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2023 Non-Big Ten College Football Preview

College Football season is finally upon us, and with that means the return of the vast majority of the gambling public. Sure, you still find many-a-degenerate who is willing to throw a handful of dead presidents on the Sunday Night Baseball NRFI in an attempt to win back his dignity and avoid the dreaded Monday morning venmo, but for the majority of the public, gambling season starts when the first college football game kicks off. (Before anyone says anything, yes, I realize week zero was last week we published our card on the Cooler Talk Instagram and went 5-3.)


That being said, let's kickoff our college football preview through the lens of the futures market. If you are looking for the Big Ten, they got a post all to themselves that is currently featured on the site.


ACC:


Florida State (U 9.5)


The Noles had their best season since Jameis stole crab legs this past fall and with how many key players they return it has everyone in Tallahassee talking title. Unfortunately we have seen this Tory before. Similar to teams of the past like Iowa State, if you return above average but not great typically it tends to repeat itself not improve. Jordan Travis is the epitome of that statement. The 6th year senior is a very solid college QB, but rarely do you say the words 6th year senior and first round pick in the same sentence. That’s how I feel about the Noles roster as a whole outside of Jered Verse, a lot of nice college players that aren’t good enough to win you more than 9 games, which is why I’m going with the under 9.5 on this one.


Clemson (O 9.5)


After 2 years of uncharacteristically poor QB play and disappointment, the Tigers left last season with a some positivity the way Cade Klubnick looked in the ACC championship. Now Cade is back under center, as the unquestioned starter now, ready to prove he deserved all 5 of those stars he got in his recruitment. Outside of Klubnick Dabo’s team will lean heavily on McCaffery esque running back Will Shipley to carry the offense and what is shaping up to be an as always strong defense. People are sleeping on the Tigers because of the past two seasons and I think that is a mistake I like them to win the conference and potentially go undefeated lending to an over of 10.5 wins.


Pitt (O 6.5)


One of my favorite plays in this CFB futures market is the over in Narduzi’s boys out in Steel Town USA. The Panthers fought hard last year and almost took down the likes of Tennessee despite some very inconsistent QB play. Keedan Slovis has since moved on to BYU, but the BC transfer they bring in finally has a chance to prove he is healthy after an injury riddled career that could vault the Panthers to the upper tier of the Atlantic Coast Conference, leading me to believe they win at least 7 games.


Notre Dame (U 8.5)


The Golden Domers starting the season in Dublin and looking very intriguing makes this line a bit stale, however I like the under at the inflated updated odds as well. Hartman while a competent starter, is not a Cam Newton or Caleb Williams like transfer that some (fake) Irish fans are making him out to be. I still think this team trips up at least once and loses all their big games leaving them with another 4 loss season and making some question the praise heaped upon Marcus Freeman the past few off-seasons.


Big 12:


Oklahoma (U 9.5):


The Sooners have some intriguing pieces coming in this season including one of the top transfers in former Ohio State commit and Indiana Hoosier DaSan McCullough, as well as a handful of 5 star recruits. The issue is, Brent Venables is still in the process of bringing in his type of team. Going from a Lincoln Riley run program that focussed heavily on dual threat QB's and running up the score to a defensive minded coach that relies on his front seven is not easy. For that reason, despite the weaker than usual Big 12, I have the Sooners falling short of the 10 win threshold. However, I do think the next year or two they will be threatening to make the final four of the new playoff format.


TCU (U 7.5)


Horned Frog fans experienced their best season in school history making the National Championship game last year, unfortunately for them, their losses this off-season nearly mirror what happened to them in So-Fi last January. Gone is starting QB and Heisman runner up Max Duggan, as is star skill position players KeAndre Miller and Quentin Johnson. Not to mention their best lineman, pass rusher, and DB all of whom were drafted. This simply feels like a step-back year for Sonny Dykes and team. They should be competitive in a wide open Big 12, and have a relatively easy non-con, but it feels like their regression to the mean in close games may come at them in a big way this year leading them to a .500 record.


Texas Tech (O 7.5)


I have mentioned twice now how wide open this conference is, yet I have taken two unders, which would seemingly not correlate. That is because I see two teams rising above the rest in the Big 12 this year, one of them, my pick to win the conference, is expect in the Texas Longhorns. The other however, my choice to be the runner ups, is not. That team would be the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The team down in Lubbock has adopted a new recruiting philosophy under head coach Joey McGuire, and that is to take under the radar elite level athletes and develop them once they get on campus. This strategy has allowed the Red Raiders to hang with more highly ranked teams, and this year I think it will allow them to knock off Oregon in the non-con and ride that momentum to a 9 win season and championship game appearance.


SEC


Tennessee (U 9)


The Vols had their best season in ages with Hendon Hooker under center in 2022, the only issue is this number makes it appear as though people think the combination of Hooker and (Bull Shit) Biletnikoff winner Jalin Hyatt came back for another ride in Knoxville. The hype around Joe Milton is enormous despite the fact that he is entering his 6th season in college and has lost not 1 but 2 QB battles where he was considered the favorite. My bet is that number hits 3 when he inevitably gets benched for Tennessee's 5 star freshman by the time we hit late October. This number is simply inflated based off last years success, give me the under.


