Dr. Bob 2015 College Football Futures Bets

Check back before the start of the 2016 season for this year’s Season Win totals and Futures. 

College season win totals Best Bets are 10-1 the last 3 seasons and 23-10 all time.

Originally Posted: Posted: 02-Sep-15 06:32 PM

I have 3 Season win total Best Bets and 3 Futures plays for 2015

Dr. Bob College Football Season Win Bets
I’m 20-10 on my College season win bets over the years, including 15-8 since I started releasing them to my subscribers (7-1 the last two seasons). Most books now have win totals on every team but some still have a limited selection, which might result in you finding a line on only 1 of this year’s 3 season win bets.Good luck this season,

Dr. Bob

Season Win Totals

***UCF – UNDER 7 (+135)
Central Florida survived the absence of 1st round NFL draft pick QB Blake Bortles with a 9-4 season but the Knights weren’t actually that good last season. Excluding their game against a horrible FCS team (Bethune-Cookman) UCF managed to average only 5.0 yards per play with their new quarterback Justin Holman while allowing 4.7 yppl to a below average schedule of FBS opponents that would combine to be outgained by 0.5 yppl by an average team. Thus, UCF was actually 0.2 yppl worse than average and rated 0.7 points worse than average overall from the line of scrimmage despite their positive play differential. Last year’s impressive record was enhanced by a weak schedule and 3 wins in the final seconds or OT but the Knights were a mediocre team. That average squad, which had 15 returning starters, including 9 on the defensive side of the ball, is likely to be worse this season with a total of just 8 returning starters.

The defense that buoyed the Knights last season won’t be quite as good with just 3 returning starters (now that DT Demetris Anderson is out for the season with an injured knee) and starting cornerback Chris Williams (an Alabama transfer) is out with an injured arm. UCF was 0.6 yards per play better than average defensively last season with that veteran crew (4.7 yppl allowed in FBS games was against a schedule of teams that would combine to average only 5.3 yppl against an average defensive team) but the Knights’ defense was average from a yards per play perspective in each of the 3 prior seasons and that’s the level my algorithm expects this season.

The UCF offense, which was 0.8 yards per play worse than average last season (5.0 yppl against teams that would allow 5.8 yppl to an average attack), isn’t likely to be any better and could be worse if the rushing attack doesn’t improve. Holman returns for his second season as the starter, but the rushing attack sucks (3.8 yards per rushing play against teams that would allow 5.1 yprp) and Holman will likely have worse passing numbers despite his added experience. The problem is a receiving corps that lost last season’s top 4 receivers, including an irreplaceable Breshard Perriman, who was drafted in the 1st round of the NFL draft after averaging 20.9 yards per catch and 11.1 yards per pass targeted at him. The rest of the UCF wide receivers combined to average a modest 7.7 yards per target last season, which is about what I expect from this year’s batch of new receivers, and it’s doubtful that any of those new pass catchers comes close to matching Perriman’s production. So, while Holman is likely to be a better quarterback, his stats aren’t likely to be as good without Perriman and I rate the UCF attack at 0.8 yppl worse than average again this season (a likely improvement in the horrible rushing stats makes up for the decline in passing numbers).

