As you may have noticed while reading the Conference and Team Previews, Returning Production is one of numerous angles that I consider when capping College Football during the preseason. As the season progresses, these production charts diminish in value as players acquire experience. Additionally, Returning Production is much less critical when evaluating teams with elite recruiting pipelines like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State.

I have compiled a list of the week 1 matchups with the largest S&P+ Returning Production discrepancies from an offensive vs. defensive perspective. Below you will find a list of the 10 largest gaps, listed in descending order, from an offensive point of view. The number next to each team represents the returning production ranking difference between that team’s Offense and their week 1 opponent’s Defense.

We will hit the Defensive advantages in part 2 of this quick hit analysis.


CSU Rams (+110)

Game: Colorado St. v Colorado
September 1, 8:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: Col State 16
Defensive Rank: Colorado 126
Current Line: Colorado -7
CW Projection: Colorado -5.5

Recommendation: Colorado State +7 is the play in a revenge spot from 2016 when they got their doors blown off in Denver 44-7 Week 1 last season. The Rams, who return everyone on the offensive side of the ball, should be one of the more explosive and efficient units in College Football, especially early in the season. I only hesitate because this will be Colorado State’s 2nd game in 6 days as they open up the season on August 26th vs Oregon State. Conversely, this rivalry matchup will be the first game of the season for Colorado, who should get extra prep as a result. However, the extra game may offer an opportunity for QB Nick Stevens to establish a rhythm prior to facing a Colorado Defense that only returns 4 of the top 13 tacklers from 2016.


FIU Panthers (+109)

Game: FIU at Central Florida
August 31, 6:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: FIU 14
Defensive Rank: UCF 123
Current Line: FIU +17
CW Projection: FIU +11

Recommendation: While I have this number projected much lower, I try to be somewhat selective in Week 1 so I am in no rush to bet a week 1 FIU/UCF game, especially with new coaches (Butch Davis) and schemes.


Troy Trojans (+108)

Game: Troy at Boise State
September 2, 3:45pm EST
Offensive Rank: Troy 4
Defensive Rank: Boise 112
Current Line: Troy +12
CW Projection: Troy +13

Recommendation: The only play I would consider here is Troy +12, but my projections are right in line with the current spread. Troy returns a large number of experienced receivers in 2017, which could cause problems for a Boise State team that only returns 2 of their top 7 Linebackers and 2 of their top 6 Defensive Backs.


ULM Warhawks (+81)

Game: ULM at Memphis
August 31, 9:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: ULM 28
Defensive Rank: Memphis 109
Current Line: ULM +27
CW Projection: ULM +20

Recommendation: You can currently find ULM +27 at most shops, but I will wait to see if public money pushes this to +28 or better on gameday before I buy. Preseason Power Ratings published by myself, ESPN FPI, S&P+, Sagarin and Phil Steele all call for this spread to be in be range of 20-23. Look for the Warhawks 3 new JUCO defensive backs to keep the Memphis passing game in check.


PSU Nittany Lions (+82)

Game: Akron at Penn State
September 2, 12:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: PSU 26
Defensive Rank: Akron 108
Current Line: Penn St -32
CW Projection: Penn St -29

Recommendation: The current line sits at -32/33, but is dropping. With Pitt revenge on deck, Barkley may not play in the 2H against a poor outside contain rush defense. The smarter side may be Penn State 1H. Akron’s edge defenders on the Defensive Line are some of the worst in FBS so this game will get as ugly as James Franklin allows.


EMU Eagles (+80)

Game: Charlotte at E. Michigan
September 1, 6:30pm EST
Offensive Rank: EMU 6
Defensive Rank: Charlotte 86
Current Line: EMU -14
CW Projection: EMU -10.5

Recommendation: Eastern Michigan should be able to move the ball at will against the Charlotte Defense, but the current line is inflated above where my projections have this. Stay away.


USCe Gamecocks (+83)

Game: South Carolina v NC State
September 2, 3:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: S. Carolina 7
Defensive Rank: NC State 90
Current Line: NC State -6
CW Projection: NC State -5.5

Recommendation: No play on South Carolina, as the number is correct and NC State is not a team I am looking to play against in 2017.


Vandy Commodores (+80)

Game: Vanderbilt at MTSU
September 2, 3:30pm EST
Offensive Rank: Vanderbilt 3
Defensive Rank: MTSU 83
Current Line: Vanderbilt -5
CW Projection: Vanderbilt -8

Recommendation: Vandy makes the 37 minute bus ride with one of the most experienced Offenses in the nation. The number does seem a bit short at Vanderbilt -5, as most projections have Vandy anywhere from a 6.5 to 8 point favorite. Middle Tennessee, who had a horrific 2016 in terms of Defensive Efficiency, could not stop the run last season. Look for Vanderbilt RB Ralph Webb to have himself a day.


UTSA Roadrunners (+72)

Game: Houston at UTSA
September 2, 7:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: UTSA 19
Defensive Rank: Houston 91
Current Line: Houston -12.5
CW Projection: Houston -7

Recommendation: Get your #MeepMeep (UTSA +12.5) in now! I was able to get a small piece of the UTSA +14.5 opener before it was quickly bet down, crossing the important 14. This number is floating anywhere from 11 to 12.5 depending on where you play. I have this game projected much lower, and expect it to reach 10 at some point before kick. Houston, who is dealing with staff and roster turnover, took some massive hits to their rush defense, although Ed Oliver, a one man wrecking crew, is still there.


UK Wildcats (+68)

Game: Kentucky at Southern Miss
September 2, 4:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: Kentucky 12
Defensive Rank: USM 80
Current Line: Kentucky -10
CW Projection: Kentucky -6

Recommendation: No play on Kentucky, as the number is inflated from my projections. I also can’t trust the Cats on the road.


Ready for more?

Look at our [Defensive Mismatches]https://sportsaction.io/blog/week-1-returning-mismatched-defense/ for Week 1

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