2022 College Football Win Total Projections, Odds & Picks: Sun Belt

Rasheen Ali

In the tables below, college football expert Thor Nystrom projects the spread for every game using his ATL system (Adjusted Thor Spread). These projected spreads can be seen in each team’s table under that team’s name. You should read these spreads from the perspective of the team in question — i.e., Army is a +2.5 underdog at Coastal Carolina and a -5 favorite hosting UTSA.

Here are his total win projections, odds, and picks for the Sun Belt.

College Football: Best Early Heisman Futures Bets >>

126. UL-Monroe Warhawks




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


UL-Monroe
Texas
Sat, Sept 3
38.5
0


Nichols State
UL-Monroe
Sat, Sep 10
-7.5
0.781


UL-Monroe
Alabama
Sat, Sep 17
55
0


Louisiana
UL-Monroe
Sat, Sep 24
17.5
0


UL-Monroe
Arkansas State
Sat, Oct 1
11.5
0.118


Coastal Carolina
UL-Monroe
Sat, Oct 8
18
0


UL-Monroe
South Alabama
Sat, Oct 15
10.5
0.14


UL-Monroe
Army
Sat, Oct 22
20.5
0


Texas State
UL-Monroe
Sat, Nov 5
5.5
0.311


UL-Monroe
Georgia State
Sat, Nov 12
18.5
0


UL-Monroe
Troy
Sat, Nov 19
19
0


Southern Miss
UL-Monroe
Sat, Nov 26
9.5
0.189

 

Between 2017-2019, UL-Monroe was a frisky squad (15-21) with a strong offense that averaged a tick over 30 PPG. After the 2019 season, ULM lost QB Caleb Evans to graduation and OC Matt Kubik to Southern Miss. ULM’s offense regressed in the last two seasons to 16.3 and 20.9 PPG, respectively. The Warhawks went 4-14 during that stretch. When former OC Rich Rodriguez took FCS Jacksonville State’s HC job, the Warhawks wisely decided to turn back the clock and re-hire Kubik as OC.

There’s real hope that Kubik will lead a legitimate offensive renaissance this fall, much as he did last time around. After all, the Warhawks have eight starters returning on offense – the only new starting skill guy who is intriguing is the JUCO import, TE Zach Rasmussen. If Kubik can coax the offense into the mid- or high-20s in PPG, the Warhawks could spring a few upsets in the Sun Belt. The defense makes it hard to be more bullish on the overall team. That unit allowed 33.5 and 42.0 PPG the last two seasons, respectively, and it only returns five starters. HC Terry Bowden brought in DC Vic Koenning in an attempt to fix the problem. But it’s hard to be confident about Koenning’s chances of doing so this season with a secondary that’s breaking in four new starters.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 1.5
Las Vegas win total: 2.5
Thor’s bet: UNDER

ATL only projects UL-Monroe as a favorite in one game – and that’s the one against an FCS opponent. Perhaps more problematic, ATL only projects ULM as a single-digit underdog in two of the other 11 games. Indeed, ATL installs the Warhawks as at least 10.5-point underdogs in nine of its 12 games. ULM’s most straightforward path to the over is taking care of business against FCS Nicholls State and then springing home upsets over Texas State and Southern Miss. To do that, the offense will have to be much better, and the defense will need to improve as well. I don’t love the chances of both happening in lieu of the talent level and the swapping of coordinators.

102. James Madison Dukes




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Middle Tennessee
James Madison
Sat, Sept 3
0
0.5


Norfolk State
James Madison
Sat, Sep 10
-19
1


James Madison
Appalachian State
Sat, Sep 24
13.5
0.1


Texas State
James Madison
Sat, Oct 1
-6.5
0.724


James Madison
Arkansas State
Sat, Oct 8
1
0.488


James Madison
Georgia Southern
Sat, Oct 15
0
0.5


Marshall
James Madison
Sat, Oct 22
9.5
0.189


James Madison
Louisville
Sat, Nov 5
23
0


James Madison
Old Dominion
Sat, Nov 12
1.5
0.475


Georgia State
James Madison
Sat, Nov 19
3.5
0.357


Coastal Carolina
James Madison
Sat, Nov 26
6.5
0.277

 

The books are bullish on the Dukes in their first season in the FBS. In some ways, that’s understandable – JMU won 12 games or more in four-of-its-last-six seasons in the FCS. In other ways, it’s surprising – JMU, which hasn’t played an FBS opponent since 2019, will need to go 7-4 or better (JMU plays 11 games this season, not the usual 12) to cash OVER tickets. And they’ll need to do so against a schedule with 10 FBS opponents. In the aggregate, the four-most recent FCS-to-Sun Belt jumpers – Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Coastal Carolina, and Georgia State – went 19-29 in their first seasons in the FBS. Extrapolated over an 11-game schedule, that’s an average of 4.3 wins.

