College football season win total best bets

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College football season win totals best bets

Matt Youmans

Louisville (Over 8)

 

The wait for Jeff Brohm to return home as coach will be worth it. The former Louisville quarterback is an aggressive program builder and offensive innovator. Brohm took over a pathetic Purdue team in 2017 and went 7-6 with a bowl win in his first year. He’s inheriting a better Louisville team (8-5 last season) and a hospitable schedule that excludes Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina in the ACC. The Cardinals will be favored to win their first four games (Georgia Tech, Murray State, Indiana and Boston College) and should be halfway to reaching this win total by the end of September. The schedule might end up being even easier than it appears on paper. Brohm brought most of his key assistants from Purdue, and he already has formed a solid quarterback depth chart led by Jack Plummer, who played for the Boilermakers in Brohm’s system before transferring to California and posting good numbers in 12 starts in the Pac-12. The pieces are falling into place for Brohm, who’s a bet-on coach.

Oklahoma State (Under 6.5)

It’s not easy to doubt Mike Gundy, who has coached his way to 17 consecutive bowl games, but the old Cowboy was a big loser in the transfer portal and might not have enough horses. The departure of Spencer Sanders, the starting quarterback the past two years who left for Mississippi, will prove costly. Even with a relatively soft schedule, Gundy is unlikely to guide a team with a diminished talent level to 7-5, and 6-6 is probably the ceiling for the Cowboys.

Wisconsin (Over 8.5)

Expectations often get too high for new coaches, but Luke Fickell has everything needed to win big in his debut with the Badgers. The offense essentially returns 11 starters, although quarterback Tanner Mordecai is a transfer from SMU and center Jake Renfro was a two-year starter for Fickell at Cincinnati. Mordecai passed for 33 touchdowns last season for the Mustangs and will be a major upgrade for a stagnant passing offense. Running backs Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi rank among the conference’s elite. The defense, which returns eight starters, will be among the Big Ten’s best. Wisconsin will be favored in six of seven home games (excluding Ohio State) and probably will be favored in at least four of five road games. Fickell catches a break because Michigan and Penn State are not on the schedule. I project the Badgers to go 10-2 in the regular season, and 9-3 would be slightly disappointing yet still enough to top a win total that is a tick too low.

Dave Tuley

Utah (Over 8.5)

I’m betting Utah to win the Pac-12 and taking a flier to win the national title, so obviously we have to like the Utes to exceed their Over/Under season win total, which seems low (and at a plus-price, thank you very much).

Utah returns 13 starters, including starting QB Cameron Rising (assuming the reports are accurate that the rehab on his torn ACL is ahead of schedule).

Last year, Utah won nine regular-season games despite dropping its opener, 29-26, vs. Florida in The Swamp. This year, they face the Gators again but get them at home and are 8-point favorites. Utah does have to travel to Baylor, and the Pac-12 schedule might be tougher, but the Utes went 7-2 in the Pac-12 last season, including a win vs. USC, with the only losses at UCLA and Oregon. They get both of those teams at home this year.

And, even though postseason games don’t count in Over/Under season win bets, don’t forget that Utah ran all over Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and much-ballyhooed USC, 47-24, in the Pac-12 Championship Game and this team looks like it’s going to be better.

Tim Murray

Oregon State (Over 8)

Jonathan Smith has done a remarkable job at his alma mater. Smith inherited a 1-11 program in 2018, and the Beavers won 10 games for the third time in school history last year. Oregon State added Clemson transfer QB DJ Uiagalelei in the transfer portal. The former five-star recruit should be an improvement at the quarterback position, and I expect Jonathan Smith to get the best out of him. The Beavers also return its top three running backs including freshman All-American Damien Martinez. The Oregon State offensive line is stacked with 109 career starts. Expect the Beavers to be one of the most physical offenses in the country. The defense is a bit worrisome. Oregon State has to replace six starters including leading tackler Omar Speights who transferred to LSU. In the secondary, the Beavers lost Jaydon Grant and Rejzohn Wright. Grant and Wright combined for 15 PBU and five interceptions. Despite the questions on defense, the schedule for Oregon State is quite favorable. The Beavers avoid USC and play Utah, UCLA, and Washington all at home. Oregon State is 12-1 at home over the last two years even with renovations to its stadium. With renovations completed, if Oregon State can win one of those home games, the Beavers should have nine wins entering their season finale at Oregon. 

