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College Football Betting Picks for Week Eight (10/24/2020)

At long last, Big Ten (and Mountain West) football is BACK. This weekend, opportunities to see sensational NFL prospects like Justin Fields, Pat Freiermuth, and Rashod Bateman will be littered across the television guide. If there was ever a Saturday to schedule a date with your couch and television, this might be the one.

Week Seven brought a disappointing 1-2 record. Temple overcame a slow start to hold off South Florida, but not by the margin that we needed, and Boston College faltered badly in primetime against Virginia Tech. Luckily, Western Kentucky and UAB nearly crossed the over in the first-half to notch our only win of last week. The season-long record is now 10-8, as we hope to end the two-week slide this week.

Week Eight's slate includes a few exciting games for teams making their season debuts. Here are some betting picks to follow along with as you enjoy another college football Saturday.

 

Rutgers at Michigan State (-13.5)

O/U: 44.5

Piscataway, New Jersey , has become the laughingstock of the Big Ten. Rutgers, losers of 21 straight conference games, made a big move this offseason by bringing back the program's most successful coach of all-time in Greg Schiano to lead the program once more. Schiano immediately hit the transfer portal to pick up players that could contribute right away such as 2nd team all-Big Ten returner and receiver Aron Cruickshank (Wisconsin), tight end Jovani Haskins (West Virginia) and five defensive linemen from Power 5 schools. Nearly 40% of the players on the 2020 roster are newcomers, and Schiano is beginning to generate a buzz. This infusion of talent will not turn Rutgers into a contender overnight, but it will give 2018 starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who took a redshirt year in 2019 to focus on his development, more weapons than any Rutgers quarterback has had since the program's days as a member of the Big East Conference.

The 2020 offseason was tumultuous in East Lansing. After Coach Mark Dantonio resigned, while the program was allegedly under investigation, the team's desperate coaching search for his successor had little success. With top options like Luke Fickell and Pat Narduzzi opting to stay with Cincinnati and Pitt, respectively, the Spartans took an unconventional and unusually late route hiring Mel Tucker away from Colorado in mid-February. The 48-year old Tucker had just wrapped up a 5-7 year in his first and only campaign in Boulder, but brings a strong defensive pedigree with NFL experience and collegiate experience as an understudy to Nick Saban and as Kirby Smart's defensive coordinator at Georgia. 2020 marks the start of a rebuild, replacing 14 starters from a year ago - a 7-6 team that had one of the least productive offenses in college football. Without the benefit of spring practice, and with position battles still ongoing through game week (Michigan State's quarterback race was still unsettled with four contenders), expectations may be at an all-time low for this program.

The Scarlet Knights have been beaten by the Spartans in their last six matchups, but this year's matchup between a pair of new coaches feels different. Sitkowski was a highly sought after quarterback recruit who has never had many weapons at his disposal, but has shown glimpses including a strong performance against Boston College last season. The speedy Cruickshank was underutilized at Wisconsin and should become the go-to option early on. Looking down the road, this game may be each team's most winnable game on the schedule, an opportunity that Coach Schiano will seek to maximize.

Pick: Rutgers +13.5

#3 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (-13.5)

O/U: 44.5

The Fighting Irish overcame a mini-scare to hold off Louisville last week and preserve their spotless 4-0 record. The passing game still has some flaws, but the rushing attack has powered Notre Dame thus far. Sophomore Kyren Williams and freshman Chris Tyree lead the way as a fearsome duo of running backs that led an Irish rushing attack bulldozing Florida State to the tune of 353 rushing yards. The youngsters' success is made possible by the best offensive line in football, featuring at least five legitimate NFL draft prospects with multiple years of starting experience. Before last week's lackluster 12-7 win, the offense had seemingly been able to do as it pleased with comfortable wins over Duke, South Florida and Florida State. Senior quarterback Ian Book should be expected to bounce back from his poor performance last week to help the Irish passing attack compliment the elite rushing offense.

Pitt found out the hard way last week how difficult life could be without their star quarterback Kenny Pickett. Pickett, who was on his way to a campaign worthy of discussions in the Heisman race, was replaced by redshirt freshman Joey Yellen, a talented four-star transfer from Arizona State. Yellen looked nervous and floated a few throws in the first half, but settled in and seemingly became comfortable behind solid pass protection versus a staunch Miami defense. The Panthers' leading receiver is freshman sensation Jordan Addison, who is a threat to take any play to the house with his speed. The problem for Pitt, offensively, has been running the ball. Pickett had been arguably the team's biggest rushing threat up until his ankle injury, which is expected to keep him out of this week's contest. At one point, Pitt had five running backs designated as co-starters on its depth chart, to no success. In order to have a chance of upsetting the Irish, Pitt will need to develop some sort of threat on the ground to open up the passing game for Yellen.

The defenses for both teams, while rightly praised, have been torched for big plays quite a bit more than one would expect so far. Pitt, for instance, has the nation's leader in sacks (Patrick Jones II) and one of the most talented defensive lines in college football, but continually plays man-to-man press coverage on the outside with the undersized, but talented, 5-foot-8 cornerback Marquis Williams. If Coach Pat Narduzzi sticks to his stubborn defensive philosophy, Notre Dame will follow the blueprint set in their last three losses to North Carolina State, Boston College, and Miami, by attacking Williams and his fellow cornerback Jason Pinnock over and over again until they break a big play.

Pick: Over 44.5

Texas State at Brigham Young (BYU) (-28.5)

O/U: 61.5

Coach Jake Spavital, in his 2nd year commanding the Texas State Bobcats, is one of the youngest coaches in football at age 35. Spavital brought the air raid concept to San Marcos, which he embraced as Dana Holgorsen's offensive coordinator for two seasons at West Virginia. So far, the Bobcats' offense has had its fair share of success through the air, but the defense is ultimately holding the team back from winning more games. At quarterback, Brady McBride gives Coach Spavital the prototypical gunslinger that he's looking for his system, and McBride has done a good job of spreading the targets to senior receiver Jeremiah Haydel and five other pass-catchers with double digits receptions this year. On defense, the Bobcats allow nearly 450 yards of offense per game, and might need a miracle to keep BYU under their season average of 43 points per game. 

Junior quarterback Zach Wilson and the BYU Cougars are playing inspired football and are off to the first 5-0 start for the program since 2008. Head coach Kelani Sitake's team is firing on all cylinders, with a strong offense averaging over 43 points per game, and a solid defense pulling its weight in recent weeks with a convincing 43-26 win on the road at Houston. The offense, which is averaging a staggering 541 yards per game, should score at will in yet another favorable matchup against a lousy defense.

Another week, another large BYU spread. The Cougars are starting to garner College Football Playoff conversation, and for good reason. The team has convincingly dispatched of its opponents thus far in impressive fashion, and has shaped up the narrative for a second half push. The second half of the Cougars schedule, which features marquee games versus Boise State and San Diego State, will put their playoff resume to the test. Winning games like this in convincing fashion will be necessary if BYU wants to earn a spot in the prestigious playoff.

Pick: Over 61.5



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College Football Betting Expert Picks Week Seven (10/17/2020)

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban contracted COVID-19, and it might not even be the biggest story in college football. This 2020 football season has brought so many unexpected turns of events that hall of fame coaches instructing their players over Zoom barely even registers.

Week Six brought a minor bump in the road, with a 1-2 record. Alabama got an unexpected scare before pulling away late in the second half from Ole Miss. Similarly, Notre Dame could not break loose of Florida State as the Seminoles covered the big spread behind a strong performance from quarterback Jordan Travis. Luckily in Provo, Utah, the UTSA Roadrunners gave the Cougars a scare before falling by a touchdown. The season-long record is now 9-6.

