By: Hunter Schmidt
That’s how close we are to the beginning of the college football season. The 2019 season kicks off on August 24th with the Miami Hurricanes taking on the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. That same night, we have Khalil Tate and Arizona traveling across the Pacific Ocean to take on Cole McDonald and the Rainbow Warriors in Honolulu, Hawaii. I’ll have a breakdown of these two games from a betting angle in the next few weeks. That’ll be the first edition of a weekly betting preview that will be posted here on Edge Sports Network.
I’m not going to waste your time with Futures bets because I think we see Clemson – Alabama for the fourth time in the last five years. Those two teams are both going off at +225 so there is no point in letting a bookmaker sit on your money for the next 5 months. The only futures bet I have for this year is listed below. I got Clemson during last year’s title game while Clemson was trouncing Alabama 44-16 and woke up the next morning to Clemson moving from 6/1 to 2/1.
The main point of this article was to discuss a few teams that I like heading into next year and a few teams that could disappoint. There’s two items that I really look at when trying to forecast what a team could look like at the beginning of the season. The first item being returning starters / returning production. There’s a huge advantage for the first few weeks of the college football season when you can return a good majority of your starters from the previous year. This typically means that your players are typically juniors or seniors that have had multiple years in a college weight room and familiarity with the system. Familiarity with the system brings me to my second item and that is new defensive coordinators, offensive coordinators or head coaches. Teaching a new system to college kids while the NCAA limits the amount of time and live repetitions available to you is a very challenging task. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be writing articles where I break down teams into two categories; “Teams To Play” or “Teams to Fade” and give a brief breakdown of what their first few weeks could look like.
TEAM TO PLAY
– Utah Utes … Kyle Wittingham is one of the most underrated coaches in all of college football and has quietly been racking up wins since 2005 in Salt Lake City. He currently holds a 120-61 record during his tenure which includes a 93-79-6 ATS record. This could be the best Utah team since the 2008 team that went undefeated winning the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.
Tyler Huntley and Zach Moss are back after missing the final five games of the season with injury last year. The Utah offense was absolutely rolling before their injuries in Week 10, scoring 40+ in four straight games. The wide receiving corps will be led by Britain Covey who is returning from an ACL. His return date could be anywhere from Week 1 to Week 7 after their bye. There are questions on the offensive line, but I expect more of what we saw previous to their injuries with Andy Ludwig returning to run the offense where he held the same position from 2005-2008.
Defense has never been an issue for Utah under Kyle Wittingham, consistently ranking towards the top defenses in all of college football year in and year out. The defense is led by preseason first-team lineman Bradlee Anae and Leki Fotu, while the secondary will be led by projected first-rounder Jaylon Johnson. There are a few questions with the linebackers, but expect Kyle Wittingham to have a top-10 defense once again.
Expect Utah -6 to be on my list of Week 2 bets when they face BYU in Provo.
TEAMS TO FADE
– Ole Miss … Matt Luke is entering his third year at the University of Mississippi after taking over for Hugh Freeze, who left the program with a heap of sanctions. His team is finally bowl eligible again, but I would be surprised if they reached six wins. They have new coordinators on both sides of the ball with Rich Rodriquez coming in to coach the offense and Mike MacIntyre coming in to take over the defense. This creates an interesting dynamic if Ole Miss struggles early and the folks around Oxford start calling for his job.
The offense loses QB Jordan Ta’amu, lethal wide receivers in D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown, along with three starters on the offensive line. Redshirt Sophomore Matt Corral is a former top-100 commit coming out of high school and is set to take over the offense. The running game returns a stable of running backs that includes Scottie Phillips. Maybe this offense gets rolling late in the season after the new blood and system start to gel, but expect a sluggish start by Ole Miss standards.
The Rebels gave up almost 500 yards and 35 points per game last year, they bring back 11 of their top 12 returners but Mike MacIntyre will also having them transition to a 3-4 defense. They return a few decent players but the overall lack of talent will stick out like a sore thumb in the SEC. The defense will be better only because they couldn’t get worse than last year.
Ole Miss has a tough task Week 1 when they travel to the Liberty Bowl to take on Memphis, who somehow kept Mike Norvell from leaving during the coaching carousel. Brady White and the Memphis offense might drop 40+ on this Rebels defense in what is going to be an absolute shootout.
Expect the OVER to be a Week 2 play as long as the total opens around 70.
Cover photo via: Dani Congdon/SN Illustrations
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