Duke (Under 6.5)

Mike Elko did a fantastic job in his first season in Durham. The Blue Devils had a preseason win total of 3, finished the regular season 8-4, and defeated UCF in the Military Bowl. It was Duke’s first nine-win season since 2014. QB Riley Leonard enters the year as one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC. Leonard led ACC quarterbacks with 699 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns as well as throwing for 2,967 yards and 20 touchdowns. The Athletic NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler ranked Leonard as the fourth-best quarterback prospect entering the season. The Blue Devils brought back 10 starters on offense and also added Stanford tackle Jake Hornibrook from the portal. So why play under their win total? Duke finished second in the country with a 16 turnover margin in 2022. That is not sustainable. Additionally, Duke feasted on weak competition. The Blue Devils went 7-1 last year against teams that did not reach a bowl game and 1-3 versus teams that did reach a bowl. Duke adds Clemson, Florida State and Notre Dame to the schedule this year, all of which are expected to be preseason Top 15 teams. Duke avoids some of the weaker ACC teams including Georgia Tech, Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse. Duke has a bunch of toss-up games this year with NC State, Louisville, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh. It is likely that Duke is a better team in 2023 but ends up with a worse record than 2022. 

Colorado State (Over 4.5)

Despite having the worst offensive line in the country (59 sacks allowed), Jay Norvell’s squad managed three wins in his first year in Fort Collins. Norvell revamped his offensive line via the portal and returns QB Clay Millen and star WR Tory Horton. Horton is the most talented wide receiver in the Mountain West. At Mountain West media, Norvell said that Horton was approached by multiple SEC teams this offseason but opted to stay at Colorado State. The Rams added to their depth offensively by bringing in SMU WR Dylan Goffney, North Dakota St. leading rusher Kobe Johnson, and BYU TE Dallin Holker. Defensively, the Rams will be strong up front anchored by DE Mohamed Kamara (8.5 sacks). S Jack Howell was First Team All-Mountain West last season and the secondary improved by adding Oregon State transfer Ron Hardge to play opposite returning CB starter Chigozie Anusiem. Colorado State will be an underdog in its first three games (Washington State, at Colorado, at Middle Tennessee) but the Rams have the talent to pull an upset in one of those games. In the Mountain West, Colorado State avoids Fresno State and San Jose State but does not play the worst team in the conference, New Mexico. Boise State, Air Force, and San Diego State all come to Fort Collins. With Nevada and a road trip to Hawaii as the final two games of the season, Colorado State should be playing for bowl eligibility and therefore surpassing 4.5 wins. 

Utah State (Under 5.5)

Following a 6-6 season with four close victories (7 points or less) and just nine returning starters, Utah State should be in for some regression in 2023. The Aggies open the season at Iowa and are a 23-point underdog. While Iowa is the lone Power Five team on Utah State’s schedule, the Aggies host James Madison on Sept. 23 and visit UConn on Sept. 30. James Madison was selected to finish first in the Sun Belt East. UConn should be slightly improved from last year’s six-win team. The Aggies are the only team in the Mountain West scheduled to play the top five teams that were voted top five in the preseason poll (Boise State, Air Force., Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State). 

On the personnel front, the Aggies bring back just nine starters as Utah St. was crushed due to graduation and in the portal. Leading rusher, Calvin Tyler, and leading receiver, Brian Cobbs, are gone. The offensive line lost four starters including First Team All-Mountain West T Alfred Edwards. Defensively, Leading tackler, LB AJ Vongphachanh, transferred to BYU. DE Daniel Grzesiak, who led the Aggies with 8.5 sacks, transferred to Cincinnati. DE Byron Vaughns (Baylor) and DE Patrick Joyner (Kansas) both transferred. In the secondary, CB Ajani Carter (Baylor) and CB Dominic Tatum (Washington St.) are both gone. Safety Hunter Reynolds, who finished last year with 93 tackles, seven PBU, and three interceptions, graduated.

Loss of talent, tough schedule, and regression from close games a year ago, it would be surprising if Utah St. reached bowl eligibility this season.

