College Football Betting: Eddie Walls Recaps Non-Power 5 Conferences
College football’s regular season has concluded. From a personal betting standpoint, it was my second-best season. Instead of recapping what took place last week, let’s walk through some of my observations from the season as a whole starting with the non-Power 5 conferences.
We learned so much that can be applied to the postseason and also 2019 that it doesn’t feel right to just discuss Duke not caring on senior day or David Beaty, John Bonamego, Kliff Kingsbury and Larry Fedora being shown the door unsurprisingly.
The Sun Belt was a tough study this summer. You had new head coaches at South Alabama and UL-Lafayette; both teams were dynamite over bets but I could have never guessed Napier would lead ULL to wins over Arkansas State and hang with Appalachian State on the road.
Some things never change. Appalachian State has a special head coach in Satterfield and his ultra conservative style with a two-possession lead ran me into a decent amount of profit overall but his 5-0 O/U start inflated the Mountaineers’ totals. I forgot he only uses this tactic in conference play.
Matt Viator of UL-Monroe was a thorn in my side. The offensive minded coach went completely rogue of what got him hired in the first place. While his undersized defense over-performed his Sun Belt-leading offense from a year ago was a shell of itself in 2018. There was success as they hold 6 wins and should receive a bowl invitation which is huge for the program.
Troy’s Neil Brown is the best about-to-become-a-SEC-head-coach the Sun Belt as ever seen. The offensive minded Brown lost his quarterback and now NFL running back in 2018. He then lost his starting quarterback in Week 5 and navigated a 9-win season leaning on his defense. Brown has the goods and is still very young and will have a great offense with experience in 2019.
Georgia Southern went back to the triple option and leaned heavily on a experienced defense and beat Appalachian State. From three wins to nine wins in one season! They are a proud program and will be a tough out in the future.
Georgia State lost its identity. They got into shootout after shootout with a youth movement in the secondary. It was a disaster with the exception of finding a serious dual threat quarterback in Dan Ellington. They are recruiting well and have a new stadium coming. They could be a real force if they can get that defense back to what it should be.
Texas State will land a good coach and expect him to be offensive minded. The Bobcats were built on spread, speed and points. They have strayed very far away from that and have not had a top 100 spot in the last three years. The great run defense was all for not as the pass defense was a disaster. They were a great, reliable under bet and much like South Alabama of 2017, I think that will more than likely flip in 2019.
My most profitable conference for the past three years remained predictable yet saw some huge changes.
Buffalo has a chance to win its first MAC title since 2008 on Friday when it faces Northern Illinois. Liepold finally realized he had an NFL-sized quarterback with two potential NFL receivers. He was a legend at UW-Whitewater by leaning on a run game that was very conservative. He finally shredded that demeanor and his very experienced Bulls beat up nearly every foe. The talent gap wasn’t that close but in Buffalo’s two losses (Ohio and Army) he was exposed as not being able to stop the run and generate methodical drives. Don’t think others didn’t notice that going forward.
Ohio was a scoring machine. They had almost no pass defense as they relied on an all underclassmen secondary. I cashed some pretty healthy tickets with that info. Unfortunately, Solich who loves to run up scores and blow out his opposition, also relies on his experience charts and he will lose many key contributions on offense and will be defense driven this offseason. One of the better “shootout” teams I’ve come across.
Miami-Ohio really came on after its OT loss to Army. Martin is one of the worst head coaches at end-game tactics and he tried everything he could to lose games but his senior driven offense turned the corner and willed themselves to six wins despite looking like a lost cause after Week 8. We made some great money off of them throughout the season. The key to handicapping Martin is to find out what the oppositions’ strengths are as he is strictly reactionary.
Northern Illinois doesn’t believe in offense. Carey flat out despises it. He has no reason to believe that what he is doing is wrong. He plays for a conference championship despite only one win all season by more than 10 points. He has a NFL linebacker that is similar to Khalil Mack in Sutton and he is gone after this season. NIU needs to find an OC or they’ll be searching for a new head coach soon.
Toledo’s Candle lost his entire secondary and his program leader in passing yard and despite that got to seven wins. Expect Toledo to bounce back in a major way in 2019 but I sure loved their “over heavy” approach to 2018.
Bowling Green fired the worst coach in the country and Central Michigan fired a good coach who had no quarterback (4 different players saw time) and subsequently had no offense. I think both programs are very good but CMU needs an offensive mind and a complete 360 approach, Bowling Green just needs stability because they have quite a lot of intriguing pieces.
