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128 key betting notes for 128 college football teams

College football is almost here. And, if you spent most of your summer partying like a college kid instead of studying like one, you could be feeling the crunch as you prepare your Week 1 wagers.

If you need some key betting info – and need it now – Covers has the hurry-up offense you’re looking for, offering a key betting tidbit for all 128 FBS college football programs.

AAC

Central Florida Knights (2014: 9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Central Florida has dominated conference opponents by going an impressive 15-1 over the last two seasons. The Knights have won back-to-back conference championships, and they’ll be in contention once again this season. Quarterback Justin Holman returns for his junior season after throwing for 2,952 yards with 23 touchdowns in 2014.

Cincinnati Bearcats (2014: 9-4 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)

Cincinnati is poised for a big season in 2015. The Bearcats’ offense is loaded, and they return eight starters from last year’s team that averaged 34 points per game. Quarterback Gunner Kiel returns after throwing for 3,254 yards and a school record 31 touchdown passes in 2014.

Connecticut Huskies (2014: 2-10 SU, 2-10 ATS)

The offense is a major concern. Connecticut only averaged 15.5 points on 276 yards of total offense per game last season. The quarterback position doesn’t have a lot of experience, so another poor offensive season is quite likely. The road schedule is brutal as well, so there’s not a lot to like about Connecticut heading into the 2015 season.

East Carolina Pirates (2014: 8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS)

East Carolina has a successful program as they’ve made a bowl game in eight of the last nine seasons. The Pirates have won eight games or more in each of the last three years, and they’ll be in contention to extend that streak to four.

South Florida Bulls (2014: 4-8 SU, 6-6 ATS)

The team returns just 4 offensive starters, and under Taggart, the Bulls have only averaged 13.8 and 17.2 points per game. Overall, South Florida’s program has been in decline over the last four seasons, and there’s nothing to suggest a reversal of form will be seen in 2015.

Temple Owls (2014: 6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS)

Temple returns 19 starters from a team that went 6-6 last season. The Owls have an excellent defense, and they should be the best in the AAC. Temple returns ten starters on a stop unit that only gave up 17.5 points per game last season. With 15 seniors on the two deep, Temple is set to have their best season in quite awhile.

Houston Cougars (2014: 8-5 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)

Houston has a whole new coaching staff this season. Head coach Tom Herman comes over from Ohio State where he was the offensive coordinator. Major Applewhite is the new offensive coordinator while Craig Naivar and Todd Orlando will co-coordinate the defense. With new schemes on both sides of the ball, Houston may not play-up to their talent level in 2015.

Memphis Tigers (2014: 10-3 SU, 8-4-1 ATS)

Memphis came out of nowhere to win 10 games last season, and teams that fit that profile usually regress the following season. The Tigers’ defense was good last year (19.5 ppg), but that unit only returns three starters while losing coordinator Barry Odom to Missouri. Memphis’ season will hinge on their defense, and if they falter, the Tigers will be a .500 team at best.

Navy Midshipmen (2014: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS)

Navy runs the triple option offense, and it’s difficult to stop, especially for teams that haven’t seen it before and only have a week to prepare. The Midshipmen are affiliated with a league for the first time in 124 years, and they’ll have a major advantage over their opponents this season as none of them will have a bye prior to playing Navy. Senior QB Keenan Reynolds returns, so the Midshipmen will be a formidable team this season.

SMU Mustangs (2014: 1-11 SU, 4-8 ATS)

SMU returns 16 starters this season after winning just one game in 2014. There’s nowhere to go but up for the Mustangs, so they should be a much better team this season. New head coach Chad Morris is a proven offensive guru as his Clemson’s offenses averaged 37.3 points per game over the last three years.

Tulane Green Wave (2014: 3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS)

Tulane has serious issues on offense. The unit only averaged 16 points per game last season, and they’ve averaged 347 yards per game or less in all three years under Johnson. The Green Wave scored a total of 16 points in their last three games of the 2014 season. If the offense doesn’t get significantly better, Tulane will be in the basement once again in 2015.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2014: 2-10 SU, 5-7 ATS)

The Golden Hurricane come in off a 2-win season, and while there’s nowhere to go but up, the team still lacks much talent. After winning 29 games from 2010-2012, Tulsa is just 5-19 over the last two seasons. It will take time for Montgomery to get the right players to fit his schemes, so 2015 figures to be a rebuilding season for Tulsa.

BIG 12

Baylor Bears (2014: 11-2 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)

Baylor brings back just about everyone except quarterback Bryce Petty, and the Bears will go into just about every game this season knowing that they will be able to bully their opponents on both sides of the line.

Texas Christian Horned Frogs (2014: 12-1 SU, 11-2 ATS)

TCU will put up points. A lot of points. Trevone Boykin is back at QB after finishing fourth in the country in total offense last season. Top wideout Josh Doctson also returns after setting single-season school record for TD catches and yards. Yikes.

