College Football Betting Advice: Replacing Top-Tier QBs
College football is very much a quarterback-driven sport. A top quarterback can hide so many flaws for a team, and the absence of a top-tier QB can be a program killer. But no team can have a good situation forever, and the better a guy is the sooner he is going to leave for greener, and much more lucrative, pastures. Let's look at seven programs that lost high-profile quarterbacks in the NFL Draft this year and how they are working to replace them. Some will be sorely missed, and others quickly forgotten.
Oklahoma: Filling Baker Mayfield's shoes is not going to be easy. He had one heck of a season to cap one heck of a career. But the team is better off than they could be - at least for one year - with Kyler Murray. He has experience starting at Texas A&M, he played a little last year, and he is a freakish athlete - as the first-round MLB Draft pick and more than $4 million in signing bonus from the Oakland A's attests to. Murray is not Mayfield, but he is also different than the guy he replaces in some ways, and he is talented. Oklahoma won't have the stone-cold certainty under center that they were spoiled by the last couple of years, but they are still positioned as well as any team in the Big 12 right now at the position and have plenty of talent through the roster. If Mayfield was still in charge then they would be an absolute lock to win the conference. Now they are just close to being a lock.
USC: This is such an interesting situation. Departed Sam Darnold is poised to be the first rookie to start a game in the NFL this year, and a lot of USC fans have already forgotten his name. It's not that they didn't like him. It's just that in J.T Daniels they have an almost impossibly hyped true freshman who has shown every sign of living up to that hype in his short time with the team. He has a chance to be all-everything. Darnold had his highlights for sure, but he never was a can't-miss performer in the collegiate game. Now, Daniels was originally in the 2019 grad class before reclassifying, so he is young and will face some rough patches. But few around the team could argue that they are taking a huge step back - at least not in the mid to long term - despite losing Darnold. And this is L.A. we are talking about, so the new and shiny thing is going to get all of the attention all of the time.
Wyoming: Be honest - how many of you even know Wyoming has already played a game? They beat up on New Mexico State as five-point favorites, and redshirt freshman Tyler Vander Waal was decidedly average as the starter. He isn't going to be anything like Josh Allen, and the team isn't going to get any attention at all. Heck, it got no attention with Allen on it last year.
UCLA: Josh Rosen had one of the more frustrating college careers I can remember - he's a massively-talented guy who was given no chance to show it on a truly incompetent team. Now he's gone, but that is far from the biggest change in Westwood. Chip Kelly is running the show now, and everything is going to be so different it will be unrecognizable. As I write he is playing coy and won't say which of the three candidates will be starting the first game at QB. But it doesn't really matter. Regardless of who it is - a true freshman to a grad transfer with Big Ten starting experience - we won't know anything about anything when it comes to this team until we see them on the field.
Louisville: Despite losing a Heisman winner, the folks in Louisville are reasonably optimistic. They have a good one on their hands in the hunt for a replacement for Lamar Jackson. Jawon Pass is a highly-touted redshirt freshman, and he seriously looked at Alabama among many other top programs before opting to join Louisville last year. He is a big, athletic, smart player, and the upside is very real. Unfortunately, he has to begin his starting career against that same Alabama squad, and that is not at all likely to go well. But beyond that scheduling disaster, there is a lot of upside for this player, and he is certainly one to keep a close eye on.
Oklahoma State: Losing Mason Rudolph is very rough for this team because of how much he did for the team when he was there. But they are hoping they have a stopgap solution in place. Taylor Cornelius is a senior who has been around the program throughout his career, starting as a walk-on. He knows the system intimately and has the trust of the coaching staff. And if he doesn't work out then the team will likely hope that Dru Brown, the two-year starter at Hawaii, can step in as a grad transfer while they wait for freshman Spencer Sanders to be ready. It's not a terrible situation for the team all-in-all - Rudolph stepped up when an injury created an opening and narrowly beat out Cornelius at that time.
Washington State: The QB room took a hit after the loss of Luke Falk to the NFL and Tyler Hilinski's suicide. They still haven't named a starter, but it seems like it will be Gardner Minshew. He's an interesting case. He played in 17 games, starting seven, at East Carolina, and he put up decent numbers. But he's a grad transfer. He initially committed to Alabama, probably assuming that whoever loses the starting battle there will transfer so they will need a backup. He was also promised a grad assistant job there after the season. But then Washington State came calling, and what QB wouldn't want a chance to play for Mike Leach? He should be capable of embracing the system and putting up big numbers like so many before him.
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