NCAAF Odds: Everything 2017 Has to Offer (and Somehow More)

Sam Darnold with USC
Sam Darnold with USC (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

We’re a little over one month away from the start of the college football season. We’re in a sort of calm before the storm. I’m in a similar calm-before-the-storm situation, personally, as I write this intro: it’s going to be epically short because I’m on deadline and there’s a massive, hurricane’s worth of odds and props to get to!

From the National Championship to the Heisman to the biggest rivalry games to the new head coaches to the soon-to-be old head coaches, I’ve set the odds on (it feels like literally) everything for the 2017-18 college football season.

Without further ado …

NB: All odds are for the 2017-18 NCAA football season, unless otherwise indicated.

NCAAF Odds

Odds to win the 2017-18 National Championship

  • Alabama: 3/1
  • Ohio State: 15/2
  • USC: 15/2
  • Florida State: 8/1
  • Oklahoma: 10/1
  • Michigan: 14/1
  • LSU: 16/1
  • Penn State: 20/1
  • Clemson: 25/1
  • Oklahoma State: 28/1

We’ve covered this before, but the national title picture only changes a little from year to year. Alabama and Ohio State will be favorites once again. Their coaches have combined for eight national titles across four teams, more than the rest of the active coaches in college football combined. Defending national champion Clemson looks due to regress a bit, having lost some key players and the best quarterback in college football. Keep your eye on Florida State; the Seminoles have the quarterback they’ve always needed to win, maybe the best defense in college football, and a schedule that will let them build the best playoff resume in the country.

Michigan, too, is not to be ignored, despite losing a ton of talent: we’re entering the third year of the Harbaugh era and starting to see real returns, especially from his much-lauded recruiting. Five of the six games Michigan has lost with Harbaugh at head coach have been one-possession games, and if all you do is rearrange some crazy nonsense, this could very well have been a playoff team already.

Carol M. Highsmith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Odds to make the 2017-18 College Football Playoff

  • Alabama: 2/5
  • Ohio State: 3/2
  • Oklahoma: 5/2
  • FSU: 5/2
  • USC: 3/1
  • LSU: 4/1
  • Michigan : 5/1
  • Penn State: 5/1
  • Washington: 5/1
  • Clemson: 6/1
  • Wisconsin: 7/1
  • Auburn: 7/1
  • Oklahoma State: 8/1
  • Georgia: 8/1
  • Texas: 10/1
  • Louisville: 10/1

Alabama’s been to every edition of the playoff and returning the sophomore QB who led them there last year … plus that Saban guy; pencil them in. Otherwise, you’re basically picking Power 5 conference champions, with one left out, usually either the PAC-12 or Big 12. If Florida State wins the ACC and only loses a game or two, they’re probably in. If Oklahoma wins the Big 12 and only loses one, they’ll be in again. How the Big Ten playoff bid works is beyond human understanding, but suffice it so say that Ohio State has gotten a little leeway in the past. That might change, however, as the Buckeyes lost 31-0 in last year’s Fiesta Bowl and, needless to say, did not look impressive in the process.

Odds to win the 2017-18 National Championship (by conference)

  • SEC: 2/1
  • Big Ten: 4/1
  • ACC: 5/1
  • Big 12: 6/1
  • Pac-12: 7/1

The champions have been pretty spread out in the CFP era: the Big Ten, ACC, and SEC all have one. That might be a little evasive, however, as the SEC and ACC have each contested two championship games, while the Big Ten won its first campaign and then was shut out in the semi-finals each of the last two years. Florida State looks ready to carry the torch should Clemson take a step back and the Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan all have designs in the Big Ten. But there’s no knocking the ever-heralded SEC from its favorite perch.

Odds none of Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, & USC play in the 2017-18 National Championship: 10/1


2017 Conference Championship Odds

SEC

  • Alabama: 2/3
  • LSU: 5/1
  • Any SEC East team: 5/1

The team that wins the West will probably win, which means that Alabama will probably win. That is, unless LSU can ruin their day with an upset win (not unthinkable) or the Crimson Tide find a way to lose to Ole Miss again (the only thing on my Christmas list).