Oklahoma Sooners (2014: 8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS)

Questions are everywhere in a program that was once of the top 5 in the country. Might be a good idea to stay off this team, which must play at Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Kansas State and Baylor. Ouch.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (2014: 7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS)

Careful here. OSU gave up 47 more points than it scored last season, and even that number was inflated by a meaningless 30-point victory over Texas-San Antonio.

Texas Longhorns (2014: 6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS)

Should be value to be had here because Texas is just not perceived as a Top-25 program anymore. But Charlie Strong has some talent, and as road wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State proved last season, the guy can coach.

Kansas State Wildcats (2014: 9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Does Bill Snyder ever have a bad season? Somehow Snyder managed to cajole nine wins out of last year’s squad, and no one should bet too heavily against him finding a way to keep the Cats in the mix this season.

West Virginia Mountaineers (2014: 7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)

WVU will score – it always does. QB Skyler Howard will get nothing but better and running back Rushel Shell could be one of the top backs in the country if he stays healthy – he had 788 on the ground last season despite fighting a sprained ankle for much of the season. Defense has to plug a few holes, but should be among the best in the conference.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (2014: 4-8 SU, 6-6 ATS)

There’s instability at the QB position, where neither Patrick Mahome nr Davis Webb has been able to separate from the other. Then there’s the defense, which allowed more points than any team in the conference last season (495) and seems capable of allowing 50-plus on any given Saturday.

Iowa State Cyclones (2014: 2-10 SU, 4-7-1 ATS)

Iowa State is your basic Dollar Store team. You might be able to find some value if you look hard enough. The Cyclones should be able to move the ball pretty well, led by veteran QB Sam Richardson and a group of pretty good wideouts.

Kansas Jayhawks (2014: 2-10 SU, 4-7-1 ATS)

All you need to know about Kansas is that only five starters return from a team that wasn’t very good last season and will probably be worse this time around. Coach David Beaty should probably spend a lot of his time on the recruiting trail, because he has one of the most difficult rebuilds in the country on his hands.

Big Ten

Ohio State Buckeyes (2014: 14-1 SU, 10-5 ATS)

No team enjoys as much quarterback depth as the Buckeyes, who boast three signal callers that are all considered legitimate Heisman hopefuls. They return plenty of talent from last year’s championship squad, including star running back Ezekiel Elliot, who ran for 1402 yards and a dozen TDs last season. This year’s schedule presents very little problems, with their toughest game looking like a home game against Michigan State.

Michigan State Spartans (2014: 11-2 SU, 9-4 ATS)

Conner Cook returns at quarterback for the Spartans after throwing for 3214 yards and 24 TDs with just eight INTs last season. Senior All-American Jack Allen is the rock in what is projected to be one of the best offensive lines in the country.

Wisconsin Badgers (2014: 11-3 SU, 6-8 ATS)

The quarterback position was a glaring weakness for Wisconsin in 2014, and they bring back five year senior Joel Stave for another year. He threw more picks (10) than he did TDs (9) last season, completing just 53 percent of his passes. The Badgers have high hopes for junior running back Corey Clement, but he’s got big shoes to fill replacing Melvin Gordon.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (2014: 9-4 SU, 8-4-1 ATS)

First year head coach Mike Riley brings a more relaxed approach to Nebraska, which is in stark contrast to his predecessor Bo Pelini, who has a reputation for being a bit of a hot head. While he will make the transition to more of a pro-style offense, the transition will be made easier with Tommy Armstrong Jr. returning at quarterback after throwing for 2695 yards and 22 TDs last season.

Michigan Wolverines (2014: 5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS)

Michigan’s defense was one of the more underrated units in the country last year, and they finished 2014 ranked 7th in the country in total defense. They bring back 24 of the 29 players that appeared on the final depth chart last year, and they bring talented freshman Jabrill Peppers into the mix.

Penn State Nittany Lions (2014: 7-6 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)

Last year quarterback Christian Hackenberg was sacked 44 times (the most in the Big10). Inexperience on the offensive line was their biggest weakness in 2014, and that’s something that has been addressed. They return six starters from last year’s O-line, and we should see Hackenberg improve on a miserable 2014 season.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (2014: 8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS)

The Gophers bring back seven starters on defense, and they are in good hands with last year’s Big10 Coach of the Year Jerry Kill. “We’ve got a chance to be a really, really good football team,” Kill says. “We’re very athletic on both sides of the ball.”

Iowa Hawkeyes (2014: 7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS)

If Iowa’s loss to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl is any indication of what to expect from this year’s defense, the Hawkeyes will be in big trouble. The Vols ran for 283 yards in that game, winning by a score of 45-28.