Three other factors are working heavily against James Madison’s odds of significantly improving on that group’s aggregate work: 1) JMU was placed in the much-tougher of the Sun Belt’s two divisions, 2) the road game at Louisville is a nearly-assured loss, 3) JMU only returns nine starters total. The defense must break in two new starters at linebackers and three new starters in the secondary. Meanwhile, the offense lost a quarterback who posted a 40/4 TD/INT ratio and his top receiver, who posted an 83-1250-15 receiving line.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 4.8*
Las Vegas win total: 6.5*
Thor’s bet: UNDER

*James Madison plays only 11 regular season games.

Phil Steele noted in his magazine that his systems project James Madison anywhere between 2-9 and 10-1. What a range of outcomes! My projected win total of 4.8 falls close to the middle of that range. My numbers only favor JMU in two of its 11 games, but four others are either pick ’em or are close to it. Even if JMU wins all six of those games – the odds aren’t likely – they’d still have to upset Marshall, Appy State, Louisville, Georgia State, or Coastal Carolina to reach seven wins and go OVER. It’s not a likely outcome.

111. Arkansas State Red Wolves




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Grambling
Arkansas State
Sat, Sept 3
-17.5
1


Arkansas State
Ohio State
Sat, Sep 10
46
0


Arkansas State
Memphis
Satu, Sep 17
15
0.044


Arkansas State
Old Dominion
Sat, Sep 24
4
0.342


UL-Monroe
Arkansas State
Sat, Oct 1
-11.5
0.882


James Madison
Arkansas State
Sat, Oct 8
-1
0.513


Arkansas State
Southern Miss
Sat, Oct 15
5
0.319


Arkansas State
Louisiana
Sat, Oct 22
12.5
0.113


South Alabama
Arkansas State
Sat, Oct 29
-2.5
0.545


UMass
Arkansas State
Sat, Nov 12
-14
0.924


Arkansas State
Texas State
Sat, Nov 19
1
0.488


Troy
Arkansas State
Sat, Nov 26
6
0.294

 

The Butch Jones era got off to a shaky 2-10 start last fall. Jones’ first team was a bizarre Frankenstein’s mix: It finished No. 11 in passing yards and had a top-5 special teams unit but was bottom-3 in the nation in rushing and near-bottom in most defensive categories. The passing offense should be strong again with FSU transfer James Blackman returning. The losses of WRs Corey Rucker (transfer) and Dahu Green (graduation) hurt, but ASU’s receiving corps remains strong. The big issue here is Arkansas State’s offensive line. It allowed 48 sacks last year, and only one starter returns (maybe a good thing?).

Last year’s defense was the worst in school history, allowing 38.5 PPG and 506 YPG. That unit must replace six starters. If there’s positive news, the defense played much better in the last five games against FBS opponents (404.8 YPG) than it did in its first five (606 YPG). Jones added multiple P5 transfers in an attempt to plug holes. The Red Wolves appear a bit stronger at all three levels, but they’ll have to be significantly so for this unit to improve into even “mediocre” territory.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 5.5
Las Vegas win total: 5
Thor’s bet: Pass

My numbers are bullish on a mini-ASU bounceback after last year’s 2-10 debacle. Much of that has to do with the schedule. Non-conference tilts at Ohio State and Memphis will lead to two losses, but my numbers have ASU as double-digit favorites in the other two OOC games (FCS Grambling and UMass). Arkansas State is also in the weaker Sun Belt divisions and is fortunate to host three winnable conference games against UL-Monroe, James Madison, and South Alabama. In four other conference games, ATL projects ASU as between a 1-6 point underdog. That’s nine potentially winnable games. But since it’s hard to be bullish about either ASU’s offensive line or its defense, and there’s so much variance at play here, I’m going to pass.