Week Seven gives us our last week of football before the Big Ten Conference starts play. Here are some betting picks to follow along with as you enjoy another college football Saturday.

 

South Florida at Temple (-10)

O/U: 54.5

Head Coach Jeff Scott spent the past five seasons as the co-offensive coordinator at Clemson before taking his first head coaching job with the South Florida Bulls. The 2020 season is off to an ugly start, with three losses by at least 20 points that followed a season-opening win over FCS-level The Citadel. Coach Scott is hoping to rejuvenate a once-proud program as he overhauled the staff and has hopes of developing a Clemson-like winning culture in Tampa. While the bumps and bruises of a young team will be felt throughout a low expectations year, Coach Scott hopes that his youth movement and young coaching staff, which is the youngest staff in the American Athletic Conference at an average age of 36.4, will pay dividends in the form of wins in the years to come.

The Temple Owls experienced significant turnover of their own this season when star defensive end Quincy Roche decided to transfer to Miami (FL). Roche is one of 8 starters from the Owls' 2019 defense who do not return this year. Despite this turnover, Coach Rod Carey feels confident that his defense can make enough stops and that his explosive offense will pace the team to a strong season. The offense is led by redshirt senior and third-year starting quarterback Anthony Russo. Russo threw for 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions a season ago, and has high hopes for a strong senior campaign, when he lines up behind a sterling offensive line with 4 seniors. Temple will hope to make the Russo-to-Branden Mack connection early and often, as Mack had 7 catches and a touchdown in the opening loss to Navy. 

When in doubt, experience wins out. With the continuity of eight offensive starters back for a senior quarterback, the Temple Owls should expect to put up a flurry of points on a team that has allowed 52, 28 and 44 points in their three losses. Coach Jeff Scott is making inroads on the recruiting trail, but the talent is not yet on campus and the process will take a few years to rebuild the South Florida Bulls into an AAC contender.

Pick: Temple -10

Western Kentucky at Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) (-13.5)

O/U: 44.5

This Conference-USA matchup is a homecoming of sorts for Western Kentucky Head Coach Tyson Helton, who spent six seasons as the quarterbacks and running backs coach at UAB. Helton's Hilltoppers are off to a slow 1-3 start this season, with former Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome at the helm. Pigrome is an above-average runner and underrated passer who gets to play behind four multi-season starting offensive linemen. The difficulty that Western Kentucky has had this season surrounds a failure to capitalize in big moments. In the team's three losses, they've converted less than one-third of their 3rd down opportunities, while allowing their opponents to convert at a clip closer to 50%. Pigrome's efficiency (6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions so far in 2020) and the ability to turn long drives into touchdowns rather than field goals will be crucial for the Hilltoppers if they hope to pull off the upset.

The UAB Blazers go as far as their star running back Spencer Brown will carry them. Brown has gained over 100-yards rushing in three of the team's four games so far in 2020, and is the 2nd highest active rusher in the NCAA with over 3,500 yards. Longtime starting quarterback Tyler Johnston III is still expected to miss the game due to a non-throwing shoulder injury, opening the door once more for redshirt freshman Bryson Lucero. Head Coach Bill Clark has opened up the playbook each game a bit more for the young freshman, before he threw for three touchdowns (and three interceptions) against UTSA. Coach Clark showed faith in his young quarterback and the playbook should once again be wide open for Lucero to operate. 

This matchup presents a must-win for Western Kentucky if the Hilltoppers hope to stay alive in the conference championship game hunt. With so much on the line, expect Western Kentucky to take more risks which will hopefully show up on the scoreboard. With each passing week, UAB has given the passing game more responsibilities, while leaning on the running game and Spencer Brown. If Lucero can eliminate the turnovers from the last game against UTSA, this offense should easily top its 30.5 average points per game this season.

Pick: Over 44.5

Boston College at Virginia Tech (-12)

O/U: 62

Boston College is off to an impressive 3-1 start under first-year Head Coach Jeff Hafley. Hafley has relied heavily on his Notre Dame transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who has thrown for 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions this year. Jurkovec's top two targets - wide receiver Zay Flowers and tight tend Hunter Long - came up big in last week's 1-point overtime win over Pitt and will have to be a priority for the Hokies to hone in on. Boston College's defense has been a "bend, don't break" defense all season that has notched at least one interception in each game this season. The strong defensive backfield will hope to take advantage of the uneven Hokie quarterback play in 2020.

The Virginia Tech Hokies got pummeled last week in Chapel Hill by North Carolina. The defense had no solution for the Tar Heels' running game in the 56-45 loss. While the defense is in shambles, the offense has been churning at a prolific pace behind running back Khalil Herbert, a Kansas transfer, and his 10.4 yards per carry. At quarterback, junior Hendon Hooker missed the first two games after recovering from COVID-19, but returned in the loss to North Carolina. Hooker's performance was a mixed bag, with two touchdowns, but a meager 53.8% completion percentage.

Year in, year out, the Virginia Tech Hokies garner nationwide media attention and hype. For many years under Coach Frank Beamer, this hype was justified and warranted. Now, under Coach Justin Fuente, the hype is far less warranted, with only one ten-win season to his name. Boston College, meanwhile, has found a rhythm under arguably its best quarterback since Matt Ryan, and should cause problems for the Hokie defense all afternoon.

Pick: Boston College +12




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CFB Expert Betting Picks for Week Six (10/10/2020)

A thrilling Week Five in college football brought down seven ranked opponents and served as a running board for potential Heisman campaigns for quarterbacks like Kyle Trask of Florida and Zach Wilson of BYU. Even with the familiar faces of Clemson, Alabama and Georgia occupying the top 3 slots of the rankings, college football has proven unpredictable in 2020 with a host of upsets and new teams ready to make their mark.

Week Five was successful for anyone who tailed the expert picks last week. SMU took a big halftime lead, and was luckily able to hold off a Memphis rally in the second half, Boston College gave the North Carolina Tar Heels a scare, Clemson and Virginia combined for a boatload of points, and Central Arkansas nearly handed North Dakota State its first loss since 2017 to give us a 4-0 day. The 4-0 record was much needed, and brings the season-long tally to 8-4.

Week six is here as we are nearing the mid-way point of this circuitous and unpredictable fall college football season. Here are some betting picks to follow along with as you enjoy another college football Saturday.

 

#2 Alabama at Ole Miss (+24)

O/U: 70.5

Alabama head coach Nick Saban's Crimson Tide have cruised in the early going with easy wins over Missouri and Texas A&M, both buoyed by quick starts out of the gate. Quarterback Mac Jones graduated last December with a perfect 4.0 GPA midway through only his 3rd year on campus, and is pursuing a master's degree in sports hospitality, with eyes towards a secondary master's degree in marketing down the road. On the field he has been similarly prolific, throwing for 684 yards, 6 touchdowns and only 1 interception in the two wins, and his trio of star receivers Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith and John Metchie have been similarly spectacular. The explosive offense was on display last week with a 78-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Metchie on the opening drive, and later an 87-yard score from Jones to Waddle, which was Waddle's third 75+ yard touchdown reception as a member of the Alabama football team.