Northwestern Wildcats (2014: 5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS)

There are still plenty of question marks at the quarterback position, and whoever wins the job will be thrown into the fire in a Week 1 game against Stanford. Playing at Duke two weeks later might not be a cakewalk either.

Maryland Terrapins (2014: 7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS)

Senior Caleb Rowe steps in at quarterback after throwing for 489 yards, five TDs and four INTs in four appearances last year. They should have more size on an improved offensive line, and they return proven playmakers at receiver and last year’s top two running backs Brandon Ross and Wes Brown.

Indiana Hoosiers (2014: 4-8 SU, 4-7-1 ATS)

It’s not going to be easy to replace Tevin Coleman who ran for 2036 yards and 15 TDs in 2014, and was the best running back in school history. The defense has a long way to go after allowing 32.8 points per game, ranking 102nd nationally.

Illinois Fighting Illini (2014: 6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS)

Wes Lunt returns at quarterback after throwing for 1729 yards, 14 TDs and just three INTs in 2014. Those are pretty impressive numbers when you consider that he missed five games and battled injuries throughout the season.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2014: 8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS)

They ranked dead last in the conference in almost every defensive category a year ago, and they lost to Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State by a combined score of 180–44.

Purdue Boilermakers (2014: 3-9 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)

After the win over Illinois, Purdue lost it’s final six games of the season. Appleby threw for just eight TDs and 10 INTs in those six losses. There doesn’t appear to be enough talent available to compete with the big boys of the Big10.

Conference USA

Charlotte 49ers (2014: 5-6 SU, 0-0 ATS)

The team is transitioning from FCS to FBS in 2015. And in fact, Charlotte has never played an FBS opponent before, so the big step-up in class may prove to be too demanding for the 49ers. FBS teams are typically bigger, stronger, and faster than FCS teams, so it will be interesting to see how Charlotte matches-up with their opponents.

Florida Atlantic Owls (2014: 3-9 SU, 6-6 ATS)

The team only won three games in 2014, but they played much better than their record indicates. Florida Atlantic lost an incredible four games in which they led with less than a minute left to play. With 12 starters returning for the second season under head coach Charlie Partridge, the Owls could surprise in 2015.

Florida International Golden Panthers (2014: 4-8 SU, 8-4 ATS)

Ron Turner has only had three winning seasons in eleven years as a head coach. Florida International has had a losing season in eight of the last ten years, so coach and program have a long history of losing. Florida International faces a brutal schedule with seven road games, including four of their first five games coming away from home.

Marshall Thundering Herd (2014: 13-1 SU, 8-5-1 ATS)

Marshall is once again the favorite in C-USA East this season, and the favorites to win the overall conference championship. The Thundering Herd also get a favorable schedule as they avoid the top two teams (LA Tech and Rice) from the West division. Marshall has the most talent in C-USA, so they are deserving of their high expectations.

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (2014: 6-6 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

MTSU’s defense inexplicably had a bad season in 2014. The stop unit was projected to be one of the best in the conference, but they allowed 31.5 points and 452 yards per game. Middle Tennessee’s season hinges on the play of their defense, and a repeat of 2014 will make them an average team in 2015.

Old Dominion Monarchs (2014: 6-6 SU, 4-8 ATS)

Old Dominion went a respectable 6-6 in their first full year in the FBS. The Monarchs have a winning program; they are 52-20 SU over the last ten years. Head coach Bobby Wilder begins his seventh season, and he’s built a potent offensive system that has averaged 32.7 points per game or more in all six of his years at Old Dominion.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2014: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS)

Western Kentucky’s offense projects to be explosive once again this season with 7 starters returning, including QB Brandon Doughty. The Hilltoppers averaged 44.4 points per game in 2014 under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm. Western Kentucky will be a tough team to stop in 2015.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2014: 9-5 SU, 11-3 ATS)

Louisiana Tech is in their third year under head coach Skip Holtz, and the Bulldogs are the clear-cut favorites to win the West. The Bulldogs will have Florida transfer Jeff Driskel at quarterback, so the offense shouldn’t skip a beat after averaging 37.4 points per game in 2014.

North Texas Mean Green (2014: 4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS)

The team has a slew of question marks on the offensive side of the ball, especially along the line. North Texas must replace four starters on the line, and their quarterback situation remains in flux. The Mean Green also play a brutal schedule that includes seven true road games.

Rice Owls (2014: 8-5 SU, 9-4 ATS)

Rice only returns three starters on defense, so they are basically starting over on that side of the ball. The Owls tend to get overwhelmed by strong offenses, and that will be the case once again this season, especially with little experience returning.

Southern Miss Golden Eagles (2014: 3-9 SU, 4-7-1 ATS)

The Golden Eagles return 16 starters, and they will be in the third year of head coach Todd Monken’s system. Improvement often occurs in the third year of a coach’s tenure, especially when the offense and defense was better than the season before.