You know some school is going to try to poach UAB’s Bill Clark who thrives at doing more with less. He gets into ruts of leaning on his defense but you can’t argue with the results.
North Texas was pure scoring machine in 2017 but shredded that system this year by playing great defense. The end result was nine wins and a 1-10-1 O/U mark. If no one grabs Littrell it would surprise me. However, UNT has resources and can build on seasons that he is producing. I personally think he wasted a once in a lifetime quarterback in Mason Fine this year. But he beat Arkansas and Florida Atlantic and the program is set up to be a force for years to come. They are recruiting exceptionally well. I hope he lets Fine have some fun in their bowl game.
Expect MTSU defensive coordinator Scott Shaffer to get a raise courtesy of a Power 5 school. The former Syracuse head coach is again making a statement with a MTSU run defense that is in the top 20 in defensive efficiency. It doesn’t hurt that the Blue Raiders finally broke through with a healthy Brent Stockstill and receiving corps. Stockstill as a head coach has one of the most impressive coaching branches in college football.
Marshall remains a force but they are strictly a under wager team. My favorite program has lost its imagination on offense for three years now and while the rest of C-USA reinvents itself, the Thundering Herd rely on an efficient run attack and great run defense. If they don’t grab more offense they’ll only resemble the second place team they are today.
Florida Atlantic was supposed to dominate C-USA but missed a bowl as they lost as 18-point favorites at home. Kiffin became the headline grabber and his team suffered. A team that preseason was favored by double-digits in every league game was a disaster relying on a young offensive line and a freshman quarterback transfer. I see a guy obsessed with his own self image over being a good head coach. That has to change going forward and I’m not necessarily sure it can.
Florida International on the other hand quietly found a offense and while they were very young on both sides of the ball they are in a position to reach a bowl in what I thought would be a tough season. Next year they should compete for a conference title depending on who they can find at quarterback.
Charlotte made serious strides and should continue to do so. They are a recruiting hotbed and have serious resources. They are largely coached in a conservative manner and that needs to change as they graduate most of their defense.
WKU’s Sanford is a lame duck head coach and a terrible recruiter. His young offense began to flourish the last three weeks of the year but a refusal to run and rely on a defense that needs to replace a lot doesn’t leave me optimistic.
Rice and UTEP made interesting hires and they’ll both remain in rebuild mode for the upcoming years but the Miners punched above their weight class on numerous occasions this season.
Former LSU assistant Frank Wilson was at one point among the best up-and-coming head coaches. He started losing offensive pieces and it’s become clear Les Miles taught him only one side of the ball. UTSA will remain a good under from what I can tell. He will be hot seated week 1.
Some things never change in college football. Boise State looked mediocre all season. The few bright spots Bryan Harsin uncovered along the way were always overshadowed by losses to run-only SDSU at home and meager showings at Nevada and Wyoming. But here the Broncos are, hosting the MWC title game….again.
The most improved team in the nation was Utah State. They came up one-win short of a chance to play for the conference title. They lead the non-Power 5 in margin of victory and have found a serious passing weapon in Jordan Love who is still young. They were great versus the run but too young at times to defend the pass. Regardless, Matt Wells took a 6-win ball control team and made them a powerhouse in just nine months. The future is again bright for the Aggies.
Fresno State continues to find wins in bunches. Tedford has adopted a serious ball control offense along with a experienced secondary and reliable run defense despite youth. Fresno has to win on Saturday at Boise to claim it’s first conference championship in over a decade. They’ll be ultra young starting next year. Now or never I believe as Tedford is probably on the move in the next few weeks.
San Diego State really fell flat in 2018. The oss of elite running backs exposed a very vanilla offense that didn’t have that explosive play option. They only played three games decided by more than one possession. It didn’t matter who they played the opposition was a live dog. Long fell into this same pattern early in his career at New Mexico. He uses bowl games as practice for next season, hence his 4-8 postseason record.
Nevada lost it’s run-and-shoot identity and became a defense-first program somewhere along the way. They lose quarterback Ty Gangi to graduation and thus have some scheme and system decisions to make. No one hires a Norvell-type to lose 20-14. They have recruited well the past two offseasons. I consider them on the rise.
