5 early CFB win totals to consider
We officially have win totals for every college football team.
Before we take a conference-by-conference look closer to the start of the season, here are some numbers we'd consider playing right now.
East Carolina Over 4 (+130)
ECU will be praised for the Mike Houston hire once all is said and done, though the Pirates don't have a huge bar to clear - they just finished a three-year stretch with Scottie Montgomery, who posted back-to-back-to-back 3-9 seasons in Greenville.
Houston comes from the FCS ranks and previously led powerhouse James Madison to a pair of national title appearances in three years at the post. He's succeeded everywhere he's been and should be able to recruit the area well. But this is all about 2019, and his first year it should yield positive results.
East Carolina wasn't great on either side of the ball last season, but the Pirates have potential. They suffered key injuries on offense in 2018, including to freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers. Defensively, virtually every piece is back. There's a five-week stretch starting in October where East Carolina's pegged as a double-digit underdog in each contest, but the Pirates do play a couple FCS programs, as well as three more projected by S&P+ to finish 118th in the country or worse.
If you're looking for an under-the-radar total to hit early at plus-money, this is it.
Utah State Under 7 (-102)
Utah State was flat-out fun in 2018.
Head coach Matt Wells - now at Texas Tech - injected life into an offense that finished No. 2 in the nation in points per game, all while having a top-40 defense.
And then the program hired Gary Andersen for Round 2 in Logan.
Reunions like these rarely work out. Not only was Andersen on the decline with a 7-23 clip in three years at Oregon State, he'll likely take an offense that flourished in Wells' Air Raid and make it more balanced. Change in college football is good, except for when you make a change for the sake of it. TUtah State only had one way to trend in 2019 - down - and we expect a significant tumble.
Though quarterback Jordan Love is an underrated star, his top four targets from a year ago won't be back. Overall, Utah State returns only 54 percent of its production from 2018, which ranks No. 110 in the country.
The Aggies have talent, but they're going to come back down to earth hard under Andersen following their 10-win campaign.
Texas State Over 4.5 (-102)
Like Houston at ECU, Jake Spavital should be another head coach who sees early returns at their new post. The former offensive coordinator was the perfect hire to succeed Everett Withers at Texas State. Another former James Madison head coach, Withers took the Bobcats to a 7-28 record over three years before getting the pink slip.
Spavital walks into a decent situation despite Texas State's reputation for woeful football. The Bobcats have 80 percent of their offense back from last season and Spavital, an offensive-minded coach, doesn't need to completely overhaul a defense that brings even more production back.
This was a home-run hire for Texas State, which should become a lot more creative offensively while employing a middle-of-the-pack defense. In the Sun Belt, you'll be content with that.
Colorado Under 4.5 (-108)
The Buffaloes didn't completely follow Bowling Green's 2016 blueprint of finding the nation's best offense the year prior, hiring the cheapest assistant on said staff (Mike Jinks), and hoping it pays off (it did not), but the Mel Tucker hire has that type of feel.
He's a defensive-minded coach who spent time in the NFL as an assistant before boosting his resume with a couple stops in the SEC. Tucker put up good numbers at Georgia and has been part of some good teams, but he's also ridden the coattails of successful head coaches in the top conference in the nation. The Buffaloes may have reached here.
S&P+ tabs Colorado for roughly 4.8 wins if things go well in 2019. The Buffaloes have talent and returning production, but we can't envision a turnaround, at least right away.
Syracuse Over 5.5 (-130)
It's always a red flag when a team's win total opens up significantly higher or lower than the prior season's performance. Syracuse won 10 games in 2018; what's the catch?
This isn't a "trap" number so much as it is sheer disrespect for a team on the upswing.
Dino Babers has been a
home-run grand-slam hire for the Orange and last year marked the first breakout for the former Eastern Illinois/Bowling Green head coach. His teams have improved in each of his seasons at the helm, and though it'll be tough to up the ante from last year's 10-3 clip, we don't need more than six wins.
It's doable when you account for the schedule. Syracuse plays six teams projected in the bottom half of the country by S&P+ and gets another game against Holy Cross. The Orange are favored in seven games, they're a pick 'em in another, and they're underdogs of five points or fewer in two more.
We recommended the under on this club last season and paid for it. We're jumping on board for 2019.
Alex Kolodziej is theScore's betting writer. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 11 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AlexKoIodziej.