College Football: Early Bets for 2022-2023 National Champion>>

101. Old Dominion Monarchs




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Virginia Tech
Old Dominion
Thur, Sep 2
12.5
0.113


Old Dominion
East Carolina
Sat, Sep 10
10
0.164


Old Dominion
Virginia
Sat, Sep 17
15
0.044


Arkansas State
Old Dominion
Sat, Sep 24
-4.5
0.673


Liberty
Old Dominion
Sat, Oct 1
5.5
0.311


Old Dominion
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Oct 15
10.5
0.14


Georgia Southern
Old Dominion
Sat, Oct 22
-4.5
0.673


Old Dominion
Georgia State
Sat, Oct 29
7.5
0.219


Marshall
Old Dominion
Sat, Nov 5
10
0.164


James Madison
Old Dominion
Sat, Nov 12
-2
0.535


Old Dominion
Appalachian State
Sat, Nov 19
13.5
0.1


Old Dominion
South Alabama
Sat, Nov 26
0
0.5

 

Last season, Old Dominion became just the third team in FBS history to start 1-6 and qualify for a bowl game (courtesy of a five-game winning streak to end the regular season). The team’s improvement could be traced to two things: 1) QB Hayden Wolff (63% completions and a 10/7 TD/INT rate) replacing DJ Mack (51.5%, 5/7) as the starter after the sixth game, and 2) Blake Watson assuming a bell-cow role in the sixth game (he ran for only 171 yards over the first five, in part because he missed two with injury). Watson went on to run for nearly one thousand yards over the final eight games.

Both guys are back, as is TE Zach Kuntz, a Penn State transfer and arguably the G5’s best tight end. The Monarchs have 10 starters back on offense (the “new starter,” RT Santana Saunders, started three games and appeared in 11 last year). With former Penn State OC Ricky Rahne entering Year 3 (ODU didn’t play in 2020), this offense will be strong. The defense returns seven starters from a unit that was highly-inexperienced last fall. ODU finished a strong No. 35 against the run but was an abysmal No. 101 against the pass. The 4-2-5 defense replaces three starters in the secondary – anyone’s guess whether that group holds up better than last year’s.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 3.6
Las Vegas win total: 4.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

I like this ODU offense – it’s a legitimate G5 attack that can beat you in multiple ways. What concerns me is the defense, particularly the pass defense—also the schedule. By my numbers, Old Dominion is projected as a double-digit underdog in six of 12 games. If the Monarchs lose all six, they would need to go 5-1 in their remaining six games to cash OVER tickets. In those games, my numbers favor ODU in three, have them as a pick ’em in a fourth, and 5.5- and 7.5-point underdogs, respectively, in the other two. The difference between my projected win total and Las Vegas’ would typically lead to an UNDER bet. But I will pass since this team could outplay my projections with its trump-card offense if the defense isn’t an abomination.

117. Texas State Bobcats




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Texas State
Nevada
Sat, Sept 3
4
0.342


FIU
Texas State
Fri, Sep 9
-12.5
0.887


Texas State
Baylor
Sat, Sep 17
26.5
0


Houston Baptist
Texas State
Sat, Sep 24
-15
0.956


Texas State
James Madison
Sat, Oct 1
6.5
0.277


Appalachian State
Texas State
Sat, Oct 8
13.5
0.1


Texas State
Troy
Sat, Oct 15
12
0.116


Southern Miss
Texas State
Sat, Oct 22
2
0.465


Texas State
UL-Monroe
Sat, Nov 5
-6
0.707


Texas State
South Alabama
Sat, Nov 12
4
0.342


Arkansas State
Texas State
Sat, Nov 19
-1
0.513


Louisiana
Texas State
Sat, Nov 26
10
0.164

 

Entering Year 4 under HC Jake Spavital, Texas State should have its best offense in years. The new quarterback is three-year Arkansas State starter QB Layne Hatcher, an enormous upgrade over last year’s mediocre platoon. The Bobcats are super-deep at running back, and wide receiver and might have the best offensive line during Spavital’s tenure. Nine starters return in total.

The defense is another story. The Bobcats finished bottom-30 in the nation in total defense (430.4 YPG) and scoring defense (33.0 PPG). That unit lost 12 seniors and returns only five starters. Whether Spivital keeps his job for another year will depend entirely on how this unit fairs in 2022. Spavital has said that he’s not done searching for upgrades and will continue scouring the transfer portal this summer – it’d be nice if he could score another starter or two.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 4.9
Las Vegas win total: 5
Thor’s bet: Pass

This one could go many different ways – depending on if the defense gets better or not (and by how much). ATL installs Texas State as a double-digit favorite in two games and a double-digit underdog in four others. In the other six games, no spread is higher than 6.5-points either way – these are the games that could go either way. Spivital might not make the end of the regular season if things start going south in those coin flip games. But if Texas State’s defense surprises, the Bobcats will go bowling this year. The most reasonable projection – winning the two gimmes and splitting the six coin flips – leaves us at five wins, Vegas’ number identical to mine.