Wyoming will bore you to death. Craig Bohl would have it no other way. They find offense in a very methodical, plodding pace. They won’t be run on and when you have a All-American safety chances are you won’t pass on them either. Bohl will have to find the pass offense he had in Josh Allen’s sophomore season as they go forward. They lose a lot on defense this offseason but they aren’t a team to fade and continue to be a great under bet and live dog.
UNLV is on the rise. They beat San Diego State on the road and rallied from down 23 to win against rival Nevada. They have offense but were too young on defense this season but we should see them as vastly improved in 2019.
Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich is weird. I like weird. He plays shootouts, he calls a weird game, plays games with the media and despite winning seven games they only beat one team with a winning record. This was a extremely young Rainbows team and they should remain fun going forward.
New Mexico has to get rid of Bob Davie. I haven’t seen any news regarding it but they were a lost cause on offense and still struggle on defense.
Air Force was a Year Zero rebuild in 2017. They improved massively in 2018 but still only managed to win five games. They will very experienced in 2019 and I expect them to return in a major way.
Colorado State is a lost cause with Bobo who only coaches offense and showed that unless he has a serious passing attack — which he didn’t this year — the Rams are pretty useless.
UCF deserved better. As I watched Milton get carted off on Friday, I felt a bit angry. He was the best player no one mentioned the last two years. He made everyone on the field better. His top receiver Nixon couldn’t crack the Oklahoma starting lineup and is now a star. The playoff committee is a travesty. They can sigh a big blasphemous wave of relief. They have dominated everyone they have played for two years and next week will count on a true freshman to extend the nation’s longest winning streak. They’ll then play a bowl game against an SEC giant and I’m sure will be huge dogs. Every annoying Clemson and Alabama fan can finally scream “We told you so!” Sad state of affairs.
Memphis underperformed all season after its quarterback and wide receivers all graduated or found themselves in the NFL. A run-heavy offense found its footing and the run defense did a 360 from a year ago. However if they capture the AAC on Saturday, they’ll be my lowest ranked conference champion in over three seasons. They simply don’t do enough to impress me and catch back-to-back freshman quarterback after Houston and UCF lost their everything on offense.
Houston went ultra fast with Kendall Briles after dominating in 2017 with defense. They got desperate after winning only seven games and the athletics director publicly stating 10 wins is the only way a coach can stay put. Its a odd fit Applewhite and Briles. Applewhite is a bad game-planner and end game manager. Briles offense is great at exposing defenses’ vulnerability. They had maybe the best defensive line of any non-Power 5 team and were gashed repeatedly even while healthy. Now you lose all that talent and it becomes how much can you score? I don’t like the Cougars’ chances going forward.
Cincinnati is about to be your dynasty. They need just a little more offense and the Bearcats are on their way. Luke Fickell is a legit recruiter and defensive mind. If he can get better results on offense this could become a powerhouse in no time. A 10-win team I considered at one point betting under 5.5 regular season wins. Their run defense was top 25 with a lot of underclassmen.
Temple lost to Villanova and then Buffalo (we didn’t know Buffalo would be a 10-win team at the time) and then simply crushed Maryland and ran over all comers except UCF. They showed the ability to win any kind of game. Shootouts or close, slow moving games. They’ll be young on offense but the defense will continue to improve going forward. The Owls are legit and should be in the future.
Tulane tried to implement a pass-first offense before realizing that was impossible. Fritz is a master run offense developer. The program was robbed of a bowl in 2017 and went for two to get into postseason play after a long, long drought. Tulane was seriously young in 2018 and still beat Memphis, pushed Wake to OT and played with everyone on its schedule. This is a school who struggles to recruit but if they can keep Fritz they have a seriously high ceiling going forward.
USF has a problem. Fans got rich with the fast paced offenses of Willie Taggart. Charlie Strong doesn’t coach offense well. The Bulls have the resources to win 10 games and the AAC but not with the current system in place. People forget how Strong won at Louisville. They often forget the run defense and top 20 pass defense. He recruits defense well, he coaches defense among the best in the biz. As long as they are a top 20 pace-of-play offense I believe the results will dwindle.
East Carolina, please find a new head coach who cares. UConn, you too. SMU, why did you hires Dykes?
Stay tuned for Part II as I dissect what took place among the Power 5 conferences.
Eddie Walls has been BettorIQ’s top college football producer this season with a documented record of 78-47 62% +32.1 units. His remainder of the season subscription has been reduced to $299. Get every selection from Eddie for the remainder of the year!