Michigan over 8.5 (+120)
I really admire what Brady Hoke has accomplished in his 2 years as the head man of the Michigan Wolverines. Hoke has guided the Wolverines to a combined 19-7 record over the last 2 seasons. However, this is a program that has extremely high standards, and last year's 8-5 mark was seen as a disappointment for the Michigan faithful. Especially after Hoke went 11-2 in his debut season in Ann Arbor.
History has shown that successful programs that were victimized by the turnover
bug in the previous year regularly turn the tables in the following season, and
become the beneficiaries of their opponent’s mistakes in doing so. In the
Wolverines 5 losses last season they turned the ball over 19 times. Compare
that to just 9 giveaways in their 8 wins it doesn't take a rocket scientist to
figure out that this is a team that was much better than their record
indicated. I look for Michigan to reverse their fortunes and be a +10 or better
in turnover differential this upcoming season.
Whenever researching a college football team, and their projected win total, one of the key components in that evaluation is their schedule. Upon doing so I would be very surprised if Michigan doesn't get off to a 7-0 start. The one real concern that I see in the early part of the schedule is a home game versus Notre Dame in their 2nd contest of the year. Although the Irish advanced to the BCS Championship Game last season, they seemed to receive every favorable bounce in close games that could have gone either way. One of those games was a 13-6 win in South Bend versus Michigan. This year Michigan will be playing Notre Dame with revenge on their mind in front of over 100,000 friendly fans at the “Big House” in Ann Arbor. That will be enough in my opinion to be the difference in an otherwise even matchup. The final 5 games of the season will be a tough stretch. On the positive side they do get both Nebraska and Ohio St. at home in addition to a game they should easily win at Iowa. They also miss Wisconsin on the schedule rotation and the game at hated rival Michigan St. takes place after an off week.
Michigan returns 5 starters on offense and 6 on defense. When you couple that fact with the depth they’ve developed in their last 3 recruiting classes, the lack of experienced starters are the least of their concerns. Incumbent starting quarterback Devin Gardner gained valuable experience a year ago after taking over for injured 4-year starter Denard Robinson. In his 5 starts Gardner threw for 1219 yards, 11 touchdowns versus 5 picks, and rushed for 101 yards while completing 59.5% of his aerial attempts. The 6’4 and 210 pound junior is a pure passer and more of a fit in the offense that Brady Hoke has run in his prior head coaching stops at San Diego St. and Ball St.
I not only like Maze and Blue to surpass the 8 wins we need to win this wager, but I personally believe they're a sleeper to get to the 2014 BCS Championship Game, though a huge long shot on the college football odds boards..
Offseason NCAAF Picks: Play on the Michigan Wolverines over 8.5 regular season wins.
Baylor over 8.0 (-110)
This may be a surprising choice to many, but one I have supreme confidence in. The Bears are my 2nd rated regular season win total wager for this upcoming year. Like Michigan I have Baylor winning their first 7 games of the season. Barring an absolute freefall the Bears will be in a very favorable position to cash our ticket somewhere in their last 4 regular season games.
One of the big concerns in Waco is replacing the last 2 starting quarterbacks on campus. Robert Griffin III captured the Heisman Trophy in 2011. In 2012 Nick Florence took over and all he did was pass for 4309 yards and rushed for 568 more as well. In steps inexperienced junior Bryce Petty who at 6’3 and 235 pounds possesses ideal size in addition to having terrific arm strength. Petty has all the physical tools to be another in a long line of top quarterbacks that head coach Art Briles has developed.
The problem for the Bears in the past 3 years and will most likely be their weakness again is their defense. Although they do look to have what may be one of the better defensive secondary units in the Big 12 for this upcoming season. The Bears also have two dynamic running backs in Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin who will handsomely complement the passing game. The offensive line will be rock solid. It will be another exciting year of football in Waco.
Offseason NCAAF Picks: Play on the Baylor Bears to go over 8.0 regular season wins.