Published on Wednesday, 7/27/16, at 3:09 p.m. Eastern.
–Like I always say in July and August, I feel like it’s key that handicappers and gamblers resist any urge to become married to their preseason predictions. Now of course, if you pull the trigger and bet on season win totals or futures (to win the national title, a specific conference or division), you’re stuck with those and hopefully that’s a good thing. But in my job, I make a preseason prediction for every team. In many instances, I’ll have a lot of question marks about teams, especially those with new head coaches or inexperience at the QB position. For example, I’m not overly confident in my preseason thoughts on Michigan St. and Arkansas (among many others) simply because I haven’t see their QBs play much. Therefore, if Tyler O’Connor and Austin Allen light it up (or throw picks galore) in the first two weeks of the season, I’ll have a complete different opinion on the Spartans and/or Razorbacks. So with that said, I give you my Best Bets for the SEC. I am married to these, but not to the thoughts on the rest of the league that I’ll get to momentarily.
–I have Florida, Tennessee and Georgia finishing 9-3, but the Volunteers will sweep their non-conference foes and finish third in the division with a 5-3 record in SEC play. The Gators and Bulldogs will both go 6-2 in the league, but UF will return to Atlanta based on a head-to-head win over Kirby Smart’s first UGA squad in Jacksonville. Here’s my entire breakdown of the SEC East over at VegasInsider.com.
–I think LSU will end its five-game losing streak to Alabama that’s included a pair of crazy comebacks in the last two encounters at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Nevertheless, I’ll call for the Crimson Tide to win the West again (and beat Florida in Atlanta) because I have Les Miles’s squad going down in road assignments at Florida and at Arkansas. Here’s my SEC West preview.
–Based on its major edge over FSU at the quarterback position that outweighs the fact that these teams will collide in Tallahassee this year, I have Clemson winning the ACC Atlantic. I believe the Tigers will face Miami in the ACC Championship Game and win easily to advance to the College Football Playoff. Here’s my entire ACC preview over at VI.
–FACTOID: Miami hasn’t ever been to the ACC Championship Game since joining the league in 2005. And that’s in the weak division!
–Wisconsin sophomore LB T.J. Edwards might miss the season opener vs. LSU at Lambeau Field. In fact, head coach Paul Chryst told the local media in Madison that there’s no timetable for his return from a foot injury. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported last week that “Edwards was seen wearing a walking boot and a source confirmed the redshirt sophomore is out” for an indefinite period of time. Edwards was the Badgers’ leading tackler in 2015 with 84 stops. He also had 6.5 tackles for loss, four passes broken up and two QB hurries. Wisconsin has posted six double-digit win totals in the last 10 years and has won at least nine games in eight of those campaigns. However, the Badgers are staring at a possible 2-5 start to this season. After facing LSU in the opener, they’ll cruise past Akron and Ga. St. at Camp Randall. But the next four games look like this: at Michigan St., at Michigan, vs. Ohio St. and at Iowa. We should note that Wisconsin will have two weeks to prep for the Buckeyes.
–Southern Cal has suspended sophomore CB Isaiah Langley for the season opener vs. Alabama at Jerry World in Arlington. Langley was arrested at a party on the UCLA campus in May for three misdemeanor charges — suspicion of trespassing, intoxication and resisting arrest. Langley, a four-star recruit, had 12 tackles in a back-up role as a true freshman last season.
–N.C. St. WR Jumichael Ramos will take a redshirt in 2016 due to a knee injury. Ramos was the Wolfpack’s second-leading receiver last year with 34 receptions for 457 yards and three TDs. I have N.C. St. going 5-7 this year.
–TCU RB Shaun Nixon is out for the season with an unspecified injury. Nixon played WR last year, hauling in 47 catches for 501 yards and one TD.
–North Carolina senior OG John Ferranto suffered a torn pectoral muscle that will keep him out for the entire 2016 campaign. Ferranto has 16 career starts to his credit.