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Predicting The Best Bets For 2017 College Football Season

College football is here. And as good as it is to talk about some of the amazing stories about last year, it’s time to look forward to the 2017 NCAAF season. With an eye toward the future, I dug into the vast college football landscape to provide you with my predictions as to who will be the best bets in the upcoming campaign.

Best ATS: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eastern Michigan quietly shocked observers by making a bowl game last season thanks to a high-powered offense and surprisingly OK defense. Quarterback Brogan Roback was great once he won the starting job, throwing for 300-plus yards in six of his last seven starts in 2016, and he has the luxury of his top three pass catchers returning in 2017. The O-line needs to replace three starters, which is a major concern for this prediction, but I feel it will be fine after the jump from 2015 to 2016.

The Eagles defense was one of the biggest turnarounds in college sports last season, as Eastern Michigan went from allowing 42.1 ppg in 2015 to just 29.8 in 2016. That defense will return eight starters this season and should be just as consistent. As long as the secondary can work at limiting big plays, this D will take a step forward.

One of the reasons I love Eastern Michigan entering the season is its schedule. It is about as brutal as it gets for the MAC this year but that should allow Eastern Michigan to enter several games as dogs. Considering the team went 7-2 ATS as an underdog last season and should be improved, the Eagles should be worth tailing big time in 2017.

Worst ATS: East Carolina Pirates

East Carolina was one of the worst bets in the nation last season along with being straight up terrible to watch. The offense was dreadful outside of receiver Zay Jones, who will be playing on Sundays. Second-year coach Scottie Montgomery is relying on several key transfers to help out on offense, none more than quarterback Thomas Sirk. The former Duke QB looked solid when he was healthy but has dealt with a cavalcade of injuries, including a torn Achilles that forced him to miss last season. I tend to be incredibly skeptical that Sirk will finally stay healthy. 

The Pirates are relying on transfers to fix a depleted defense that returns just four starters from last season. Maybe that’s a good thing considering East Carolina allowed 36.1 ppg and was awful against the run.

The combination of mediocre (at best) offense and dreadful defense led to East Carolina losing by an average of 14.0 points per game last year despite facing an average closing spread of +3.7. It’s hard to see East Carolina being much better in 2017 unless transfers make a huge impact on both sides of the ball.

Best OVER Team: Wyoming Cowboys

Wyoming was one of the better OVER bets in the NCAAF last season (9-4) and should only get better for totals bettors. Quarterback Josh Allen is back after a massive season that saw the potential first-round pick pass for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for 523 and seven TDs. Who Allen throws to or hands the ball off to is still in question but the offensive line is almost the exact same as last season, which means he will have plenty of time to figure that out in the pocket.

Scoring shouldn’t be an issue for the Cowboys this season but turnovers likely will. The team turned the ball over quite a bit last season with Allen throwing his fair share of interceptions. Allen should grow in his decision-making but young receivers are still likely going to lead to turnovers.

Not only is the high-octane offense turnover-prone but the Wyoming defense was not good last season. The unit, returning nine starters, allowed 46 plays of 30-plus yards and 34.1 points per game.

The defense should make some strides but is still going to allow a lot of points. Basically, it will be up to Allen to outscore Wyoming’s opponents in order to send them to back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1988. All offense, no defense should equal plenty of OVERs for bettors.

Best UNDER Team: Cincinnati Bearcats

Last season was a letdown for the typically consistent Cincinnati squad, which resulted in Tommy Tuberville being shown the door and Luke Fickell taking over as coach. Fickell, who is a defensive coach, will need to find a fix for an offense that averaged just 19.3 ppg and 374 ypg. Aside from inheriting a relatively bare cupboard in terms of offense, Fickell will also need to replace three starters along the offensive line.

Cincy should be solid defensively despite a few losses from last year. Aside from Fickell bringing his defensive expertise, Cincinnati also gets the luxury of returning lineman Cortez Broughton for the upcoming year. Fickell and new DC Marcus Freeman are likely going to play more aggressive defensively, which plays to Broughton’s pocket-pushing capabilities.

More than anything, this prediction is based on the Bearcats offense. The receiving unit is solid but the quarterback position is a question mark, running back Mike Boone is coming off an injury-riddled season and the line is suffering huge turnover. I can’t imagine this team being able to score enough points to be going OVER with any regularity.