107. South Alabama Jaguars




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Nichols State
South Alabama
Sat, Sept 3
-17.5
1


South Alabama
Central Michigan
Sat, Sep 10
7.5
0.219


South Alabama
UCLA
Sat, Sep 17
19
0


Louisiana Tech
South Alabama
Sat, Sep 24
-1.5
0.525


South Alabama
Louisiana
Sat, Oct 1
11.5
0.118


UL-Monroe
South Alabama
Sat, Oct 15
-11
0.871


Troy
South Alabama
Thur, Oct 20
6.5
0.277


South Alabama
Arkansas State
Sat, Oct 29
2
0.465


South Alabama
Georgia Southern
Sat, Nov 5
1.5
0.475


Texas State
South Alabama
Sat, Nov 12
-4.5
0.673


South Alabama
Southern Miss
Sat, Nov 19
3.5
0.357


Old Dominion
South Alabama
Sat, Nov 26
0
0.5

 

South Alabama loses star WR Jalen Tolbert but returns just about everyone else – including a handful of interesting transfers. One of the latter being heavily counted upon is QB Carter Bradley, Gus’ son, who started six games at Toledo last year. Bradley is the favorite to replace Jake Bentley, a previous graduate transfer. Jalen Wayne is stepping into the WR1 role and will likely join Tolbert in the NFL next year. The Jaguars are deep at RB, TE, and OL but could use the emergence of a bell cow in the backfield.

The defense has improved for three straight years – dropping from 38.8 to 30.7 to 27.3 to 26.4 PPG allowed – and has a good chance to run that streak to another year with eight returning starters. South Alabama’s defensive line is arguably the Sun Belt’s best, and the secondary might be top-three. The unit’s biggest question mark is the linebacking corps, replacing two starters. It would be a surprise if South Alabama didn’t have one of the SBC’s top defenses in 2022.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 5.5
Las Vegas win total: 5.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

My number is exactly on the Las Vegas line. Unfortunately, the factors that will dictate whether the Jaguars go over or under that number have unknowable outcomes. Will Carter Bradley (or 2020 retread Desmond Trotter) be an average-or-better SBC starter in 2022? Does the roster have a difference-maker at running back? How much will the receiving corps drop off without Tolbert? Will the defense improve again? Too much uncertainty to lay any lumber.

115. Georgia Southern Eagles




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Morgan State
Georgia Southern
Sat, Sept 3
-17
1


Georgia Southern
Nebraska
Sat, Sep 10
26
0


Georgia Southern
UAB
Sat, Sep 17
17.5
0


Ball State
Georgia Southern
Sat, Sep 24
-7
0.752


Georgia Southern
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Oct 1
13.5
0.1


Georgia Southern
Georgia State
Sat, Oct 8
11
0.129


James Madison
Georgia Southern
Sat, Oct 15
0
0.5


Georgia Southern
Old Dominion
Sat, Oct 22
5
0.319


South Alabama
Georgia Southern
Sat, Nov 5
-1
0.513


Georgia Southern
Louisiana
Thu, Nov 10
13.5
0.1


Marshall
Georgia Southern
Sat, Nov 19
12
0.116


Appalachian State
Georgia Southern
Sat, Nov 26
12
0.116

 

Georgia Southern is making a precarious shift from the triple-option to a spread-offense under new HC Clay Helton. Just ask Georgia Tech’s Geoff Collins, who still hasn’t cobbled together a competent offense nor won more than three games in a season over three campaigns in Atlanta. The Eagles return eight starters on offense, with one of the three new starters, Helton’s handpicked quarterback in former Buffalo starter QB Kyle Vantrease. Helton has enough returning at wide receiver to spread the field with experience, but the jury’s out if those option-recruited players can quickly adapt to an entirely new system.