The Knights should be just as bad offensively while the defense goes from experienced and good to inexperienced and mediocre. That combination, combined with a tougher schedule, will make it tough for UCF to win 7 games. The non-conference schedule includes trips to Stanford and South Carolina (both highly likely losses) and the Knights draw the American Athletic Conference’s best team this season in Cincinnati, who they avoided last season. That game is at Cincy (also a high percentage loss) and I also have the Knights as an underdog at Temple, an ascending team with 19 returning starters. The other two road games are also against improved teams, Tulsa and Tulane, and I don’t see the Knights winning both of those games either. UCF is likely to go 1-5 or 2-4 on the road which means that they have to win at least 6 of their 7 home games to get over 7 wins. I only have UCF favored in 5 of those 7 home games (the exclusions being Houston and East Carolina). Another way to look at the schedule is dividing it into likely wins and losses and toss-up games. UCF has 4 games with a 70% or better chance of winning (home games vs FIU, Furman, U Conn, and South Florida) and the Knights have 4 games with a 70% chance or more of losing (at Stanford, at South Carolina, at Temple, and at Cincinnati). The other 4 games fall in the 40% to 60% win range (at Tulane, vs Houston, at Tulsa, and vs ECU) and UCF would need to win all 4 of those toss-up games to get to 8 wins if they are 4-4 on the more lopsided games. I see UCF as a 5 or 6 win team and going under 7 wins while getting odds is a very good play. I’ll go UNDER 7 wins (+135) in a 3-Star Best Bet(2-Stars at +120 or less).

**California – OVER 5.5 (-110)
There is no denying that the Cal Bears have one of the best offensive teams in the nation, led by future 1st round NFL draft pick QB Jared Goff and a slew of quality receivers and back, so the question is all about the defense. All signs point to a much tougher defensive unit this season after an injury plagued 2014 unit allowed 40 points per game (while the offensive was scoring 38 per contest). Only 3 of the 11 projected defensive starters in the spring of 2014 made it through week 5 without being lost to injury, with some being lost prior to the start of the season and others going down in the first 5 weeks. The combination of lack of depth and a high number of snaps played per game (due to the fast pace of the offense) took their toll on the Bears as the season wore on an a 4-1 start to the season (with the only loss on the Hail Mary at Arizona) turned into a 1-6 finish. Cal played a lot of inexperienced youth last season due to the attrition and this year the Bears not only return some players who missed all or most of last season but that youth is now experienced depth, which is needed on a team with an up-tempo offense.

The defense will get a big boost from the return of DE Kyle Kragen, who is the Bears’ best pass rusher but had to sit out last season due to a bout of mononucleosis. Cal also adds Wake Forest transfer James Looney to play in the middle of the line with star NG Mustafa Jalil, who is the only of 3 returning starters on the defensive line that was able to keep his job – obviously a sign of improvement. An incredible 5 of Cal’s 9 returning starters on defense are now backups and the upgrades have been so significant that last year’s leading tackler LB Michael Barton isn’t even a starter this season. While Cal’s defense last season was not good (6.4 yards per play allowed) they weren’t as bad as the 42 points per game allowed to FBS teams would suggest. The Bears faced one of the toughest set of opposing offensive units in the nation last season, a group that would combine to average 5.9 yppl against an average defensive team, and also faced an average of 82.2 plays per game – the most in the nation thanks to all the pass-heavy up-tempo offenses that were on the schedule.

The Bears’ run defense was actually very good (4.5 yards per rushing play allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.3 yprp against an average team) thanks to Jalil’s run-stuffing ability and the Bears’ quick linebackers – a position that is even better this season as evidenced by Barton losing his spot. It was the secondary and lack of a pass rush that was the big issue last season and resulted in allowing 7.9 yards per pass play to a collection of opposing quarterbacks that would combine to average 6.5 yppp against an average defensive team. The pass rush will be much better with the return of Kragen and two other upgrades and the secondary should be much, much better with the return to health of FS Stefan McClure, whose talent was hindered by injuries last season (played only 8 games and played hurt in others), and SS Griffin Piatt, who lead the team with 9 passes defended in just 4 starts before an injury in week 6 ended his season. Piatt should be ready to return to the lineup by week 3 (possibly week 2), so the safeties are solid this season. The Bears returned both starting cornerbacks from last season but both are now backups, which is a good sign of improvement at that position too. One of the new starters is sophomore Darius Allensworth, who was second to Piatt last season in passes defended (6) despite not starting a game all season. I don’t expect Cal to be good defensively but the run defense should be just as good and the pass defense will be considerably better (although I still rate them at 0.6 yppp worse than average) with a better pass rush and an upgrade in talent in the secondary.

