There's a clear split between the top and the bottom teams in C-USA
The 2018 college football season is rapidly approaching so it's time to take a look at the win totals that Vegas has provided and see if there's any value out there when it comes to over/under for individual teams. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll take a look at every FBS conference to find the best and worst over/under numbers out there.
When it comes to win totals, you want to clearly be well under or well over the number unless the price is good. Sometimes you'll see something with a (+) price and that is great value. In terms of determining the amount of wins, generally I'll lean to wins in conference home games and losses in conference road games. With regards to the non-conference games, once again I'm more apt to give teams wins at home and losses on the road.
All that said, let's take a look at Conference USA and see if there's money to be made here:
Note: Over/under totals provided by the South Point Sportsbook in Las Vegas.
Conference USA East Division
Over 3.5 wins -110...Under 3.5 wins -110
Non-conference: Fordham, Appalachian State, at UMass, at Tennessee
The 49ers took a step back in 2017 with only one victory and a bunch of blowout losses. The low point was probably a four-point loss to FCS member North Carolina A&T as a slight favorite. The team returns 18 starters, which means there should be some sort of improvement. The problem is the offense doesn't really scare anyone and the defense will be on the field way too much.
Verdict: 2 wins for me so the under is worth a look although not one of my favorite plays.
Over 9 wins -110....Under 9 wins -110
Non-conference: at Oklahoma, Air Force, Bethune-Cookman, at UCF
FAU was a huge surprise last year as Lane Kiffin led the Owls to an 11-3 record and C-USA title. The offense steamrolled through the conference while the defense did its part as well. Success brought changes to the coaching staff so that will be interesting to watch. The schedule takes a step up with two tough non-conference games as well as road trips to Marshall and Middle Tennessee. Running back Devin Singletary will be busy again this season.
Verdict: 9 is a solid number with a small lean to the under.
Over 5 wins -110....Under 5 wins -110
Non-conference: Indiana, UMass, at Miami, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
It's year two for Butch Davis, who got the Panthers to a bowl game while winning eight games in his first season as head coach. I don't have as high expectations for year two as a total of eight starters return, four on each side of the ball. FIU won several close games last year, and I don't know if luck will be on this team's side again.
Verdict: Slight lean to the under, but not one of my favorite plays as I see 4-5 wins.
Over 7.5 wins -110....Under 7.5 wins -110
Non-conference: at Miami (Ohio), vs. Eastern Kentucky, at South Carolina, vs. NC State
If Alex Thomson takes over for Chase Litton seamlessly at quarterback, then the Thundering Herd's offense should continue to rumble. In a conference that doesn't feature a ton of defense, this team could buck that trend with nine returning starters. Marshall gets NC State and FAU at home.
Verdict: Slight lean to the under as I came up with 7 wins.
Over 7 wins -110....Under 7 wins -110
Non-conference: at Vanderbilt, UT Martin, at Georgia, at Kentucky
Brent Stockstill is back under center and he's got wide receiver Ty Lee along for the ride. If his receivers can stay healthy, then Stockstill should put up decent numbers. The defense returns seven starters. Well see if the Blue Raiders can survive their brutal non-conference slate that includes three road games against SEC East teams. Middle Tennessee also has a stretch of five road games over their last eight weeks. The team could be good, but the record may not show it considering how tough the schedule is.
Verdict: 7 is the number I came up with so no play here.
Over 5.5 wins -105....Under 5.5 wins -115
Non-conference: at Liberty, Virginia Tech, at East Carolina, VMI
This team should go bowling if quarterback Steven Williams builds off last year. He was the youngest player in the FBS in 2017 and it showed at times. The offensive line returns basically intact and the skill positions are good. Defensively, the team has seven starters back. There are a couple of banana peel games with road trips to lowly Liberty, East Carolina and Rice. If the Monarchs can get at least one of those then they should become bowl eligible.
Verdict: Arguably my favorite play in the conference is the over for Old Dominion. I see 7-8 wins.