UTEP Miners (2014: 7-6 SU, 8-4-1 ATS)

UTEP will be in the third year of head coach Sean Kugler’s system. Kugler cleaned out the dead weight, and the team responded by going 7-6 in 2014. The team is built to be a physical running team, and their offensive line is one of the best in C-USA. The Miners can control the clock, and that alone can keep them competitive.

UTSA Roadrunners (2014: 4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS)

UTSA returned one of the most experienced teams in the country last year as 20 starters were back. Expectations were extremely high, but the team disappointed, going just 4-8 SU and ATS. The opposite is the case in 2015 as expectations are low with only six returning starters. The Roadrunners will be underdogs in just about every game, so they may be able to sneak inside the big numbers.

Independents

Brigham Young Cougars (2014: 8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS)

Might be a good idea to take a long look at over play until BYU’s defense shows it can stop decent offenses. The Cougars will head into camp not knowing what the secondary will look like.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2014: 8-6 SU, 8-5 ATS)

As a national team, Notre Dame’s lines are always skewed a bit because the Irish always get action. Add to that the unsettling fact that ND gave up 40 points per game in its last eight last season, and there is cause for concern among wagerers.

Army Black Knights (2014: 4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS)

There should be plenty of opportunity for underdog play here. If you catch a heavy betting line, it might be worth a shot because the Knights figure to run the ball early and often, shortening games if they can. (All out of necessity, because there is no experienced QB.)

Mid-American

Northern Illinois Huskies (2014: 11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS)

Northern Illinois comes in not just as the defending MAC champions, but winners of the conference in four of the last five seasons. They bring back 14 starters from 2014, and quarterback Drew Hare returns after throwing for 18 TDs and just two picks in his first year as a starter.

Toledo Rockets (2014: 9-4 SU, 5-7-1 ATS)

Kareem Hunt ran for 1631 yards and 18 TDs in 2014, and the star running back will be back for another season. They Rockets are loaded with talent and experience on the defensive side of the ball, and they have the luxury of playing seven home games in 2015.

Bowling Green Falcons (2014: 8-6 SU, 5-8-1 ATS)

This team comes into the 2015 season with almost all of it’s key contributors on offense back from a 2014 season that saw them win a second straight MAC East title. Matt Johnson is back at quarterback after suffering a season ending injury in Week 1 last year. Johnson threw for 393 yards and five TDs in the 2013 MAC Championship Game against Northern Illinois.

Western Michigan Broncos (2014: 8-5 SU, 10-3 ATS)

After winning eight games last year, expectations are high in 2015, perhaps too high. Head coach P.J. Fleck admits: “We probably won more games on paper than what kind of football team we actually had.” The Broncos have a brutal non conference schedule that includes a week 1 game against Michigan State, and a road game at Ohio State a few weeks later.

Akron Zips (2014: 5-7 SU, 3-9 ATS)

Akron ranked dead last in the MAC in passing efficiency last year, and third year quarterback Kyle Pohl completed just 55 percent of his passes and threw 18 interceptions in 12 games. The Zips will also be replacing their leading rusher and top two receivers from last year.

Ohio Bobcats (2014: 6-6 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

Senior quarterback Derrius Vick returns after an injury plagued 2014 season that saw him throw for 1156 yards with eight TDs and four INTs. The offensive line returns all five starters, and running back A.J. Ouellette returns after running for 785 yards as a freshman (2nd highest total in team history).

Massachusetts Minutemen (2014: 3-9 SU, 8-4 ATS)

After winning a total of five games over the last three seasons, it might be asking a bit too much for this team to win five games this year. The defense will have to come a long way after allowing opponents to average 33 points per game in 2014.

Ball State Cardinals (2014: 5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS)

Pete Lembo will roll the dice with second year quarterback Jack Milas who completed just 55 percent of his passes last year. “I’m not going to say he has arrived by any means,” Lembo says, “but he’s more comfortable out there.”

Kent State Golden Flashes (2014: 2-9 SU, 5-6 ATS)

Kent State won the MAC Championship in 2012 behind a punishing rushing attack that featured Dri Archer (now with the Pittsburgh Steelers), and 250lb tailback Trayion Durham. Injuries have prevented Durham from reaching his full potential the last two seasons, but if he can stay healthy he should have a breakout season in 2015.

Central Michigan Chippewas (2014: 7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS)

They are in good shape with Cooper Rush returning at quarterback for a third season. Rush threw for a record seven TDs in last year’s blowout win over Western Kentucky in the Bahamas Bowl.

Buffalo Bulls (2014: 5-6 SU, 5-6 ATS)

This team will be thin on the defensive side of the ball with just three starters returning from 2014. Buffalo is also taking a huge gamble on a new head coach coming out of Division III, with no FBS experience.