Under new head coach Lane Kiffin, the Ole Miss Rebels have jumped out to a 1-1 start, losing to Florida in the opener, but knocking off Kentucky in overtime last week. Expectations entering the year were low, and young sophomore quarterback Matt Corral has done his part to exceed expectations with 715 yards, 7 touchdowns and only 1 interception through two games. Corral has been targeting his go-to receiver Elijah Moore quite a bit (20 receptions on 24 targets), and has a talented young running back in Jerrion Ealy in tow. With the young exciting offense, things are on the upwards trajectory in Oxford. The defense, meanwhile, has holes that they will need to patch up fast if they hope to keep up with the Crimson Tide. Over their first two games, the Rebels have allowed 92 points and 1,201 total yards of offense. A repeat of that poor defensive performance could spell disaster against the high-flying Alabama offense this weekend.

Since his year first year at Alabama in 2007, Nick Saban has coached in 20 games against his former assistants, including Jimbo Fisher and Kirby Smart. Saban gets to face off against his former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin for the first time as a head coach, and you should expect the game to go about as smoothly as the last 20 games that Saban has played against former assistants - all wins, only two of which were by single digits (2017 National Championship and 2018 SEC Championship, both over Georgia). In 2018, Alabama started the season 10-0 against the first half spread, and in 2019, the Crimson Tide were again positive going 8-4 in the regular season against the first half spread. With Saban's infamous fast starts and Ole Miss' middling young defense, expect this game to get ugly in a hurry.

Pick: Alabama 1st half -13.5

Florida State at #5 Notre Dame (-20.5)

O/U: 52

The unmitigated train wreck that is Florida State football under first-year coach Mike Norvell should have been at least partially expected. Norvell, who came to Tallahassee after a successful four year run with the Memphis Tigers, had a tumultuous offseason which included claims from players about miscommunication about social justice protests and the program's COVID-19 safety protocols. After having been called out by several players, including star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, things started to settle down until the team dropped its season opener to Georgia Tech, who had gone 3-9 in 2019 and are in the years-long process of recruiting new players to adjust from an option-running offense to a pro style offense. That was followed up by an lifeless 42-point embarrassment against their "in-state rival" Miami. Even last week, the Seminoles were trailing Jacksonville State - an FCS foe - at halftime before pulling away to garner their first win of the year. Sensing the season spinning out of control, Norvell has moved on from longtime quarterback James Blackman to an expected combination of true freshman Tate Rodemaker and redshirt sophomore Jordan Travis. Across the depth chart, the team is littered with first and second year players, as the rebuilding process has taken front stage in yet another lost cause of a season in Florida's capital.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had their first COVID-19 postponement when their September 26 game against Wake Forest was pushed back to December 12. With a two week lay-off, Coach Brian Kelly has had ample time to prepare for the 'Noles, and the team should be hungry to see the field again. The Irish are led by their senior signal caller Ian Book, an undersized "gamer" who has played a key part of their 2-0 start. One key advantage in this game for Notre Dame is experience - particularly up front. Notre Dame may have the nation's top offensive line, with four seniors and five legitimate NFL draft prospects starting up front and paving lanes for sophomore running back Kyren Williams, who is the only underclassman starting on offense. The talented defense, which pitched a 52-0 shutout of South Florida, is built similarly with talented safety Kyle Hamilton the only starting underclassman.

Only a few times each year does Notre Dame get to experience a home game under the lights, made possible by an NBC initiative in 2017 to improve Notre Dame Stadium's lighting. Defensive coordinator Clark Lea and his vaunted defense have held Notre Dame's opponents to under 30 points in 27-of-28 games in charge. Expect Lea's and Notre Dame's success to continue in an easy home win against a team still searching for its identity.

Pick: Notre Dame -20.5

Texas San-Antonio (UTSA) at #15 Brigham Young (BYU) (-35)

O/U: 63

The UTSA Roadrunners have charged to a 3-1 start to the Coach Jeff Traylor's first season, on the heels of talented sophomore running back Sincere McCormick, who leads the FBS with 527 yards on the ground. Close wins over Texas State and Middle Tennessee State were made possible by the team's underrated special teams play. Kicker Hunter Duplessis has converted his last 18 field goal attempts, marking the top current active streak in the country, and punter Lucas Dean ranks second in Conference-USA in average yards per punt. Since joining the FBS in 2011, UTSA has faced off against five ranked opponents and have covered the spread in four of those games. Unfortunately, quarterback Josh Adkins broke his collarbone on the first play from scrimmage against UAB, forcing UTSA to turn to its 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks. Luckily, however, junior quarterback Frank Harris, who started the team's first 3 games, is expected back after he missed the team's loss to UAB with a knee injury. Harris has taken the majority of first-team reps in practice this week, and will hope to re-spark the Roadrunnners offense. If Harris, a talented dual-threat quarterback who accounted for 8 touchdowns in two and a half games played, is playing at 100%, then UTSA should be able to find creative ways to keep the ball moving against a strong BYU defense.

BYU has been the most dominant team in 2020, with Coach Kelani Sitake's team beating Navy, Troy and Louisiana Tech by a combined 124 points. On offense, junior quarterback Zach Wilson has completed 85% (949 yards, 6 touchdowns, 1 interception), and has added 5 scores on the ground in an effort that is sure to garner early Heisman voters' attention. Wilson's favorite target has been junior receiver Gunner Romney, a distant relative of Utah senator Mitt Romney, who has opened the 2020 campaign with three consecutive 100-yard games. As strong as the offense has been, the defense has matched it punch-for-punch. The Cougars' defense ranks first in the country allowing a mere 214 yards of offense per game, narrowly ahead of the Pitt Panthers, and fourth in the country allowing only 8 points per game. This defensive performance is unlikely to continue against more formidable offenses like the Roadrunners' but provides BYU with a high floor in their hopes of sneaking into the College Football Playoff.

Do not expect a close game - BYU clearly has UTSA overmatched and will coast to victory. However, passing up a spread this high would be inadvisable. UTSA has an exciting offense and should be able to get a few scores on the board to keep this game within the large spread. On the backs of Harris and McCormick, expect the Roadrunners to keep this game in check, before falling away late.

Pick: UTSA +35



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CFB Expert Betting Picks for Week Five (10/3/2020)

Week Four of the fall college football season was a thriller. Texas managed to overcome a double-digit deficit in the final minutes to stave off Texas Tech's upset bid, whereas fellow Big 12 titan Oklahoma was shocked at home against Kansas State.

Week Four was an unfortunate bump in the road for the record, with a 1-2 performance. Kansas State's monumental second half comeback to knock off Oklahoma easily surpassed the over. However, Auburn came to play as they easily dispatched of Kentucky, and Liberty narrowly knocked down Florida International, but failed to cover the 7-point spread. On the season, the picks have been 4-4, with Week Five presenting an opportunity to get back in the green.

In week five, a wide array of competitive conference games awaits us. Here are some betting picks to follow along with as you enjoy another Saturday of college football.

 

#25 Memphis at Southern Methodist (+2)

O/U: 74

The Memphis Tigers enter this week at 1-0, having beaten Arkansas State in their season opener, only to not play for 28 days. New coach Ryan Silverfield inherited a strong returning cast of players from Mike Norvell's 2019 squad, and the offense is the key. Quarterback Brady White and his top receiver Damonte Coxie are among the most feared pass-catching duo in the nation and will be trying to take the top off of the SMU defense all day. While the Memphis defense leaves plenty to be desired, this offense is one of the best in the country and will challenge American Athletic Conference (AAC) defenses all season long.