Helton and Vantrease have been vocal publicly that the offense will play fast and explosive out of the chute – it would be a surprise if they weren’t casually walking back those sentiments in October. The defense is also going through a transition, but it’s not quite as treacherous. Georgia Southern spent the spring transitioning out of its old 3-4 defense into a 4-3/3-3-5 hybrid system that’ll throw multiple looks at the offense. Fortunately, the Eagles should boast a strong secondary. But with only two starters returning in the front seven, Georgia Southern may struggle to hold up at the point of attack.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 3.6
Las Vegas win total: 4.5
Thor’s bet: UNDER

To cash an OVER ticket, Georgia Southern and Helton need to improve on last season’s 3-9 finish. How realistic is that during this transition season that features a new staff, new schemes on both sides of the ball, and so many new faces on the roster? My numbers have Georgia Southern favored in three games, with one pick ’em and another as a short underdog. The Eagles will likely need to go 4-1 in those contests to go over – my numbers install them as double-digit ‘dogs in the other seven games. I don’t like Helton’s odds of starting quickly.

99. Southern Miss Golden Eagles




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Liberty
Southern Miss
Sat, Sept 3
4.5
0.327


Southern Miss
Miami
Sat, Sep 10
27
0


Northwestern State
Southern Miss
Sat, Sep 17
-19
1


Southern Miss
Tulane
Sat, Sep 24
13
0.107


Southern Miss
Troy
Sat, Oct 8
7.5
0.219


Arkansas State
Southern Miss
Sat, Oct 15
-5.5
0.69


Southern Miss
Texas State
Sat, Oct 22
-2.5
0.545


Louisiana
Southern Miss
Thur, Oct 27
5
0.319


Georgia State
Southern Miss
Sat, Nov 5
3
0.406


Southern Miss
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Nov 12
9.5
0.189


South Alabama
Southern Miss
Sat, Nov 19
-4
0.658


Southern Miss
UL-Monroe
Sat, Nov 26
-10
0.836

 

After having only 62 scholarship players on HC Will Hall’s first Southern Miss squad, the Golden Eagles have 16 starters returning and much more depth heading into Year 2 of the Hall Era. Included in that are nine returning starters on offense, great news for Hall’s tricky-to-deal-with spread option offense. Think RichRod’s offense from West Virginia – continuity could make all the difference. Crucial for Hall is deciding on a quarterback between the trio of Ty Keyes, Trey Lowe, and Jake Lange. The staff would love for the dual-threat sophomore Keyes to run away with the job this summer. Frank Gore Jr. and Jason Brownlee provide standouts at RB and WR, respectively.

How much offensive improvement Southern Miss can muster in 2022 will inform if they’re a bowl contender again. Because the defense should be solid. The top-10 tacklers and seven regular starters return from a group that allowed 27.9 PPG last season (seven of the 30 touchdowns that Southern Miss allowed last year came against Alabama). The one position that needs to be rebuilt is the defensive line, which lost all three of its starters in the 3-4 system. But Hall moved decisively to address that group over the offseason, importing three SEC transfers and a promising JUCO.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 5.3
Las Vegas win total: 4.5
Thor’s bet: OVER

This is a very manageable schedule. My numbers show Southern Miss as favorites in five of 12 games and single-digit underdogs in five more. Only one game on the schedule appears unwinnable – the road tilt at Miami. The Las Vegas number seems to be drawn from pessimism over 2020 (in which numerous contributors either left the program or opted out, and three different head coaches put on the headset) and 2021 (Hall’s first full season with a thin roster) seasons. I’m even more bullish on Southern Miss than my numbers are – I think they’re going bowling this season.

College Football: Best Early 2022 Heisman Trophy Bets>>

81. Georgia State Panthers




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Georgia State
South Carolina
Sat, Sept 3
9.5
0.189


North Carolina
Georgia State
Sat, Sep 10
12
0.116


Charlotte
Georgia State
Sat, Sep 17
-11
0.871


Coastal Carolina
Georgia State
Thur, Sep 22
1
0.488


Georgia State
Army
Sat, Oct 1
3.5
0.357


Georgia Southern
Georgia State
Sat, Oct 8
-11
0.871


Georgia State
Appalachian State
Wed, Oct 19
7.5
0.219


Old Dominion
Georgia State
Sat, Oct 29
-7.5
0.781


Georgia State
Southern Miss
Sat, Nov 5
-3.5
0.643


UL-Monroe
Georgia State
Sat, Nov 12
-19
1


Georgia State
James Madison
Sat, Nov 19
-3.5
0.643


Georgia State
Marshall
Sat, Nov 26
-8
0.791

 

HC Shawn Elliott has quietly won at least six games in four of five years – and that would be “won at least seven games in four of five years” had Georgia State’s 2020 season not been truncated. There’s so much to like about Elliott’s 2022 squad – there’s a chance it’ll be his best yet.