Miami-Ohio Redhawks (2014: 2-10 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)

The offense is a mess, as their most experienced quarterback will suit up at defensive end (Austin Gearing), while Gus Ragland and Drew Kummer battle it out for the starting job. It’s a similar story at running back and wide receiver with a lack of returning talent leaving holes to be filled by freshman.

Eastern Michigan Eagles (2014: 2-10 SU, 5-7 ATS)

They will have a talented young quarterback in Reginald Bell, a former state track champion at California. He ran for 202 yards and three TDs in a win over Buffalo in October of last year, and finished the season strong with nine TD passes over the last seven weeks.

Mountain West

Air Force Falcons (2014: 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Air Force is a team that always gives their all, and for that reason alone, they can never be counted out of a game. The Falcons return 11 starters from their 10-win team in 2014, and that is a decent amount of experience for a service academy team. Air Force may prove to be a tough out once again in 2015.

Boise State Broncos (2014: 12-2 SU, 8-6 ATS)

Despite the abundance of talent still on hand, Boise State has to replace quarterback Grant Hedrick and running back Jay Ajayi on offense. The Broncos also have to replace exceptional place kicker Dan Goodale who led a very good special teams unit. Boise State is a known commodity, so there’s not much value left on the Broncos.

Colorado State Rams (2014: 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS)

The Rams have a lot to replace, beginning with head coach Jim McElwain. Mike Bobo takes over, and he’ll have to replace a top quarterback, running back, and their top two defensive players. Colorado State’s conference schedule is tough, especially since they finish the season by playing three of their last four games on the road.

New Mexico Lobos (2014: 4-8 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)

Head coach Bob Davie returns for his fourth season at New Mexico, and he has 14 returning starters to work with. The Lobos have a terrific rushing attack that has averaged over 300 yards per game in all three seasons under Davie. New Mexico’s ability to run the ball and control the clock keeps them competitive in the majority of their games.

Utah State Aggies (2014: 10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS)

The team has a lot of promise, but keep in mind their best player is coming back from multiple injuries. It’s no given that Keeton will be healthy, and if his injuries reoccur, the Aggies could regress sharply. Utah State is a popular sleeper team in the MWC this season, so they will be playing with the pressure of high expectations.

Wyoming Cowboys (2014: 4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS)

Wyoming will play their second season under head coach Craig Bohl who was very successful at North Dakota State (104-32). The Cowboys were transitioning new schemes on both sides of the ball last season, so year two should see a nice improvement, especially on offense. Wyoming will have a good offensive line and a good running game, so they’ll be a competitive team in 2015.

Fresno State Bulldogs (2014: 6-8 SU, 7-7 ATS)

Head coach Tim DeRuyter has done a fantastic job in his three years at Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 20-6 in conference play under DeRuyter, so they have plenty of confidence coming into the 2015 season. Fresno State is off an overall disappointing 6-8 season, so there’s plenty of motivation for a winning season in 2015.

Hawaii Warriors (2014: 4-9 SU, 5-8 ATS)

The program has been in steady decline over the last four seasons, and the talent has dropped off significantly. Losing teams are hard to back, especially when they are just 8-29 under their current head coach. The schedule is brutal with trips to Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Boise State. It will be more of the same for Hawaii in 2015.

Nevada Wolf Pack (2014: 7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)

The team returns only 11 starters after having 17 starters back for last season. The Wolf Pack lost senior quarterback Cody Fajardo to graduation, and his production is of utmost importance to replace. Nevada’s defense will have the spotlight on them, but after losing some key pieces, it’s a stretch to think they can match last year’s numbers when they allowed a respectable 27.2 points per game.

San Diego State Aztecs (2014: 7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)

San Diego State has had a winning record in five consecutive years, and with 14 returning starters, 2015 should be another winning campaign. The Aztecs play a favorable schedule this season, and their defense will be a stout unit once again. They only allowed 19.8 points per game in 2014.

San Jose State Spartans (2014: 3-9 SU, 3-9 ATS)

San Jose State will be in their third season under head coach Ron Caragher, and significant improvement is quite possible. The Spartans return 16 starters, including ten on offense. San Jose State will be underdogs in the majority of their games this season, but don’t sell the Spartans short in 2015.

UNLV Rebels (2014: 2-11 SU, 5-8 ATS)

As alluded to above, UNLV will be a terrible team. The Rebels hired a local high school coach that brings a lot of hope, but he has no collegiate coaching experience. There’s a major rebuilding project ahead for the UNLV program, and in its current situation, the Rebels are a team to avoid at all costs.

Pac-12

Oregon Ducks (2014: 13-2 SU, 10-5 ATS)

Oregon might be a bit underrated after losing Marcus Mariota to the pros, but bettors are advised that there are plenty of returning players at skilled positions to help transfer QB Vernon Adams keep the offense humming. Be ready to jump on any tight lines.