Cal’s offense, meanwhile, will rank among the best in the nation in both points and in my compensated yards per play metric. Not only does Jared Goff return at quarterback but all the running backs and all but one of the talented group of receivers is back. Cal goes 8 deep in quality receivers with the combination of returning talent and great recruiting at that position and Goff should improve once again in coach Sonny Dykes’ Bear Raid attack that averaged 37 points on 489 yards per game against FBS opponents last season. Cal ran a lot of plays and they were efficient in averaging 6.0 yards per play despite facing teams that would combine to allow just 5.2 yppl to an average offensive team. Goff only threw 7 interceptions all season (against 35 TD passes) on 509 pass attempts and his surrounding cast is even better this season. Cal doesn’t have a lot of room for improvement but they will be better with the added depth at receiver this season (assuring that the Bears always have fresh receivers).

Cal actually rated as an above average team last season when factoring in their competition and despite last season’s defensive issues the Bears were still 5-7 and would have been bowl bound had Arizona not beaten them with a Hail Mary pass on the final play in Tuscon. Cal won some close games too (3-3 on games decided by 7 points or less) and they showed that they were capable of competing with good teams (lost by just 2 to UCLA and by only 8 at USC). With a prolific offense all it takes for the Bears to be a top 30 team this season is an average defense (on a national scale), which I believe they have. Cal will still be worse than average defensively by Pac 12 standards but that unit won’t be nearly the liability that it was last season and those 3 close losses in 2014 would have been 3 wins with the improved defense that the Bears have this season. My ratings call for a 6.8 wins this season and there are 5 games on the schedule that I have as 70% or more likely to be victories (Grambling, San Diego State, at Washington (they’re not going to be good), Washington State and Oregon State). There are 3 games that are 70% or more likely to be losses (at UCLA, at Oregon, and at Stanford) and there are 4 games with win probabilities between 0.42 and 0.52 (at Texas, at Utah, USC at home, and Arizona State). If the 70% or more games all go according to plan (5 wins and 3 losses) then the Bears would need to win just 1 of the other 4 to get to 6 wins and all the win probabilities add up to 6.8 wins. With the total at 5.5 at even money there is value in taking the Bears over the total. I’ll take California OVER 5.5 wins (-110) in a 2-Star Best Bet (1-Star at -120 or more.

*Ohio – OVER 5 (-170)
Frank Solich has won an average of 7.8 regular season games, and a minimum of 6, in each of the last 6 seasons (and 8 of the last 9) with between 11 and 13 returning starters each of those years. This season Ohio has 17 returning starters (with TE Mangen out due to injury) and this year’s Bobcats are Solich’s best since the 2011 team that won 10 games. Ohio’s offense is projected to go from 0.7 yards per play worse than average to just 0.1 yppl worse than average. The biggest part of that increase is due to Derrius Vick being at quarterback. The Bobcats were much better with Vick at quarterback (59% completions and 6.3 yards per pass play) than they were with J.D. Sprague (49% completions and only 5.3 yppp) last season and Ohio’s pass attack will be much better if Vick can avoid the injuries that knocked him out of about half the games last season. The rushing attack should also be better with sophomore A.J. Quellette as the full time back this season. Quellette only started 6 games last year and was much more effective (4.9 ypr) than Daz’mond Patterson (4.0 ypr) even after adjusting for schedule strength and the offensive line returns all 8 offensive linemen that started games last season. The receiving corps figures to be about the same and Vick should improve on last year’s numbers if he stays healthy.

Ohio should be better than average by MAC standards offensively and the Bobcats defense will also be improved with all their key players back this season. Ohio should once again be good against the run (4.6 yards per rushing play allowed last season to teams that would combine to average 5.1 yprp against an average team) and the Bobcats will certainly be better defending the pass with 6 of last season’s back 7 returning, including their top 4 in passes defended. I’m looking for an improvement from 0.3 yards per play worse than average last season to average this season. Special teams have consistently been good under Solich and his staff and this season should be no different with all the key components back.

