I’ll be adding to this post in the next few weeks or so each time I add a play. It’s a work in progress but I want to get plays posted as soon as I play them. Here’s to a another season of College Football and hopefully putting some money in my pocket as well as those of you who end up tailing my plays. Here’s my week 1…
Utah State (+3.5): The Aggies are off an 11-2 season last year and now welcome former coach Gary Anderson back to the sideline. They’ll start the season on the road against Wake Forest in a game I think they should be in throughout. I actually have Utah State as a 2 point favorite on a neutral field so with this game in Winston-Salem my line is still only Wake Forest -1. At QB Anderson will be thrilled to have Jordan Love back. Love is off a monster season where he threw for 32 TD’s and just 6 INT’s to go with 3567 yards and 64% completions. The offense around him I’ll admit took a hit as gone are their top 4 WR’s and leading RB from a season ago. On the Bright side though (pun intended) is the return of RB Gerold Bright. Last year Bright put up 888 rushing yards and 10 TD’s on 6.3 yards per carry. He’s in line for more playing time and barring an injury he’s probably a safe bet to rush for over 1000 yards. Offensively it’ll be he and Love that shoulder the load while they break in a group of young but talented WR’s. Defensively the Aggies depending how some positional battles work out look like they’ll return 6 starters from a unit that was much improved in 2018. Among those returning will be leading tackler David Woodward at LB, leading sack man Tipa Galeai at DE, and their interception leader DJ Williams at CB. The Aggies are now at a point where they are one of the better “Group of 5” teams in the nation and beating a “Power 5” team would be huge for them. Obviously both teams want to win but beating an MWC school isn’t going to really move the needle for an ACC team. However an MWC school going on the road and beating an ACC team is a big deal and I expect a 110% max effort showing from Utah State here. As far as Wake Forest a friendly schedule to start the year has fans thinking a 4-0, 5-1 type start is very possible. This is a team that now has some decent expectations after a 7-6 showing last season. Defensively however I’d say there are some concerns and more specifically the ability to create big plays. Last year they were 76th in the nation with only 25 sacks and 112th with only 6 interceptions. You figure Love and his offense are going to move the ball and without some impact plays to throw them off track or even take the ball away, they could put up some nice numbers. The Deacs lost 3 of their top D-Lineman so it’s reasonable to think they’ll have problems getting to the QB again. If that indeed is the case then of course you have the trickle down effect of life becoming harder for the secondary. As I said in the open I only make Utah State +1 in this game, so be to able to clear a FG at +3.5 is something I can’t pass on.
Memphis (-6): There’s no doubt the Tigers lost some firepower from their offense but I still think this stacks up as one of the best “group of 5” teams in the nation. Back and once again leading the way at QB will be Brady White. Last year White went for 3296 yards to go with 26 TD’s and only 9 INT’s on roughly 63% completions. He has a nice grasp of the offense and it’s safe to expect another high level season from him. At RB it’s a bit of a mixed bag… Darrell Henderson now plays for the Rams and Tony Pollard is now a Cowboy, that’s the bad news. The good news is Patrick Taylor Jr. is back and now ready to slide into a featured role. The SR back has about 2500 career rushing yards on roughly 5.5 yards per carry. He isn’t as explosive as Pollard or Henderson but he’s still a very respectable RB who should put up big numbers. At WR the Tigers welcome back Damonte Coxie who might be the best WR in the AAC. Last year Coxie went for nearly 1200 yards on over 16 yards per catch. Also back is TE Joey Magnifico who keeps the defense honest by roaming around the middle of the field. He put up a very impressive 17.3 yards per catch and if defenses become too preoccupied with Coxie, it’s a guy like Magnifico that’ll make them pay. Defensively the strength of this team looks like it’ll be up front as they return 3 starters on the D-Line and also add JUCO All American Everitt Cunningham. There are also a few starters back in the secondary for a defense that overall should be decent enough. On the other side we have an Ole Miss team that figures to be near or at the bottom of the SEC West. This year they’ve brought in Rich Rodriguez at OC and that of course means here comes the spread option offense. At QB Jordan Ta’amu is gone and it looks like it’ll be Matt Corral stepping in to fill his shoes. Rich Rod has gushed about him and said all the right things but a new QB working with a new OC isn’t easy, especially early in the season. Defensively Matt MacIntrye steps in as DC and inherits what frankly was a very bad unit last season. The Rebels were awful just about across the board in all important defensive metrics and the polite way to put it is they have plenty of work to do. Overall it’s an interesting mix for the Rebels. They have some talent but very little experience offensively and experience but not a ton of talent defensively. There are a lot of moving parts right now and I think they could really struggle out of the gate. I know at first glance it’s odd seeing an AAC team as a 6 point favorite over an SEC team but in this case not only is it warranted but I feel 6 is too short. Personally I made the line 8.5 and getting to jump that all important 7 threshold is enough for me to make a play.