Photo credit: Matt Velazquez (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/]

Pac-12

  • USC: 3/2
  • Washington: 3/1
  • Stanford: 5/1
  • Utah: 8/1
  • Oregon: 8/1

The Pac-12 is the most competitive it has been in years right now, with not one but three nationally-relevant programs, plus a second tier of very scary teams. USC under Sam Darnold was one of the best teams in the nation at the end of last season; Washington made the playoff and, despite losing a significant amount to graduation and the draft, returns a lot of its key starters; and Stanford remains as physical and well-coached as ever.  I’m also loving Utah’s super physical defense that cannot abide weak line play and beat USC fair and square last year, Sam Darnold and all.

ACC

  • FSU: 3/2
  • Louisville: 3/1
  • Clemson: 5/1

FSU is looking like one of the best teams in the country. With a star quarterback, an exceptional defense, and a good schedule, if the Seminoles manage this season well, they’ll be a lot more than ACC Champions. Louisville has the most potent offensive player in the country, so they can’t be counted out, and you have to give Clemson some credit for winning the national title.

Big Ten

  • Ohio State: 2/1
  • Michigan: 3/1
  • Penn State: 4/1
  • Wisconsin: 6/1
  • Nebraska: 15/1
  • Iowa: 19/1

There should be two categories here: one for which team wins the Big Ten championship, and one for which Big Ten team goes to the playoff. Ohio State and Michigan look about as frightening as ever this year, and it’s likely that The Game will have national-title implications! Defending champion Penn State returns most of its offensive weapons and the bellicose, fourteen-year-old Madden player they have calling plays, so they’ll certainly score enough points to beat anybody.

In the West, Wisconsin has checked all the boxes on the Wisconsin-Success Model (Box 1: “is everyone on the team very large?” Box 2: “running back?“) and returns a lot of the linemen that made this team such a physical force last year.

Nebraska became really inconsistent on offense when Tommy Armstrong’s hamstring acted up. This year’s team loses about 60-percent of its starters and fired DC Mark Banker. While it’s undeniably a transition year, they lost six one-possession games in 2016 (which should regress to the mean) and new starting QB Tanner Lee has sky-high potential.

Iowa loses their quarterback, a running back that carried the ball 200 times, three of their top four receivers, both starting defensive tackles, both starting quarterbacks, and a left tackle. So while the program is still chugging along, 2017 probably isn’t their year.

Big 12

  • Oklahoma: 6/5
  • Oklahoma State: 4/1
  • Texas: 8/1
  • Kansas State: 12/1
  • TCU: 15/1
  • West Virginia: 25/1
  • Baylor: 40/1
  • Texas Tech: 50/1
  • Iowa State: 85/1
  • Kansas: 250/1

It thrills me to report that the winner of the Big 12 will likely be a very entertaining, offensively explosive, air-raid-or-similar team. Oklahoma returns Baker Mayfield for his last year of college football, and he’ll be trying to impress NFL scouts with his unique brand of aggressive scoring. Oklahoma State is similarly prolific on offense but questionable on defense. And Texas is looking to have a resurgence in its first year under Tom Herman.

If you’re looking for a longshot, Iowa State is your horse. The team is occasionally brilliant and nothing but upside. But they’re also wildly inconsistent and will probably wind up a six-win team that struggles to be bowl eligible.

By GoIowaState.com [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Mid-America Conference

  • Western Michigan: 3/1
  • Toledo: 4/1
  • Miami (OH): 5/1
  • Ohio: 6/1
  • Northern Illinois: 9/1

The MAC is becoming stronger by the year. Western Michigan was the class of the conference in 2016, going undefeated and making the Cotton Bowl. Now without celebrity head coach PJ Fleck, who’s off to Houston, the Broncos will find the 2017 schedule a lot tough, especially when they face Toledo, a team that won nine games and returns everyone. NIU is something of a sleeper. The 2016 team was rocked by injuries and instability but won four of five to close the year. If one of their many QB options (more on this later) can come in and complement a strong run game led by Jordan Huff, the Huskies could surprise.


Awards and Coach Props

2017 Heisman Trophy Odds

  • Sam Darnold (QB, USC): 11/4
  • Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma): 15/2
  • Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville): 8/1
  • JT Barrett (QB, Ohio State): 9/1
  • Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State): 9/1
  • Bo Scarborough (RB, Alabama): 14/1
  • Derrius Guice (RB, LSU): 14/1
  • Jalen Hurts (QB, Alabama): 16/1
  • Deondre Francois (QB, Florida): 18/1
  • Jake Browning (QB, Washington): 18/1

Surprise surprise: the Heisman is probably going to a quarterback or a running back. Sam Darnold leads list of preseason favorites, the way he’s transformed a national brand into a honest-to-God contender is the stuff of Heisman voter fantasy, but he hasn’t locked it up just yet.

