Getting some thoughts and picks down early as I am PUMPED for the beginning of CFB.
LOSS Florida -7
I promised myself i would stay away from this game because I keep going back and forth on it, but the more I break it down, the more I feel comfortable making this play. Both teams have great defenses, Florida is returning slightly more and should have an elite secondary. Both teams also have rebuilt offensive lines. However, the Miami QB has only ever thrown 1 pass attempt in college against Savannah State and despite his talent, is year 1 in a new offense with a new LT, RT and C. I don't like Felipe Franks....but fact is he made some nice adjustments last year and he is in year 3 with Dan Mullen, who is a GD qb whisperer, and has great play design to get his QB comfortable. Additionally, I love Florida's run game. This adds up to enough for me to lay the TD.
I will add I'm interested to see the crowd breakdown here...i lived in Orlando for 7 years and it is much more of a Gator town than Hurricanes...however Miami only a 4 hour drive away....
LOSS UCLA +3.5
Absolutely love this pick. Situationally, UCLA will have revenge on their mind and Cincinnati has Ohio State on deck. Additionally, we know that in a system like Chip Kelly's the usual "jump" comes in year two. When these teams played last year, UCLA actually outgained Cinci....they were winning the game early. In the middle of Cincinnati beginning their comeback starting UCLA QB Speight went down, thrusting Dorian Thompson into the game when he was a true frosh and not prepared. Cinci took advantage and hung on to win. UCLA didn't have much of an answer.
Few other reasons I like this game. In close games, Fickell suffers from Tressel ball fever. He will turtle up and try to win the surest way, which offers some additional value. Also, if you look at Cinci's advanced stats from last year, they actually average fewer YPP on offense than the defenses they played allowed. They are a very vanilla and average offense, despite the great record. If UCLA can use their tempo to score a few Cinci could be in trouble. I personally think Cinci will start the year 0-2 despite my love for Coach Fickell.
WIN Tulane -2
I hesitated on this pick but have made it an official play. I was high on Tulane last year and Jonathan Banks was just a huge disappointment. When they made the change to their current QB, LSU transfer McMillan, they went 5-1 down the stretch. This team also has probably the best defensive line in the AAC. Coupled with the fact they are at home, I think this is a good price to lay vs. FIU, especially considering Tulane runs a pretty effective spread option and FIU struggles to defend the run. Definite athletic edge to Tulane.
LOSS Northwestern +7
All of the "insider" info I've heard, including from Pregame's Ken Thompson and VR on twitter is that program insiders are saying this might be the worst Stanford team in a while. Honestly I like the play regardless. Northwestern returns most of their defense which was very good at shutting down the run while Stanford loses a lot of Costello's favorite weapons. Additionally, while Northwestern doesn't return a ton of offensive starters, some of the projected starters were big contributors down the stretch, like RBs Moten and Bowser, who tore up OSU in the Big Ten Championship. I have also never been a big Clayton Thorson believer. I think Hunter Johnson will be better, although you never know for game 1. Also don't think Stanford will have any desire to blow another academic school out if the game is close late.
LOSS Wake Forest -3.5
I think Gary Andersen's second stop at Utah State might be a lot like what we are seeing with Randy Edsall at UCONN. Did a great job building a program, left for a legit power 5 job, didn't work out, comes back and the drive to be great is no longer there. While I love Utah St QB Jordan Love, they have basically the least experienced OL in the country, which i love figuring in to early season bets. Wake returns their major playmakers under a coach I like in Dave Clawson. I think at home for the first game they get it done.
LOSS Florida State -6
Boise is starting a true freshman qb on the road. They also lost their main RB and top 2 WRs. Yes, their OL is good and has a ton of experience. But let’s be honest, the FSU defense is talented enough to disrupt most offenses and has a lot returning....with Kendall Briles coming over to call the offense and a new OL coach, i look for FSU to come out trying to make a statement that they’re back. Akers and Blackmon are a good backfield tandem.
WIN Houston +24
I don’t believe for one second that Jalen Hurts is plug and play when compared to Mayfield/Murray. And although Houstons defense might be bad this year, their offense is very good. They should be able to at least stay within the number here.
LOSS Va Tech/BC under 58.5
This opened at 56.5....I’m guessing it shot up bc Va Techs defense was so awful last year...and still, neither of these teams are what’d you call high scoring. Va Tech had an extremely young defense last year so I expect improvement and with the conservative style offense BC runs with the Dillon/Brown show, i fully expect Foster to have Va Tech play cover 0 and dare Brown to beat them with his arm, which is exactly how Purdue shut them down last year. BC has a lot to replace on D but their D is usually solid and will have mostly Jrs and Srs. With the familiarity and the conference opener, you can also expect a bit of a feeling out period. Like the under.
LOSSWisc/SC/Ga/Mizzu ML parlay (-125)
Basically viewing this as a Wisconsin pick em at -125 bc I cannot see any scenario where Georgia, South Carolina and Mizzu straight up lose.
WIN Ohio State under 67 - this number is based on last years D. OSU will be better, Fields will be eased in.
LOSS Missouri -16