Senior quarterback Shane Buechele has had a strong start to the season, with 852 passing yards and 7 touchdowns. The Mustangs are 3-0 entering conference play, with this game having been circled months ago as their top target. While SMU's offense is the strength of the team, their special teams have created some spark plays including a blocked punt last week for a safety. On the ground, Ulysses Bentley is averaging 126.7 yards per game, and 10.6 yards per carry. Wide receiver Reggie Roberson on the outside has stepped in nicely to fill the absence of top receiver James Proche, a current Baltimore Raven, from a year ago.

In the 2019 edition of this top tier AAC showdown, Memphis held off SMU at home in front of a College GameDay crowd in a 54-48 game. In that game, all-around playmaker Antonio Gibson had an astounding 386 all-purpose yards. Gibson is now with the Washington Football Team, and Memphis after a long lay-off also will be without his backup last season in running back Kenneth Gainwell. The offensive play in this game should be prolific and this should be a must-watch for anyone who likes a flurry of points and big plays.

Pick: SMU +3

 

#11 North Carolina at Boston College (+14)

O/U: 54

When Coach Mack Brown decided to return to UNC as a 67-year old first-year head coach in 2019, skeptics were aplenty. A season later with a bowl win under his belt and a superstar sophomore quarterback in Sam Howell leading the team, expectations are sky-high for the Tar Heels. After their September 12 win over Syracuse, the team's second game was cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak decimating a full position group for their anticipated opponent - the Charlotte 49ers. After a 3-week layoff, Coach Brown's team heads north for its first road game of the year. Brown will hope that the aerial attack of Howell, and his talented trio of receivers Dyami Brown, Dazz Newsome and Beau Corrales can score in bunches to offset an uneven defense which has 6 underclassmen starting.

Boston College survived a strong upset bid from Texas State to win on a last-second 36-yard field goal by Aaron Boumerhi, a former Temple graduate transfer, last week. The Eagles have jumped to a quick 2-0 start behind very strong defensive play, a solid rushing attack, and a steady hand at quarterback in Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec. In the team's season-opening beatdown of Duke, the balanced offensive attack gave Coach Jeff Hafley an easy first win at the helm. While game two was much more difficult, the fourth quarter comeback led by Jurkovec and tight end Hunter Long showed the offensive potential this team can have when running on all cylinders.

Reviving Tar Heels football will not happen overnight, and Coach Brown's job of taking them to a 7-6 record in 2019 was impressive in its own right. The high expectations that national and local media are putting on this team seem a bit unfair, aggressive and undeserved. The Tar Heels very well could contend for the ACC next season when Clemson has to replace Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, but for the time being they appear to be a second or third tier team not yet worthy of ACC Championship discussion.

Pick: Boston College +14

 

Virginia at #1 Clemson (-28)

O/U: 55

When Virginia won the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Division, it marked the seventh time in seven seasons that a different team won the division. After watching Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina Pitt, Miami and hated rival Virginia Tech get their coastal trophies, the "Hoos" and Coach Bronco Mendenhall finally joined the group. The 2019 offense was paced by Bryce Perkins, a do-it-all quarterback who is irreplaceable. This year, lefty Brennan Armstrong is trying to replicate Perkins' success with a similar dual-threat style, which he put to good use in a convincing 38-20 win to kick off the season over Duke. The defense took advantage of the Blue Devils to the tune of 5 interceptions, with hopes of putting a little bit of fear into Trevor Lawrence this weekend.

Coach Dabo Swinney's run of excellence with the Clemson Tigers is downright marvelous. Clemson has appeared in each of the last five national championship games and is a favorite to make an appearance once again in 2020. Through two games, the Tigers offense has started fast and eased up after having significant leads over Wake Forest and The Citadel. Lawrence and star running back Travis Etienne have largely taken a back seat, playing in the first halves and sitting the majority of the second halves this season. Virginia brings a unique opponent that will challenge the Tigers from the start. If Virginia can keep the Clemson starters on the field, Clemson might be able to reach the total for this game on their own - as they did in the teams' last matchup.

The last time these teams met, the 2019 ACC Championship game, the outcome of the game was decided well before the 62-17 final score flashed on the scoreboard. Virginia was just happy to be there, while Clemson was chasing yet another national title game appearance.

Pick: Over 55

 

Bonus Game: Central Arkansas at North Dakota State (-23)

The Football Championship Subdivision pushed its season to the spring, while many conferences allowed its teams to pursue additional nonconference games in the fall. Central Arkansas took this as an opportunity to fill up a full fall and spring season, and to pocket some additional funds from FBS teams to help its athletic department. In this game, the Bears, who are 2-1 face off against the defending champion Bison. For the Bears, keep an eye on quarterback Breylin Smith and his talented receivers Tyler Hudson and Lujuan Winningham. For the Bison, much of the fanfare around potential NFL first-round quarterback Trey Lance is justified, having gone for 28 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first season as a starter in 2019. While the Bison will be rightly favored in this game, many teams have experienced bumps in the road when facing off against teams with games under their belt. Having the advantage of already suiting up for a few games this year, expect the Bears to come out firing and hungry at the FargoDome.

Pick: Central Arkansas +23



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CFB Expert Betting Picks for Week Four (9/26/2020)

Week Four of the 2020 fall college football season is upon us. In recent days, both the Mountain West and Mid-American Conferences have publicly pondered a return to collegiate sports this fall, following the lead of the Big Ten who announced its return about a week ago. The prospect of a Tuesday night MAC-tion game in Ypsilanti between Ball State and Eastern Michigan should excite even the most casual college football fan.

In week two, our record was 1-1, due to the unfortunate cancellation of the Baylor-Houston game, a game we almost certainly would have won. Baylor has now had three games cancelled, and Houston has had a stunning five games cancelled because of COVID-19 related reasons. On a positive note, the Pitt offense played just as tepidly as we hoped to allow the Syracuse Orange to cover a large spread, whereas Wake Forest's defense was unable to slow down the North Carolina State Wolfpack on our way to our only narrow defeat last week.

In week four, we will take a look at some high-flying offenses and our first peek at the SEC, who returns to play this week. Here are a few betting picks to follow along with as you enjoy another Saturday of college football.

 

Kansas State at #3 Oklahoma (-28)

O/U: 61

One of the most thrilling college football games of 2019 was Kansas State's stunning 48-41 upset over Oklahoma. The Wildcats return quarterback Skylar Thompson, who has made 28 career starts. Coach Chris Klieman, who came to Kansas State in 2019 after a dominant run in charge of FCS-powerhouse North Dakota State, had a promising 8-5 2019 campaign. The Wildcats must replace their top rusher and receiver from a year ago, but proved in the season-opening loss to Arkansas State that the offense should continue to thrive. The defense, which gave up 35 to Arkansas State, is another story. Replacing three of four starting defensive linemen created a gash along the line that the team is still trying to adjust to on the fly. An interesting fact - Kansas State allowed its opponents to score on 97.06% of their trips to the red zone, ranking dead last in the nation.

Lincoln Riley is one of the finest offensive minds in college football, and he seemingly has another star quarterback on his hands in redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler. Rattler and the Sooners' offense was dominant against Missouri State in the opener, displaying a proficient ground and air attack. Under Coach Riley's command, Oklahoma only scored under 30 points in one game last season, and star receivers Charleston Rambo and Theo Howard provide Rattler targets that will allow him to strive for that once more. As is the case with many Big 12 teams, the defense has some holes. Star linebacker Kenneth Murray became an NFL first round pick, and while the team did allow Missouri State to a mere 135 yards, you have to consider that the Missouri State Bears are a rebuilding team with Bobby Petrino in his first season as coach.