Baker Mayfield, Deondre Francois and Lamar Jackson could all swoop in here by winning enough games to elevate their teams to playoff level, Saquon Barkley is maybe the best college football player in the country and quite clearly the most entertaining running back, an Bo Scarborough is the lead back for a program that seems to generate Heisman trophies for its lead backs every other year.

Odds to be the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft

  • Josh Rosen (UCLA): 3/1
  • Sam Darnold (USC): 4/1
  • Josh Allen (Wyoming): 4/1

Josh Rosen has been the favorite since he was in high school. With beautiful mechanics, the ability to make complex reads quickly and execute any number of different offensive philosophies, he’s got everything GM’s look for when they want to overpay for a rookie quarterback. He’s also shown that he can deal with adversity, performing well despite playing under three offensive coordinators in three years, behind maybe three quarters of an offensive line, and supported by the worst rushing attack in the PAC-12.

Darnold’s also an NFL darling. He’s attracted a lot of attention with his his visible wins-over-replacement value since taking over the USC starting job, but his mechanics aren’t quite as clean as Golden Boy Rosen’s and scouts haven’t been as hot on him for as long.

Allen might have the most arm-talent of the bunch, and would likely be the favorite if he didn’t play at Wyoming. But Carson Wentz already proved you don’t need a big stage to build the necessary momentum.

Odds to be the first coach fired

  • Jim Mora (UCLA): 9/1
  • Todd Graham (Arizona State): 15/1
  • Rich Rodriguez (Arizona): 15/1
  • Bret Bielema (Arkansas): 16/1
  • Gus Malzahn (Auburn): 17/1
  • Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss): 18/1
  • Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M): 18/1
  • Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech): 18/1
  • Lane Kiffin (FAU): 25/1
  • Butch Jones (Tennessee): 30/1
  • Brian Kelly (Notre Dame): 30/1
  • Steve Addazio (Boston College): 30/1
  • Mark Dantonio (Michigan State): 30/1
  • Dave Doeren (N.C. State): 35/1
  • Lovie Smith (Illinois): 35/1
  • Willie Taggart (Oregon): 35/1
  • Mike Riley (Nebraska): 40/1
  • Kirk Ferentz (Iowa): 250/1
  • Nick Saban (Alabama): 1,000/1

By Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

[UPDATE, AUG. 2: Hugh Freeze officially resigned, so we consider this prop still open!]

There’s some obvious ones here: Jim Mora has failed to impress at UCLA despite landing the most talented passer in recent memory; Butch Jones has won a few two many “Champions of Life” titles to last long in Tennessee; and Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona is doing a great impression of a collapsing program.

Other coaches are hanging on by the skin of their teeth: Kliff Kingsbury can’t seem to make a bowl game but has too big of a buyout for Texas Tech to stomach; Hugh Freeze is captain of a very leaky ship at Ole Miss but the school seems to be standing behind him; and Notre Dame signed Brian Kelly to a six-year extension just before a 4-8 season and the last thing they need is another Charlie Weis on the payroll.

On paper, Mike Riley orchestrated a nice turnaround for the Huskers, taking the team from 6-7 to 9-4 in his second year in Lincoln. The end of last season — a 40-10 massacre at the hands of rival Iowa followed by a 38-24 setback to Tennessee in the Music City Bowl — left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth, though. If Nebraska doesn’t emerge at least 2-1 from non-conference play (where they face Arkansas State, Oregon, and Northern Illinois), Riley’s seat will be getting warm.

There’s a couple here that would be real shockers: firing Lovie Smith after his second year would be bizarre, and the last time Oregon fired a head coach was in the 70s. Plus, when you hire Willie Taggart, you have to be expecting a down year. In the “fun” category: Lane Kiffin, who has left his last four jobs in spectacular fashion and is in his first year at head coach since being left on the tarmac at LAX.

Looking for very long odds? Here’s a fun thought-experiment: figure out what it would take for Iowa to part with Kirk Ferentz, who’s been with the Cyclones since last millennium. He’d probably have to go all Hugh Freeze on us. But that pales in comparison to what Saban would have to do to get canned in Tuscaloosa. I’m pretty sure he can call all the escorts he wants and still be safe; he might be able to start his own brothel.

