Whether a program wins or loses on the scoreboard doesn’t concern college football bettors. All that matters is making money, and that’s just what these four select teams did. But can they do it again?
Here’s a look at the best bets from last year’s NCAAF action and their chances of keeping boosters and backers happy:
Arkansas State Red Wolves – 10-2 SU, 10-2 ATS
Arkansas State has some new and old faces this upcoming season, most notably new head coach Gus Malzahn and returning QB Ryan Aplin, who totaled 4,176 yards of offence (3,588 passing/588 rushing) last year. The Red Wolves will be running a no-huddle offence and should be able to put plenty of points on the board, which always gives bettors a shot at covering the spread.
The losses on the defensive side will hurt bettors more in conference play, where ASU will be heavy chalk against Sun Belt rivals. The Red Wolves will continue to dominate league foes but another 10-win ATS season isn’t in the cards.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs – 8-4 SU, 10-2 ATS
La. Tech brings back the QB-WR combo of Colby Cameron and Quinton Patton, along with third-leading receiver Myles White and second-leading rusher Hunter Lee. And, perhaps the most important returning piece of the Bulldogs’ puzzle is golden-footed punter Ryan Allen, who was named to Phil Steele’s first-team All-American list.
Louisiana Tech opens the season against SEC transplant Texas A&M in Shreveport on Aug. 30, then faces future C-USA foes Houston (for now) and Rice before taking on Illinois and Virginia in late September. The Bulldogs have a great chance to cover in all of those games and maybe even pull off an upset or two.
Stanford Cardinal – 11-1 SU, 10-2 ATS
The loss of super QB Andrew Luck is a tough pill to swallow for Stanford, but it may just make the Cardinal the most undervalued BCS program on the block.
Stanford will be going ground-and-pound this season, jumping on the back of RB Stepfan Taylor, who was fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing last season (1,330 yards). The Cardinal also boasted one of the better stop units in the conference in 2011, especially against the run. They limited opponents to just over 88 yards per game and bring back six starters from the front seven.
Stanford has the horses to shake up the Pac-12 and the national rankings. The Cardinal clash with top-ranked Southern Cal – a program they’ve hounded for years – at home on Sept 15 and visit South Bend in October. Road dates with Washington, Oregon, and UCLA will also present some extra value on the spread for the smarty-pants from Palo Alto.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers – 7-5 SU, 10-2 ATS
Head coach Willie Taggart has his work cut out for him this season. His first order of business is finding a replacement for offensive Swiss Army knife Bobby Rainey, who totaled over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 17 touchdowns. Quarterback Kawaun Jakes must limit his mistakes but does have a solid offensive line paving the way. Defensively, WKU brings back six starters and has a respectable front seven which allowed 134.33 rushing yards per game last season.
The Hilltoppers have the most contrasting opening slate in college, facing FCS Austin Peay in Week 1 and defending national champ Alabama in Week 2. That opening contest reeks of look-ahead spot – if your book bothers to set a line for the game. Western Kentucky will struggle to plug the holes left by the departure of Rainey, who single-handedly covered spreads for WKU last season.