For those sports bettors who love college football, we’ve created previews and analysis of all FBS conferences and well as the four independents. College football offers sports bettors great opportunities due to huge mismatches, the sheer number of weekly games, and the long bowl season. Our 2017 college football preview is comprehensive, offering bettors an analysis of each team, where we see them finishing, and their probable bowl berth.
In addition, each preview page offers 10 best bets for each conference and eight for the four independents. That’s 108 free futures picks. Here’s a quick sketch of each conference, starting with the top-ranked Southeastern Conference and working down through to the Sun Belt Conference and indepdent teams.
In the 14-team SEC, the Alabama Crimson Tide are favored, once again, to win it all. The Tide will have competition in the West Division from the Auburn Tigers as well as the LSU Tigers. If the Tide can handle two tigers by the tail, then chances are they will meet the Florida Gators, who we see winning the East Division, for the SEC championship. Although the Gators are in no way a shoe-in for the East Division crown, as they’ll face tough competition from the Georgia Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers, they’re certainly in excellent shape on the all-important defensive side of the ball.
The 14 teams in the Big Ten are impressive. In the East Division, the Ohio State Buckeyes are loaded especially on defense, while the Penn State Nittany Lions bring an impressive air and ground attack. Despite some major losses, the Michigan Wolverines will still be a threat. In the West, the Wisconsin Badgers have a deep team and lots of talent. They could take down the entire conference. Look for the Northwestern to put a stingy D on the field and a productive offense. Finally, watch out for the much-improved Nebraska Cornhuskers. They could be a dark horse this season. This is a very powerful and unpredictable conference.
In the Pac-12, we think the conference crown will come down to the Washington Huskies of the North Division and the USC Trojans of the South. In the North, the Stanford Cardinal will put a fine defense on the field, although when it comes to quarterback, they may have health concerns on the other side of the ball. The Oregon Ducks may also be a threat to the Huskies if they can improve on defense. In the South Division, the upstart UCLA Bruins will threaten, while the Utah Utes will offer solid defensive play with hopes that their offense will find consistency.
There 10 teams in the Big 12, which is one of the few division-less college football conferences. Our 2017 college football preview, see the conference title game, which the Big 12 is resurrecting this year, to be played out between the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys. However, the TCU Horned Frogs and Texas Longhorns will have something to say about what teams finish first and second in this conference.
Atlantic Coast Conference
The Atlantic Coast Conference has a boatload of fine teams, including the Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers in the Atlantic Division and the Miami Hurricanes and Virginia Tech Hokies in the Coastal Division. Remember, it was Clemson that surprised most last year, beating Alabama for the national championship. Of the 14 teams in the ACC, we expect nine to earn bowl berths in 2017. The conference championship game will most likely be played between Florida State and Miami. Then again, one misstep by a top team can result in one of the other fine teams getting at shot at and taking home the crown.
American Athletic Conference
The American Athletic Conference offers 12 teams many of which play exciting football and churn out points seemingly at will. Three teams in the East should be highly competitive, the USF Bulls, UCF Knights, and Temple Owls. In the West, the Navy Midshipmen are the best with two cat-teams, the Memphis Tigers and Houston Cougars, looking to claw them. Navy won’t have it easy. The AAC can, like many other conferences be unpredictable. However, we would be stunned if the USF Bulls did not take not only their division but the entire conference.
Mountain West Conference
Of the dozen teams in the Mountain West Conference, the Colorado State Rams and Boise State Broncos are the top clubs in the Mountain Division, while the West looks to be ruled by the San Diego State Aztecs with the Nevada Wolf Pack also in the hunt for the top spot. We’re thinking about a half-dozen of those teams in the MWC will be bowl bound. Which will take the conference title? This one looks very tough to call. But when all is said and done, the Aztecs look to be in a good place. That is at least for now.
Of the East and West Divisions in the Mid-American Conference, the West is the heftier, featuring the Toledo Rockets, who appear to be the best of the best, the always tough Western Michigan Broncos, and the potentially dangerous Northern Illinois Huskies. The Ohio Bobcats and Miami Redhawks will battle for first place in the East. The improved Bowling Green Falcons and their second-year coach could be spoilers. But they really need to step up in a major way for that to be the case. The MAC is on the lower end when it comes to quality and talent, but it still packs a wallop.
Watch out for the WKU Hilltoppers in the Conference USA East. They look like the real thing. We also like the Marshall Thundering Herd, which is in a resurgence phase. In the West, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are the best, while the UTSA Roadrunners will battle them. Of the 14 teams in C-USA, the Hilltoppers should be the conference champs. There are some stellar teams in this conference and they will not be afraid to battle teams from some of the major conferences such as when Middle Tennessee visits Minnesota. There will be a lot of great football in 2017 played by the teams in C-USA.
Sun Belt Conference
The Sun Belt Conference is one of the few conferences that does not have two divisions. The 12 teams vie for the top spots and a chance to take the entire conference. Of those dozen clubs, the Appalachian State Mountaineers are strong on both sides of the ball. They will get some tough competition from the Arkansas State Red Wolves and Troy Trojans. Any three of those teams can end up in first place, but we think that when all is said and done that the Mountaineers will be there.
Of the four Independents in our 2017 college football preview, you’ve got to like the BYU Cougars and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Check out all four teams, which also include the Army West Point Black Knights and its hard to stop rushing offense, and the Massachusetts Minutemen, who once again look like they will be hard-pressed to win more than three games.
2017 College Football Preview Hub: Final Word
Our 2017 College Football Preview will soon be followed by our analysis of each of the FBS top-25 teams. Taken together our conference previews and team pages will offer sports bettors and college football fans a clear picture of which players, teams, and conferences will be highly competitive in 2017.