College Football Betting Advice: Teams that Could Exceed Expectations
Preseason rankings in college football are notoriously difficult to make and almost never hold completely true. There are just too many unknowns. What is interesting to bettors is not the things that the rankings likely have right - like Alabama at the top, for example - but what they are not right about. Teams that should outperform their rankings, those that aren't ranked but should be, and those that are too highly regarded - all of those provide real opportunities to profit for bettors. Today we are going to focus on the first of those opportunities. Here are five teams that could wind up solidly better than their opening rankings (Preseason coaches' poll rankings in brackets):
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Michigan (No. 9): I'm biased as a fan, but there is one thing about this team and the way that people are talking about it that drives me insane. Everyone who wants to knock this team talks about the lack of returning starters. They had 11 players drafted, and others depart, but to suggest that they are going through crippling turnover just isn't true. Their defensive line lost some very good players last year, but they played a rotation aggressively, and the guys who are left behind are just as good and played plenty last year despite not being designated as starters. The same is true at linebacker, running back, receiver and elsewhere. And they have a veteran QB who will either start again or will be replaced by someone who beats him out. To suggest that this team will struggle due to youth means you just aren't paying attention.
This team's situation is very similar to what Ohio State had last year, and they made the playoff. Michigan absolutely has the potential to roll into their home game against Ohio State without a loss - or with one at most. The potential upside is significant.
Georgia (No. 15): This is the second year for Kirby Smart and this coaching staff, and Mark Richt left some decent talent for him to work with. They have a chance to make a statement Week 2 at a Notre Dame team I don't believe in, and then they move into a SEC schedule that doesn't include Alabama or LSU. They have good QB depth, they'll run the ball well, and they should play strong defense.
This team is well positioned to win the SEC East this year, and that earns them a one-game shot at beating Alabama - a win that would quite likely earn them a playoff bid provided they had a strong regular season. This is a team with the real potential to leave this preseason ranking in the dust this year.
Miami (No. 18): Like the team he left behind, Richt took over a pretty good situation in Miami, and this is the year he could really start to take advantage of it. A Week 3 game at Florida State is scary, but if they could somehow win it they would be hard-pressed not to finish above this ranking. Even if they don't win it, though - which is likely - they still have a schedule beyond that to set themselves up to win their division and head to the ACC Championship Game.
Six wins feels like their floor in conference, so that Florida State game and a home tilt with Virginia Tech will define their chances. A two- or three-loss team that makes the ACC Championship Game and wins their bowl game will be ranked higher than this when the season ends, and they could possibly do better than that.
Virginia Tech (No. 22): If you are having a rough day, just dig up an interview with Justin Fuente and listen to it. He'll get you going right again. Fuente is one of those guys who is so compellingly inspiring that you understand instantly the success he had at Memphis and what he accomplished in his first year with the Hokies.
Like Miami, he has a pretty solid roster, and though he faces some key changes he has some pieces to work with. They don't play Florida State, and they get Clemson at home, so Fuente has a decent chance to carry last year's momentum right into his second season. Like Richt, much will likely come down to that game at Miami - a de facto in-season playoff game, in all likelihood.
Given what Fuente is like, you can be sure that the team won't lack motivation or faith in themselves for that game.
South Florida (No. 21): It can be easy to forget after the last three years, but Charlie Strong can really coach. He comes into a new situation with a more talented team than he ever had in Texas. The team won 11 games last year under Willie Taggart, and they are ready for another big year. The nonconference schedule is a joke, and the AAC likely isn't as tough as it was last year.
Ten wins is the bare minimum for the team, and there isn't a single game on the schedule that seems even somewhat beyond them. Strong is in very good position to be the Power 5 representative in the big bowl games this year.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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