The offense is an efficiency machine, and it returns eight starters. Georgia State finished top-10 in the nation last year in points per possession, the running game remains potent, and the Panthers take care of the ball – starting QB Darren Grainger threw only four interceptions over 228 attempts last year. On defense, seven starters return from a group that set school records for sacks, TFL, and turnovers forced last fall. Special teams have been a sore spot for Elliott’s teams and may remain very well, but the offenses and defenses are both amongst the Sun Belt’s upper-tier.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 7
Las Vegas win total: 7.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

I like this Georgia State team a lot – Elliott has done a heck of a job. While Elliott has the roster for success, the schedule is stacked against him this year. Per Phil Steele’s numbers, the Panthers play the third-hardest schedule among Sun Belt teams. The non-con slate includes UNC, South Carolina, and Army – ATL installs the Panthers as underdogs in each – and Georgia State draws the Sun Belt’s best teams while not playing an FCS team. My numbers say UNDER, but I’m passing on this one – there’s a chance this GSU team could be really good.

67. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Army
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Sept 3
-2.5
0.545


Gardner-Webb
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Sep 10
-27
1


Buffalo
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Sep 17
-11
0.871


Coastal Carolina
Georgia State
Thur, Sep 22
-1
0.513


Georgia Southern
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Oct 1
-13
0.893


Coastal Carolina
UL-Monroe
Sat, Oct 8
-20
1


Old Dominion
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Oct 15
-11
0.871


Coastal Carolina
Marshall
Sat, Oct 29
5.5
0.311


Appalachian State
Coastal Carolina
Thur, Nov 3
1.5
0.475


Southern Miss
Coastal Carolina
Sat, Nov 12
-10
0.836


Coastal Carolina
Virginia
Sat, Nov 19
6
0.294


Coastal Carolina
James Madison
Sat, Nov 26
-6.5
0.724

 

Star QB Grayson McCall is back. Outside of him, the roster was decimated by graduations. Gone are WR1 Jaivon Heiligh, stud TE Isiah Likely, three starting offensive linemen, the top-five tacklers, and eight total starters on defense. In all, only seven starters return. Will the decorated McCall keep the offense firing on all cylinders? And just how far will a defense with only three returning starters drop off?

McCall’s presence alone makes the Chanticleers’ offense dangerous. McCall is top-three-in-the-nation valuable in terms of points on the spread. I adjusted the Chants down by a little over a touchdown each game he missed last fall. Coastal can’t afford to have him miss even one game this fall. HC Jamey Chadwell is an offensive guru, and his schematics will have to pick up the slack early as McCall feels things out with a new cast of characters. The quality of Coastal’s defense will mainly depend on how a linebacking corps breaking in three new starters plays. The defensive front should be stout, and the secondary figures to be an above-average Sun Belt group.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 8.3
Las Vegas win total: 8
Thor’s bet: Pass

Coastal Carolina went 22-3 the past two seasons. Folks looking up and down CFB totals cards this summer may have some sticker shock when they see the Chants listed at a flat “8,” – but this number is spot-on. My numbers install Coastal as double-digit favorites in six games. This bet will be decided in the other half of the schedule – my projected spread is less than a touchdown in the other six. Coastal only needs to push 2-4 in those games (3-3 to cash OVER tickets). While I lean OVER, I’m concerned enough about the roster’s lack of continuity and experience to pass on this one.

76. Troy Trojans




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Troy
Mississippi
Sat, Sept 3
18
0


Alabama A&M
Troy
Sat, Sep 10
-25.5
1


Troy
Appalachian State
Sat, Sep 17
6.5
0.277


Marshall
Troy
Sat, Sep 24
3.5
0.357


Troy
WKU
Sat, Oct 1
4
0.342


Southern Miss
Troy
Sat, Oct 8
-8
0.791


Texas State
Troy
Sat, Oct 15
-12.5
0.887


Troy
South Alabama
Thur, Oct 20
-6.5
0.724


Troy
Louisiana
Sat, Nov 5
3
0.406


Army
Troy
Sat, Nov 12
-1
0.513


UL-Monroe
Troy
Sat, Nov 19
-19.5
1


Troy
Arkansas State
Sat, Nov 26
-6.5
0.724

 

For three-straight seasons, the Trojans have finished with exactly five wins. With 18 starters back and the fourth-most experienced roster in the nation (per Phil Steele), there’s a good chance that Troy will exceed that total this fall, which would be a breath of fresh air after an extremely frustrating 2021 season. The Trojans started 5-4 but missed bowl eligibility by losing three straight to close the season – this cost HC Chip Lindsay his job (Jon Sumrall takes over).