Jared Smith

Nevada (Over 4)

I think Ken Wilson’s second year in Reno will go significantly better than his first. The Wolfpack started 2-0, but then finished 0-10 down the stretch and struggled to find any consistency on offense in their first season after Jay Norvel bolted for Colorado State. Now that Wilson has had a full year to get acclimated to being a head coach, he’s been able to pull some strings in the transfer portal. The former Oregon DC brought over RB Sean Dollars, who averaged 5.5 yards per carry for the Ducks last season, in addition to two other talented linebackers that will add valuable depth to the defense. Under center, it will be Oklahoma State transfer QB Shane Illingworth, who split time last season with Nate Cox. Now that Cox has transferred out, Illingworth will hopefully gain traction with second-year OC Derek Sage, who has three years of experience working under Chip Kelly at UCLA. Nevada’s schedule is the 19th easiest in the country according to Phil Steele and avoids Boise State, San Jose State, and Air Force in the Mountain West. Circle the game in Week 3 at home against Kansas. If the Wolfpack can take care of business in a night game at Mackay Stadium against a Power Five opponent, this win total should sail over. Even if they can’t get past the Jayhawks, I just don’t see Nevada going 3-9 this season, which is what would need to happen in order for us to lose this wager. 

UTEP (Over 5.5)

This is expected to be head coach Dana Dimel’s best team in his sixth year at the helm, and I expect the Miners to get to the postseason again as they did in 2021, when Dimel took the program to their first-ever bowl game. UTEP returns 15 total starters off a team that went 5-7 last year and will have four-year starter Gavin Hardison under center, who played well most of last season before getting hurt and missing the final two games. Tons of skill position depth also returns including top RB Deion Hankins (second team all-conference) and top WR Tyrin Smith (1,039 receiving yards, 3rd team all-conference). According to Phil Steele, UTEP has the top-rated OL and second-rated DL in the conference, plus the seventh-easiest schedule in the country. They play just one conference road game against a team that had a winning record last season and get to face WKU at home. Circle the Week 0 matchup at Jacksonville State, with the line currently set at a pick ’em. If UTEP can get past that toss-up game, six wins should be well within reach. Even if they lose the opener, I still like their chances of going bowling. Long live the College of Mines!

Adam Burke

Western Kentucky (Over 8.5)

The class of Conference USA has a good chance at winning at least 10 games, as nonconference matchups at Ohio State and at Troy are very likely to be the only underdog roles for the Hilltoppers this season. I personally have them as a touchdown or more favorite in every other game. The departures of Conference USA’s other top teams to the AAC will help and so will the return of Austin Reed, who led the nation in passing yards and has even better talent at wide receiver this season.

WKU has won nine games in each of the last three non-COVID seasons and should be able to get to that number, if not more, based on the schedule, the new-look conference, and the talent on the roster. I have WKU for 9.17 wins in basically 11 games since they’ll be a four-touchdown dog to Ohio State.

Minnesota (Under 7)

PJ Fleck has done a great job with Minnesota, including 29 wins over the last three non-COVID seasons, but the rest of the division has gotten better, and this feels like a down year for the Golden Gophers. For the first time since what feels like the Obama Administration, Tanner Morgan won’t be the QB. Athan Kaliakmanis will be, and while he was a highly-touted recruit, he didn’t really impress in his five starts last season, except for the game against Wisconsin, who will be a lot better this season.

The Golden Gophers face Ohio State and Michigan from the East Division. Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin are all teams that I have rated higher within the division. The Nebraska opener is basically a toss-up. Minnesota also goes to North Carolina and draws an interesting matchup against Louisiana sandwiched between two Big Ten games.

Mohamed Ibrahim took nearly 4,700 yards with him as the program’s all-time leading rusher and there are some big losses on the offensive line as well, including a second-round draft pick. Outside of Morgan, the Gophers stayed really healthy on offense, which is always tough to bank on the following season. Seven wins feels like the ceiling for this team, so it should be a push at worst and a win at best. I only have Minnesota for 5.37 wins.

Kentucky (Over 7)

Offensive coordinator Liam Coen has returned to Lexington and Devin Leary has transferred in from NC State, so the Wildcats offense looks a lot more robust this season. Kentucky won 10 games in 2021 when Coen was the OC and Will Levis was the quarterback, as the team averaged 32.3 points per game and 6.4 yards per play. Last year’s group under Rich Scangarello only mustered 20.4 PPG and 5.2 YPP.

Leary got some Heisman buzz a couple of years ago, but injuries really derailed his chances. Now he gets a fresh start at Kentucky with Coen and a good cast of receivers, who are basically all returnees. The Wildcats always seem to find a running game as well, and should under Coen, after going from 5.2 yards per carry in 2021 to 3.3 in 2022.

Defensively, Mark Stoops always seems to find a way to field a good unit and DC Brad White has been with the program since 2018. In that span, the Wildcats have only allowed more than 21.7 points once, and that was during the COVID year in 2020. Last year’s squad only allowed 19.2 points per game and some of the same faces are back, along with some high-upside transfers.