USC Trojans (2014: 9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS)

Expectations are high this season after they went 9-4 a year ago. Top-flight QB Cody Kessler (maybe the best in the conference) returns, and he’s joined by a solid offensive line and several playmakers. In all, 14 starters are back.

Stanford Cardinal (2014: 8-5 SU, 7-6 ATS)

The Cardinal were a few field goals away from another double-digit win season in 2014, and they have a veteran team returning – led by third-year QB starter Kevin Hogan. The D was solid last season, and should be just as good this time around.

UCLA Bruins (2014: 10-3 SU, 5-8 ATS)

Any team that has 17 starters back from a club that won 10 games has to feel good about itself, and hopes are high at UCLA. Lots of eyes will be on RB Paul Perkins, who led the Pac 12 in rushing last season.

Arizona State Sun Devils (2014: 10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS)

The early schedule is nasty. They open at Texas A&M, then after a couple of cupcakes the pre-November docket has nothing but tough games. If they survive until the arrival of cooler weather, they should be OK.

Arizona Wildcats (2014: 10-4 SU, 5-9 ATS)

Things didn’t work out at Michigan for Rich Rodriguez, but he’s been aces at Arizona, where the Cats won 10 times for the first time in 16 years and advanced to the Pac 12 title game. Everything is pointed up.

Utah Utes (2014: 9-4 SU, 9-4 ATS)

Have they peaked? Utah won several close games last season, and the Utes don’t figure to score a ton of points this time around. If those one-possession games go against them, it could be a tough year.

California Golden Bears (2014: 5-7 SU, 7-5 ATS)

They’ll score and they’ll also give up a ton – but hopefully not as many as last season, when opposing QBs burned Cal for 42 passing touchdowns. The way the Bears run their offense, the defense is on the field a lot.

Washington Huskies (2014: 8-6 SU, 7-7 ATS)

Only 9 starters return from an OK team last year, and while the secondary looks OK, opponents figure to pound away at Washington’s porous D-line. Could be a tough year in Seattle.

Washington State Cougars (2014: 3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS)

Expectations were lowered after Washington State took a step back after going to a bowl in 2013, but there is a good offense on board this season behind a decent QB (Luke Falk), and if things break right they could cover some spreads.

Colorado Buffaloes (2014: 2-10 SU, 6-6 ATS)

There is still a bad aftertaste after the way the defense played last year, and several coaches on that side of the ball were let go. Moving forward in the Pac 12 is out of the question until the Buffaloes can tighten things up on that side of the ball.

Oregon State Beavers (2014: 5-7 SU, 3-9 ATS)

Only two starters return on defense from a team that struggled on D last season. It’s going to be a tough grind as OSU continues to play second fiddle in the state.

SEC

Alabama Crimson Tide (2014: 12-2 SU, 5-9 ATS)

There was no money to be made backing Alabama last season, as they failed to cover in nine of their 14 games. They will likely continue to be overrated by the bookmakers this season, and replacing their starting quarterback, top wide receiver and leading rusher is going to be a daunting task. Whoever the new quarterback is will be thrown right into the fire with a neutral site game against Wisconsin in Week 1.

Georgia Bulldogs (2014: 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Nick Chubb emerged as one of the most talented running backs in the SEC, running for 1547 yards as a freshman in 2014. He’s considered a true contender for the Heisman this year, behind a skilled offensive line that returns four starters.

Auburn Tigers (2014: 8-5 SU, 4-9 ATS)

The Tigers only have four starters returning on offense, and backup Jeremy Johnson will take over for Nick Marshall at quarterback. They won’t have a lot of time to figure things out, as they travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU in mid September in their first game in conference play.

LSU Tigers (2014: 8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Leonard Fournette appears to be primed for a big season, and the former five star recruit comes in bigger and stronger than he’s ever been according to Les Miles. The Tigers return eight starters on both sides of the ball, and they should have one of the best secondaries in the nation again in 2015.

Mississippi Rebels (2014: 9-3 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)

Mississippi returns nine starters on offense, and eight starters on a defensive unit that finished the 2014 season ranked 1st in the nation allowing an average of just 16 points per game. All five starters return on the offensive line, and that will make life easier for a team breaking in a new quarterback.

Arkansas Razorbacks (2014: 7-6 SU, 10-3 ATS)

They haven’t won in conference play on the road since October of 2012, and they have a tough schedule this season with road games against Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss.

Tennessee Volunteers (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)

Tennessee returns an SEC best 10 starters on offense in 2015, and eight starters on defense. Expectations are sky high in Knoxville after a blowout win over Iowa in the Taxslayer Bowl. Josh Dobbs threw for 1206 yards and nine TDs in six starts last year, and he’s expected to take over as the Vols quarterback of the future.

