Week 1 Returning Production Mismatches: Defensive Advantages

Week 1 Returning Production Mismatches:  Defensive Advantages article feature image

This is part 2 of the Week 1 Returning Production matchup analysis; you can find part 1 here

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

Wyoming (+121)

Game: Wyoming at Iowa
September 2, 12:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: Iowa 125
Defensive Rank: Wyoming 4
Current Line: Wyoming +12
CW Projection: Wyoming +9

Recommendation: While ESPN FPI, Phil Steele, and S&P+ call for the spread of right around Iowa -12, my projections have this below 10. An extremely inexperienced Iowa Offense will face a Wyoming Defense that returns the 4th most production in the country. Wyoming loses some at the skill positions on offense, but the line returns to protect one of the best QB’s in the nation Josh Allen. The only factor giving me pause is looking back at the Cowboys Defense on the road in 2016. Yikes. Will that continue in Kinnick? I wanted Wyoming at +14, but can’t play them at 12. I will continue to monitor the line.

Cal Bears (+110)

Game: Cal at North Carolina
September 2, 12:20pm EST
Offensive Rank: UNC 128
Defensive Rank: Cal 18
Current Line: Cal +11
CW Projection: Cal +13.5

Recommendation: While Cal has the Returning Production advantage in this game, take notice of the time of kickoff. The Bears will start this game at 9:20am PST, which may actually be conducive to a play on UNC 1Q or 1H.

Virginia Tech (+106)

Game: Virginia Tech v West Virginia
September 3, 7:30pm EST
Offensive Rank: WVU 123
Defensive Rank: VT 17
Current Line: Va Tech -4.5
CW Projection: Va Tech -10

Recommendation: Sign me up for Virginia Tech -4.5, currently posted at Cantor and a few other books. Bud Foster has plenty of weapons on a Defense that will be the strength of this Hokie team all season. West Virginia loses QB Skyler Howard, 2 key Wide Receivers, and 3 Offensive Linemen from an Offense that will be transitioning to a new Coordinator. Even with Florida QB transfer Will Grier under center, this will not be a fun night for the Mountaineer Offense.

Texas Longhorns (+98)

Game: Maryland at Texas
September 2, 12:00pm ESTll
Offensive Rank: Maryland 110
Defensive Rank: Texas 12
Current Line: Texas -17
CW Projection: Texas -18

Recommendation: Maryland is certainly getting some attention as this spread initially creeped up to Texas -20, but has since fallen to 17 at most spots. The Texas Defense returns almost all of their personnel from a 2016 team that surprisingly excelled in Efficiency, Sack Rate, and Rush Defense. The Secondary was vulnerable to the deep ball last season, but Maryland’s strength is their running game. Any kind of Maryland success in the air would be a major surprise on September 2nd. I ultimately decided to stay away since the Longhorns are currently dealing with a slew of injuries.

Georgia Tech (+96)

Game: Tennessee v Georgia Tech
September 4, 12:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: Tenn 106
Defensive Rank: GT 10
Current Line: Tenn -4
CW Projection: Ga Tech +4.5

Recommendation: The number is spot on so there is no recommended play. This Vols Offense has a laundry list of names no one outside of Knoxville has heard of. Georgia Tech returns a stingy Defense, but their top rusher was recently dismissed from the team.

FAU Owls (+95)

Game: Navy at Florida Atlantic
September 1, 8:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: Navy 122
Defensive Rank: FAU 27
Current Line: FAU +11.5
CW Projection: FAU +9

Recommendation: The Wynn is still posting FAU +13 in this contest, which I think warrants a small investment at that number. Lane Kiffin gets plenty of returning talent on both sides of the ball, and the advantage of having all Summer to prepare for Navy’s option attack. I project this game in the single digits, and fully expect the number to drop to 10 or less before kick.

UMass Minutemen (+83)

Game: UMass at Coastal Carolina
September 2, 7:00pm EST
Offensive Rank: Coastal 90
Defensive Rank: UMass 7
Current Line: N/A
CW Projection: UMass +3

Recommendation: No line posted for this game, as this will be the second game for UMass. I do love me some UMass -1 in the opener against a Hawaii team traveling across the country. With a win in the opener, I’d expect Umass may head to Conway, SC closer to a pk than +3.

USF Bulls (+74)

Game: USF at San Jose St
August 26, 7:30pm EST
Offensive Rank: SJST 95
Defensive Rank: USF 21
Current Line: USF -22
CW Projection: USF -14

Recommendation: While there is plenty of preseason hype around South Florida, the spread against San Jose State is much larger than my projection. No suggested play in this contest as I am not running to play the Spartans despite the line discrepancy.

Louisville Cardinals (+74)

Game: Louisville v Purdue
September 2, 4:30pm EST
Offensive Rank: Purdue 89
Defensive Rank: Louisville 15
Current Line: Louisville -24.5
CW Projection: Louisville -19

Recommendation: With the spread opening around Ville -20, it took a few weeks before it moved through some key numbers to its current number. Even with my projections lower, I still may take Louisville -24.5 or possibly just look for a better live Cardinals number. This Purdue Offense was good at protecting the QB, but David Blough threw a large number of interceptions. This Louisville Defense won’t make life easy for Jeff Brohm on his first day.

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