The two-biggest questions on offense are depth behind starting QB Gunnar Watson and offensive line play. Watson must stay healthy, and an offensive line returning four starters needs to be better – Troy averaged less than 100 rushing YPG last year as opponents regularly beat that line at the point of attack. There are fewer questions on defense, which is athletic and active. Seven of the top eight tacklers return, along with nine starters total. The Trojans finished top-10 in the nation last year in sacks and TFL and have a bonafide star in tiny tackling machine LB Carlton Martial.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 7
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: OVER

Troy is going to start 1-1. After that, it gets really interesting. ATL projects single-digit spreads in eight of the final 10 games (the Trojans are double-digit favorites in the other two). If we assume the 1-1 start and that Troy will beat Texas State and ULM, they will need to go 4-4 in those eight single-digit-spread games to go OVER. My gut says they’ll get to my model’s projected win total of seven.

71. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


SE Louisiana
Louisiana
Sat, Sept 3
-27.5
1


Eastern Michigan
Louisiana
Sat, Sep 10
-8.5
0.802


Louisiana
Rice
Sat, Sep 17
-12.5
0.887


Louisiana
UL-Monroe
Sat, Sep 24
-17
1


South Alabama
Louisiana
Sat, Oct 1
-11
0.871


Louisiana
Marshall
Wed, Oct 12
7
0.248


Arkansas State
Louisiana
Sat, Oct 22
-12
0.885


Louisiana
Southern Miss
Thur, Oct 27
-4.5
0.673


Troy
Louisiana
Sat, Nov 5
-2.5
0.545


Georgia Southern
Louisiana
Thur, Nov 10
-13
0.893


Louisiana
Florida State
Sat, Nov 19
16
0.019


Louisiana
Texas State
Sat, Nov 26
-9.5
0.811

 

The Ragin’ Cajuns are riding a nation-best 13-game winning streak and have won 10 games or more in three straight seasons. But this team isn’t going to look like your older brother’s Louisiana, not with Billy Napier off to Florida, QB Levi Lewis and NT Tayland Humphrey lost to graduation, and several defections into the transfer portal. New HC Michael Desormeaux has his work cut out to maintain the current status quo.

Louisiana has plenty of skill talent returning on offense. But the Cajuns must break in a new starting quarterback (that’ll be a three-man camp battle) and four new starters along the offensive line – they’re almost certainly going to regress on that side of the ball. On defense, three all-conference honorees, in addition to Humphrey, must be replaced. There are building block pieces still in place – Louisiana returns three all-conference players from last year – but questions remain. Particularly at linebacker, where the Cajuns will replace all four starters in their 3-4 base.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 8.6
Las Vegas win total: 8.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

Usually, I’d be sitting dead-red on fading a team like this – a team that enters the season with just as many questions as answers, sitting on a still-lofty 8.5-win total from sportsbooks. But in this case, I can’t because my gosh, is Louisiana’s schedule a breeze. In fact, Phil Steele ranks it as the second-easiest in the entire nation (No. 130)! My numbers are less-bullish on Louisiana than others’, and ATL still favors Louisiana in 10 of 12 games against this cream-puff schedule (an 8.5-point-or-more favorite in eight games). But since this feels like a team that could stub its toe, I have to pass.