Missouri Tigers (11-3 SU, 9-5 ATS)

Maty Mauk returns at quarterback, and he finished last season strong, winning five of six games and throwing for nine TDs and just two INTs. Russell Hansbrough ran for 1084 yards and 10 TDs last year, and he should be primed for a big season behind an experienced offensive line that returns five starters.

Texas A&M Aggies (8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS)

Kyle Allen took over at quarterback in the middle of last season, and he would make an impact early on. He threw for 277 yards with four TDs and one INT in an upset win over the Auburn Tigers on November 8. This team won’t have much trouble scoring points with Allen throwing to Speedy Noil and Josh Reynolds.

Florida Gators (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS)

Muschamp really made a mess of this team, and that leaves McElwain coming into a tough situation. They will have an inexperienced offensive line that could limit their success in the running game, ultimately putting more pressure on the passing game.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS)

Gone is leading rusher Josh Robinson, along with several key offensive linemen. They must identify new starters at tackle, guard and find a new center. They also lost eight starters on a defense that ranked dead last in the conference against the pass.

South Carolina Gamecocks (7-6 SU, 5-8 ATS)

South Carolina’s defense ranked 92nd nationally allowing an average of 30.4 points per game last year. They recorded just 14 sacks, and ranked 121st in the country in tackles for a loss. New defensive coordinator Jon Hoke has his work cut out for him.

Kentucky Wildcats (5-7 SU, 7-5 ATS)

They finished last season with six straight losses after a 5-1 start. It won’t be easy to get off to such a good start this season, as they face South Carolina, Florida and Missouri in the month of September.

Vanderbilt Commodores (3-9 SU, 6-6 ATS)

If you want something done right, you do it yourself. That seems to be the train of thought for Commodores head coach Derek Mason, who fired his defensive coordinator, and will assume the duties himself in 2015. “I am loving it,” he said during the spring. “I don’t know why I ever gave it up. Probably best decision I have made is to come back and run the defense.”

Sun Belt

Appalachian State Mountaineers (2014: 7-5 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

Appalachian State returns the most experienced team in the country as 20 starters are back after a 7-5 season in 2014. The Mountaineers won their last six games of last season, so they have momentum coming into this year. Sophomore QB Taylor Lamb threw for 2,381 yards with 17 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions, so the offense should match the 35.7 points per game they scored last season.

Arkansas State Red Wolves (2014: 7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)

The Red Wolves return just six starters on defense, and that unit was awful last season despite playing with seven returnees from the season before. Arkansas State gave up 30.5 points on 421 yards per game, and unless the Red Wolves can fix their defensive woes, 2015 will be a .500 season at best.

Georgia Southern Eagles (2014: 9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS)

Georgia Southern is 47-19 over the last five years, so the program knows how to win. The Eagles have an outstanding running game that has averaged 324 yards per game or more in four consecutive seasons. Georgia Southern’s ability to run the ball and control the clock makes them a formidable opponent.

Georgia State Panthers (2014: 1-11 SU, 5-7 ATS)

After going 1-23 over the last two seasons, there’s nowhere to go but up for Georgia State in 2015. The Panthers do return 17 overall starters, and their offense should improve once again after being better in 2014 than they were in 2013. Expectations are extremely low for Georgia State, so they’ll be getting full value in the majority of their games.

Idaho Vandals (2014: 1-10 SU, 8-3 ATS)

The Vandals are just 3-32 over the last three seasons, and they haven’t had a winning season since 1999. Idaho returns just 12 starters in 2015 which ties them for the fewest in the conference. The Vandals’ defense also needs to improve significantly as they allowed 37.3 points on 463 yards per game last year.

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (2014: 9-4 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)

The team only returns 12 starters, and they must replace veteran quarterback Terrance Broadway. Louisiana’s season will hinge on their defense, a unit that only gave up 26 points per game, but allowed 406 yards of offense per game in 2014. If the stop unit fails to make improvement, 2015 will be a mediocre season for Louisiana Lafayette.

UL Monroe Warhawks (2013: 4-8 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

UL Monroe was much better in 2014 than their 4-8 record indicates. The Warhawks went 1-7 down the stretch, but five of those losses came by seven points or less. Monroe returns eight defensive starters from a unit that only gave up 26.3 points per game. The Warhawks play a quirky 3-3-5 defensive scheme, and they will likely have the best defense in the conference.

New Mexico State Aggies (2014: 2-10 SU, 3-8-1 ATS)

The Aggies have gone a woeful 4-20 in Martin’s first two years. New Mexico State’s major issues have come on the defensive side of the ball. Over the last two years, they’ve allowed an average of 41.9 points and 517 yards per game. They do return ten starters to that unit, but they must learn new schemes under new defensive coordinator Zane Vance, their second new coach in as many seasons.

