Expert College Football Predictions: Season Win Total Matchups
The college football season already is sort of underway - though those two games on Saturday were more of a tease than a true start. But the real thing is, as I write, just a couple of days away. And life is great as a result. As we get ready for the start of the season, it's a great time to take a last look at five college football season win total matchups that are offering some decent value:
Florida State vs. Miami - Miami -1.5 (+125): We have a bit of a head start on this one because we have already seen Miami play. And we are making it harder on ourselves because Miami has already lost a game, so they are functionally playing an 11-game season at this point compared to 12 for the Seminoles. But I still like the Hurricanes here. There were some issues in that game on Saturday night - like protecting their QB. But they stood toe-to-toe against a Top 10 team, they got solid play out of a young QB, and they were playing like they would happily run through a wall for their new coach. It was impressive. Florida State, meanwhile, promises that they are in a new era. But it's hard to believe that that is the case. Their last two seasons have been mentally ugly - and ugly on the field as a result. They made an odd coaching decision when Jimbo Fisher left, and it has not looked good to this point. This is a proud program in a deep funk. And I am not at all convinced that they will shake it off. These teams play each other in October, and a Miami win means they need to win only one more than Florida State the rest of the way. From where both teams are right now, that feels quite possible.
Florida vs. Florida State - Florida -1.5 (+125): Much of what I just said applies here as well, except the Gators already have a win to their credit. There were some concerns coming out of that game despite the win - like the lack of real development for Feleipe Franks. But the pass rush was lethal, and there is a lot of talent and room to grow. And they play a home game against the Seminoles, which is a big edge for them as well. Florida feels like a very comfortable pick.
Iowa vs. Iowa State - Iowa State -0.5 (+125): These teams play in Week 2, and that will obviously have a big impact on how this number shapes up. Iowa has had a big edge in the matchup lately, but I like the Cyclones this year in that showdown. And if they win that, then Iowa State has a real chance to be 8-0 before tough games against Oklahoma and Texas. But then they have two more very winnable games. The schedule is really quite soft, and the team is talented, has a good quarterback, and is very well-coached. Iowa isn't at their strongest this season, and they have four games against ranked conference foes. Iowa State is very attractive at this price.
USC vs. UCLA - USC -1 (-110): This is in no way an endorsement of the Trojans. They are a mess who have made an embarrassing choice of head coach that is going to handicap them for years to come. They are a joke. But I would take them over the Bruins in a heartbeat right now. The Trojans are deeper and much more talented. The biggest mystery in Pac-12 football, though, is what is going on with Chip Kelly. The fact that he struggled on the field last year is one thing - he had a lot to overcome as he took over a program that was a mess. But what is so striking, and frankly inexplicable, is how poorly Kelly recruited this past year. He has a beautiful climate, a major conference, and he's supposedly a coaching genius, but he somehow recruited only a little better than a semi-decent MAC team. His class ranked 40th in the composite rankings. Those freshmen he added wouldn't be making a big difference this year for the most part. But recruiting is an indicator of swagger around a team, and this team just doesn't have any right now. They didn't hire Chip Kelly so that they could finish behind schools like Indiana and Purdue in recruiting. USC doesn't have full swagger right now, either, but they have the edge in every way in this rivalry right now, and the Trojans get the nod.
Oregon vs. Oregon State - Oregon -6.5 (+125): Oregon is a well-coached team on the rise, and they have an excellent quarterback. Ten wins is a good target for them. Oregon State has almost nothing going for them. Three wins would feel like a miracle. The 6.5-game difference here is the biggest number on the board, but it certainly doesn't feel like a crazy gamble to take the Ducks here at this price. I certainly wouldn't want to flip it around and be forced to cheer for Oregon State to not be embarrassing. If the Ducks beat Auburn in their huge opener, then I'd feel great about this pick - and I really like Oregon in that game.
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