Overall, the Bobcats figure to be a bit worse than average on a national scale but they’re better than average for the MAC. Even a tough non-conference schedule (they should win at Idaho and get past a pretty good SE Louisiana team but are expected to lose to Marshall at home and at Minnesota) shouldn’t keep Solich from his 6 wins or more, as I project 7.0 wins. A posted win total of 5 wins was obviously low and the odds on over 5 is now -170, but that’s equivalent to about 5.7 wins so there is still value on playing over 5 even at -170. I have Ohio favored by 7 or more in 5 games (at Idaho, SE Louisiana, Miami-Ohio, Kent State, and Ball State) and as a 5 ½ point favorite at Buffalo. I only have the Bobcats as a big dog at Minnesota and I have 3 games with the Bobcats as a 6 to 7 point dog (Marshall at home, at Akron, and at Northern Illinois), which mathematically should result in 1 win. I’m not as high on Bowling Green as others are and I have that game as a toss-up along with the Western Michigan (at home) game. If Ohio can go 4-2 in the 6 games I have them favored by 5 points or more in (4.6 expected wins) a split the two toss-up games then the Bobcats could lose all 4 games in which I have them as a 6 point dog or more and they’d still get to 6 wins. It’s certainly unlikely that Ohio wins 4 games or less. I’ll play to win 1-Star on Ohio OVER 5 wins (-170) (play up to -200).

NCAA Football Futures Plays
All 3 of my medium to long shot teams to win the national championship have one aspect of their team that is in question but also have a big range of possibilities in that one area. If that high variable component plays out at the high end of the range then each team has a legitimate chance to be elite. Variance is what you want with big underdogs and I’ll either look stupid at the end of the season or look like a genius. But, I’ll take my chances at long odds with 3 teams.

Odds listed is the average price from 5Dimes and CRIS
0.5 Stars on LSU (23-1)
0.5 Stars on Stanford (43-1)
0.5 Stars on Texas A&M (54-1)

0.5 Stars on LSU (23-1)
LSU is one position away from being a dominant team and the Tigers can be a top 5 team if sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris plays anywhere close to his high billing.

Harris played a bit last year and is considered a better passer than junior Anthony Jennings, who completed only 49% of his passes. If Harris completes around 56% of his passes then the Tigers should be dangerous with the deep threats they have at receiver and with super sophomore Leonard Fournette in the backfield. Fournette struggled early in his freshman season but the former #1 rated running back of his class got better as the season went on and ended last year with over 1000 yards at 5.5 yards per run. I expect better numbers this season with the added experience and better quarterback play keeping opponents from stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the run.

There is no question that the Tigers defense will be good. LSU finished 8th in my defensive ratings last season and have been in the top 3 twice in the last 4 years as well. Defensive coordinator John Chavis left for Texas A&M but new DC Kevin Steele has a good resume. It is unknown what affect losing Chavis will have but I’ll assume Steele does a good job after working with Alabama last season – and the defensive talent at LSU is as good as any team in the nation.

With a dominating defense, a future NFL running back and a slew of dangerous receivers all the Tigers need is steady quarterback play to be a top 5 team.

If Harris can live up to his top 10 quarterback billing coming out of high school then the Tigers are going to be a top 5 team. In fact, I have them rated 6th as it is heading into this year. The Tigers avoid both Georgia and Tennessee, the top two teams from the SEC East, so the schedule isn’t as tough as some of the other contenders.

I’ll play 0.5 Stars on LSU to win the National Championship (23 to 1). Play at 18 to 1 or better.