North Carolina (+7): I’ll take my chances here with UNC catching a TD in what is basically a home game to open the season against South Carolina. No the game isn’t in Chapel Hill, but with it being in Charlotte it’s still probably safe to assume they’ll be more UNC fans it attendance. The Heels are coming off a 2-9 season but there is actually some optimism due to the return of Mack Brown who coached the team back in the mid/late 90’s. Offensively the Heels want to play fast and Brown brought in Phil Longo from Ole Miss at OC to do exactly that. It’ll be an air raid offense and they’ve taken the motto “don’t blink” to show how fast they want to play. The QB situation is still a bit up in the air but the strength of the offense is going to be at RB with the returning duo of Carter and Williams. Carter is the big play, home run threat and Williams is more of a run between the tackles and get the hards yards type of back. Together they should be put up some pretty nice numbers and their styles compliment each other quite nicely. The WR’s are admittedly a work in progress but there is some talent there and in general they’ve looked to beef up the speed at that position. Defensively Jay Bateman will take over at DC as he comes over from Army. On the whole they will look to be more aggressive and send some more unique and exotic blitz packages. The Heels don’t figure to be great by any stretch but I do see them taking a nice step forward relative to last years debacle. On the South Carolina side expectations are high entering Muschamps 4th season on the job. At QB Bentley will be back for his Senior season and while he has some solid numbers it’s tough to ignore 30 INT’s in 32 career starts. Gone is his favorite WR Deebo Samuel who is now playing on Sundays, that obviously leaves a clear void at WR1 for the Gamecocks and strains the WR group in general. The Running game could also be shaky as they haven’t finished higher than 12th in the SEC in rushing in any of Muschamps first 3 years. The defense should be the strength of the team and they figure to be very solid on that side of the ball. I’ll admit South Carolina is the better team and rightfully favored but 7 is a few points higher than where I have it at 4.5. I’m intrigued by UNC’s offense and there are enough questions marks offensively for South Carolina that I’m perfectly fine taking my chances with a TD in my back pocket.
Liberty (+17.5): Liberty welcomes in Hugh Freeze this year to lead the charge as they try to make their first bowl game at the FBS level. Most projections have them right around 6-6 this year and that’s probably going to end up about right. Stephen “Buckshot” Calvart is back at QB and while I wouldn’t call him a star or anything it’s always nice to pencil in a returning starter and senior at the QB spot. Also back in senior RB Frankie Hickson who went for 11 TD’s and over 1000 yards on the ground last year. Also returning to the mix is Peytton Pickett who is a bit more of a power back. On top of that duo they’ll also welcome in Josh Mack a transfer from Maine who led the FCS in rushing two years ago. Between those 3 they look to be in very good position at RB. Sticking with the trend the WR is also led by a returning senior as Antonio Gandy-Golden is back off a +1000 yard season. Also back are DJ Stubbs who will likely serve as a #2 target and returning from an injury riddled season Damien King and his 18.8 yards per catch are back. There are weapons all over the field and I trust that this team is really going to be able to move the ball and score some points. Granted Cuse will be a tougher test than most of what they see this season, but even against them I can see the Flames flirting with or exceeding 30 ish points. The concern with this squad is no question going to be on defense. There’s no reason to sugarcoat it, the defense was horrid last year and even a small step forward would be a welcome sight. They’ll catch a bit of a break out of the gate though as I think the Cuse offense is going to take a step back from a season ago. First and foremost Dungey is gone at QB and he leaves some big shoes to fill. Dungey threw for nearly 3000 yards last year while also chipping in 754 on the ground. With him though it’s more than just what the stat line shows. He was the unquestioned leader of that team. A run through a wall type of QB who would throw his body all over the field week after week to try and get his team wins. Stepping in for him is Tommy Devito who to be frank had a pretty ugly season when filling in for an often dinged up Dungey. Granted only 87 pass attempts but Devito completed only 50.6% of his passes with 4 TD’s and 3 INT’s. Again to be frank he at times looked overwhelmed and in over his head. We’ll see what full time reps with the 1st team does for him but as of now he’s not near the player Dungey was. I expect Babers to lean more heavily on the ground attack in the start of the season and that’s just fine for me. When taking a 17.5 dog, the running game and in turn a running clock is just fine. At the end of the day this bet is really against the Syracuse offense more than anything else. As I mentioned earlier I fully expected mid 20’s to low 30’s from Liberty in this one. If they can get to lets say 28 that means Cuse is going to need to go over 45 to cover and I just don’t see that happening with Devito at the helm. Not that they aren’t capable to putting up numbers like that at some point this season but for now I think there’s some more work to be done to get Devito closer to the level they want.
