College Football Odds Teams Poised to Rise, Fall in 2015

College Football Teams Poised to Rise, Fall in 2015

Written by on March 31, 2015

Of the lessons the 2014-2015 college football season taught us, the most resounding of them all would probably be that NCAA Football betting fans must always be ready to expect the unexpected. I mean, after going unbeaten for two regular seasons and clinching one national title in the process, who would have thought Jameis Winston and the Seminoles would collapse when they were on the brink of a second successive national title? Or after going as the No. 1 seed in the college football playoffs and being favored to win the national championship, mainly because of their solid defense, who would have imagined that the Crimson Tide would be torched for 537 offensive yards by OSU’s offense, en route to a 42-35 upset win by the No. 4 seed Ohio State? Or better yet, who amongst you saw Urban Meyer winning the coveted national title through an inexperienced third-string QB after OSU’s two main quarterbacks suffered season-ending injuries?

Let’s Take an Insiders Look at the College Football Odds Teams Poised to Rise, Fall in 2015

In short, even with the likes of Ohio State and TCU favored in the early NCAAF odds to make a deep run in the 2015-2016 season, and rightfully so, there are no guarantees that everything will go as prospected by the Oddsmakers, particularly if you consider other progressively significant contributing factors like injuries, unforeseen major upsets, team schedules coaching strategies and the strength of team rosters (especially in the QB position). Still, based on the offseason college football developments that have taken place this far, and how the teams played last year, we can shrewdly project the teams that look likely to rise or fall in the 2015 NCAAF online betting lines, as is briefly detailed below.

NCAAF Teams Poised to Rise in the 2015-2016 Season

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

It’s hardly promising to most bettors to start this list with a Notre Dame team that is 17-9 in its last two seasons since reaching the National Finals of 2012. As a matter of fact, the Irish lost five of their last 7 seven games in 2014, finishing the season on an 8-5 record. Even so, there is another side to Notre Dame story. For starters, the Irish begun their 2014 season on blitzing pace, going 6-0, including a 31-0 shutout of Michigan and a 17-14 win over Stanford, which saw them rank as high as No, 5 in polls after the six wins. Then, come the Music City Bowl against LSU, redshirt freshman QB Malik Zaire (backup to Notre Dame’s usual starter QB Everett Golson) got a rare start, leading the Irish to a 31-28 upset of the Tigers. In that game, Malik went 12-of-15 for 96 yards and a score, plus 22 carries for 96 yards and another TD. So, in spite of their shaky end to the regular season, there were a lot of positives to pick from Notre Dame’s 2014 campaign. Forecasting into 2015, Notre Dame will have a massive 19 starters (10 in defense, 9 in offense) back in the team—the most of any major CFB program in the nation, with only school having more returning starters being the lowly Appalachian State of the Sun Belt Conference. The Irish schedule is also relatively friendly, with the major tests coming against ACC runner-up Georgia Tech and Southern Cal at home, and Virginia, Clemson, Temple, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Stanford on the road. Besides the Tigers and Cardinal, the Irish should be able to handle the rest of the opposition. Moreover, following Zaire’s strong bowl game showing, Coach Brian Kelly said the QB job would be up for grabs, meaning Golson and Zaire are likely to complement each other, giving Notre Dame great QB options. With such factors working to their favor, the Irish certainly have the potential to improve and even be a darkhorse playoff contender in 2015.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

After shocking Oklahoma in Norman (winning 38-35) and then beating Washington 30-22 in the Cactus bowl, the future looks bright for Mike Gundy’s team, which has won at least 9 games in 5 of the last 7 seasons. In 2014, the Cowboys finished on a 7-6 mark, but that was majorly because they lost around 30 seniors from the 2013 squad and only had 7 starters returning from 2013. In 2015, they will have eight starters returning on both the defense and offense, with the athletic true freshman Mason Rudolph (who passed for passed for 853 yards and 6 TDs in the final three games) designated to be the team’s starting QB. With talented receivers like David Glidden and Brandon Sheperd at Rudolph’s disposal, and a favorable non-conference schedule that includes Central Arkansas, Central Michigan and UT-San Antonio, it would not be a surprise if Oklahoma State improved to rack up double-digit wins in 2015.

Arizona State Sun Devils

In spite of returning with just eight starters from 2013, the Sun Devils had a refreshing 2014 season, finishing one win away from playing in the Pac-12 Championship for the second year running. The 2014 season also marked the first time Arizona State had back-to-back seasons of double-digit wins since 1972-73. Moreover, as a backup to starter quarterback Taylor Kelly (who is NFL-bound), Mike Bercovici impressively posted 12 TDs and just 4 INTs, so he should be able to acclimatize well as the new starter for the Sun Devils. More notably, the Sun Devils ranked at No. 4 in the Pac-12 in sacks, while also holding its opponents to just 27.9 PPG. With just two senior starters leaving this group, and a fairly easy path to a Pac-12 South Division title (including home games against Arizona, Washington, Oregon and USC), there should be a lot of optimism about the Sun Devils’ 2015 season.