LSU (U 9.5)


Speaking of inflation based upon last years success, here come the LSU Tigers. Brian Kelley's squad returns almost the entirety of an SEC finalist last year making them one of the more trendy CFP picks this season. This issue with this team, similar to Florida State, is that when you return almost the entirety of a 3 loss team, you typically end up with a... 3 loss team. I feel as though many people are focussing solely on the Bama win and instead avoiding the SEC title game where they proved they are a rung below the truly elite teams in College Football, something that I think will bear out once again this season.


Florida (U 5.5)


The Gators are in an interesting spot under Billy Napier. They have lost what essentially amounts to their entire offense with Anthony Richardson leaving. They lost out on their big QB commit once it became clear they were not going to pay up to keep him. They are relying on two highly recruited Big Ten washouts in Jack Miller and Graham Mertz, and oh yeah they open the season in one of the most difficult places to play in College Football. All of this leads me to believe the highlight of this season in Gainesville will be the Swamp Kings documentary, which much like this team, was below average.


Kentucky (O 6.5)


I have been quite down on this conference so far, which reflects the way I feel, outside of Georgia I do not think there are any truly elite team (unless Bama solves QB). However, I think there are some undervalued team sitting in the middle of the pact that will out perform expectations this season. One of those teams, is the Kentucky Wildcats. A year removed from transfer QB Will Levis leading them to their best season in recent memory, their is little to no hype coming out of Lexington. This could be traced back to the loss of the stars of that 2021 team no longer being around in Levis, Wandale Robinson, and Chris Rodriguez, it could also be due to the team more or less falling apart towards the end of last season. I think more hype is warranted. Bringing in Devin Leary from NC State gives the team a nice bridge QB with a lot of talent similar to Levis before him, and the return of the 2021 OC gives the offense more direction. I think we are in for a surprisingly solid season in the Blue Grass State.


Arkansas (O 7)


Rounding out the South East Conference is one of my favorite back fields in all of College Football. KJ Jefferson and Rocket Sanders are back for the Hogs and are ready to prove that last year was a fluke. The team started off looking like a solid team until Jefferson got hurt and injuries and close games derailed their season. That being said, their dynamic backfield and 3/5 of their offensive line is back this season along with a more manageable schedule giving them all the opportunity necessary to out perform expectations and potentially make some noise in the middle tier of the conference. By no means do I think the Razorbacks will be making a run at Atlanta, but I think they will definitely be a team that knocks off one of the big boys and takes care of their less talented opponents.


Pac 12


Colorado (U 3.5)


Let's start at the bottom. Hopes are as high as they have ever been in Boulder with the arrival of Deon Sanders, their is just one problem, Deon brought an FCS roster to the Power 5. Do not get me wrong the likes of Travis Hunter, Shedeur Sanders, and a handful of others certainly belong in this conference, the problem is very few others on this roster do. This team is thin every where and is a handful of injuries away from being the worst team in the P5. All the Coach Prime hype is driving people to bet this number like crazy yet it still keeps going down. Take that as a sing, this team will not win more than 2 games, forget 4.


Stanford (U3.5)


We go from one potential last place team to another here by hitting on the Cardinal. Gone are the days of this team having Heisman finalist, first round picks, and Rose Bowl appearances. David Shaw lost all that magic years ago and now he has handed over the reigns to Troy Tayler. Unfortunately for Coach Taylor Andrew Luck is not walking through that proverbial door.


Oregon State (U 8.5)


Last season saw the Beavers have their most competitive team since the Rodgers brothers roamed the campus in Corvallis. With much of that talent returning along with a new 5 star transfer QB the hype around the Beavs is real.. Unfortunately for them, that 5 star transfer QB was available for a reason. DJ U lost his job at Clemson after 2 very disappointing seasons and a handful of Dr Pepper commercials, and now he is trying to re-invent himself closer to home in the Pac-12. The only issue is he might be the 7th best QB in the conference. This truly is a bet against DJ U, do not let the fact that he changes coasts and shades of orange distract you from the fact that he was not very good the past two years on a much better roster. The schedule also does not shake out well for the Beavers, leading me to believe this could be a bit of a letdown season.


Oregon (U 9.5)


Speaking of the Beaver state, the other side of the rivalry formerly known as the Civil War also has some sky high expectations this season revolving around a former 5 star QB who found himself in the portal. Bo Nix is looking to take Autzen Stadium and the whole Pac-12 by storm this season and earn a playoff birth after a promising close to last season. Unfortunately for him, the Ducks have the hardest schedule in the conference. Not only do they play the hardest non-con game against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, but they also have the play the rest of the big 4 which includes games at Washington and Utah. That is just not conducive to double digit wins.


Utah (O 8.5)


Last but not least we finally have a "West Coast" over with the Utah Utes. The Big-12 bound Utes are being underestimated once again this season despite the fact that they have won the conference back to back years. That is largely due to the mystery surrounding their star QB Cam Rising. Rising tore his ACL in the Rose Bowl and is confirmed that he will miss at least the opener against Florida. My take is that the Utes shoudl be able to pull out a close one at home against a mediocre Gator squad giving Cam the rest of the non-con to return to form ready for another run at the Pac-12 title. Another thing, we never bet against Kyle Wittingham.

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