2017-2018 NCAA College Football Preview
College football was behind the NFL for decades in terms of popularity, but since implementing the playoff system (CFP), the NCAA men's D1 football league, consisting of hundreds of teams, is now nipping right on the NFL's heels, thanks in large part to fantasy and the many different betting sites out there. So if you're looking to bet on collegiate football, you really couldn't have started at a better time. Since the CFP took over two years ago, teams have been ranked and assessed a lot more accurately, which means much more favorable odds when engaging in legal college football betting action.
The NFL has taken a serious dip in viewership in recent years. There have been several effects as a result of this, one of which being a migration to college football. The NCAA is a different animal than the NFL. The atmosphere at most D1 college games is unmatched. The NCAA recently switched over to a College Football Playoff system, which puts the top four teams against each other at the end of the season. There are always debates over the rankings, but most analysts believe the CFP system provides a more accurate representation of the best in the league. Betting on college football is a popular aspect of the game, and there are plenty of teams worth betting on throughout the divisions.
The Ohio State Buckeyes won in the CFP’s inaugural year. Alabama went on to beat the undefeated Clemson in the second year. Last year, it was a rematch of Alabama and Clemson, only this time Clemson came out on top and stunned the Crimson Tide. How are things looking for this upcoming season? This guide was created to inform bettors on how the league is shaping up prior to the start of the season. You will find information regarding the top 5 conferences as well as the outside 5.
If there is one thing about college football, it’s that it is unpredictable. Teams often move up and down the rankings throughout the regular season, which causes a headache for both analysts and fans. The Selection Committee factors in teams’ schedules, performances and more in compiling the rankings. There are the usual suspects that cover their spread week after week (i.e. Alabama), but you can always count on an upset or two. Part of being an informed bettor is being aware of all teams and their chances to win. By the end of this guide, you will have a solid understanding of the odds heading into this season. We want to offer you a detailed look at the shape of the league here at Legal Betting Online, so not only are we going to cover the power five conferences, but we're also going to look at the outside group of 5 and see which, if any, teams have a shot at making one of the four CFP slots.
The Big 10 performed well last year with 4 teams finishing inside the top 10. Ohio State managed to clinch a Playoff spot and are favorited to do so again. Along with Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin are the teams expected to make a push for postseason glory. Michigan State is usually a contender in this discussion, but their poor 2016 season saw them fall out of favor with oddsmakers. Michigan will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing to Ohio State in controversial fashion last year, and Coach Jim Harbaugh is not one to take a loss lightly. The Buckeyes are expected to be ranked at #3 and have J.T. Barrett returning for another season and a stout defense. Coach Urban Meyer has the tools to make another run at the Playoffs, but the Badgers will be right on their heels.
The SEC has been lopsided in favor of Alabama in recent years. The Crimson Tide seem to be unstoppable under Coach Nick Saban. Despite losing to Clemson in the Championship last year, they are still entering this season as the #1 team. LSU and Auburn are expected to be ranked somewhere in the top 10, as they both have enough talent to challenge Bama for their crown. Georgia and the Florida Gators will be fighting for the Eastern division, but most analysts put the Bulldogs over the Gators. South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Arkansas could be some underdogs, but it is hard to put any other SEC team in contention with the presence of Alabama, not to mention the rise of the ACC and Big 10 conferences.
The ACC is more known for their basketball programs, but their football programs have drifted into contention over the years. Florida State is expected to be the #2 ranked team in the country this year. They open their season against Alabama (potential championship game?). Clemson are the defending champions, FSU beat Michigan in the Orange Bowl and 11 other teams had winning records. Clemson lost several key players to the Draft, giving room for Florida State to reclaim the top spot. Miami is another contender worth mentioning. Oddsmakers have Florida State and Miami in the ACC Championship game. Virginia Tech and Louisville could prove problematic, but they likely won’t affect Clemson, FSU or Miami. FSU’s defense has 9 returning starters, including S Derwin James recovered from an injury. All in all, FSU looks poised to be the best in the conference.
Oklahoma is expected to be the best team out of the Big 12 conference this year. Oklahoma State and Texas will likely battle it out for the #2 spot. Kansas State, West Virginia and TCU will also be competitors to watch out for. The Sooners have a new head coach in Lincoln Riley, but Riley has been with the team as their OC and helped them rise to power. TCU is the black sheep of the conference, with many analysts believing they should’ve had a shot at the CFP by now. Their QB, Kenny Hill, limited their potential last year, but could turn them into a CFP-contender if he can cut down on his mistakes. In any case, the conference seems to be leaning towards Oklahoma. QB Baker Mayfield is a potential Heisman-winner and their defense will provide a solid foundation to fall back on.