With two middle-of-the-road defenses, and two prolific quarterbacks, a repeat of last season's shootout is certainly possible. Oklahoma eased up, holding the ball for over 10 minutes in the final 3 quarters, and still managed a 48-0 win. If both offenses are sharp, expect points to fill up the board in a classic Big 12 matchup.

Pick: Over 61

 

#23 Kentucky at #8 Auburn (-7.5)

O/U: 49.5

Kentucky is certainly a blue-blood basketball school, but head coach Mark Stoops is doing a great job of dispelling that one-sport perception. Stoops has taken the Wildcats to four straight bowls and is 18-8 in his last two seasons, while playing in the gauntlet that is the SEC. In recent year's, Kentucky has built its strength on a strong pass rush on defense, with a solid rushing attack on offense. This season is no different, with stud edge rushers Josh Paschal and Jamar Watson hoping to make the same leap that linebacker Josh Allen made a few seasons ago before becoming a top 10 draft pick in the NFL draft. In 2019, the defense ranked 14th in the country in scoring defense, and returns 7 starters. On offense, the Lynn Bowden experience came to an end when he graduated and became a third round pick in the NFL draft. Bowden was arguably the team's best quarterback, running back, and wide receiver at stretches of last season and will be impossible to replace. 2018 starting quarterback Terry Wilson returns from a devastating knee injury last season, and has a strong stable of running backs at his disposal - Asim Rose, Kavosiey Smoke, and Christopher Rodriguez - that will find plenty of holes behind a top-flight offensive line with four experienced starters back. 

Auburn broke in a true freshman quarterback last season and managed a 9-4 record which included stunning wins over Oregon and Alabama, and losses to four ranked opponents. Sophomore Bo Nix should be more consistent than he was last season, but the engines that led this team were the defense and running back JarTarvious Whitlow. Whitlow is now at Western Illinois, while the defense lost 7 starters, including dominant defensive linemen Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. Sophomore running back DJ Williams will hope to replace Whitlow's output, but the defense will be much more difficult to patch together without having had the benefit of a spring practice. There is still plenty of firepower for Coach Guz Malzahn's defense - such as junior cornerback Roger McCreary and senior edge rusher Big Kat Bryant - but retooling the defense and replacing all five offensive line starters is a tall task.

A season ago, the Auburn Tigers had mild expectations with a true freshman quarterback, and rode their defense to a strong campaign. This year, if the pieces on defense meld together and Malzahn can find five linemen to keep Nix standing up, they have a chance to repeat that. This feels like too many things need to fall into place for success, and Kentucky should have plenty of success on the ground on Saturday.

Pick: Kentucky +7.5

 

Florida International at Liberty (-7)

O/U: 59

Coach Butch Davis, who is the last head coach to take the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs, enters his fourth season at FIU having had plenty of success and sporting a 23-16 record. The 2019 Panthers had two players taken in the NFL draft, including quarterback James Morgan, arguably the best quarterback in program history. On the first depth chart of the season, FIU has 3 co-starters listed at quarterback. As the saying goes, "if you have a ton of quarterbacks, you really have none." The offense returns only 3 starters, while the defense must replace 5. FIU has not won a season opener under Davis, and failed to win a road game last season (the Panthers' upset of Miami last season was technically a home game, despite the schools being a mere 10 miles apart). Outside linebacker Rocky Jacques-Louis is a player to keep an eye on for his pass rushing ability, and his A-grade name.

Liberty had an impressive 8-5 record in Hugh Freeze's first season as coach, and led the 2020 season off with a road upset of Western Kentucky as 14-point underdogs. Replacing 2019's star quarterback-wide receiver duo of Steven Calvert and Antonio Gandy-Golden was not expected to be easy, but Auburn transfer quarterback Malik Wills is making a smooth transition. Wills, a dual threat quarterback, notched 133 yards through the air and 168 yards on the ground, to complement running back Joshua Mack's 100 yards and lead the Flames to victory. Senior wide receiver DJ Stubbs always played second fiddle to Gandy-Golden but has two years of starting experience and will be a weapon throughout for Wills to utilize. On defense, the Flames do have some worries as they replace 7 starters, but does have star-power with defensive end TreShaun Clark, and the defense held Western Kentucky to under 300 yards.

This will will be the first-ever matchup between these two teams. Malik Wills, running behind an experienced offensive line with four seniors, is going to be a difficult matchup for FIU. Coach Hugh Freeze has never lost at Liberty when allowing less than 20 points in a game, and FIU's uncertainty at quarterback creates a massive question mark as to the direction of their offense.

Pick: Liberty -7



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CFB Expert Betting Picks for Week Three (9/19/2020)

Entering week three of the fall college football season, there have been a fair share of upsets, and pandemonium. The Sun Belt went 3-0 against the Big 12, the Big Ten announced that they will be re-starting their fall season in late October, and the Mountain West Conference is also considering following them back with an abbreviated 8-game fall season as well. With news moving so fast around college football, if you blink you might miss something big.

Last week, we got out to a 2-1 start for the year. The humming offenses of Arkansas State and Kansas State easily surpassed the total with ease, and Charlotte stuck with Appalachian State until the upset bid fell apart in the fourth quarter losing by 15 to still cover that spread. Unfortunately, Notre Dame stumbled out of the gate and was in close game with Duke until late in the second half, a result that could be attributed to the team's nervousness playing in their first conference game ever last week (Coach Brian Kelly said in the postgame interview that the Fighting Irish would return to their Independent status in 2021, likely due to fear of losing to teams like Duke in the future conference play).

This week's slate features several exciting match-ups, with Heisman hopefuls and the start of conference championship chases. Here are a few betting picks to follow along with as you enjoy another Saturday of college football.

 

Syracuse at Pittsburgh (-21.5)

O/U: 50.5

For those who have not had the opportunity, a drive up Interstate-81 through Syracuse and Upstate New York is a sight to behold with the changing of the leaves in autumn. However, Coach Dino Babers' Syracuse Orange football team has been quite the opposite over the past two seasons with poor recruiting and dismal offensive line play cratering the team last year. As recently as 2018, Syracuse sported a 10-3 record, and was one season removed from taking down the ACC's crown jewel Clemson. In the opener, the Orange took the North Carolina Tar Heels to the fourth quarter in a close game only to give up a trio of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Syracuse managed to force two interceptions, and ball hawk safety Andre Cisco will be hoping to notch another pick versus the Panthers.

Under Coach Pat Narduzzi, the Pitt Panthers have a 37-29 record, and have won 24 conference games in that span - a total that only trails Miami and Clemson. Quarterback Kenny Pickett and the offense were able to do anything they wanted to in an easy 55-0 season-opening win over FCS-level Austin Peay. Even after talented defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman opted out of the fall season to prepare for the draft, the Panthers return a very deep defense that only allowed Austin Peay one net rushing yard in their opener last week. While Coach Narduzzi has stated that he expects all of his starters back this week, the ACC COVID-19 protocols may not allow that. The ACC requires players who test positive for COVID to quarantine for 10 days, and the Panthers missed seven players for undisclosed reasons relating to potential positive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing against the Governors last week including starting defensive linemen Rashad Weaver and Keyshon Camp. Even with the Panthers' depth along the defensive line, this will be an item to keep a close eye on this week.

Despite Pitt's recent success in this rivalry between two northeastern ACC teams, the games are always played close. Pitt has won 15 of the past 18 games against the Orange and clearly come in with the superior talent in this game, but the Orange and Panthers have played six of the last eight match-ups to single digit margins of victory.

