Conference Preview 2017: Best of the Big 5

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Updated: August 22, 2017

Conference Preview 2017:  Best of the Big 5

It’s almost here, can you feel it?  College football is back and teams will begin the quest to make the coveted playoffs.  Along with a playoff berth, teams will be vying to win their individual conferences.  Here is a preview of the big five conferences with odds on various favorites and dogs.

Big Ten: 

Depth remains an issue when discussing the Big Ten as whole and it will still be called boring football from time to time but this conference is in substantially better shape when compared to five years ago.  Breakthroughs by Michigan under head coach Jim Harbaugh and Penn State’s resurgence in 2016 under  James Franklin have the Big Ten with four teams in the preseason top 12.  Ohio State(Preseason AP #2), -125 at HRWager, is still the favorite to win the conference with Wisconsin(#9 AP),+376 at Bookmaker, checking in behind them.   Wisconsin faces the Big Ten’s most favorable schedule as they avoid both Ohio State and Penn State and get Michigan at home.  For those Wolverine fans that believe this is the year Harbaugh gets over the hump, Michigan is out there at +695 while Penn State is currently listed at +520.  Rutgers is a massive +45000 if you have a rabbit’s foot or some other mystical item handy.

SEC: 

While the SEC still leads the preseason AP with number of teams appearing it looks to be a drop-off from previous years where they were represented heavily at the top.  Alabama at preseason #1 is the only SEC team to crack the top ten in the AP this year.  This comes on the heels of 2016 being the first year since 2002 that only one team, Alabama, finished the year ranked in the top 10.  Auburn #12, LSU#13, Georgia #15, and Florida at #17 make appearances in the top 20 while Tennessee at #25 rounds out the early rankings.   The Crimson Tide continues to be the team to beat in the SEC with all others seemingly just trying to get within striking distance.   It’s Alabama and then everyone else in the conference championship betting, as the Crimson Tide are currently sitting at -160, while Auburn follows at +500.   Alabama gets a major test early in their heavyweight showdown with Florida State in the kickoff classic week 1.  Another year as a heavy underdog for Vanderbilt at +25000, maybe next year will be the one.

ACC:  

The ACC posts 5 teams in the top 25 to begin the year with FSU leading the way at #3.  Last years national champions, Clemson, check in at number 5 after losing star quarterback Deshaun Watson to the NFL. Louisville, behind Heisman quarterback Lamar Jackson, checks in at #16 followed by Miami #18 and Virginia Tech at #21.   Odds also show Florida State as the favorite at -104 with Clemson coming in around +400.  Don’t sleep on Jackson and Louisville at +665 as they should have a strong offense.   Longest odds on the board have Boston College at a whopping +25000 but you may be better off buying a few scratch-off tickets if you’re feeling lucky.

Pac 12: 

The USC Trojans make a return to the top 5 checking in at #4 to kick off this year.    The Trojans are joined in the top 10 by the Washington Huskies at #8 which is their highest preseason rankings in 20 years.  Stanford at #14 and Washington State at #24 round out the Pac 12’s presence in the preseason rankings.  Conference championship odds show it’s a two-horse race between USC at -100 and Washington at +200.  Will any of the remaining teams take a leap forward (think Colorado last year) to compete with the big boys at the top?  Looks like rough times ahead for the Cal Golden Bears as they are currently +60000 to win the conference.

Big 12:   

After a six-year absence, the Big 12 Championship Game has returned.  There are no divisions,  only 10 teams,  and a round-robin format that guarantees the championship game is a rematch but it’s a step in the right direction nonetheless.   Five teams line the AP preseason top 25 with perennial powerhouse Oklahoma leading the way checking in at #7.  They are joined in the top 10 by bitter rival Oklahoma State, who is currently sitting at #10.  Kansas State #20, West Virginia #22, and Texas at #23 round out the rest of the conference for preseason rankings.  Texas is hoping for a big rebound season, after finishing 2016 at just 5-7.  Betting odds also list Oklahoma as the favorite at -105 with Oklahoma State at +355 and Texas at +400 following.  For those with an aversion to money, Kansas is available at +45000.