0.5 Stars on Stanford (43-1)
The Pac-12 is extremely competitive this season with Oregon likely to be down a few notches and the teams in the south beating each other up, and Stanford is a team that can win their league if the defense continues their tradition of dominance. That’s a big if considering the Cardinal only have 3 returning starters on that side of the ball but the talent level is there. It’s unlikely that Stanford will be as good as last year’s defense that ranked #1 in my ratings but they could be as good as they were in 2012 and 2013, which would put them in the top 10 in the nation defensively.

A top 10 defense would make Stanford very good, as I see a huge improvement in the offense. Stanford regressed last season offensively after quarterback Kevin Hogan led the Cardinal to extremely efficient offensive numbers in 2013.

Stanford was 1.3 yards per play better than average in ‘13, which ranked them 12th in the nation that season, and I think this attack could be better. Hogan was distracted last season by the death of his father, which he finally came to terms with late in the season while stringing together 3 strong performances to cap the season.

The talent has been upgraded with sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey ready to make a name for himself after flashing his brilliance in a limited role as a freshman. The receiving corps is as good as its been during Hogan’s 4 seasons, as the only loss from last year was the vastly overrated Ty Montgomery, who averaged a pathetic 6.4 yards per pass thrown to him. Devon Cajuste is this year’s main target and he averaged 10.3 yards per target as the #2 receiver last year. As usual, the tight ends are all talented pass catchers and the offensive line is loaded with talent and now has experience.

I think the Stanford offense will get back to the efficiency level they were at 2 years ago and that would make the Cardinal an elite team if the defense overcomes their inexperience along the defensive line and plays up to their talent level (Stanford has recruited extremely well on that side of the ball)

It’s certainly possible that Stanford’s defense is a year away from returning to dominant levels but if they are a top 20 defense then Stanford would be as good as any team in the Pac 12 and they get Oregon and UCLA at home and avoid Arizona State. Even a week 3 loss at USC wouldn’t kill their season, as winning the North division and then the Pac 12 championship should be enough to get them in the playoffs.

I’ll play 0.5 Stars on Stanford to win the National Championship (43 to 1). Play at 30 to 1 or better.

0.5 Stars on Texas A&M (54-1)
Texas A&M is my real longshot to win it all and it comes down to their defense. Kevin Sumlin and his staff have recruited well on the defensive side of the ball and former long time LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis was lured away from Baton Rouge to assemble that talent into a good defense. A&M was certainly going to have an improved defense even without the coaching change but there’s a decent chance the Aggies could actually be good defensively this season and they’ll be a dangerous team if that’s the case.

The Aggies had a down year offensively but they still ranked 18th in my offensive efficiency ratings after finishing 1st and 4th in offensive rating in Sumlin’s first 2 years at A&M. It’s pretty obvious by how bad Johnny Manziel has been as a pro that those high ratings were more about the system than Manziel and further proof of that is how well Sumlin’s offenses were at Houston with lesser talent to work with. In fact, Sumlin’s system is good enough to get Case Keenum into the NFL.

Sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen played well late in the season after a shaky start to his career, when he took over the position mid-season, and I expect Allen, the #1 rated quarterback prospect out of high school, to light it up through the air with a now veteran receiving corps that has 6 of last year’s top 7 receivers back. Allen is the most talented passing quarterback that Sumlin has ever coached and we’ll likely see that talent translate into about 40 points per game this season.

A&M will be back in the top 5 or 10 offensively and the defense has the potential to be good.

I’m not saying the Aggies are the team to beat but the SEC is wide open this year and they get Alabama and Auburn at home and avoid the top 4 teams from the East Division. A&M won at Auburn as a 23 point dog last season and they won as a 13 point dog at Alabama in 2012 – so Sumlin has proven that his elite offense can spring some upsets and this year he’ll have the best defense that he’s had at A&M.

Obviously, a lot has to go right but the Aggies have the talent to win their division, which they could do with 2 losses, and they’d be good enough to beat any team from the East in the SEC Championship game.

50 to 1 is too high and I’ll play 0.5 Stars on Texas A&M to win the National Championship (54-1). Play at 40 to 1 or better.

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