2018 NCAAF Betting Preview: Every Conference's Surprise Team.

2018 NCAAF Preview: Every Conference’s Surprise Team

Written by on June 14, 2018

Whether it’s due to a new coaching arriving on campus, one or two elite playmakers whose game-changing contributions no one expected or some simple, good old-fashioned luck, each and every year, some team rises up and far surpasses every NCAAF Betting enthusiasts expectations and often times, even their own.If you’re looking to find out which teams could surprise in a big way in 2018, then you’re going to enjoy the expert insight that you’re about to get as I project each college football’s conference surprise team in 2018 to bet on.

2018 NCAAF Betting Preview: Every Conference’s Surprise Team

AAC

Houston Cougars

Houston went 7-6 in Major Applewhite’s first season after he took the helm from now Texas coach Tom Herman, but the Cougars could be primed to bounce back in a big way in 2018. Applewhite hired former Baylor assistants Kendal Briles (offensive coordinator) and Randy Clements (offensive line coach) even though that didn’t sit too well with some people because of Briles’ dad, Art and the mess he made at Baylor before he was bounced.Houston has an athletically gifted quarterback in D’Eriq King and undeniably one of the best defensive lineman in all of college football in All-America defensive tackle Ed Oliver. They’ve got a pretty easy schedule from the looks of it and could get back to double-digit victories in a heartbeat in 2018.

ACC

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The Demon Deacons went a respectable 8-5 last year and provided a glimpse of what could lie ahead in 2018 by beating Texas A&M 55-52 in their season-ending Belk Bowl matchup. The offensive line returns all five starters and quarterback John Wolford is very good even if he isn’t necessarily a household name. Wake has a really good running back that averaged a healthy 5.2 yards per carry in junior Matt Colburn. Wake gave up an overly generous 28.3 points per game to rank 76t nationally in points allowed, so if they can improve in that, they could potentially go from eight to 10 wins in 2018.

Big 12

Baylor Bears

I know Baylor looked like a complete mess in going 1-11 last season, but I’m here to say that former Temple University head coach Matt Rhule is a genius and I believe he’s going to start getting some greatly improved results out of his team starting in 2018. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer looked like the future in four starts last season as he passed for 1,562 yards and 11 TDs to earn Big 12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year honors.I’m also expecting a much-improved defense under coordinator Phil Snow in Year 2 after Baylor allowed an awful 35.9 points per game last season (114th).“We’ve done this a bunch of different times where we’re not very good and then the next year we’re the best in the conference,” says Snow.I’m thinking seven wins is more than realistic for Baylor in 2018!

Big Ten

Nebraska Cornhuskers

So what, Nebraska went 4-8 a year ago! They hired native son and former Central Florida head coach Scott frost to turn their program around after he led the Knights to an unbeaten 13-0 mark last season and a self-proclaimed ‘national championship’ that Nick Saban that had Alabama’s bitchin’ about. All jokes aside, Frost has a pair of really good wide receivers in Stanley Morgan Jr. and JD Spielman with Morgan catching 61 passes for a school-record 986 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.He’ll have an inexperienced starting quarterback in either redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia or true freshman Adrian Martinez and he needs to find an answer at running back. The defense could be much improved under coordinator Erik Chinander’s go-for-broke, turnover-creating system and I’m thinking the change in leadership should be enough to get the Cornhuskers to six wins at the very minimum in 2018 and possibly seven.

Pac-12

Arizona Sun Devils

Arizona may have gone a modest 7-6 last season, but I’m thinking they could be poised for a breakout season under super-gifted dual-threat Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback Khalil Tate and the offensive system of new head coach Kevin Sumlin. Arizona led the Pac-12 in scoring and total offense last year with Tate passing for 1,591 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushing for an additional 1,411 yards and 12 scores.Look for the Sun Devils as one of your NCAAF Betting picks for next season.Arizona has an experienced offensive line and will run the ball a bit more this coming season under Sumlin as opposed to relying exclusively on Tate to make plays every down. More importantly, Arizona has a whopping nine returning starters on defense, including three sophomore linebackers that all have star potential in Colin Schooler, Tony Fields II and Kylan Wilborn. Right now, I’m thinking 10 wins is definitely not out of the question for the Wildcats in 2018.

SEC

Florida Gators

Sure, Florida fell completely apart last year. That was then under now-departed head coach Jim McElwain and now, the Gators are heading in a new direction under former Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, the former offensive coordinator on two of their national championship teams. Mullen will need to identify a starting quarterback whether that’s Felipe Franks or sophomore Kyle Trask.He looks set at running back with Junior Jordan Scarlett almost certainly being the starter. The offensive line returns all five starters, so I suspect the Gators will at least be decent offensively in Year 1 of the Mullen era. Florida has been outstanding for a decade defensively until last year, but the pieces are in place for a quick return into the top 20 defensively, starting with cornerbacks Marco Wilson and CJ Henderson and linebacker David Reese. Eight wins and a return to semi-relevance in 2018 looks about right if you ask me!
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