The Las Vegas Hilton has released the first set of over/unders for college football wins. We looked at teams that could hit the over earlier. Here are five who could finish below their projected total.
Michigan State (7.5): Last year’s 11-win team was very fortunate. Sparty travels to South Bend non-conference to face an improved Notre Dame team. They begin their Big Ten slate at Ohio State, rivalry game with Michigan, Wisconsin and then at Nebraska. A 4-4 start would not be the worst-case scenario and they would still have to travel to Iowa and Northwestern. MSU has won eight games consecutively once since 1966 and a letdown in 2011 is entirely conceivable.
Arizona State (8): ASU played Wisconsin, Stanford and Oregon to a standstill last season. They also lost by 33 to Cal and won just four games against FBS opponents. The Sun Devils are Pac-12 dark horses, but their talent isn’t proven. One former player was not optimistic. Their schedule is front-loaded. The first six FBS opponents they face are Missouri, Illinois (A), USC, Oregon State, Utah (A) and Oregon (A). They also play Arizona and Cal at home. UCLA or Washington State could also provide an unexpectedly tough road game. Arizona State could easily get off to a 3-4 or 2-5 start and be scrambling to make a bowl game as Dennis Erickson grapples with a noose.
Georgia (8.5): Mark Richt needs Isaiah Crowell to be Marcus Lattimore and be healthy for an entire season. The Bulldogs could easily start 0-2 against Boise State and South Carolina and face a foul atmosphere surrounding Richt the rest of the way. No Alabama, LSU or Arkansas on Georgia’s schedule, but a number of teams – Miss. St., Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, Georgia Tech – who could give them games. Georgia has talent, but is that enough to win nine games?
Penn State (7.5): The Nittany Lions’ did not play good teams well last season. They close with Nebraska, at Ohio State and at Wisconsin. They also play Alabama dropping them to eight. The other three non-conference games are jokes. They should beat Indiana. The season will come down to a four-game stretch of Iowa, Purdue, at Northwestern and Illinois. Penn State would need to win all four or three out of those four with a bowl win to hit eight.
Oklahoma State (8.5): T. Boone Pickens U won 11 games last year, but it was the first time they had won 10 since 1988. A ton of talent returns on offense. Coordinator Dana Holgorsen does not. Even if the falloff isn’t devastating, OSU faces a tough schedule. They travel to Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri and Texas Tech. They host Oklahoma, as well as Baylor and Arizona. If Texas rebounds and Missouri finds a quarterback, the Cowboys could be in trouble.
[Photos via Getty, @JayPaterno]