Eddie Walls’ College Football Week 1 Betting Recap
During Week 1 of the college football season, we learned before anything else that expectations by the media ruin our peripheral vision more so year by year.
We know the talent between the non-Power 5 and even the FCS is getting closer year after year – mostly due to the transfer portal, constant head coaching and coordinator turnover and quicker departures to the NFL. But every year we are all shocked when the Sun Belt and MAC teams take a large school to the wire.
Week 1 is historically the worst week of my season over a larger than normal sample size at this point. I went with my smallest card of any year this season with only 13 personal plays and I can safely say I will not owe five figures like I did in 2018. However, I made plenty of mistakes. Let’s go over the largest winners and losers by conference for the non-Power 5.
The AAC is quietly improving to the point where I believe they could have as many as six top 50 teams and at least three top 25 teams. Cincinnati was great last year and they have a ton of returning production. They played a bad game in terms of red zone efficiency, but they have a legit defense and quarterback. UCLA is not back and, regardless of the defense they face, not eclipsing 300 totals yards lets me know all I need to know for now.
Tulane has always had a top tier head coach. Now Willie Fritz has installed a breakneck speed, modern AAC offense. FIU might be the first victim, but something tells me they will not be the last.
Philip Montgomery at Tulsa didn’t move the ball versus Michigan State. I doubt anyone will, but many overlooked last year’s run defense improvement. Don’t be surprised if that trend doesn’t continue.
South Florida has all the makings of Louisville 2018. They have two angry coaches scolding kids every other play and Charlie Strong dismissed the trouble makers this offseason. Maybe it’s NOT the kids. Everyone wants to win, but it was clear to me Wisconsin didn’t have just better talent in Week 1. They were prepared for something USF wasn’t.
The biggest red flag was in Central Florida where Brandon Wimbush was just 12-for-23 for 168 yards despite having elite wide receivers. But his backups then come in and torch Florida A&M. I’ve been skeptical of Wimbush for his entire career. A lot is riding on UCF and their offense. He has to be better.
Memphis played a slow game for a Mike Norvell offense and their run defense was dominant as predicted. But they are going to play some dangerous offenses soon, and the departure of an NFL running back and wide receiver has me a bit leery going forward. This is a “bend but don’t break” defense. If they encounter an offense with a serious passing attack, they may be breaking just enough.
UConn almost lost to Wagner. So much for returning starters. They also have less offense this season than last year.
SMU is my favorite team on paper of the young season, but there are serious red flags in Week 1. I bet the Mustangs and felt they would win. However, I didn’t see Arkansas State getting 30 points and amassing 400 yards – almost all through the passing game. I realize this is a Sonny Dykes team. However, with four upperclassmen defensive backs, this result spells trouble. Arkansas State doesn’t have a good pass offense and relies primarily on the run. SMU has a high ceiling, but if they continually give up the big pass plays, their floor is awfully low as well.
Conference USA had a disastrous Week 1 outside of Rice showing life against a dangerous Army team (and they actually had chances to win that game late).
However, all of the teams I was really looking to bet showed me quite a few reasons not to trust them.
Southern Miss, who hired away Arkansas State’s OC after almost hiring Art Briles, had no offense again versus Alcorn State. They were life and death all first half and led just 13-0 at the intermission. While the defense remains stout, they could be bet as a dog again, but a hard to back favorite if they simply cannot get more than 10 points in a half against Alcorn State.
Western Kentucky lost to Central Arkansas and did so with the same affliction as the last two seasons. Central Arkansas had only 20 completions and 324 yards passing. Your pass defense has been terrible and now you have all seniors and it still sucks.
UAB is ultra-young, but how do you almost lose to Alabama State? They scored 24 points going 1-for-13 on third down…and this is your experienced side of the ball!
Florida Atlantic might have a legit run defense and I liked what I saw from the young quarterback, Justin Fields, from Ohio State. While I dislike their head coach, they could have a big rebound year. Ohio State was up 28 to start so who knows if they let off the gas pedal, but there were some positives here.
Old Dominion squeaked by Norfolk State…yikes. It’s a rebuild year but last year was as well. The most telling thing about the score was ODU only scored 24 and that’s a really low number for a team that won with offense only last year.
Louisiana Tech for God’s sake…find a kicker. J’mar Smith can toss it and he has great wide receivers, but you look like a shootout team with no defensive line. You’re going to need three points here and there. Texas was not impressive in my eyes but then again Tom Herman never is in these spots.
The MAC is a bit down this year across the board but there were some startling results.
Kent State has an “offense only” head coach and plays as one of the fastest play callers in the FBS. Seven points at ASU is very troubling. The defense outperformed its ratings but they’re going to wear down throughout the year. They have to score quickly and more often in order to win the conference.
Akron’s defense collapsed last year and that trend continued Saturday. But their new head coach that was supposed to fix the offense with a new passing attack didn’t break 200 total yards…against Illinois, who’s defense graded out among last year’s average MAC defense. Yikes!
Ball State played well, especially compared to the size discrepancy of Indiana. I actually like what I saw from both teams. I learned that Tom Allen of Indiana prefers the slower pace of play and, if he sticks with that, I think Indiana could be a tough out for some unsuspecting teams.
