It’s #FUTURESSZN, and what better way to start than analyzing some team win totals that look tasty. In this miniseries, we will look at each of the ten FBS conferences and highlight some especially good-looking team totals. Let’s be honest, Vegas is very sharp, and *most* of the lines are about right. I don’t want to give you an over/under on every team because, frankly, most will be within one game away from the target, and one wrong bounce can lose the bet.
I have sifted through each team and each schedule (with the help of our handy dandy CFF guide) and hand-picked a few that should beat their mark with room to spare. Conference USA is a mess of parity in my mind. I had a lot of trouble assigning likely wins and losses in this group. The odds on favorite to win, UTSA, lost one of its most productive offensive weapons ever to the NFL. The next contenders in line are also tough to figure out. UAB lost the heart and soul of the program in coach Bill Clark. Western Kentucky saw its record-setting QB and WR depart for the NFL in Bailey Zappe and Jerreth Sterns, while another outstanding WR leveled up after a transfer to Penn State. It just gets murkier from there. All lines courtesy of Draft Kings sportsbook.
Charlotte 49ers (2021 record: 5-7) OVER 4.5 wins (-105)
Charlotte is a team ready to make a move. Led by sixth-year senior QB Chris Reynolds, the 49ers should cover their 5.5 win total and go bowling for the second time as an FBS program. In 2019, Reynolds quarterbacked his team to a 7-5 regular season record, throwing for 2,564 yards, rushing for 791, and accounting for 28 total touchdowns.
In addition to Reynolds, Charlotte will run it back with all of their playmakers, including long-time target Victor Tucker and most of their offensive line. Defensively, they return 68% of last year’s unit per Teddy Ricketson. I set out thinking that six wins would be easy, but their schedule isn’t doing them any favors.
Charlotte probably suffers two Ls against good Power 5 opponents in South Carolina and Maryland. They do get Maryland at home, but I still can’t project a W there. William and Mary and FIU are two locked in, which will leave us needing three wins out of games @FAU, @Rice, @MTSU, and home showdowns with Louisiana Tech and UTEP. There are three other games on the slate but seem less likely to scratch out a win: @Georgia State, @UAB, and Western Kentucky at home. One nice feature of their schedule is avoiding UTSA in the regular season. Im giving this bet a 3.5/5 rating but think Charlotte goes OVER 4.5 wins in 2022.
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (2021 record: 6-6) UNDER 5.5 wins
MTSU is a team without an identity in my mind. I don’t know what they are, and I don’t think they know what they are. On the bright side, the Blue Raiders will again trot out veteran QB Chase Cunningham, providing leadership and stability at the game’s most important position. A major concern will be rebuilding an offensive line that wasn’t even very good a year ago. They bring in Mitch Stewart from the high-flying Samford Bulldogs to run the offense, which is an exciting development.
I find it very difficult to see six wins on the MTSU schedule. I’m counting five losses up front: @ColoSt, @MiaFL, @UAB, then WKU, and UTSA at home. If they don’t pull an upset out of that tough group, they can only lose one more game and cover 5.5 wins. With road dates @JMU and @UTEP plus a home tilt against the previously covered Charlotte 49ers, I am bearish on the Blue Raiders getting a sixth win and going bowling. I give the bet a 3/5 rating and go UNDER 5.5 wins for Middle Tennessee State.
North Texas Mean Green (2021 record: 7-5) OVER 6.5 wins (+100)
Maybe I’m naive and a sucker, but I don’t understand this line at all. UNT retained four offensive linemen from a top 30 unit, brought back their running back and two playmakers in the receiving game, plus upgraded their QB by bringing in Grant Gunnell. And yet, the win total line sits a half-game under their 2021 total.
It cannot be emphasized enough the impact returning 106 career starts on the offensive line has. This should make things smooth for the rest of the offense, and in a conference with so much uncertainty, UNT can control their destiny through the trenches. I love the addition of Gunnell, who flashed as a true freshman at Arizona before transferring to Memphis and losing a season due to injury.
I think this veteran team can hang with the CUSA stalwarts WKU, UAB, and UTSA. All three are on the schedule, but I don’t see three Ls there. All three of those matches are away, which is a tough pull, but that means five of the Mean Green’s six home opponents should be wins (SMU is a toughie, however). That will leave UNT needing two away victories to cover, and UNLV will provide one. This bet will come down to winning @UTEP or @Memphis. I’ll be honest – I don’t love this win total bet and am giving it a 2/5 rating to go OVER 6.5 wins, however, read on.
BONUS ROUND – North Texas conference championship +1500
I am lukewarm on the win total bet because it will *most likely* be a close call, and with a payout of +100, the juice may not be worth the squeeze. But because of all the reasons stated, I think UNT could have a magical season in store. If that happens, and I’m right, I want to be PAID. Therefore, I would prefer to cash a +1500 ticket if their defense tightens up and Gunnel is the missing piece to unlock the Mean Green.