Tennessee Volunteers

Under Coach Butch Jones, the Volunteers have been a consistently improving unit with the adept offensive leadership of quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd. In 2014, Tennessee racked up two more wins than they did in 2013, despite playing 23 true freshmen—the highest number in the nation. Throughout the season, the Vols showed a lot of developments, with most of the freshmen playing better with more game time. Going by their offseason improvements, and the strength of their defense (which allowed a remarkable average of just 27.1 PPG in the grueling SEC), there is a high likelihood that Tennessee could advance further and even be able to challenge Georgia in the SEC East Division. Other Teams that Could be on the Rise in 2015: Auburn, LSU, Stanford, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, NC State, Western Kentucky, and Houston

NCAAF Teams Poised to Fall in the 2015-2016 Season

Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide have been one of the strongest dynasties in college football, boasting of being the last team to win back-to-back national titles in 2011 and 2012, earning them three national championships in four years. In 2014, Nick Saban’s team had a decent showing, beating Missouri in the SEC Championship game to become the No. 1 seed in the college football playoff, and also being placed as the NCAAF Odds favorite to clinch the national championship. Unfortunately for the Tide, their national dreams fell short as they were outclassed by the Buckeyes who, led by Ezekiel Elliott (ran for a Sugar-Bowl record 230 rushing yards) and dual-threat QB Cardale Jones, made light work of Alabama’s much-lauded defense, which had gone as far as consulting other Big Ten coaches on how to stop Ohio State. Whereas such a result would be gladly considered positive by many programs, it was somewhat disappointing and unacceptable for many Tide faithfuls, especially because Alabama had a solid QB in Blake Sims and a lethal WR in Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper, together with a mean defense coached by one of the best defensive coordinators in the country in Kirby Smart. History aside and looking towards the 2015 season, only 11 of Alabama’s starters will be returning to the team in the new season, which ranks third-last in the SEC teams bringing back fewer starters. Meanwhile, Sims is gone with his 3,487 yards plus 28 touchdowns, and so is Cooper, who is projected as at Top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Obviously, even with the variety of options in the QB and WR position, none of the available players will be able to measure up to those two departed offensive pieces. Alabama’s offense is thus likely to rely on running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for 990 yards and 11 scores in 2014. Talented as Henry is, Alabama’s aerial offensive threat will be struggle, making them fall short to talent-laden teams like Georgia and Auburn. So, whereas Saban is likely to win 10 games as he has done every season (except for his first year) and even take his team to a major bowl game, I see them finishing 10-2 thus being ejected from a Top-4 finish in the country.

Florida State Seminoles

After setting very high standards by going 39-3 since 2012, it is probably going to take a big miracle to see the Seminoles back for a Top-4 finish in the country, leave alone going unbeaten in the regular season. Jimbo Fisher has been busy in the offseason, recruiting a good number of players, but it’s honestly going to be difficult for any of his replacements to befittingly fill in the gaps left by Jameis Winston, four starting offensive linemen, the team’s best receiver, the team’s best tight end, two starting cornerbacks and three-fourths of its defensive line. Therefore, although I have no doubt that Florida State will have its name frequently mentioned in the early 2016 college football playoff odds, I can bet my job that, come the end of the regular season, the Seminoles won’t be among the teams vying for the 2016 college football national championship because of their lack of a good QB to lead the team. If, however, the Seminoles manage to get a top QB like Braxton Miller to replace Winston, I’d be willing to change my mind about them.

Oklahoma Sooners

Unlike the first two names in my “poised-to-fall” list that are somewhat debatable, the Sooners are a team whose downfall in 2015 is simply indisputable. Since Oklahoma lost to LSU in the 2004 national championship, followed by a humiliating championship loss to USC in 2005, Oklahoma has been in a constant up-and-down motion, culminating in an 8-5 season finish and a Russell Athletic Bowl loss in 2014, following an impressive Big 12 title and a BCS Bowl victory in 2013. Entering the 2015 season, the Sooners don’t have a reliable QB and their offense will be without six starters. Added to the fact that Oklahoma did not get a Top-10 recruiting class this year, it is clear that the Sooners will most likely be slipping downwards in 2015. Other Teams that Could be on the Fall in 2015: Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Colorado State, Mississippi State, Marshall, Minnesota, and Utah.