NCAA Football Over/Under Season Wins
By Matt Josephs for Steve Merril Sports
The 2009 College Football season is here and there is once again value in Over/Under season win totals. There are always teams that surpass or fall short of lofty expectations set by the oddsmakers. When trying to find value, you must group games into three categories…sure wins, sure losses and question marks. Ideally you want to find more sure results when deciding which side you fall on.
PITTSBURGH UNDER 7.5 wins
The Panthers are one of the many teams in the mediocre Big East who could be towards the top or fighting Syracuse in the bottom. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the conference with Rutgers, West Virginia, USF and Pittsburgh among those who could win it all. Upon first look in Pittsburgh you’ll notice no LeSean McCoy who stabilized the position along with LaRod Stephens-Howling who is also gone. The Pitt Panthers return 15 starters but are handicapped by Dave Wannstedt who isn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the bunch. The schedule also doesn’t do the Panthers much good.
Sure Wins (4): 9/5 Youngstown State, 9/19 Navy, 10/10 UConn, 11/7 Syracuse
Sure Losses (2): 9/26 @ NC State, 10/16 @ Rutgers
Close Calls (6):
9/12 @ Buffalo — The Bulls played them tough in Pittsburgh falling 27-16 to the Panthers and were only down 1 entering the 4th quarter. Pittsburgh lost to Bowling Green last season at home and the Bulls have comparable talent. James Starks and Naaman Roosevelt will need to have a big game for the Bulls to pull it off.
10/2 @ Louisville — The Panthers have lost seven of their last eight to Louisville ending a seven game losing streak last season. The Cardinals bring back 13 starters and a potent offense that will need time to gel with new QB Justin Burke, the NC State transfer.
10/24 vs. USF — Matt Grothe and George Selvie lead the inconsistent Bulls. Last year Pittsburgh won in Florida but the Bulls took the game in Pittsburgh two years ago. USF lives and dies by their stiff defense and has shown they can win on the road putting it on NC State last season.
11/14 vs. Notre Dame — The Irish will be much improved this season and are 12-3 since 1988 against the Panthers. Last year Pittsburgh won 36-33 in 4OT against the Irish in South Bend so revenge will be on ND’s minds.
11/27 @ West Virginia — Revenge will be involved in this one. The Panthers have won two straight in this rivalry but Jarrett Brown and Jock Sanders pace an offense that can put up points if need be. The Mountaineers may also feature the best secondary in the Big East.
12/5 vs. Cincinnati — Eight starters on offense return plus possibly the best coach in the Big East in Brian Kelly. The Bearcats may need this game for bowl eligibility. Cincy won last year’s meeting.
BOISE STATE UNDER 10.5 (+150) wins
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Broncos this season as a BCS buster and a team to be watched potentially in the national title hunt. Boise returns six starters on offense and five on defense. The offense will be led by Kellen Moore who will have Jeremy Avery and Austin Pettis to help him out. The team also returns three offensive linemen. Their problem lies in the front seven where only two starters return from a defense that was pretty strong last season. Looking at their schedule:
Sure Wins (8):
Miami Ohio (9/12), @ Bowling Green (9/26), UC Davis (10/3), @ Hawaii (10/24), San Jose State (10/31), Idaho (11/14), @ Utah State (11/20), New Mexico State (12/5)
Sure Losses (0):
Question Marks (5):
9/3 vs. Oregon — The Ducks will have revenge on their minds from last season’s 37-32 home loss to the Broncos. Oregon returns just nine starters from last year’s team but they are at the right places. Oregon was 4-2 on the road last season and has the talent to make this a close game.
9/18 @ Fresno — The Bulldogs bring back 15 starters and have shown that they can be a thorn in teams sides with upsets over Rutgers and Kansas State over the past few season. FSU grinds it out with Ryan Mathews and Lonyae Miller and has the offensive line that could be able to push around the relatively new Boise D-Line.
10/14 @ Tulsa — The Golden Hurricane are one of the few teams who can match point for point offensively with the big boys. Their defense will be improved with eight starters back and many offensive weapons as well. They’ve gone 11-1 over the last two seasons at home.
11/6 @ La Tech — All I’m saying here is that the Bulldogs won’t be a pushover. They return 16 starters from an improving Bulldog team and are another squad that has the run game and the o-line to push Boise around. Daniel Porter is an underrated back. Last year they beat Mississippi State there and two years ago LT matched them offensively but had a costly fumble in BSU territory.
11/27 vs. Nevada — The Wolf Pack have a bunch of offensive weapons and return Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua who will be joined by Luke Lippincott who was granted a fifth season of eligibility. The last two meetings have been close with a 7 point loss last year and 2 point loss in 4OT in 2007.
NC STATE OVER 8 (+170)
The Wolfpack have the pieces to be a real dangerous team in the ACC. They bring back the best quarterback in the conference in Russell Wilson and a nasty defense. The thing that makes the Wolfpack even tougher is the depth they have on both lines. Last season, they finished one of the hottest teams in the country winning four of their last five games including demolishing North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Sure Wins (6): 9/12 Murray State, 9/19 Gardner Webb, 9/26 Pittsburgh, 10/10 Duke, 11/7 Maryland, 11/14 Clemson
Sure Losses: 11/21 @ Va Tech
9/3 vs. South Carolina — NC State has won four of their last five vs. the Gamecocks. They got shut out 34-0 last year on the road but were breaking in Wilson who got hurt in the middle of the game. South Carolina is rebuilding.
10/3 @ Wake Forest — The Wolfpack scored a comeback win over the Demon Deacons who are tough at home. Riley Skinner has a case for being the best in the conference. The Demon Deacons only return four starters on defense.
10/17 @ BC — The Eagles are a thorn in the side of NC State. The Pack hasn’t won in Chestnut Hill since 1937. Last year they gave up 578 yards to them losing 38-31. BC will have an inexperienced QB and a relatively weak defensive line.
10/31 @ FSU — Halloween night the Pack will see the Seminoles who have won two straight against NC State after losing their last four. The Pack had a 17-13 lead in the 4th quarter before losing 26-17. FSU is only 5-4 away from home the last two seasons and return only 5 starters on D.
11/28 vs. North Carolina — The Wolfpack are 9-4 since 1996 in home finales and forced 6 Heel turnovers last year on their way to a 41-10 win. They’ve won two straight in this heated rivalry.
TCU UNDER 9 (+110) – Tough road trips to UVA, Clemson, Air Force, BYU and a sneaky trip to Laramie could help the Under.
OKLAHOMA STATE OVER 9 (+110) – The Cowboys just need to take one game out of the group of Texas, @ Oklahoma and Georgia.
Matt Josephs is a NCAA expert and one of the top college handicappers for Steve Merril Sports.