Toledo still has no run defense and their quarterback was knocked out. They also allowed a ton of passing yards which is a serious red flag. If you can’t stop the run and your best defensive strength falters…well, you’re Toledo. You’ll probably still manage to win the MAC somehow. Kentucky looked sloppy but I still think their front seven can be nasty.
Northern Illinois threw the ball 33 times…in one game…and they won. I like this NIU team and liked the hire. But let’s be clear here. If they are a pass first team, they might be really bad and unpredictable in 2019. They have a size disparity on both lines to win a lot of MAC games. However, if they cannot run on Illinois State it’s very telling. Then again, I said something similar about Buffalo last year before just backing them and playing Overs all season.
No small conference enjoyed the fruits of their labor more than the Mountain West, who I’ve been saying is the best non-Power 5 conference for two years. This year I believe the AAC has the edge, but let’s be clear that this conference is stacked.
Boise State took Florida State’s best shot and a freshman quarterback absolutely torched the Seminoles from the second quarter on. I was worried about only one side of the ball with Boise in 2019. I’m no longer concerned. We learned FSU is not back but also isn’t a bad team. They faced a better team and lost confidence. I think the Noles have upside on offense and enough talent in the ACC to be a competent team. They are not a 10-win team chomping at the bit to play Clemson, but also not a bad team.
One week later and we have already forgotten how good Hawaii looked versus Arizona. It wasn’t the offense that impressed for me. They stopped Arizona from running the ball and that is no small task. Hawaii is going to score but, as we saw last year, couldn’t score when they couldn’t see the field. If their defense can stop the run and limit the chunk pass plays, I like the Bows chances.
Arizona, fire offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone already! You’re running an SEC offense with a Pac 12 defense. Is Kevin Sumlin not allowed access to tapes of games from two seasons ago?
Wyoming beat Missouri using five different running plays for 300+ yards. The offensive line in Laramie is huge and, while they lack the pass defense of last season, this Craig Bohl team has the feel of the Josh Allen freshman year where they could win a high scoring or low scoring affair. Missouri had no defense last year and it’s quite possible has less of one this season.
USC yay! You scored 31 on a great defense in Fresno State. In the process, you got your quarterback killed and showed your entire playbook in its entirety in Week 1 and gave up 460 yards to a JUCO and all-freshman offense. I don’t know who to downgrade – Fresno’s defense, USC’s offense, USC’s defense, etc.
Gary Anderson is a defensive guru. He allowed 38 points and 600 yards in Week 1 to a good Wake Forest offense. But he also allowed the fast pace on offense to take place. I feel Utah State could be great if they don’t stray from the tempo on offense. There are not too many Wake Forest types ahead.
Nevada knocked off Purdue in dramatic fashion. I didn’t see that one coming. A freshman quarterback and a makeshift offensive line got 295 yards through the air. It was Jeff Brohm’s most embarrassing defeat of his illustrious career. Brohm always struggles with pass defense and he might have a rough year with a new offensive line and lack of quality defensive backs. Then again, this is Brohm and he will find a win against a much better team to make up for this I feel.
The Sun Belt is at its best when it’s a complete chaos filled rollercoaster.
Georgia Southern, who should be great, got absolutely trampled at LSU. There are no positives other than no player was mauled on the field.
Georgia State showed some upside on offense last season and went to Tennessee and won. Tennessee was the most-hyped team in the SEC since last year’s Tennessee team and had no answers for the RPO. Quarterback Dan Ellington had his way. I was a little high on Georgia State’s offense coming in. I’m now just high on them.
I’m not sold on the Coastal Carolina hire. The offensive scheme makes no sense to me. It’s slow developing, run the clock and play the short pass game. No running attack whatsoever. I think their defense has upside but it gets swallowed whole when there are tons of three and outs. It’s a fade or pass team for me. Eastern Michigan tried to give it away at the end because its EMU!
Louisiana Lafayette has an offense, boy do they ever! If head coach Billy Napier can find a defense of any kind, they’ll notch a lot of wins. Unfortunately, Mississippi State was able to do whatever they wanted despite a suspect offense. We got the cover but not in the fashion I expected. I don’t like Mississippi State this season. If the game plan is to get into shootouts in their conference, I’ll say they struggle to reach a bowl.
Syracuse had the wackiest box score of the week and has made me downgrade them right away. I’m not sold on this Tommy DeVito kid at all. Liberty is among the smallest defenses in the nation. They also were a sieve on pass defense last season. Cuse was only 17-for-35 for 176 yards in the air. Ruh Roh. They blanked Liberty, which is awesome and weird but they’re going to need way more yards versus even mediocre offenses of the ACC in 2019.
Next week we will learn about my thoughts on the Power 5 teams and I will rotate each week until we get into conference play.
Thanks and good luck to all, Eddie
Eddie Walls was second to none in CFB last season, connecting on 63.4% of his plays for +37.9 units of profit overall for his clients! Nobody studies harder for college football year-round like Eddie does. Click HERE to partner with Eddie and receive all of his selections each week.