Pick: Syracuse +21.5

 

Houston at Baylor (-4.5)

O/U: 62

2019 was a lost cause for Houston under Coach Dana Holgorsen's first year at the helm. After a 1-3 start to the season, a few of the team's key players including quarterback D'Eriq King decided to sit the remainder of the season to redshirt and preserve a season of eligibility. With King having transferred to Miami in the off-season, junior Clayton Tune will retain the starting gig from a year ago. Tune struggled at times, and ended the season with a 59.1% completion percentage and a mere 11 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. Tune does have star receiver Marquez Stevenson, who led the FBS with nine receptions of 50 yards or more and is always a threat to take to break an explosive play. Unfortunately for Coach Holgorsen, a defense that could not seemingly stop anyone last year does not look very improved and may be a sore spot for the Cougars all season long.

The Baylor Bears were one of the best stories in college football last season, making their first appearance in a Big 12 Conference Championship game, an 11-3 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance. After such a successful campaign and overseeing a 1-11 to 11-3 transition in just two seasons, former Coach Matt Rhule took a leap to take the head coaching position for the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Rhule was replaced by former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who has the benefit of getting back fourth-year starting quarterback Charlie Brewer - a talented dual-threat signal caller. Top receiver Denzel Mims is now with the New York Jets, but the Bears do return plenty of play-makers on the outside like junior Tyquan Thornton - a potential All-Big 12 breakout receiver.

With Aranda's focus on defense, and the patchwork offensive line of the Cougars, this game could get ugly in a hurry. One key player to keep an eye on is edge rusher William Bradley-King, an Arkansas State graduate transfer, who had 13.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks a season ago and will be used as a disruptive situational pass rusher for Baylor. Expect Baylor's defense to pressure Tune to the tune of a few costly turnovers and the experienced quarterback Brewer to guide the offense in the Bears' season opener.

Pick: Baylor -4.5

 

Wake Forest at North Carolina State (-2.5)

O/U: 52.5

In 2019, Wake Forest had enviable quarterback depth with the talented dual-threat quarterback Jamie Newman, backed up by 2018 starter Sam Hartman. After Newman decided to transfer to Georgia (and subsequently opted out of the 2020 season to prepare for the draft), the Demon Deacons were still in good hands with the steady Hartman at the helm. Wake Forest was dealt a difficult hand in their opening game suffering a 37-13 defeat at the hands of Clemson at home. Coach Dave Clawson has lead his team with a steady hand - guiding Wake Forest to four consecutive bowl game appearances for the first time in program history.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack endured a miserable 2019 season due to injury, inconsistency, and one of the worst defenses in college football. The Wolfpack only win over a Power 5 school was a 16-10 home win over Syracuse. Coach Dave Doeren is entering his 8th year in charge in Raleigh, and the temperature on his seat has been getting hotter as the 2020 season approaches. For a school that has five current quarterbacks in the NFL (Phillip Rivers, Russel Wilson, Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Finley and Mike Glennon), the results at the position last year had to be disheartening. Devin Leary is a redshirt sophomore this season, with hopes of showing significant improvement over last year's 8 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. Leary's top target will be tight end Cary Angeline, who is a legitimate NFL prospect on a team with a dearth of potential pro talent.

Losing to Clemson by 24 points is a respectable result for Wake Forest, who have experienced a resurgence under Coach Clawson. The offense, led by Hartman and the running back tandem of Christian Beal-Smith and Kenneth Walker, will be difficult for most average ACC teams to contain. Luckily for the Demon Deacon and their star edge rusher Carlos "Boogie" Basham, the Wolfpack are in the midst of a total rebuilding project and present a good opportunity to notch their first win of the abbreviated 2020 fall season.

Pick: Wake Forest +2.5



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CFB Betting Expert Picks for Week One (9/12/2020)

Congratulations, our long national nightmare is over. After an 8-month hiatus, college football is finally back. This week, and every week, we will take a look at some of college football's best available bets on the board.

Each week will bring its bumps, bruises, and unexpected turns in the age of COVID. In the first college football game of the year, for example, Austin Peay played without their top long snapper forcing the quarterback to have to pooch punt for the remainder of the game. Small adjustments like these can make or break a week, and we'll do our part to stay on top of the nuances to bring some of the best picks to you each week.

This week brings the first games for the ACC and Big 12 conferences in this 2020 fall college football season. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite picks for Week 1 of the 2020 college football season.

 

Charlotte at Appalachian State (-17)

O/U: 59

The 2-hour trip up Interstate-77 is a commute that both Charlotte and Appalachian State have had long interest in making an annual trip, but logistically have been unable to squeeze into a long-term annual contract. In each of the past two seasons, Appalachian State has shown its potent offensive firepower outscoring the 49ers 101 to 50, and now breaks in its third different head coach in as many years when Shawn Clark patrols the sideline for the first time. Third-year starting quarterback Zac Thomas has had a prolific career in Boone, North Carolina, but was dealt a big blow when star receiver Corey Sutton decided to opt out of the fall season in the fall. While the offense should still operate at a high level, with 7 returning starters, the concerns start on defense. Star linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, a fourth round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, is irreplaceable and is one of 6 defensive starters gone from last year's team.

The Charlotte 49ers had a highly successful 2019 campaign under first-year head coach Will Healy as they made their first-ever bowl game appearance. Healy, who oversaw a monumental transformation of a middling Austin Peay program prior to joining Charlotte last year, will have to replace a few key contributors from 2019, including All-Conference USA defensive end Alex Highsmith, and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Benny LeMay. Luckily, help on the way on offense as Northern Illinois graduate transfer Tre Harbison (2 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons for the Wolfpack) joined the team in the spring to shore up the running game, while quarterback Chris Reynolds returns his top two receivers in Victor Tucker and Cam Dollar. On defense, Charlotte returns 7 starters, and gets a huge boost with two sixth-year senior stars in defensive end Tyriq Harris and safety Ben DeLuca who both missed 2019 with injury.

Appalachian State is overwhelmingly favored to conquer the Sun Belt, with a legitimate chance of posting a perfect 11-0 record. Having to replace three of four linebackers, and two three-year starters in the defensive backfield will be a difficult task for the Mountaineers in their quest for a perfect season.

Pick: Charlotte +17

 

Duke at Notre Dame (-20)

O/U: 53.5

Coach David Cutcliffe is one of the longest-tenured coaches in college football, having been at the helm of Duke since December 2017. Duke's 72-79 record in those 12 seasons perfectly encapsulates the consistency that Cutcliffe has brought to an otherwise middling program that had a combined 19 wins in the 12 years prior to his arrival. The Blue Devils enter 2020 with a new quarterback in Clemson transfer Chase Brice, for whom the team has high expectations this year. Unfortunately, Duke received a bad piece of news when All-ACC center Jack Wohlabaugh suffered a serious right knee injury. Coincidentally, Wohlabaugh's injury replacement is redshirt junior Will Taylor, who was the new quarterback's center at Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are led by their fifth-year senior quarterback and marketing major Ian Book. Book took over as the starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season, en route to a prolific 2019 season in which the captain was threw for 34 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions as the team's offensive player of the year. Entering 2020 as an early Heisman contender, Book will have plenty of help up front with all five primary starting offensive linemen - Liam Eichenberg, Aaron Banks, Jarrett Patterson, Tommy Kraemer and Robert Hainsey - returning for another season in South Bend. The road-grading group up front paved the way for lead back Tony Jones Jr. to average over 6 yards per carry last year and will open holes for whichever young back takes over for Jones this season.

With the South Bend weather forecasting rain and overcast skies, the running game will be crucial to deciding this game's fate. Behind the stout offensive line, the weather and overall talent level vastly favors the Fighting Irish.

