As of Wednesday, May 31, there are just 86 days until the 2017 college football season kicks off with a handful of games on Saturday, Aug. 26. Then the real action gets going the following Thursday-Monday. Here are three solid over/under win total choices I would recommend.
OSU and Alabama are the only teams with a win total of 10.5 – remember, these totals are just for the 12 regular-season games, no conference title matchups or bowl games. Ohio State is a lock to be a Top 5 team in the preseason polls, perhaps as high as No. 2 behind Alabama. There were some major personnel losses off the 2016 team, led by the top three pass-catchers in Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown and Dontre Wilson. Samuel was the only player in the nation with 800 yards passing and 700 yards rushing last year as an H-back. In addition, the secondary lost Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker, all first-round NFL draft picks. But 15 starters return, led by quarterback J.T. Barrett. He’ll likely be the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and is a Heisman Trophy candidate. Barrett has been responsible for 100 touchdowns in his Buckeyes career. That’s seven shy of setting the Big Ten record. It’s currently 106 held by former Purdue star and current Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Ohio State realistically only will be an underdog once all season: the regular-season finale at Michigan. And even that’s a 50-50 shot. Go over 10.5.
Alabama Crimson Tide (10.5)
The Tide will not be underdogs once all regular season barring injury and it’s tough to see them lose more than one game. They did lose four first-round draft picks from last year’s national runners-up: cornerback Marlon Humphrey, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, tight end O.J. Howard and linebacker Reuben Foster. Coach Nick Saban simply plugs in another five-star high school All-American. The offense should be dynamic with the return of quarterback Jalen Hurts, running backs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris, and receiver Calvin Ridley. Last year, Hurts was responsible for 36 touchdowns (23 passing, 13 rushing) to break the previous Alabama record of 35 set by Blake Sims in 2014. He finished with 3,734 yards of total offense (2,780 passing, 954 rushing) to record the second-highest single-season total in Crimson Tide history, falling shy of Sims’ record of 3,837 (3,487 passing, 350 rushing) in 2014. Hurts also became the first Alabama player to rush for 100 yards and pass for 300 or more in a single game in school history (Mississippi State). Go over 10.5. The offense might have to carry the defense early in the season.
Southern Cal Trojans (9.5)
Head coach Clay Helton’s 2017 Trojans return 14 starters on offense, defense and special teams, including quarterback Sam Darnold. Your early Heisman favorite and likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft is Darnold. He was last seen torching Penn State in a thrilling Rose Bowl win. Then a redshirt freshman, Darnold tossed five touchdowns through the air and racked up 473 yards total, setting Rose Bowl records in each category. The previous total yards record was Vince Young’s 467 in 2006 for Texas in upsetting USC for the national title. Darnold’s insertion into the starting lineup in the fourth game of 2016 gave the USC offense a spark as the Trojans won the final 9 games of the season. Overall in 2016 while appearing in all 13 games and starting the last 10, he completed 246-of-366 passes (67.2%) for 3,086 yards with 31 TDs and 9 interceptions, plus 62 carries for 250 yards (4.0 avg) with 2 TDs and 3 tackles. USC could be favored in every game as it gets Stanford, Texas and UCLA at the Coliseum. The Trojans’ toughest trips look to be Washington State, Notre Dame, Arizona State and Colorado. No Washington or Oregon on the schedule. Over 9.5 wins.