Odds Nick Saban is an NFL Coach in 2018: 49/1

Six NFL teams made coaching changes from 2016 to 2017. Apparently every single one asked Saban if he was interested. Every single one got the same answer: no. If (when) more NFL teams come calling in 2018, they’ll get the same answer, no matter what happens at Alabama this year. It’s true that Saban has nothing left to prove at the college level, but you could have said the same thing last year, and the year before, and the year before. He’s sticking around Tuscaloosa because it’s an amazing gig. Signing bonus included, he made over $11 million last year, more than every NFL coach, and he might be the best recruiter the sport has ever seen. You don’t just up and leave paradise … especially for Cleveland.

Odds Lane Kiffin (FAU) is cited for a recruiting violation by March 1, 2018: 3/2

Lane Kiffin is out here offering scholarships to middle schoolers, and if I’m honest, I don’t love the combination of Lane and Boca Raton from any kind of propriety standpoint. The only way Kiffin avoids some kind of Coen brothers movie-esque recruiting violation is if he’s too busy getting tied up in a stolen-boats-for-endangered-animals or some bizarre wife-swapping scenario.


Statistical Props

Over/Under passing TDs

  • Sam Darnold (USC): 35.5
  • Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma): 31.5
  • Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State): 28.5
  • Trace McSorley (Penn State): 24.5
  • Josh Rosen (UCLA): 23.5
  • Anu Solomon (Arizona): 23.5
  • Brandon Wimbush (Notre Dame): 15.5

Sam Darnold threw 31 touchdowns in ten starts in 2016, and if he can keep that pace up through a whole season, he’ll post some silly numbers in 2017. Rosen’s arguably the best quarterback, but the UCLA offense as a whole doesn’t put him in a position to be quite as prolific as some of the other passers listed here. Baker Mayfield is one of those delightful college passers whose fight-or-flight response to stress has at some point been replaced with taking a step forward in the pocket and throwing the ball as high and hard as he can.  My personal favorite is Trace McSorley, who throws a beautiful deep ball in a system that is somewhere between rabid-wolverine and wounded-boar aggressive.

O/U total TDs

  • Lamar Jackson (Louisville): 44.5
  • Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma): 43.5
  • JT Barrett (Ohio State): 34.5

Asking Jackson to repeat his preposterous, Heisman-winning 2016 season (51 total TDs) is a bit much, especially without his top targets (James Quick, Cole Hikutini, and Jamari Staples) and a mediocre offensive line that will have him on the run.

If not for Jackson, Baker Mayfield and his 46 total touchdowns would have been the story of the year. He hasn’t had the best offseason, but count on him hitting a lot more paydirt than pavement.

Barrett should be able to improve on his 31 total TDs. New OC Kevin Wilson will invigorate an offense that got shutout the last time it took the field, and — though leading wideout Curtis Samuel is NFL bound — Barrett should have better chemistry with his returning receivers.

Over/under rushing TDs

  • Saquon Barkley (Penn State): 18.5
  • Derrius Guice (LSU): 17.5
  • Nick Chubb (Georgia): 13.5
  • Bo Scarbrough (Alabama): 12.5
  • Jordan Huff (Northern Illinois): 11.5
  • Chris Warren III (Texas): 11.5
  • Nick Wilson (Arizona): 9.5

If the (re)emergence of Penn State is going to continue, it’s going to be on the strength of the offense. Trace McSorley will get his through the air, but coach James Franklin is still going to feed his bell-cow, Saquon Barkley, plenty of cud. He had 18 rushing TDs last year and there’s no reason he can’t exceed that as a junior, especially with the likes of Akron, Georgia State, and Rutgers on the schedule.

Derrius Guice is going to be the offense for LSU with Leonard Fournette in the pros. Hitting 20 TDs is definitely attainable, considering he had 15 last year while Fournette was still (sort of) around. He had at least one major every game he received double-digit carries. But you have to remember the conference that he plays in, and the front-sevens the Tigers will be facing week-in and week-out. He’ll need to feast when the going gets easy, just like he did against Missouri (three TDs) and Texas A&M (four TDs) last year.