57. Marshall Thundering Herd




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


Norfolk State
Marshall
Sat, Sept 3
-30.5
1


Marshall
Notre Dame
Sat, Sep 10
17
0


Marshall
Bowling Green
Sat, Sep 17
-17
1


Marshall
Troy
Sat, Sep 24
-3.5
0.643


Gardner-Webb
Marshall
Sat, Oct 1
-30.5
1


Louisiana
Marshall
Wed, Oct 12
-6.5
0.724


Marshall
James Madison
Sat, Oct 22
-9.5
0.811


Coastal Carolina
Marshall
Sat, Oct 29
5.5
0.311


Marshall
Old Dominion
Sat, Nov 5
-10.5
0.86


Appalachian State
Marshall
Sat, Nov 12
-2.5
0.545


Marshall
Georgia Southern
Sat, Nov 19
-12
0.885


Georgia State
Marshall
Sat, Nov 26
-8
0.791

 

It’s going to be weird seeing Marshall play in the Fun Belt. But the Herd have a legitimate chance to take the league by storm and appear in the conference title game. Marshall was snake-bit in its last season in the CUSA, with four-of-five losses in the regular season coming by seven-points-or-less, and the other after a first-half injury to starting QB Grant Wells.

Wells transferred to Virginia Tech in the offseason, and he’s replaced by Texas Tech transfer Henri Colombi (15/10 career TD/INT). The Herd’s best player is RB Rasheen Ali, one of the best running backs in America. But Marshall will need to figure out an offensive line that loses three starters. The defensive front-seven is experienced and active, and the Herd has a pair of returning veteran starters at the corner (including Stephon Gilmore’s brother Steven). This unit will be excellent if the pair of new starting safeties are up to the task.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 8.6
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: OVER

Easy over. Marshall is likely to start 3-2 or 4-1, depending on the result of the Troy game. My system favors the Herd in six-of-the-seven games after that. Five of those games have single-digit spreads, but the Herd is double-digit favorites in the other two. Marshall can stub its toe once or twice and still go over.

58. Appalachian State Mountaineers




Away
Home
Day
Spread
Win odds


North Carolina
Appalachian State
Sat, Sept 3
6
0.294


Appalachian State
Texas A&M
Sat, Sep 10
16.5
0.002


Troy
Appalachian State
Sat, Sep 17
-7
0.752


James Madison
Appalachian State
Sat, Sep 24
-13.5
0.9


The Citadel
Appalachian State
Sat, Oct 1
-30.5
1


Appalachian State
Texas State
Sat, Oct 8
-13.5
0.9


Georgia State
Appalachian State
Wed, Oct 19
-7.5
0.781


Robert Morris
Appalachian State
Sat, Oct 29
-30.5
1


Appalachian State
Coastal Carolina
Thur, Nov 3
-1.5
0.525


Appalachian State
Marshall
Sat, Nov 12
2.5
0.455


Old Dominion
Appalachian State
Sat, Nov 19
-14
0.924


Appalachian State
Georgia Southern
Sat, Nov 26
-11.5
0.882

 

The offense returns seven starters – including its star quarterback and running back, along with four offensive linemen – and should be stellar. The Mountaineers are best when they’re rolling downhill in the run game, and this group gives them a great chance to do that. Former Clemson and Duke QB Chase Brice are also at his best when he has a running game, which opens up the play-action game and gives him more spacing to work with. All three starting receivers must be replaced, but that’s manageable so long as the running attack is doing its thing.

Traditionally a school with a stout defense, Appy State enters this season with more questions on that side of the ball than on offense. LB D’Marco Jackson, the Sun Belt DPoY, is now in the NFL – and the Mountaineers lost two first-team Sun Belt performers in addition to him (DE Demetrius Taylor and CB Shaun Jolly). The Mountaineers still have all-conference talent at all three levels – and remain very strong at linebacker and in the secondary – but with only five starters back on that side of the ball, a bit of regression is likely coming. Just as the offense needs the inexperienced receiving corps to step up, Appalachian State’s defense needs to retool a line that lost two starters in camp.

College Football Futures Betting Takeaways

Thor’s projected win total: 8.4
Las Vegas win total: 8.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

The Vegas number is spot-on, too sharp to touch. Since Appy is likely to lose at Texas A&M, OVER bettors need the Mountaineers to win nine-of-11 the rest of the schedule. That’s absolutely in play. But Appy has the opener against UNC and must play both Marshall and Coastal Carolina on the road. Home games against Troy and Georgia State ain’t freebies, either. I assume that Appy either goes 8-4 or 9-3… we’re too close to the margins to put troops at risk here.

Join the BettingPros Discord Chat for Live Betting Advice >>

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RadioPublic | Breaker | Castbox | Pocket Casts

Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can start with our Beginner’s Guide to Daily Fantasy Football or head to a more advanced strategy — like A Guide to Orchestrating Early Season Trades — to learn more.

College Football, Picks

Author: Kenneth Patterson