My numbers project 8.24 wins for Kentucky, as they’ll be favored 30 points in all three nonconference games and then over a two-touchdown favorite against Vanderbilt. They do draw Alabama and also get Georgia on the road, but I have them favored in nine games plus a pick ‘em spot in the rivalry game against Tennessee.

Zachary Cohen

Colorado (Under 3.5)

The hype surrounding Colorado is out of control with Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders now running things in Boulder. With that, every casual bettor on the planet is running to take the Over on Colorado, especially with the number being down at 3.5. However, this feels like the ultimate trap from the oddsmakers, who appear to be begging bettors to throw a little something on this. I’m not falling for it.

Sanders might ultimately turn this program around — he has already brought some big-time talent in — but his first year with the team will likely be rough. For starters, the Buffaloes are significantly undermanned after having lost tons of players to the transfer portal. Colorado is also built on players from that portal, so there really isn’t much chemistry at play here. And the reports out of the Spring Game weren’t exactly strong — unless you care about attendance.

Colorado also happens to have a tough schedule this year, so that won’t make things easier. Perhaps Sanders finds a way to double the Buffaloes’ win total from last year. However, that would mean just two wins for Colorado, and that’s why I like the Under. 

Miami (Over 7.5) 

I’m normally the type that likes to avoid overhyped teams like Miami, but it feels like the Hurricanes have no buzz heading into the season. This team was something of a disaster last year, but I love both coordinators that Mario Cristobal brought in. Shannon Dawson should be able to overhaul the Miami offense, as he comes from a Houston Cougars program that is known for scoring with ease. His presence should do wonders for Tyler Van Dyke, who has all the talent in the world. And new defensive coordinator Lance Guidry fielded an elite defense with the Marshall Thundering Herd last year, and he inherits a good group of players in Coral Gables. 

Lacking good athletes and talented football players will never be much of an issue for a team like Miami but having the right coaches to develop players and get the most out of the roster can be. But this year’s team has a great coaching staff and returns a lot of players with experience. That means that the Hurricanes could be one of the biggest surprises in the nation in 2023. 

I wouldn’t exactly say Miami’s schedule is easy, but I don’t think it’s all that difficult either. Meetings with the Texas A&M Aggies, Clemson Tigers and Florida State Seminoles could be brutal for the Hurricanes. But they’ll feel good about their chances in every other game they play. I think they’ll win at least eight of those nine, and I love that you can get it at plus-money odds. 

Wisconsin Over 8.5 

Wisconsin isn’t like most teams that hire a new coach in the offseason. The Badgers brought in one of the top coaches in the entire country in Luke Fickell, who led the Cincinnati Bearcats to the College Football Playoff in 2021. Wisconsin also hired one of the best offensive coordinators in the nation in Phil Longo. But the big difference is that the team also has 18 returning starters when you factor in the arrivals of quarterback Tanner Mordecai (SMU) and center Jake Renfro (Cincinnati). This is a very experienced group, and there’s talent scattered all throughout the depth chart. 

With more structure and a clear vision for how this program can win, the Badgers should be ready to go from the jump. And Wisconsin has a very favorable schedule in 2023, making it hard to believe the team won’t find a way to win at least nine games. The toughest games on the schedule for the Badgers are road games against the Washington State Cougars, Illinois Fighting Illini and Minnesota Golden Gophers, plus a home game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. That last game is one that could easily get away from Wisconsin. But the Badgers lost to all three of those road opponents in 2022, so revenge will be on their minds there. It’d be surprising if they don’t win at least two of those three, and that makes nine wins seem easy. 

Wisconsin feels like a team that is more likely to earn double-digit wins than just eight wins. And the Badgers just might challenge some of the elite teams in the Big Ten rather shortly. 

Steve Makinen

Kansas  (Over 6)

Another team that made a quantum leap last season and is looking to build upon the momentum in 2023 is Kansas, and if the pattern follows anything the likes of which head coach Lance Leipold accomplished at UW-Whitewater and Buffalo, this team should continue trending upward. The Jayhawks were 6-7 last year, and bring back 17 starters, including QB Jalon Daniels, who, after a fast start, was lost to injury and missed five starts last year. The offense definitely curtailed without him, dropping by about 10 PPG in his absence. This is also one of four teams with 13 starters returning and coming back after a year that endured a losing record despite outscoring opponents. This is a big improvement scenario usually. With a weaker Big 12 lined up for 2023, I expect Kansas to keep climbing.