Chris Warren has the task of replacing 2,000-yard rusher D’Onta Foreman in Austin. He’s not the athlete Foreman is, but at 250-plus pounds, he could break the plane a lot. Like Nick Wilson, he comes with injury concerns, though, coming off a PCL injury that cost him the last eight games of the 2016 season. He’s also playing in an offense that could wind-up being awfully pass happy, with strong-armed QB Shane Buechele expected to make strides as a sophomore under new head coach Tom Herman.

If Nick Wilson can stay healthy, he should be good for double-digit majors. He had 16 as a freshman in 2014. But he’s only suited up for 14 games over the last two years and has 11 touchdowns to show for it. 

Up at Northern Illinois, Jordan Huff is flying a bit under the radar. But the senior is primed to put himself into the NFL draft conversation with a big year now that Joel Bouagnon has graduated. He didn’t get the goal-line touches last year, even though he averaged well over six yards per carry, and saw his TDs drop from eight to just five. They’ll shoot back up this season.

Odds on which new coach finishes the season with the highest ranking

  • LSU (Ed Orgeron): 4/1
  • Minnesota (P.J. Fleck): 4/1
  • Texas (Tom Herman): 6/1
  • Baylor (Matt Rhule): 6/1
  • Cal (Justin Wilcox): 8/1
  • Oregon (Willie Taggart): 8/1
  • FAU (Lane Kiffin): 25/1

LSU is a title hopeful, but plays in a tough conference and could take some losses easily. PJ Fleck at Minnesota inherits the most wins of this group (9), as he’s replacing a coach who wasn’t fired for on-the-field problems. Tom Herman inherits the biggest brand name in the country with a broadly favourable schedule and with a few key wins can be ranked very highly. Matt Rhule has some serious problems to overcome at Baylor, as does Justin Wilcox at Cal, and Willie Taggart has never started his career at a new school with a roaring start. Longest possible shot is Lane Kiffin at FAU, because the last time Lane Kiffin was the head coach of a ranked team was in 2011, if we’re being generous, and that was with USC, a notably bigger brand name than Florida Atlantic.


Week 1 Starting QB Odds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alabama

  • Jalen Hurts: 3/7
  • Tua Tagovailoa: 7/3

It would be bizarre, truly bizarre, for Nick Saban to trust a true freshman QB two years in a row. That said, Jalen Hurts missed some throws in the championship game that might have cost Alabama it’s 183rd title, so if Saban puts that down to Hurts, instead of youth and amateur sport played with an oblong ball, he’ll play Tua, perhaps the better passer of the two.

Arizona State

  • Blake Barnett: 1/1
  • Manny Wilkins: 4/1
  • Bryce Perkins: 6/1
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole: 6/1

Arizona State is shaping up to have good old fashioned quarterback competition this season, as returning starter Manny Wilkins is coming off a season with the best stats on the depth chart but laundry list of injuries and ailments, Blake Barnett transferred from Alabama to get some playing time with the Sun Devils and is no slouch himself, and the two freshman who filled in for Wilkins are both back with hopes of being named the starter. This might be the tightest race here.

Auburn

  • Jarrett Stidham: 1/5
  • Sean White: 11/2
  • FIELD: 75/1

Auburn is one of the rare cases where the incumbent from a team that finished in the top-25 is a heavy underdog to start. Sean White did some nice things for the Tigers last year, but throwing effectively wasn’t one of them, and Auburn’s offense was pretty one-dimensional as a result. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham was awfully good for the Bears when he stepped in for an injured Seth Russell back in 2015 as a freshman. He led the team to a 2-1 record in three starts, falling only to an Oklahoma team (44-34) that went on to reach the CFP.

Clemson

  • Tucker Israel: 13/7
  • Hunter Johnson: 7/3
  • Kelly Bryant: 4/1
  • Zerrick Cooper: 17/3

Clemson lost the best player in college football this offseason, and are seeking to replace him with one of the talented but unproved quarterbacks on their roster. In their spring game, Kelly Bryant played well but tore a tendon in his hand, freshman Hunter Johnson got chased around but made at least one beautiful throw, and Tucker Israel posted the best stats of the day. With no clear favorites, this will come down to a fair competition, with Clemson undoubtedly missing the QB that brought them to the very top of the mountain.