Pick: Notre Dame -10 first half

 

Arkansas State at Kansas State (-11)

O/U: 54.5

The Arkansas State Red Wolves stumbled in their opener last week at Memphis, but showed some flashes that should keep bettors excited about this team's prospects. Starting quarterback Logan Bonner, a junior who started four games in 2019 before injury, had two costly interceptions and looked lost against the Memphis defense. Coach Blake Andersen turned to his backup, Alabama transfer Layne Hatcher, who led the Red Wolves down the field catching an immediate connection with former Oklahoma transfer Dahu Green on the outside. Last season under the Bonner-Hatcher duo, Arkansas State ranked 10th in the nation in passing yards per game (312) and 26th in points per game (33.7). The defense, which ranked 114th in points allowed per game (34.2) remains suspect. 

Coach Chris Klieman worked wonders with Kansas State last year in his first season at the FBS level, after leading North Dakota State to four consecutive FCS championship appearances. The Wildcats are led by dual-threat quarterback Skylar Thompson, who threw for 12 touchdowns and ran for 11 more in 2019. An interesting tidbit to keep an eye on - the Wildcats have scored the most non-offensive touchdowns in the nation since 1999 with 118. 

Kansas State will be caught up in its fair share of high-scoring affairs playing in the Big 12 this season, and it makes sense that this game should be another one of those types of games.

Pick: Over 54.5

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CFB Expert Heisman Futures Betting Picks

Despite a smaller field of teams playing college football this fall, decision-makers have confirmed that the College Football Playoff will be played, and the Heisman trophy will be awarded. With many top players opting out of the season to prepare for the draft, this year's field of Heisman hopefuls will bring some new faces to the familiar group of favorites.

A season ago, Joe Burrow shattered many of the Heisman trophy voting records and came close to a unanimous win. Burrow's unexpected rise to stardom could be the path followed by any number of players in this year's field, as we seek to find the next Heisman winner.

As the 2020 fall college football season approaches, also take a look at some of our expert CFB conference futures picks. Also, every week this season, we will bring you expert betting picks and content to help guide you through the college football season.

 

A History of the Heisman Trophy

The Heisman trophy, which is annually awarded to the "most outstanding player in college football," was first awarded in 1935. In a normal year, all living Heisman trophy winners and the current year's finalists are invited to New York City to welcome the newest member of their elite group.

The Heisman trophy has been dominated in recent years by quarterbacks, but that has not always been the case. Up until the turn of the 21st Century, running backs were the typical winners. With the way that the game has changed and the introduction of the air raid offenses, expect the recent dominance of quarterbacks to continue. Below is the list of historical Heisman winners by position.

Position Winners Most Recent Winner
RB 43 Derrick Henry (2015)
QB 35 Joe Burrow (2019)
WR 3 Desmond Howard (1991)
TE 2 Leon Hart (1949)
DB 1 Charles Woodson (1997)

 

In recent years, the foregone conclusion in most years is that a quarterback on a contending team should enter the year as a favorite to win it. This year's odds reflect that, as the last ten Heisman award winners are seen below.

Year Winner Position School
2019 Joe Burrow QB LSU
2018 Kyler Murray QB Oklahoma
2017 Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
2016 Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
2015 Derrick Henry RB Alabama
2014 Marcus Mariota QB Oregon
2013 Jameis Winston QB Florida State
2012 Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
2011 Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
2010 Cam Newton QB Auburn

 

The Favorites

Unsurprisingly, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence enters 2020 as the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman, coming off an impressive season with 3,665 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and 8 interceptions for the national runners-up. Lawrence will be without top pass-catcher Tee Higgins from a year ago, but the plethora of talented 5-star recruits surrounding him justify his position as the favorite.

In 2017 and 2018, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray became the first duo of quarterbacks to win the Heisman trophy in back-to-back years from the same school. In 2019, Jalen Hurts nearly continued the trend with an extremely strong campaign for coach Lincoln Riley. This year's new starter, redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler, is receiving more hype than some might expect for a player with 11 career passing attempts. Rattler, a dual-threat quarterback, has talented play-makers around him like receiver Charleston Rambo, and has the pedigree (consensus 5-star recruit out of high school) to put up some gaudy statistics in 2020.

Sam Ehlinger enters his fourth year as the Texas Longhorns' starting quarterback to much fanfare. In 2019, Ehlinger improved statistically across the board with 32 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. The marketing major from Austin, Texas, also poses a threat with his legs - as proven by his 16 rushing touchdowns in 2018. Ehlinger has talented receivers in Tarik Black, a Michigan transfer, and Brennan Eagles that will need to have big seasons if he hopes to hoist the Heisman this fall.

D'Eriq King enters 2020 as one of the most highly anticipated transfer quarterbacks this season. After a prolific 2018 campaign in which King accounted for 50 touchdowns, he played only four games in 2019 in order to preserve a redshirt for 2020. A graduate transfer from Houston, King hopes to take the Miami Hurricanes back to their early 2000's greatness. Miami's offense as a whole struggled mightily in 2019, and the young offensive line and inconsistent quarterback play. King's mobility and experience gives Hurricanes fans hope that 2020 will be a good one for "The U" and that it might come with some shiny hardware like the Heisman trophy.

 

Sleepers

When Mack Brown decided to reenter coaching last year at the age of 67, expectations were fairly low for his North Carolina Tar Heels team. After an impressive freshman campaign by his quarterback Sam Howell, expectations now are sky high. Howell threw for 38 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions a true freshman, and brought the Tar Heels out of the basement of the ACC and to their first bowl win since 2013. With his top 3 receivers - Dyami Brown, Dazz Newsome and Beau Corrales - all returning for 2020, Howell should be a strong contender if he can avoid a sophomore slump in his second year in Chapel Hill.

Kellen Mond, the highly touted quarterback of Texas A&M, enters his fourth season as the Aggies starting quarterback. Mond entered 2019 with much fanfare, but stumbled as he could not replicate his strong sophomore campaign. With a wealth of experience, having started 36 career games, and a difficult 10-game gauntlet of a schedule, Mond has both the requisite experience and challenging opponents needed to impress Heisman voters. Mond will need to improve on his 20 passing touchdowns and 9 interceptions from a year ago if he hopes to compete for the most prestigious award in college football and follow in the footsteps of Texas A&M's most recent Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel.

Another ACC school that had a great bounce-back season under a first year head coach was Louisville last season. Head coach Scott Satterfield brought a high-tempo offense with him from Appalachian State, and the Louisville Cardinals offense flourished under his guidance with quarterback Micale Cunningham leading the way. Cunningham was incredibly efficient throwing only 5 interceptions against 22 touchdowns, and added 482 yards rushing. With top receiver Tutu Atwell, and top running backs Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall, back for 2020, Cunningham has the weapons around him for a monster season.

John Rhys Plumlee split time last season as the starting quarterback for Ole Miss. In 9 games as a true freshman, he displayed an impressive rushing ability with 1,023 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. The lackluster part of his game was his passing as he completed only 52.7% of his throws and had a dismal 4 touchdowns against 3 interceptions. For bettors looking for a value pick, Plumlee has a high floor with his impressive rushing ability, and will have plenty of marquee match-ups in the SEC. If Plumlee can show significant improvement in the passing game, and replicate his rookie rushing numbers, he could be a Heisman long-shot to keep an eye on.