Rice (Over 4.5)

During its recent heyday of football success (2012-14), Rice was playing with players obtained in recruiting classes ranked in the low 90s across the country typically, Three of the last four classes under head coach Mike Bloomgren were at such a level, and the Owls could be ready to see those efforts bear fruit on the field. One of the key pieces brought in this season is transfer QB JT Daniels, who has the experience and pedigree to post some of the best numbers the Owls have seen at the position in many years. This team won five games last year despite a horrible turnover ratio and brings back 14 starters. Even with a switch to the AAC, I don’t see this group being worse than a year ago.

Tennessee (Under 9.5)

The oddsmakers clearly think a lot higher of this year’s Tennessee team than I do, as they have set a season win total prop of 9.5 while my power ratings against the 2023 schedule show the Vols winning just 8.1 games. Why the disconnect? Well, for me, I’m of the belief that this team may have caught lightning in a bottle last year. Three of their first six wins were by 7 points or less, including the memorable 52-49 win over Alabama. If any of those games turned the other way, we aren’t thinking nearly as highly of HC Josh Heupel’s team. Second, QB Hendon Hooker put it all together last year for Pruitt’s offense. For as much as replacement Joe Milton is a high-quality option and fared very well in Hooker’s absence from injury, I’m not sure he can sustain the magic this offense had for all of 2022. Third, replacing WR Jalin Hyatt and his production is going to be virtually impossible. If that weren’t enough, the Vols’ SEC division crossover games are against Alabama & Texas A&M. I’m projecting 8-4 or 9-3 tops.

UAB (Under 5)

The third and final ZERO team for the 2023 season in terms of Stability Scores is UAB, under the leadership of first-time Head Coach Trent Dilfer, a curious hire at best. Dilfer’s first job will be a tough one, as UAB is switching conferences to the AAC (from C-USA) and has only seven starters back. This program has been riding high under Bill Clark and Bryant Vincent, but this hire is a massive shock to the system. The Blazers qualified for a bowl game in every year since returning to FBS football in 2017 after a two-year hiatus. That was a remarkable feat. It’s a good bet that streak ends in 2023 as they play what looks like a tougher-than-usual schedule for the program. In fact, I could see a scenario where this team loses all six of its road games. Going 6-0 at home to beat this win total is not going to happen either.

Mitch Moss

Miami (FL) (Under 7.5)

The Hurricanes were arguably the most disappointing team in the entire country last year. They lost five games at home, but they weren’t just losses. They were destroyed in all but one of those performances. 

Here is how ugly it was:

Middle Tennessee beat them 45-31. The Hurricanes were outgained 507-367; and 8.3 yards per play to 4.1.

Two weeks later North Carolina traveled to south Florida and won 27-24. This was a close game on the scoreboard and on paper. Each team averaged 6.6ypp.

Two weeks later it was Duke’s turn. The Blue Devils beat the Hurricanes 45-21. In a season filled with "rock bottom" moments, this game may have taken the cake. Miami had EIGHT turnovers. 

Miami lost to Florida State 45-3 at home in early November (7.0 to 3.6ypp) and closed a dismal regular season with a 42-16 home loss to Pitt (8.1 to 5.8 ypp). 

A previous season usually doesn’t have much to do with the following year, but there is one thing I can’t shake with this program: the head coach. Second-year man Mario Cristobal has proven to be a solid recruiter over his time at Oregon and Miami, but that’s where the compliments end. He was overmatched with the Ducks, and it remained that way in his first year at Miami. 

Thanks to professional sports bettor Paul Stone for this incredible note: Over the past five seasons – when favored by 9.5 or fewer points – the Hurricanes are only 8-13 STRAIGHT UP! Cristobal is also 7-21-2 ATS in his last 30 games as a coach. 

I think it’s another long year for this one elite program. 

Clemson (Over 10)

Not many programs can finish the season 11-3 (9-0 in conference) and call it a disappointment. Put Clemson on the shortlist.

A seemingly broken offense the past two seasons should look much different this year. Cade Klubnik should be an upgrade at QB by default, and the Tigers welcome in new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley. The latter made the move after helping TCU reach the national championship game last year.

I called the offense broken because the unit "only" averaged 33.1ppg last season. That ranked 24th nationally. They averaged 24.4ppg the season before. That was good for 85th. The offense averaged 40 ppg the three seasons before that—ranking fourth in the country every year. They have the right parts in place for the offense to return to the glory year from not that long ago. 