Colorado State (+13): I’ve been on the fence with this one the last few days but I’m now ready to pull the trigger. This line opened with Colorado at -10 and at that line I wouldn’t be making a play. Little by little however it’s been moving and now at 13 I’m going to jump in. Much of the reason I’ll be on this one is what should be an improved Colorado State defense. The Rams are very excited about a group of sophomores who look like they are ready to emerge and greatly improve that side of the ball. Six true Freshman saw significant time last year for CSU and the expectation is those 6 all take a nice step forward. Also now in the fold are a trio of grad transfers who add some experience to go with that group of youngsters. The total in this game has dropped 6.5 from it’s open of 64.5 and is now settled in at 58 and that’s due at least in small part to the Rams defense. Offensively they’ll welcome back Collin Hill at QB who has shown flashes in sporadic playing time so far in his time at CSU. At 6’5″ he looks the part and is going to have a talented group of WR’s to work with. Leading the way will be Warren Jackson who at 6’6″, 220 lbs already has an NFL body. Also back in the mix will be Nikko Hall who didn’t do much last year but is still one of the top WR recruits the school has ever landed. I’m confident they’ll be able to have some success through the air but will admit the ground game could be a problem. The O-Line is basically starting over and none of the RB’s have really proven much to this point. That said with McElroy, Kinsey and Johnson there is some reason for optimism. Kinsey gives the added element of being a pass catching threat out of the backfield, while Jackson and McElroy were relatively highly recruited players. Again at this point there is plenty that needs to be proven between the lines but it isn’t like there’s a total lack of talent. Over on the Colorado side we have a team coming off a disappointing 5-7 season and will now welcome in new coach Mel Tucker. Tucker has spent time at Georgia and Florida and will now take on his first head coaching role. At QB Steven Montez is back and while he’s a nice QB he isn’t someone I’m terrified of. He’s yet to throw for 3000 yards in his 2 seasons as a starter and while game manager might be a bit harsh, I think he’s closer to that than he is a true impact player. Defense figures to be a strength down the road as that’s where Tucker excels, but I think he’ll need a few years to get it to a level he’s happy with. They are a work in progress on that side of the ball and the D-line in particular looks to be a concern. 9 of their 11 scholarship D-Lineman have never played a snap at CU and 6 of 11 have never played in a college game anywhere. This should negate some of the concern the Rams have on the ground getting to face such an inexperienced group up front. Don’t get me wrong Colorado is rightfully favored and with it being a PAC-12 vs. MWC game there is an overall difference in caliber of athlete. That said I’ve got what I expect to be a much improved Rams defense against a Colorado team that frankly I rate as very mediocre. The Buffs should still win but I see this as a 31-24 kind of game.
Kent State/Arizona State Un 61: No time for a full write up on this one. Kicking myself for not grabbing 62 that was out there earlier in the week but now after dropping to 59.5 it’s back to 61 and that’s good enough for me to make a play.
Weber State (+11.5): Moving over to an FCS/FBS clash down in San Diego as Weber State comes to town to take on the Aztecs. Many people won’t know much about Weber State and unless you are a hardcore College Football fan, why would you? Here’s a quick crash course on them…. last year they went 10-3 and this year they come into the season ranked #8 in the FCS top 25. Last year their offense was very young and in turn pretty mediocre. It was basically to a point where they just wanted/needed the offense to be respectable and let the defense go out there and win them games. This year the defense is once again expected to be strong but the offense figures to be much improved. All of those youngsters who went through some growing pains last year are back. One more year to learn the offense, one more year to work together, one more year to get bigger and stronger. Head coach Jay Hill is optimistic about what he has on that side of the ball and has hinted at playing things a bit more aggressively this season. Jake Constantine is back at QB and he’s a big reason for the optimism Hill has shown. At his disposal are 6 of their 8 leading pass catchers from last season. 3 were Freshman, 3 were Sophomores which falls in line with the overall offensive theme. Returning players who should be better than a year ago. On the ground Josh Davis (who you guessed it was a Freshman last year) returns and he put up 113.5 yards per game. There’s plenty of reason to think this offense can move the ball this season. On the other end we have San Diego State who frankly just wants to do enough through the air to open up the ground game even more. Ryan Agnew is back at QB and to call him a mediocre passer might still be being too kind. Last year he only completed 51.6% of his passes and despite starting most of the season only threw for over 200 yards twice. Year after year the name of the game is running the ball for the Aztecs. With Juwan Washington back in the fold they have a solid back, but they’ve also had a ton of issues on the offensive line this spring. I’d assume most teams will stack the box on them and force Agnew to prove he can make some throws downfield. If he can’t, then this SDSU offense could see some real trouble. That brings us to the defense where Rocky Long to say the least has concerns about his depth and his 2nd unit. Here is a direct quote from him recently “We’re OK with our first group on defense,” he said. “After our first group, oh, my gosh. It’s unbelievable. We’re putting seven or eight guys out there that have never played, and most of them haven’t been with us except for the past two or three weeks. … Our second-team defense, you have no idea what you’re going to get from them.” I expect this to be a trickier game for the Aztecs than I’m sure most others do. Will take a shot on the road dog.
Utah State (+3.5)
North Carolina (+7)
Colorado State (+13)
Kent State/Arizona State Un 61
Weber State (+11.5)