The Baylor Bears and UCLA Bruins are two teams that could shock College Football bettors and futures odds makers in the upcoming 2015 campaign.
If the search for disappointments in the 2015 college football betting season requires beginning at the top where teams are often burdened with unrealistically high expectations, does that mean we start at the bottom with teams that have no expectations at all when coming up with a list of squads that could potentially shock us?
Well, yes and no. Bettors understand that you don't have to scan too far down the list of College Football future odds to find a team that could bring home a nice bag of cash.
In fact, one doesn't have to look too far down that list to find a team that could surprise us all by winning the College Football Playoff. The Baylor Bears have never won a national championship on the gridiron, so breaking that 117-year streak would be shocking by itself. It would seem that if that string was ever to be snapped, this would be the year since Art Briles is fielding his best squad yet.
A quick check of the college football betting board says it wouldn't be as astonishing as you might first imagine. Baylor sits just behind TCU in the Big 12 at 5/2 to lay claim to at least a share of its third consecutive conference title, winning it outright in 2013 and tying the Horned Frogs for that honor in 2014. The Bears are fetching a 15/1 price to win it all in 2015.
The biggest dilemma Briles and his staff faces this season is replacing former quarterback Bryce Petty, who's now plying his trade in the NFL for the New York Jets. Seth Russell has the inside track to become the new pivot, and the Bears have 18 other starters returning, including the entire defensive line.
It won't be easy for Baylor to win another conference crown much less the whole enchilada, especially with an incredibly tough schedule in November when the Bears travel to Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU, their only home game coming against Oklahoma. They're still among my College Football picks of teams that could stun us all in the playoffs.
Who Settles In At QB For The Bruins?
Another team I like to beat the College Football odds and provide at least a mild shock is UCLA. The Bruins are a juicy 30/1 to win the College Football Playoffs, and while stranger things have happened, I'm just not convinced they can pull that off.
But I do believe UCLA can upset the ranks in the Pac-12 where Oregon and Southern California -- each listed around 2/1 -- are projected to square off in the conference championship. The Bruins will return 5/1 to win the Pac-12 league, and one of the main reasons I like them is head coach Jim Mora.
UCLA returns a lot of its top players from a year ago, though one of them is not QB Brett Hundley. Mora has done an outstanding -- and often overlooked -- job on the recruiting front, however, and I fully expect freshman Josh Rosen to take over under center. It won't be an easy schedule with Arizona and Stanford on the road early, but the Bruins miss Oregon in the regular season and get my pick to win the Pac-12 South.
Can SEC East Winner Take Conference Title?
It has been six years since a team from the SEC East won the conference title, and that could change in 2015. Georgia is again the lead dog, priced at 5/1 to win the league, but I like Tennessee here at 8/1 to halt the SEC West's string. Butch Jones brought in a great recruiting class and has 18 starters returning from 2014, and we could get a look at how good this team is on the second Saturday of the season when the Vols host the Sooners.
I don't believe anyone is going to upend Ohio State in the Big Ten, but a team that could produce its share of shocking moments is Minnesota. An 18/1 pick in the conference, the Golden Gophers are a great pick to go 'over' the 5½ win total 5Dimes originally released, with my calculations having them at 7, maybe 8 wins by season's end with home games against Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin.
And if you're looking for a single-game shock to the system, keep your eyes on the college football odds for the September 19 matchup in Manhattan between the Kansas State Wildcats and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Skip Holtz is going to have a good squad at La Tech, and while it's never easy to win at K-State, the Bulldogs and the points are definitely the way to go with an outright upset not completely out of the question.