I won’t call the schedule a gift, but they caught some breaks. Florida State and Notre Dame each have to travel to Death Valley. The Tigers are laying 2.5 points to the Seminoles, and 4.5 points to the Fighting Irish. They’re also currently listed as favorites in the following games at DraftKings:

-12 at Duke on Sept. 4th

-10 at Miami (FL) on Oct. 21st

-10.5 at NC State on Oct. 28th

-10.5 vs. North Carolina on Nov. 18th

-6.5 at South Carolina (in a major revenge spot) on Nov. 25th

A conference record of 53-5 since 2015 is also pretty good. They went 8-0 four times during that stretch in ACC play, and either 7-1 or 8-1 three other times. I expect the same in 2023. 

Ben Wilson

Michigan State (Under 5.5)

Towards the back end of an unexpected 11-win season in 2021, head coach Mel Tucker was rewarded with a new 10-year, $95 million contract.  But despite being known for his defensive coaching prowess, Tucker’s Spartans have ranked outside the top 100 in total defense each of the past two seasons. Without RB Kenneth Walker III to rely on, 2022 turned disastrous early and often, ending with a 5-7 record.

While you’d expect some improvement on the defensive end after 27 different players saw at least one start in 2022, it’s hard to be excited about a unit that has been uncompetitive for two years running under Tucker and his embattled DC Scottie Hazelton.

If there’s going to be a saving grace for Sparty in 2023, it’s the offense. But that side of the ball was thrown into flux after the spring game when returning QB Payton Thorne and top returning WR Keon Coleman each entered the transfer portal. While early reports have been promising on new signal-caller Noah Kim, the redshirt junior only appeared in four games over his first three years on campus in East Lansing.

Outside of an above-average offensive line that was a top-five Big 10 unit in pass protection last year,  Michigan State is young and inexperienced across the board.  Sparty also faces a consensus top-10 toughest schedule in the country this year and are double-digit ‘dogs in four game of the year lines ( 12 vs. Washington, 19 vs. Michigan, 25.5 at Ohio State, and 13 vs. Penn State in Detroit).

It all adds up to under in 2023. While -165 is a generous price to pay, a good amount of the market has already moved to 5 with some shops even down to 4.5.

Wes Reynolds

Wake Forest (Under 6.5)

The next time that fans of the Demon Deacons will see QB Sam Hartman will be on November 18th in South Bend when the former Wake starting signal-caller will be in a Notre Dame uniform. Hartman started 45 games for the Deacs and threw for just under 13,000 yards and 110 TDs vs. just 41 INTs. Wake head coach Dave Clawson, one of the best coaches in the ACC, compares new starter sophomore Mitch Griffis to former Deacs QB John Wolford, but replacing Hartman and leading receiver AT Perry (1096 yards, 81 catches, 11 TD) is a big ask for what was a Top 10 passing offense in the country last year. 

Wake Forest only brings back two starters on the offensive line and has to replace its entire starting defensive line. Most of the back five are back for defensive coordinator Brad Lambert, but that group ranked 114th nationally in pass defense last season. 

After opening with a soft on-ramp to the 2023 season (Elon, Vanderbilt, at Old Dominion, Georgia Tech), Wake’s schedule is brutal in October/November with consecutive road games at Clemson and at Virginia Tech. Next, they get a Pitt club that is one of the more physical teams in the league followed by a Florida State bunch who has the highest expectations that they have had in several seasons. Starting November, a road trip to Duke, who returns its starting QB and entire skill position corps from a nine-win team, then NC State, who upgrades at QB with Virginia transfer Brennan Armstrong. Finally, Wake closes with two straight road games at Notre Dame and at Syracuse. 

Clawson has gotten Wake Forest to bowl games in seven straight seasons, and more than likely, he finds a way to make it eight straight, but there are not seven wins on this arduous schedule. 

Auburn (Over 6.5)

It was a long road back, but Hugh Freeze is back in the SEC. Say what you want about Freeze, he is more equipped to deal with an SEC program culture than Bryan Harsin was. Former Tigers great Cadillac Williams did a solid enough job keeping this team engaged with the season after Harsin was fired eight games into the season. Williams was retained by Freeze as the associate head coach, which was a very popular move with the returning lettermen. 

The Tigers had a great deal of bad luck last season with injuries, coaching staff changes, and especially turnovers. Auburn finished 122nd in turnover margin. With nine starters back