Florida

  • Malik Zaire: 2/3
  • Luke Del Rio: 7/3
  • Field: 9/1

Malik Zaire transferred from Notre Dame to Florida and right away gives Florida’s opponents something new to worry about. He’s never been the most consistent passer in football, but Florida’s offense won’t ask him to be, and his contribution to the run game isn’t to be ignored. As high-profile a QB as Zaire wouldn’t transfer to Florida without some kind of assurance of playing time, so look for him to take the QB1 slot.

Iowa

  • Nathan Stanley: 1/4
  • Tyler Wieger: 9/2

Iowa’s got a decision between Nathan Stanley, who started as a true freshman last year, and Tyler Wieger, whose job he took last year. It’s going to be Stanley; they’re just making a fuss for the media

Iowa State

  • Jacob Park: 1/9
  • Joel Lanning: 49/1

There’s no real question about who’s going to start in Ames. This is Jacob Park’s job. The backstory is fascinating, though. Park was Lanning’s backup when he arrived on campus, slowly usurping the top spot on the depth chart. So the experienced Lanning became the backup, right? Think again. He moved to linebacker. The 6’2, 225-pound erstwhile dual-threat pivot isn’t just another name on the defensive depth chart, either; he’s the team’s starting mike.

Miami

  • Malik Rosier: 13/7
  • Evan Shirreffs: 13/7
  • N’Kosi Perry: 4/1

Evan Shirreffs is the favorite here, he impressed in the spring game and was named Brad Kaaya’s backup until he injured his thumb in fall practice, but Malik Rosier shares the number one spot with him and N’Kosi Perry could potentially start. Jack Allison, sensing the strength of the competition, decided to leave, and true freshman Cade Weldon isn’t likely to see his name at the top of the depth chart, at least not at the beginning of the season.

Michigan State

  • Brian Lewerke: 3/2
  • Damion Terry: 7/3
  • Messiah deWeaver: 5/1

Michigan State’s passing in 2016 was inconsistent, to say the least, and now they’re starting quarterback is gone. The returning passer with the best stats from 2016 is sophomore Brian Lewerke, who came out of the season with 31 completions, two touchdowns and a broken leg. Senior Damion Terry’s stats were only a little worse, but to our knowledge his legs are still largely intact.

Nebraska

  • Tanner Lee: 1/5
  • Patrick O’Brien: 11/2
  • Tristan Gebbia: 99/1

Mike Riley named Lee the starter back in April after the spring game, while also noting that the competition remained open. The Tulane transfer was lights-out in the intrasquad game, going 13 of 19 for 190 yards and three TDs. But redshirt frosh O’Brien held his own, with a stat-line that read 11 of 17 for 134 yards and one major. After hitting at just a 53.6-percent clip in his two years with the Green Wave, Lee needs to keep showing improved accuracy to stay ahead on the depth chart. He and O’Brien are both big, prototypical pocket passers, so Riley wouldn’t need to adjust much of the offense if he transitions from one to the other.

North Carolina

  • Brandon Harris: 3/2
  • Nathan Elliott: 4/1
  • Chazz Surratt: 5/1

After losing ostensibly the best quarterback to leave college last year, UNC is hurting at quarterback. Brandon Harris transferred from LSU with every intention of playing football, and it would be strange to see him on the sideline behind either the other two quarterbacks at UNC. Nathan Elliot was Trubisky’s backup, and attempted a rather small sample of nine passes, eight of which were completed for a grand total of 55 yards and no touchdowns. Chazz Surratt is talented, absolutely, but the four-star mobile QB needs a little more time after his redshirt season.

Northern Illinois

  • Ryan Graham: 4/3
  • Daniel Santacaterina: 5/3
  • Marcus Childers: 6/1

If this year is anything like last year, this question comes down to who has the better orthopaedic surgeon. NIU screamed through its quarterback depth chart in 2016, racking up injury after injury. They were at their most efficient offensively when QB-turned-receiver Anthony Maddie turned back into a QB. Maddie’s gone for 2017, so the contest is between junior Ryan Graham and sophomore Daniel Santacaterina, with redshirt freshman Marcus Childers nipping at their heels.

Of the two favorites, Graham is the more efficient, completing 61% of his passes in four games before being injured. Santacaterina is the better run threat. Santacaterina was explosive through the air, posting an impressive 20.1 yards per completion, but he only connected at a 47% clip. The NIU offense is likely to focus on its run game, with Jordan Huff set for a breakout season in the backfield, and the choice of QB might come down to who can stay healthier.

