing conferences this season, we feel that the Mountaineers’ transition will be a smooth one. After all, the defending Big East Champions already have a Big 12 style offense under Head Coach Dana Holgorsen, who was already a hugely successful offensive coordinator in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State before coming to Morgantown, and returning quarterback Geno Smith ran the offense with precision last year. Lest we forget that the last time we saw the Mountaineers in action, all that they did was hang 70 points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl! The key to cashing this ‘over’ is the West Virginia defense, which returns seven starters but only three of which are seniors. If that defense can allow less than 30 points per game in its first season in the Big 12, then this team will get the nine wins needed to cash this play.
Missouri ‘under’ 7½ (+100): Missouri is moving from the Big 12 to the SEC, and this is one case where we feel that a conference move is detrimental. Yes, quarterback James Franklin returns and the dual-threat is possibly athletic enough to play in the SEC, but he made some questionable passing decisions that killed drives at times last year and that was vs. the shakier defenses of the Big 12. Those same mistakes would spell disaster vs. the great defenses of the SEC, and to make matter worse, there were some key defections from the Tigers’ offensive line, bringing the protection this season into question. Thus, look for a shaky maiden voyage in the SEC by the Tigers, where a 7-5 overall record would be considered a successful season.
Tennessee ‘under’ 6½ (+140): Speaking of the SEC, Tennessee has gone 6-6 and 5-7 during the regular season in the first two years of Head Coach Derek Dooley’ tenure, and frankly we do not see them getting to seven wins this year. Yes, they have possibly the best pure passer in the conference in Tyler Bray, and he needs to stay healthy after missing much of 2011 with an injury in order for the Volunteers to be competitive. However, even if we assume a healthy Bray for the full season, Tennessee will only be favored in four of their SEC games at the most and it could be only twice if the Vols turn up as dogs at home vs. Florida and on the road at Vanderbilt. Now they could certainly win both of those two toss-ups, but given these +140 odds, we would rather bet against it.
Texas ‘under’ 8½ (+130): Texas had somewhat of a bounce-back season last year after not going to a bowl game in 2010, but the Horns still finished only 7-5 during the regular season before beating California 21-10 in the Holiday Bowl. Texas was plagued by poor quarterback play from David Ash and Case McCoy, and unfortunately those two top the depth chart once again this year. This team was outclassed by the better teams in the Big 12 last year and that does not figure to change with opponents having no need to respect the passing game. We simply do not see the Horns improving their regular season win total by two given the quarterback situation and we also think that the positive odds attached to this ‘under’ make it a great play.