Following up on my post from earlier this week, here are my five favorite bets from CG Technology's 2017 win totals:
Alabama under 10.5 (+120)
I’m sure if you went back to another set of these picks from years past, I faded the Crimson Tide then too. I’ve got a habit of predicting that Alabama will take a step back – it's a thing I do.
I know: The Crimson Tide reload, not rebuild, etc. So hear me out.
We saw last year how limited Jalen Hurts is when he has to throw. Now, he has a new offensive coordinator and doesn’t have O.J. Howard and ArDarius Stewart at his disposal.
Equally important, on defense, seven members of last year’s squad were drafted last month. That's the most in one class since Nick Saban has been in Tuscaloosa. For all the legitimate talk about this team’s assembly line of talent, reloading on that side of the ball won’t come easy this season. At least, not as easy as usual.
Eight straight games to start the season will tax the Tide’s depth, and they’ll face a far better effort from Florida State in their one marquee non-conference game than they have in years. That's enough for me to roll the dice (again).
The pick: I’ll take plus money on the under.
Florida over 8 (-110)
The Gators have a grand total of three true road games this season and should be favored in all of them: Kentucky, Missouri and South Carolina. That season opener against Michigan in Dallas? The Wolverines are retooling almost entirely.
Look for the likely starter at quarterback, Feleipe Franks, to give the offense some missing juice and carry the Gators to a minimum of eight wins this season. If they can’t get there, Jim McElwain’s future suddenly starts to look awfully murky.
The pick: The best way to put this is I don’t see UF going under eight.
West Virginia under 7 (-110)
Since 2002, WVU has won at least seven regular season games in every year but one (2013). It’s a remarkably consistent program. Betting against the Mountaineers hitting that mark this season is going against a healthy track record.
I don’t mind. A couple indicators suggest a rough year is in store for WVU:
- 4-0 in one-score games a year ago;
- Half of the receptions from last season’s team have departed;
- The 'Eers lost of seven of their top 10 tacklers from 2016.
Did I mention Jake Spavital is the new offensive coordinator? Even with Will Grier now behind center on offense, I say the ‘Eers aren’t bowling this postseason.
The pick: 5-7, which would be under.
Miami over 8.5 (-110)
I don't love the prospect of backing a team that is getting used to life without a three-year starter at QB. Honestly, however, I often couldn't tell if Brad Kaaya was helping the Hurricanes out or holding them back.
The U, which ranked 12th overall in the F/+ efficiency ratings, missed out on adding three regular season wins to its final record in '16 by a scant 11 total points. The team was playing solid ball late in the season and brings back heaps of talent, especially on D. The 'Canes look like the ACC Coastal champs to me.
The pick: Over.
Clemson under 9 (-115)
Dabo Swinney reminds me of another folksy, polite CEO coach who could charm recruits all morning and romance boosters after lunch. Vince Young took Mack Brown to a national title – his Texas teams tended to fall short otherwise. We're going to find out if Deshaun Watson did the same for Swinney.
In seasons in which Watson wasn't behind center, the Tigers have generally underperformed their talent. Even in winning the national championship last year, Clemson frequently scraped by. CU went 5-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer in the regular season.
The Tigers will stay salty on D, but they have significant holes to fill beyond Watson on O. Combined with Swinney's long-term track record, Clemson taking a small step back this season doesn't sound unreasonable.
The pick: Fade.