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College Football Betting Power Five Surprise Teams 2017

July 29, 2017 | Posted By Freddy Wills

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These are teams you would not expect to be in the discussion for the college football playoff, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about here today.  This also means each and one of these teams will have betting value this season, because nobody is considering them to be in the mix as a top 4 team at the end of the season.  We have seen it in years past there is always a surprise by the end of the season, and last year it was Washington.  While most people will be picking Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, USC and or Oklahoma to be in the top 4 I’m giving a few teams that are big names and off the radar of most.

#7 Kansas State

Who doesn’t like HC Bill Snyder.  The guy is a legend and I’m happy to see him back on my list.  Snyder is a great coach for football and life. Just follow his 16 goals for success – commitment, unselfishness unity, improve, be tough, self discipline, great effort, enthusiasm, eliminate mistakes, never give up, don’t accept losing, no self limitations, expect to win, consistency, leadership, responsibility.

Last year’s Wildcats team had the most starts by underclassmen under Snyder with 135.  That is not typical with all the guys he typically pulls out of the JUCO market.  Kstate will have 14 returning starters to work with and the usual JUCO infusion.

Strength – experience, and a good QB in Jesse Ertz.  Ertz – who averaged 7 yards per carry can also throw and with 79% of his offenseive production returning which includes 80% of last years starts things look great.  He also gets sophomore RB Alex Barnes back who looks like a budding star.  Barnes averaged over 5 yards per carry on nearly 70% of his carries last year.  This team is going to be exciting to play as a dog. I expect they will be under dogs in only 3 games.  Oklahoma at home (upset alert), at Oklahoma State, and at Texas.

#7 Oregon Ducks  – A new head coach could mean great results when Willie Taggart takes over.  I said countless times on my podcast last year how bad I thought head coach Mark Helfrich was and that he largely benefited in the past from the work of his predecessor and Heisman Trophy QB Marcus Mariota.  After all Helfrich was 24-4 with Mariota and 13-12 without.

Willie Taggart did great things at South Florida in a short period of time and the talent level is always here at Oregon.

Royce Freeman is back at RB for this team along with experience at QB in Justin Herbert who had a very good season as a freshman completing 63.5 % of his passes with 19TD’s and 4 Int.  This team overall returns 17 starters which includes 9 on defense.  They bring in defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt who did wonders for the 49ers as a LB coach.  He spent the last two years at Colorado improving their defense.  In 2014 Colorado’s defense was ranked 116th in ypp allowed improving to 86th, and then 21st a year ago.  We already know that this offense will hum, and if Leavitt can do some magic in year one as a DC this team could be a dark horse to compete for a shot in the playoff.. The only thing stopping them is two tough road games at Stanford, and at Washington.

#6 TCU –  Another great coach in Gary Paterson.  IN 2014 this team was 4-8 and rebounded to nearly making the national championship.  Here we are in another rebound year after a losing season and Paterson has the most experienced team in the Big 12 with 17 returning starters including 10 on offense.  Although I’m not a huge fan of their QB Kenny Hill his third year playing in college football the second year in this offense can only help him.  Key game at Kansas State on October 14th could go a long way in determining whether this team will make it to the Big 12 title game.

#5 Michigan Wolverines – Another great coach in Jim Harbough on the list here.  You would not think this team would be considered a surprise, but with only 5 returning starters (1 on defense) countless players moving onto the NFL it would certainly be a surprise to see this team in the mix in the Big Ten.  Afterall the Ohio State Buckeyes who made my list last year had just6 returning starters and reached the college football playoff.

Harbough gets his QB back in Speights who is a legitimate star in the making.  I really liked how he handled tough situations and the game against Ohio State was actually a game many would argue they won.  This year they get Ohio State at home.  If they can somehow beat Florida in the opener there could be a lot of buzz as the season moves on because they won’t be challenged until October 21st at Penn State where they could be 6-0.  Vegas sets their over under win total at 9, but I believe 10-2 is more likely for this years team.

#3 Texas Longhorns – Tom Herman did great things at Houston, and as the offensive coordinator at Ohio State before.  Herman is notorious for winning the big games and is 22-4 as a head coach.  He opened up last year as a double digit dog and upset Oklahoma on a neutral field.  His team also dominated another top 5 team in Louisville 36-10 later in the season in total he went 6-0 vs ranked foes beating three top 10 teams.

What I like the most about this team is the fact that they return 17 starters, but 10 on defense which is a huge deal.  Todd Orlando comes over with Herman and he had Houston as a top 15 unit last year on defense.  He’s got plenty of talent to play with if this team can somehow shock USC the pac 12 favorite on the road in September we could be talking about a very special season and with months to prepare for that game you know they will be ready.

There are many other signs pointing to this team moving up, but they went 3-6 in the big 12 a year ago despite being +20 yards per game which indicates poor coaching.  I love the coaching moves and that’s the biggest reason I see Texas being a factor this year.

#2 Miami – I was high on this team early last year and in my pre-season podcasts.  I was excited for Mark Richt coming back to his alma matter after he left Georgia.  Richt a very under rated head coach.

There are a few reasons why I think this team has a chance for something special.  The first thing is the schedule.  I predict they will be favorites in 11 of out of their 12 games.  Their one game is a tough one going to Florida State, a team that’s loaded this year, but Miami has played Florida State well the last 3 seasons losing by 1, 4 and 5 points respectively.  Circle the week before against Arkansas State.. Although I have Miami as a surprise team and playing in the ACC Championship game with a shot at a playoff spot it’s worth noting huge look ahead spots and Arkansas State out of the Sun Belt is playing this game at home.  They likely have been preparing all summer for this very game.  I think we should get a high spread in that game and could be looking at an opportunity to fade Miami one week before Florida State.

More on Miami though.. Their defense was roughed up last year and they got some experience out of their young guys.  Still this team improved from allowing 28.2 ppg to 18.5 and now they return 8 starters.  On offense they have arguably the best offensive line in the ACC led by all upper classmen.  At WR they have a ton of talent and the offense should not miss a beat.

#2 Florida Gators – Jim McElwain now in his third season as the head coach of the Florida Gators and despite coaching a big name program nobody was expecting him to take this team to the SEC Championship the last two years.  He even did it despite losing his starting QB to injury in back to back years, but this year they have Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire which is creating a lot of buzz.

We already know Florida will have their usual top 10 defense.  Last year they had to fight through a ton of injuries playing a lot of underclassmen and now they have a deeper more confident bunch this year.

The offense is loaded and ready to get back to being dynamic.  With 9 returning starters, Malik Zaire this offense is ready to take flight in McElwain’s third year.  Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine in the backfield.  Antonio Callaway is a star whenever he touches the ball and Brandon Powell is a senior along with a sr TE Deandre Gooslby.

So I like the talent they have on offense. I’m expecting the defense to play up to their usual expectations, and I love their schedule.  They have just 3 true road games all year.  That’s partially due to the fact that LSU refused to play here last year and had their game at LSU now Florida will be home for that interesting matchup in October.  This team opens up against the aforementioned Michigan, but they are facing a team with 5 returning starters at the RIGHT time.  When do you want to face a team with low experience?  September.  Also worth noting is the fact that the Big Ten is just 11-22 vs. the SEC since 2010 and have gone 2-6 the last 2 years.  Florida is my favorite in the East.  I see them losing one game along the way and they’ll find themselves back in the SEC Championship with their best shot at winning.

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