Texas

  • Shane Buechele: 2/5
  • Sam Ehlinger: 5/2

Shane Buechele can throw the ball, we know that much. He performed admirably (if inconsistently) as a true freshman in maybe the biggest job in college sports, and while Ehlinger is certainly the more mobile of the two it’s likely that Buechele will get the nod. A notable deficiency on the Longhorns roster is depth at quarterback, as beyond these two there’s not a lot else to go on. Hopefully they can both stay healthy.

Texas A&M

  • Jake Hubenak: 3/2
  • Nick Starkel: 4/1
  • Kellen Mond: 4/1

Here’s a fun one, because Kevin Sumlin knows three things: Jake Hubenak has a limited upside, Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond would both fit the offense better but are very young, and if the Aggies fail to perform Sumlin will lose his job. What do you do? Stay with the senior who, while somewhat limited, is also a known quantity and can very likely get you the wins you need, or go with one of the young guys, who can potentially really jam with your offense? I think he’ll stay conservative, and still get fired. Aggie fans have high expectations.


Props, Parlays, and Loose Ends

Odds of a National Championship Game rematch (Alabama-Clemson): 70/1

Odds a non-Power 5 team makes the College Football Playoffs: 25/1

It’s extremely difficult for a non-power team to make the Playoff, because the committee favours conference champions, strength of schedule, and has at least a little blue-blood bias. When the playoff eventually/inevitably expands, we’ll get our Boise States and Houstons, but it’s seriously unlikely that it will happen in 2017.

Bsuorangecrush: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Over/under biggest margin of victory in an FBS game: 69.5

Is someone going to get into the 70 point club? Maybe. Is Rutgers playing in the Big Ten? Decent chance. They open the season with Washington, travel to Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley’s house, and also play Michigan on the road. Maybe try a bend-don’t break thing to keep the margin in the 40s?

Odds Ohio State beats both Penn State and Michigan: 3/2

Odds Penn State beats both Ohio State and Michigan: 5/1

Odds Michigan beats both Penn State and Ohio State: 14/3

Odds Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn: 4/5

Odds Alabama loses to both LSU and Auburn: 15/1

By Thecoiner (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Odds all 5 of these home teams win on Rivalry Weekend (Nov 24-25): 100/1

  • Auburn (over Alabama)
  • Michigan (over OSU)
  • Florida (over Fla State)
  • Washington (over Wash State)
  • Oregon (over Oregon State)

Over/under largest point spread for Alabama: 28.5

Despite the talent gap that usually exists between Alabama and their opponents, Nick Saban doesn’t frequently hang huge scores on opponents, preferring to put up a tasteful lead, rest his starters, and control the game. The exception, of course, is a few personal vendettas, such as in 2015 when the Crimson Tide beat Charleston Southern 56-6 because Saban was furious about complacency or the media or Georgia Southern or something. Last year, Alabama beat USC 52-6, because offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin did not appreciate being fired on the tarmac at LAX. The most fun was when Alabama for some reason defeated Saban’s alma mater Kent State 48-0. I AM ALREADY A DONOR PLEASE STOP CALLING ME

Odds Rutgers beats (at least) one of the following teams: 3/2

  • Ohio State
  • Michigan
  • Michigan State
  • Penn State

The odds are long here, to say the least. The Scarlet Knights lost 39-0 to conference champion Penn State, 58-0 to playoff… participant Ohio State, and a stately 78-0 to Michigan (Jim Harbaugh wanted a deal on steak). Against Michigan State, which went 3-9 and lost to Indiana in overtime, Rutgers managed a 49-0 loss. Failing to score a point against two programs that have been to the playoff, one that should have been and one that very soon will is forgivable, and finding a way to win is going to require a small miracle. Their best shot is against Michigan State: they’ve got a conceivable shot to win there, but still.

Over/Under combined passing yards for Sam Darnold & Josh Rosen in USC-UCLA game on Nov. 18: 599.5

Yeah, the two starters only went for 448 yards last year when USC trounced the Bruins, 36-14. But that was with Mike Fafaul starting for UCLA.

Odds UConn wins at least nine games: 20/1

That would be the most ever for a program under Randy Edsall, who returns this year as coach.

Odds UConn makes a bowl game: 13/7