South Alabama Jaguars (2014: 6-7 SU, 4-8-1 ATS)

South Alabama has been bowl-eligible the last two seasons, and they’ve had winning records in conference play as well. Head coach Joey Jones has built a solid program, and the talent level seems to get better and better in each and every season. The Jaguars have proven to be a competitive bunch, so they can’t be counted out in too many games.

Texas State Bobcats (2014: 7-5 SU, 9-3 ATS)

Texas State’s defense lost their best player, David Mayo, and they only return six starters. Defensive coordinator John Thompson implemented a tricky 4-2-5 scheme last year, but with the veteran losses, it’s quite likely that the Bobcats’ defense will be their detriment in 2015.

Troy Trojans (2014: 3-9 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)

Troy had a terrible 3-9 record in 2014, and because of that, expectations are low. The Trojans’ offense projected to be explosive last year, but they only averaged 21.8 points per game. With seven starters returning on that side of the ball, and with offensive guru Neal Brown the new head coach, Troy may be a sneaky good team in 2015.

ACC

Florida State Seminoles (2014: 13-1 SU, 3-11 ATS)

In addition to the departure of their starting quarterback, they also lose four offensive linemen, their top wide receiver (Rashad Greene), tight end (Nick O’Leary) and running back Karlos Williams. We may have gotten a preview of what like might be like for the Seminoles without Winston, when Sean Maguire filled in at home versus Clemson last season. He completed just 51 percent of his passes, and was picked off twice and sacked five times in that game.

Louisville Cardinals (2014: 9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS)

The Cardinals defense ranked among the best in the country for most of last season, and they return a formidable front seven. Former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields could make a huge impact, and this unit has the potential to be even better than it was in 2014.

Clemson Tigers (2014: 10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS)

Deshaun Watson returns at quarterback after his season was cut short by a torn ACL in 2014. He threw for 1,466 yards with 14 TDs and just two INTs before the injury. Mike Williams and Artavis Scott provide a couple of dangerous targets, and the duo combined to score 14 TDs on 133 receptions in 2014. If Watson stays healthy, you can expect big things for this offense in 2015.

Miami Hurricanes (2014: 6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS)

Quarterback Brad Kaaya was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2014, and he comes into this season with high expectations. While the Hurricanes lost seven players in the NFL Draft, they have depth at the receiver position and a talented young running back in Joseph Yearby, who ran for 509 yards and a TD as a backup last year.

Boston College (2014: 7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS)

They will need to replace all five starters on the offensive line, and offensive coordinator Ryan Day has moved on to the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles). They will likely experience some growing pains with an inexperienced group with a new quarterback learning a new system.

North Carolina State Wolfpack (2014: 8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Jacoby Brissett had a big year for the Wolfpack throwing for 2,606 yards with 26 TDs and only five INTs in 2014. And they averaged over 200 yards per game on the ground last year, their best since 1992. While the offense appears to be in good shape, they also return seven starters on defense.

Syracuse Orange (2014: 3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS)

They will have eight new starters on a defense that was far from impressive in 2014, and Hunt will have to learn a new system with a new offensive coordinator.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2014: 3-9 SU, 6-6 ATS)

Protecting the quarterback was a major issue last season, allowing 48 sacks – the most in the country. They often went backwards with their attempts to run the ball, failing to gain positive yards on 37 percent of their run plays. With eight freshmen starting on offense in 2015, these problems may not be an easy fix.

Duke Blue Devils (2014: 9-4 SU, 8-4-1 ATS)

The strength of this team is its secondary and they return all five starters in 2015. Duke has a soft schedule and it won’t have to face ACC powerhouses Clemson and FSU.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2014: 11-3 SU, 10-4 ATS)

With quarterback Justin Thomas running the option offense at Georgia Tech in 2014, the Yellow Jackets were tough to stop. Thomas ran for a school record 1,086 yards last season, and he could improve on that mark here in 2015.

North Carolina Tar Heels (2014: 6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS)

There is a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball, as this unit allowed an ACC-record 31 passing TDs in 2014. Special teams is also a huge concern for a team that was 0 for 7 with 30-plus yard field goal tries last season.

Pittsburgh Panthers (2014: 6-7 SU, 5-7-1 ATS)

Once again, there is new coach at the helm in Pittsburgh, as Pat Narduzzi replaces Paul Chryst who went back to Wisconsin. This is a program that has been mired in mediocrity, and that’s unlikely to change overnight with another regime change.

Virginia Cavaliers (2014: 5-7 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)

They lose a couple of key starters on defense with linebacker Max Valles and defensive end Eli Harold going to the NFL. They have a brutal non-conference schedule with UCLA, Boise State and Notre Dame in the first four weeks.

Virginia Tech Hokies (2014: 7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS)

The Hokies can say that they were the only team to beat the national champions last year, and winning on the road at Ohio State was an impressive result. A promising start to the season was derailed in 2014, but they might be able to get right back on track here in 2015.