We’ll do two posts about college football over/unders. This one will focus on the overs. The unders post will come later today.
Over/Unders are out! I love to boast about how I went 3-for-3 in overs last year, hitting Auburn, Texas A&M and North Carolina. There’s no chance I could duplicate that success in 2011, but here’s a look at some overs that interest me. I’ll do another post when I’m ready to pull the trigger.
Boise St. 10.5
What’s not to love? The Heisman-caliber QB is back (and married!), eight defensive starters are back, and in the if they can get by Georgia, the Broncos will once again be in the National title hunt. There’s no late-season challenging road game like last year. They get a rebuilding TCU team at home.
Let’s say Boise beats Georgia in that road game to open the season. The big question would be two weeks later, traveling back east against Toledo in a game that could be 2010’s Nevada. Toledo returns 18 starters and will be the best team in the MAC. However, Toledo will be coming off a trip to Ohio State just six days earlier.
Trepidation: Moore isn’t what he was without his two best receivers, the Broncos lose to Georgia to open the season, then can’t afford another slip-up the rest of the way. Boise, it should be noted, has beaten Oregon and Virginia Tech early the last two years.
Virginia Tech 10
That’s an awfully high number with little room for error, especially for a team with a new QB and just four starters returning to the defense. How much should be nervous about new QB Logan Thomas? His first pass in the spring game was intercepted. If you hear anyone compare him to Cam Newton, kindly bop them over the head, Homey the Clown-style. The good news? They return four starters on the offensive line, and David Wilson is an explosive cat who could warrant some Heisman love if the Hokies can stay undefeated headed into November.
After opening 2010 with fringe title aspirations, the Hokies laid an egg, starting 0-2 with losses to Boise and James Madison. This year, they’re scheduled to go undefeated, with the toughest game at Georgia Tech. We’ve already been over how bad the ACC is this year, and when you factor in the laughable non-conference schedule, can Frank Beamer get the Hokies back to the title game for the first time since Mike Vick was in Blacksburg?
Notre Dame 8.5
With 17 starters returning, I’ve been touting the Irish as a BCS team since January. The defense finished strong in wins over Utah, Army, USC and Miami (only one game was at home), allowing just three touchdowns (and two of those came against Miami late in the 4th quarter of a rout). Toss in a strong recruiting class that focused on the front seven, one of the best middle linebackers in the nation, and the Irish will be tough to score on. Four offensive lineman return. They don’t have an elite QB, but between Crist, Reis, Hendrix and even the freshman Gholson (the next Charlie Ward!), they’ve got a blend of experience and talent.
But the schedule is probably why the Irish are at 8.5, as opposed to nine. The good: They get Michigan State, USC, Navy (don’t laugh – the Midshipmen have given the Irish fits in recent years), Maryland, and Boston College at home. The bad: They have to visit Michigan (at night), Pittsburgh, Purdue, Wake Forest and Stanford.
Optimist: the Irish lost to Michigan on a late drive last year (after losing their QB earlier in the game) and lost to Michigan State on a fake field goal in overtime. Wake Forest is young, BC plays the Irish at the end of a brutal 4-game stretch, the Terps have a new coach, USC isn’t what it was five years ago, and Navy returns just three starters on defense.
Pessimist: They close at Stanford. You don’t want the Irish to need a win to hit the over facing the best QB in the country in his final college game at home.
I’d wait until Kelly makes a decision on his QB (looks like it’ll be Crist) to actually wager on the Irish at 8.5. Something to keep in mind: Notre Dame is one Michael Floyd screw-up away from having major offensive issues.
This number seems to come down to three games: vs. Nebraska at night at home, at Michigan St. and at Ohio St. (back-to-back, both night games). The Badgers don’t lose at Camp Randall, and definitely not at night. So that’s 10 wins. But … it better be, because those two road games in October are going to be tough to win, even though the Spartans are a tad overrated, and the Buckeyes have obvious issues (QB, coach). I think a lot of this boils down to Russell Wilson. Do you believe in the NC State transfer? I do. I’d hope to find Wisconsin at nine somewhere. I’d feel more comfortable at nine.
Florida State 9.5
Interesting number considering how weak the ACC is. The only challenging games I count are vs. Oklahoma (which might be the best team in the country and throttled the Seminoles last year); at Clemson (which isn’t going to be great, but it comes the a week after the Oklahoma game, so there could be a letdown; vs Miami and at Florida. In reality, I’ve only got the Oklahoma and Florida games as question marks, but if you don’t believe in EJ Manuel, might as well toss in Clemson and Miami (rivalry games) for good measure. The Seminoles return 16 starters and today were picked by the media to win the ACC (beating VT in the ACC title game). I’ve been down on FSU for a few years, but it seems legitimately loaded to make a run at the National title, assuming a win over Oklahoma in the 2nd week.