Expectations are high for Louisville this year.
The 2013 college football season is officially here. With kickoff on Thursday night, it’s time to make those final preseason predictions and projections.
Even if you don't place any wagers on sports, the lines/projections from the good folks in Vegas are always something to check out before each season and before each week of games. Not only is it interesting content, but Vegas has a good pulse on the teams and is often one of the most accurate sources of predictions.
To get ready for the upcoming college football season, Athlon took a look at how its predictions matched up against a couple of sports books.
Athlon and the sports books in Vegas largely agreed the win totals for teams, as there weren't many large variations in projections. However, below are a few props we like heading into 2013, as well as a few that should be avoided.
College Football's Win Total Projections for 2013
|Team||5 Dimes||Cantor||LVH||Bovada||The Greek||Sportsbook||Athlon|
|New Mexico State||2.5||2|
|San Diego State||7.5||7.5||7|
|San Jose State||7.5||7|
Over Totals We Like
With a win total of 11 or 11.5, you have to bank on the Crimson Tide not losing a game. Considering there’s no Georgia, Florida or South Carolina on the schedule, LSU visits Tuscaloosa and Virginia Tech doesn’t look like much of a threat in the opener, Alabama’s chances of going unbeaten in the regular season seem pretty likely. Of course, there’s a huge contest against Texas A&M on Sept. 14, but it’s pretty safe to assume we will see a motivated Crimson Tide squad out for revenge in that game.
In a bit of a surprise, most of the win projections have the Broncos at 10 or 9.5 victories. In a “rebuilding year” last year, Boise State went 11-2 and both losses were by four points or less. The Broncos have some key personnel departures, but quarterback Joe Southwick is back and the front seven should be one of the best in the Mountain West. Games at Washington, Fresno State, Utah State and San Diego State won’t be easy, but Boise State should be hitting double-digit victories once again.
This is one projection that’s right on the line. The Tigers are projected by most to hit 9.5-10 wins, while Athlon has Clemson finishing with 11 in the regular season. Although the Tigers have a reputation of underachieving, this team has finished 21-6 over the last two years. The schedule is favorable in conference play, with the toughest games (Georgia Tech, Florida State) in Death Valley. Assuming Clemson sweeps ACC play, its win total essentially comes down to two games against SEC opponents – Georgia and at South Carolina. With the Bulldogs rebuilding their defense, Clemson has a good chance to knock off another opponent against the SEC.
Athlon has the Hoosiers at six victories, while two other projections have the over/under for Kevin Wilson’s team set at 5.5 We like the over for Indiana. The Hoosiers have a challenging non-conference slate, but while matchups against Navy, Bowling Green and Missouri aren’t guaranteed victories, Indiana should get at least two wins out of that trio. In conference play, the Hoosiers will be favored to beat Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue. If Wilson’s team gets through non-conference play with three victories, Indiana should hit six or seven wins in 2013.
It’s easy to find reasons not to pick the Wildcats to finish among the top four or five teams in the Big 12 this year. Quarterback Collin Klein must be replaced, and the defense only has two returning starters. However, bet against coach Bill Snyder at your own risk. Kansas State always finds a way to reload under Snyder, and the new quarterbacks (Jake Waters and Daniel Sams) will keep the offense performing at a high level. The schedule also sets up in the Wildcats’ favor, especially with swing games against Iowa State, TCU and Oklahoma coming later in the year, giving Snyder plenty of time to get the new faces acclimated to life in the Big 12.
With a loaded roster and favorable schedule, there’s a good chance the Cardinals finish with 11 or 12 wins this year. A couple of projections have Louisville at 10.5 on the over/under, but where are the two losses coming from? Maybe the Cardinals won’t go unbeaten. However, it’s hard to find two guaranteed defeats on this schedule.
The Wolverines finished 8-5 with a difficult schedule last season, but three losses came by a touchdown or less. Although quarterback Denard Robinson is gone, Michigan should be able to increase its win total in 2013. Quarterback Devin Gardner is a better fit for coach Brady Hoke’s pro-style offense, and the defense has more depth due to some good recruiting in recent years. The schedule features games against Notre Dame, Penn State and a difficult November stretch against the Legends Division frontrunners – Nebraska, Michigan State and Northwestern. We like Michigan to win at least nine games this year, so the 8.5 over/under seems a little low.
Coming off a 10-3 season, Northwestern has its sights set on contending for a Big Ten title. And with quarterback Kain Colter, running back Venric Mark and seven starters coming back on defense, the Wildcats are poised to push for 10 wins once again. Northwestern does have a challenging schedule, which features Ohio State and Wisconsin in crossover play with the Leaders Division. However, the non-conference slate should result in four wins, and the Wildcats host Michigan and Michigan State. Even if Northwestern loses to Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Nebraska, taking the over in 8.5 seems favorable.
The Bulls were one of the Big East’s biggest disappointments last year, finishing 3-9 with only one victory in conference play. South Florida should be improved in 2013, largely due to the hire of new coach Willie Taggart. The Bulls need to find a new quarterback and a go-to running back, but the defense is strong enough to carry this team to a bowl. Non-conference games against Michigan State and Miami are likely losses, and beating Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers and UCF will be difficult. However, the rest of the schedule is manageable, and South Florida could pull off an upset if Matt Floyd stabilizes the quarterback position. Taggart is one of the offseason’s top hires, and he should make a big impact with the Bulls in 2013.
The Bruins have represented the Pac-12 South Division in the last two conference championship games, but Jim Mora’s team may have trouble making it three in a row. The schedule is challenging, which features crossover games against North Division foes Oregon, Stanford and Washington, along with a non-conference matchup against Nebraska. Even if UCLA loses against Oregon, Stanford and Nebraska and at USC in the regular season finale, the over at 6.5 or 7 is one we like.
Take the Under
Coming off a 4-8 season, it’s hard to see the Hawkeyes making a significant jump in wins for 2013. Quarterback James Vandenberg must be replaced, and Iowa needs to find a few more playmakers at receiver. Non-conference games against Northern Illinois and Iowa State aren’t guaranteed wins, and the Hawkeyes have to play Ohio State and Wisconsin in crossover play. Six wins on the over/under is too high.
Nine wins isn’t out of the question, but the Coastal Division is tough to sort out with Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and the Tar Heels all having legitimate conference title hopes. The Tar Heels open at South Carolina and have tricky road dates at NC State and Pittsburgh. This is one projection that’s just too close to call.
With road games against Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, along with home dates versus Texas A&M and LSU, it’s easy to see why Ole Miss may have trouble matching last year’s win total. Even though the Rebels have a top-notch recruiting class coming, just getting to eight wins would be a good season.
The Trojans have one of the most talented rosters in the Pac-12, but Lane Kiffin’s team is coming off a disappointing 7-6 season. With a new quarterback and defensive scheme, can this team make a three or four game improvement in the win column? Although Athlon has USC at nine victories, taking the over at 10.5 or 9.5 is risky.
The Hokies were one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments last year. Three of Virginia Tech’s victories came in overtime and they needed a 17-14 win over Virginia just to get bowl eligible. Although the defense might be the best in the ACC, the offense will struggle once again. The line struggled in the preseason, and the rushing attack is still searching for a No. 1 back. Anything above eight victories is too much.
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