The Picks:

Sam Howell +2000 to win the Heisman

Micale Cunningham +12500 to win the Heisman

John Rhys Plumlee +15000 to win the Heisman

 

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2020 College Football Preseason Expert Futures Betting Picks

College football's long-awaited return came on August 29th when Central Arkansas took down Austin Peay in the annual Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly I-AA) kickoff game. Labor Day weekend brought the return of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), which is commonly referred to as "D-1."

This coming weekend brings the return of three of the "Power 5" conferences, a full slate of exciting games, and the sense of a return to normalcy to one of America's fall traditions. Tailgating might be disallowed in some states, but fans will be able to follow along with their favorite teams (or pick new teams) as the pursuit of the College Football Playoff (CFP) commences.

As the 2020 fall college football season approaches, keeping our fingers crossed each week that it will continue, we will look through some of the available futures bets available. Every week this season, we will bring you expert betting picks and content to help guide you through the college football season.

 

Who's Playing and What Will Be Different This Fall

Before digging into some of our best futures bets, let's reset the diminished 2020 college football field. The Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West, and Mid-American Conferences all postponed their fall football seasons, with eyes on rescheduling for the spring. The American Athletic Conference (AAC), Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 12 Conference, Conference-USA, Southeastern Conference (SEC), and Sun Belt Conference have all made plans to play this fall 2020 season. Despite recent conversations that the Big Ten has reportedly had with state and federal elected officials about a mid-October start to the season, as things presently stand the National Championship contender field will be devoid of the opportunity of seeing Ohio State in the (CFP) once again.

While the rules of the game have not changed, you will see many new changes coming this fall. Referees will no longer be using the traditional whistles, replaced by an electronic whistle attached to their hips, and activated with the click of a button. Coaches and players on the sidelines will be wearing masks and practicing social distancing when they can. Stadiums will be largely empty, with capacity ranging from zero fans allowed to 20,000 fans. Players, coaches, and officials are privy to their conference's COVID-19 testing policies, with multiple tests required throughout a week in order to play on Saturdays. Despite all these changes, the return of college football will bring a sense of normalcy to many.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)

The ACC will be playing a 10-game conference schedule, with each team permitted to seek out an additional non-conference matchup. The Clemson Tigers are the overwhelming favorite to repeat as ACC champions for the sixth consecutive season at -455. The Tigers must replace four multi-year starters from their stout offensive line, star receiver Tee Higgins, and six defensive starters from a team that placed second in the nation behind LSU. With quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne returning for another year, the Tigers will and should be favored in every game this season even with a largely new supporting cast surrounding them.

2020 marks the first year that Notre Dame will be playing in a college football conference when they suit up as a member of the ACC. The Fighting Irish, who joined the ACC in all sports but football and hockey in 2012, return 8 offensive starters including their star quarterback Ian Book, who passed for 34 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions a year ago. Notre Dame also has a fairly manageable schedule and should be favored in all of their matchups aside from the November 7 showdown with Clemson in South Bend. If Notre Dame can steer clear of potential road upsets at Pitt or North Carolina, they should get another chance at Clemson in the December ACC championship game.

When looking for a sleeper, an experienced team with a stout defense and history of upsets is not a bad place to start. Coach Pat Narduzzi's Pitt Panthers return 16 starters from a year ago, as well as adding two potential star defensive linemen in Rashad Weaver and Keyshon Camp who were injured a year ago. The Panthers have knocked off #2 Clemson in Death Valley in 2016 (no team has won at Clemson since), #2 Miami in the final game of 2017, and handed Central Florida (UCF) its first loss in 27 regular-season games in memorable fashion.

Picks:

The Value Pick: Notre Dame +650 to win the ACC

The Sleeper: Pittsburgh +3300 to win the ACC

 

The Big 12 Conference

The Big 12 adopted a similar plan to the ACC's plan, with their usual nine-game conference schedule, and an additional optional non-conference game. This year's favorite, the Oklahoma Sooners, will be starting a non-transfer quarterback for the first time in five years when highly touted redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler takes the field on Saturday in an unusual "Pay Per View" matchup costing $54.99. Coach Lincoln Riley has the unenviable task of having to replace the heart-and-soul of both his offense and defense - NFL first-round picks CeeDee Lamb and linebacker Kenneth Murray. Junior wide receiver Charleston Rambo, who caught 43 passes playing across the field from Lamb, is the player to watch on offense. If Rambo has a breakout season, the Sooners should be the odds-on favorite in most of their matchups in 2020 and is favored to win the conference at -125 odds.

Entering the 2020 season ranked as the #23 team in the country, Iowa State is a team on the rise. The Hawkeyes return 14 players who received All-Big 12 recognition last year, including junior quarterback Brock Purdy, and his dual tight end threats Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen. The Cyclones have 10 players on both offense and defense who have started at least five games in their careers and set school records in total offense and passing yards last year. The Cyclones are the only team in the Big 12 other than Oklahoma to have appeared in the CFP rankings in each of the last 3 seasons and have the returning team to finally reach that new height.

In Coach Neal Brown's first season at the helm, the West Virginia Mountaineers stumbled to a 5-7 record in 2019. The team did, however, win two of their final three games after Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege was installed as the new starting quarterback. Doege, who played only four games last season to preserve a redshirt and an extra season of eligibility under NCAA rules, sat by design in an effort to learn the offense and prepare for a comeback season in 2020. With Doege under center and a talented young set of skill position players surrounding him, the West Virginia offense should produce at its usual Big 12-proficiency. In an unpredictable season, the Mountaineer defense will have to overcome losses such as cornerbacks Hakeem Bailey and Keith Washington and linebacker Shane Campbell, to compete in the Big 12.

The Value Pick: Iowa State +1000 to win the Big 12

The Sleeper: West Virginia +2500 to win the Big 12

 

Southeastern Conference (SEC)

The SEC decided in early August to scrap the original schedule and replace it with a ten-game schedule featuring conference opponents only to insulate the schools from lax COVID-19 testing procedures. Alabama enters the season as the favorite to win the conference with -143 odds. The Tagovailoa era came to an end last year with Tua and brother Taulia's respective departures to the NFL's Miami Dolphins and the Maryland Terrapins. Mac Jones, who threw 14 touchdowns against 3 interceptions in four starts last season, takes over at quarterback, with returning star receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle forming a dangerous duo. As usual, the Crimson Tide will be a tough team to beat this fall.

The Florida Gators, led by quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts, are emerging as a legitimate contender under head coach Dan Mullen. The Gators benefit from avoiding Alabama and Auburn in conference play and getting a rebuilding LSU at home this year. When Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman decided to opt-out of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft, the Gators became the best team in the East and should advance to the SEC Championship in December for a battle with 'Bama if all goes according to plan this season.

Coach Mark Stoops has managed to build the Kentucky Wildcats into a formidable SEC opponent, something that many would have thought an impossible feat at the outset of the 21st century. Stoops has taken the Wildcats to four straight bowls, including victories over Penn State in 2018 and Virginia Tech in 2019. Now, the Wildcats are seeking to take the next step towards an appearance in the SEC Championship game. The Wildcats' 2019 season was defined by wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr, a 3rd round draft pick in the 2020 NFL draft, as he led the team in rushing and receiving while starting much of the second half of the season as the team's quarterback. The return of quarterback Terry Wilson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, and the team's stable of talented young running backs behind four returning starters on the offensive line, eases the pain of losing Bowden. The strong rushing attack should allow the Wildcats to continue to control the pace of play as they hope to take the next step as an SEC contender.

The Value Pick: Florida +400 to win the SEC

The Sleeper: Kentucky to win the SEC East +1400

 

Odds shown are courtesy of Draftkings. Thanks for reading, and remember to gamble responsibly.

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