Washington represented the PAC-12 conference in the CFP last year, though they were demolished by Alabama. After this loss, some questioned as to whether they should’ve earned that Playoff spot. In any case, the Huskies are again the favorite to win the conference. USC is a close second and Oregon, Stanford and Washington State are right behind them. Colorado, Utah and UCLA are wild cards to keep an eye on. If Washington or USC can finish their season with only one loss, they will be hard for the committee to overlook. The Huskies have 13 starters returning from last year’s conference championship team. The Trojans have QB Sam Darnold, who is expected to be the best player in the conference this year. Darnold will help lead the Trojans to a successful season. More than likely, only one of these two teams has a shot of making the CFP, unless one of the other sleeper teams can manage to pull off an upset.
The Group of 5’s Chances
The outside 5 conferences are made up of the Mountain West Conference, Sun Belt Conference, Conference USA, American Athletic and Mid-American Conference. While these conferences boast strong teams, it is almost impossible for them to break into the postseason given the current CFP selection model. The other 5 conferences mentioned above are simply stronger, positioning teams within them to have a better shot at making the Playoffs. In order for an outside-5 team to make the CFP, there would have to be undefeated records and some significant losses within the top conferences. Still, these teams are worth mentioning, as each season has its major upsets.
USF is expected to win the American Athletic conference. QB Quinton Flowers is a weapon who had over 4,000 yards of total offense and 42 touchdowns last season. The Bulls have an experienced roster that will help them rise above conference rivals Houston, Memphis, Navy, Tulsa and Temple. Western Kentucky is being heralded as the best in Conference USA. QB Mike White had a phenomenal last season and helped the Hilltoppers win their second-straight conference title. Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss are expected to be contenders, but Western Kentucky has the most well-rounded team. Toledo is expected to win the Mid-American conference. Their schedule is favorable regarding conference opponents and they have an experienced offense surrounding a talented QB in Logan Woodside. Toledo looks poised to win its first MAC Championship since 2004. We predict Boise State will win the Mountain West Conference. Despite some tough road games against San Diego State, Colorado State and Air Force, the remaining schedule should provide enough chances to secure a win. For the Sun Belt, Appalachian State is expected to beat out Troy for the title. The Mountaineers have an easy schedule that sees them avoid both Troy and Arkansas State. QB Taylor Lamb is inconsistent, but he has done enough to put the team at 28-10 in his 38 appearances. The odds are stacked in their favor.
Playoff Spots And National Title Predictions
Selecting the Playoff spots is a difficult task. There are always a few teams who feel they’ve been unfairly left out. The Selection Committee weighs several factors, including toughness of schedule, toughness of conference, win-loss ratios and more. For example, a one-loss team could still go over an undefeated team depending on their schedules. It makes for a frustrating situation, but in all honesty, the best teams usually make the cut. Last year is an example of questionable selection with Washington going up against Alabama, but the fact remains that Bama is just that good of a team.
We predict Alabama (SEC), Florida State (ACC), Ohio State (Big 10) and Oklahoma (Big 12) making the CFP. Obviously, there is a possibility of teams like Wisconsin, Clemson, Washington and others making it, but it would require our top 4 picks to lose games. Many analysts see Alabama v. Florida State as the championship game, which makes their season-opening matchup particularly interesting.
Wagering Considerations For 2017-2018 Season
Below is a list of teams that covered at least 10 games against the spread in 2016:
Temple, Colorado State, Penn State, East Michigan and West Michigan
Here are the worst teams to bet on in 2017—all these teams finished below 4 ATS wins:
East Carolina, Utah State, Cincinnati, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Boise State, Connecticut, Oregon, Florida Atlantic and Arizona
Teams that thrived as a favorite in 2016—all teams went undefeated as favorite:
U Mass, Syracuse, S Methodist, Texas State, New Mexico State
Those that stumbled in that role last year were:
Virginia, FIU, South Alabama, Connecticut, Arizona, Hawaii, FAU, Buffalo, Bowling Green and California
As an underdog, these teams were the best for 2016 and went undefeated ATS:
Minnesota, Michigan, West Michigan, Clemson, Air Force, Houston, Troy, Ohio, BYU, Temple, Wisconsin, Utah and San Diego State
When it comes to over/under records, these teams were the best at going over in 2016:
ittsburgh, LA Tech, Penn State, USF, New Mexico, Purdue and UNLV
These teams kept under bettors happy:
Ohio, Arkansas State, LSU, BYU, Cincinnati, Syracuse, Buffalo and UCF
You can find these same stats and more over at teamrankings.com. We have found this information to be invaluable for making bets based on trends. With resources like the site mentioned above, it makes becoming a winning bettor a lot easier.