Over 5 wins -125....Under 5 wins +105
Non-conference: at Wisconsin, Maine, at Louisville, at Ball State
Quarterback Mike White is gone so the offense figures to rely on the running game led a couple of different options. The defense has seven starters returning, but I'm not a fan of the unit overall. The season begins and ends with stretches of three road games over four weeks. This could be a rare rough year for the Hilltoppers.
Verdict: 5 is a solid number with a small lean to the over especially if the team takes care of business at home.
Conference USA West Division
Over 7 wins -110....Under 7 wins -110
Non-conference: at South Alabama, Southern, at LSU, at Mississippi State
The Bulldogs will have to rely on conference play potentially for most of their wins. They have three non-conference road games with the one at South Alabama being sneaky tough. Quarterback J'Mar Smith should take another step forward under head coach Skip Holtz. Ten of the top 14 tacklers from last year return so this could be a strong unit. Playing at division favorites North Texas and FAU will challenge Louisiana Tech.
Verdict: 7 is a solid number with a small lean to the under
Over 8 wins +105....Under 8 wins -125
Non-conference: SMU, Incarnate Word, at Arkansas, at Liberty
North Texas was one of my favorite wagers last year as the team really took to coordinator Graham Harrell's offense. Quarterback Mason Fine was fantastic as the team scored 30 points or more nine times. Replacing running back Jeffrey Wilson will be tough, but the other skill position guys have talent. The defense wasn't great last year, but that should change with eight returning starters.
Verdict: 8 is what I came up with.
Over 3 wins -125....Under 3 wins +105
Non-conference: Prairie View A&M, Houston, at Hawaii, at Wake Forest, at LSU
New head coach Mike Bloomgren has a lot of work to do with these Owls. A total of seven starters return, just two from what was one of the FBS' most anemic offenses in the first place. I made quite a bit of money fading this team and taking the over last year considering how bad the defense was. It's going to be a long year for the rookie head coach.
Verdict: 3 is a solid number even with the extra game on the slate.
Over 6.5 wins -110...Under 6.5 wins -110
Non-conference: Jackson State, ULM, at Appalachian State, at Auburn
There are some question marks on offense with this team as the Golden Eagles replace key contributors on both sides of the ball. They only return eight total starters so there could be some early struggles despite the home-friendly start before the bye. If quarterback Kwadra Griggs could keep up the momentum he had last year though, a bowl game could be in this team's future.
Verdict: I land right on the 6-7 win mark here so no play.
Over 7.5 wins +105...Under 7.5 wins -125
Non-conference: Savannah State, at Coastal Carolina, Tulane, at Texas A&M
After two seasons away from college football, UAB went 8-5 and made a bowl game. Bill Clark should be able to continue the momentum with 14 starters returning. AJ Erdely played really well under center for the Blazers. The defense will have to replace three of their top five tacklers so there could be a little bit of a decline there. The schedule lays out nicely for the most part.
Verdict: Small lean to the over as the road trips for the most part aren't that daunting.
Over 2.5 wins +105...Under 2.5 wins -125
Non-conference: Northern Arizona, at UNLV, at Tennessee, New Mexico State
First-year head coach Dana Dimel is in for a long year with the Miners who have seven returning starters from a team that went 0-12. Quadraiz Wadley is a pretty good running back, but opponents were stacking the box against him. The defense could be decent, but this unit will be on the field quite a bit. The Nov. 3 game at Rice could be UTEP's (or the Owls') first shot at beating an FBS team.
Verdict: Ever-so-slight lean to the under although there isn't much margin for error.
Over 5 wins +120....Under 5 wins -140
Non-conference: at Arizona State, Baylor, at Kansas State, Texas State
There is some rebuilding to be done in Frank Wilson's third year as head coach. Only eight starters return and with a very tough start to the schedule, he has to keep his team focused and upbeat even though 0-3 record is a distinct possibility. The defense, which finished in the top eight nationally in yards, points and against the pass last year, returns just five starters, so a step backwards is very likely on that side of the ball.
Verdict: 5 is a solid number.
-- Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.