With the 2012 College Football Season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about teams that this year’s college football bettors can find value.
Of course, there are always the usual suspects that will once again top the 2012 pre-season football rankings. Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, and the post-sanction era USC Trojans.
And while these picks offer football bettors an almost sure fire return on their investment, the payoffs are not necessarily very lucrative.
What bettors really need to know is who the sleeper teams will be. You know the teams that usually begin the season, for the most part, under the radar of odd makers and the betting public. The teams that creep up on the unsuspecting masses, except for the few who took notice before the first snap of the college football season, locking in their wagers at unbelievable odds that will pay generously when all is said and done.
So, to assist our faithful followers here at BetVega, we have assembled five of those teams, in no particular order, that, when wagered upon, may seem risky to most, but could leave fellow bettors scratching their heads in disbelief as you sack the coin.
5. Stanford Cardinal: 250/1 BCS Champ Odds – Andrew Luck is long gone, but if second-year head coach David Shaw can come up with a suitable replacement, and a few other key players, the Cardinals could threaten for the PAC-12 on the heels of another 11-win season. Despite only getting nine of their 2011 starters back, Stanford ushers in a very talented freshman class, which includes RB Barry Sanders, Jr., and a handful of highly touted prospects along the offensive line. The defense, which was ruthless last season, holding the opposing team to only 21.9 ppg, will return All-Conference DE Ben Gardner, as well as All-Conference OLB Chase Thomas.
Finally, don’t forget that this team, even with Luck, was more effective running the ball in 2011, and with All-Conference RB Stefan Taylor, who accounted for almost half of the yards on the ground last year coming back, Stanford could shock the football world.
4. Michigan State: 60/1 BCS Champ Odds – The Spartans are another team that lost their star quarterback, but to add to that, they also lost his favorite target, B.J. Cunningham too. MSU does however; return 13 starters, including RB Le’Von Bell, who racked up 948 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He should have another solid year, behind eight experienced offensive linemen. The defense should be good, or even better than it was last year, and special teams should still be solid. The Spartans fate lies in how quickly it can rebuild its passing game, and QB Andrew Maxwell will have the weight of East Lansing on his shoulders.
However, with three retuning wide outs that combined for a decent 7.8 yards per catch in their freshman years, and a tight end that is also a former four-star recruit, Maxwell should be able to step right in with a good amount of success.When you win your division one year, and return almost your entire defense and running game the next, you’re chances of winning are increased.
3. Notre Dame: 30/1 BCS Champ Odds – Last season’s Irish offense was dynamic, balanced, and well…its own worst enemy at times. Even in wins, they blew opportunities. So, the million-dollar question is whether Notre Dame can change all that in less than a year. Well, for starters the Irish quarterback controversy that plagued the team last season should be over. With Dane Crist transferring to Kansas, that will leave Tommy Rees, who despite some late-season struggles, should get all the time he needs in 2012 to improve his mediocre–and at times blasphemous performance–from last season. Don’t forget the kid put up 2,871 yards and 20 touchdowns, completing a strong 65 percent of his passes. If Rees finds consistency, he could turn out to be just what Notre Dame had hoped for.
Meanwhile, the run game looks good. Junior Cierre Wood was solid last season, and with a very good supporting cast, the Irish backfield could be incredible in 2012. They will get the added benefit of running behind a line that was one of the country’s best last season. Brian Kelly has led spectacular offenses nearly everywhere he has been. And considering the 2011 Irish improved from 42nd to 22nd, this year, they can only go up.
2. Kansas State Wildcats: 100/1 BCS Champ Odds – The Wildcats return a whopping 15 starters, including eight on defense that finished a surprising second in the Big 12 last year before losing to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Quarterback Collin Klein, who ran for 1,100 yards and 27 TDs last year, makes his way back onto the field, and even more important—is the return of 5-foot-7 tailback John Hubert. And though the backfield is short on depth, what does exist are upperclassmen with starting experience.
However, in order for the ground attack to have any success, the Wildcats will need to retool much of the offensive line. KSU is just on the edge of that a Top 10 class, and you can expect them to creep into it if they can continue to bulk up the defense, stock up on a few key blockers, and at least throw the ball with more effectively to balance out the attack.
1. South Carolina Gamecocks: 35/1 BCS Champ Odds -The Gamecocks return 15 from a team that went 11-2 last year, and played the last half of the season without its best offensive weapon–QB Connor Shaw. Coach Steve Spurrier however, will get the added benefit this season of getting Shaw back–and hopefully all season. Shaw will nevertheless, miss last year’s leading receiver Alshon Jeffery, but there is obviously talent in an offensive backfield that also gets back Heisman candidate RB Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore and Shaw together, should be able to keep the SC in the hunt all season long.
Meanwhile, the defense also return its share of eight game changers, which could be instrumental in helping SC not only win the East Division, but capable of knocking off LSU or AlaBama in the SEC title game.