1: Michigan State Spartans – Sparty turned out to be a real disappointment last season offensively, knowing that QB Andrew Maxwell turned out to be nowhere near as good as the faithful in East Lansing were hoping for. Maybe he can improve this year, but even if he does, he doesn’t have his horse, RB Le’Veon Bell to turn around and hand the ball to any longer. The Spartans only went 1-7 ATS at home last year, but the real stat here that we are concerned with was their 10-2 mark for ‘under’ bettors after averaging just 20.0 points per game. The defense balled up for MSU as well, ranking in the Top 10 in the country in total defense (275.3 YPG), rushing defense (99.5 YPG), passing defense (175.8 PPG), and scoring defense (16.3 PPG).
2: Bowling Green Falcons – In a conference that is known for its high flying teams, Bowling Green was actually a breath of fresh air in the MAC. The Falcons held teams down to just 16.8 points per game last season, including holding a Top 10 team in the land, Florida, to scoring just 27 points. The Falcons know that they have one of the best defenses in the conference once again this season, and that is going to make them one of the frontrunners in the MAC. The question though, is whether the oddsmakers have caught up enough to recognize that this 10-2 record for ‘under’ bettors last year was no joke.
3: Buffalo Bulls – Buffalo was the other exception in the MAC, going 9-2 for ‘under’ bettors, but the Bulls were clearly a heck of a lot different than Bowling Green was. UB simply didn’t have anything of note on offense. The team somehow averaged 21.2 points per game last season, and we’re really not all that sure how that happened. QB Alex Zordich and QB Joe Licata were terrible, completing right around 52% of their passes combined, and the only thing that kept this team going was its ground game, which produced three 500+ yard rushers. There’s no reason to think that the Bulls will be any better offensively this season.
4: Notre Dame Fighting Irish – The Golden Domers went to the National Championship Game last year, but what most don’t notice is the fact that they ultimately went 10-3 for ‘under’ bettors. The defense, led by Heisman Trophy finalist LB Manti Te’o was one of the best in the country last season, but in the end, it wasn’t as good as the Alabama defense, which went on to lead the team to the National Championship. With QB Everett Golson now gone from the team for this season, the Fighting Irish could be in for yet another good season for ‘under’ bettors, even with Te’o and several other members of this defense now gone.
5: Utah State Aggies – Utah State was one of the best ATS teams in the land last year at 10-1-1 ATS in the regular season, but the team wasn’t really a dominating ATS team because of its offense. Sure, QB Chuckie Keeton came on to have a huge year for the Aggies, but their defense averaged allowing just 15.4 points per game. Seemingly every game was the same for USU. Keeton threw the ball around a bunch, RB Kerwynn Williams got his share of touches, and in the end, the defense was able to do the job done when it really needed to. The Aggies went 9-3 for ‘under’ bettors in 2012 as well, and there was definitely no better parlay in the game than USU and the ‘under’ on a week in, week out basis.
6: Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Head Coach Greg Schiano might be gone, but the Scarlet Knights are still the same type of team. They run the heck out of the football and they try to play the best defense that the Big East… err… the American Athletic Conference has to offer. No team offered fewer plays per game this season than Rutgers did, and the pace of all of its games were just insanely slow. No wonder why the team ranked #4 in the land in scoring defense at 14.2 points per game allowed. Another 9-3 season for ‘under’ bettors could be in the cards when push comes to shove.
7: New Mexico Lobos – The Lobos took a major step in the right direction last season by running the heck out of the football. They averaged 301.5 yards per game on the ground but just 68.8 yards per game through the air. RB Kasey Carrier rumbled for 1,469 yards and 15 TDs on the season, and he was one of the best rushers in the conference. New Mexico’s defense has been bad for years, but at least the unit was respectable last season, largely thanks to the fact that time just melts off of the clock when the Lobos are involved in a game. New Mexico went 8-3-1 for ‘under’ bettors in 2012.
8: TCU Horned Frogs – The Horned Frogs brought their stifling defense from the Mountain West to the Big XII last season, and they proved that they are good enough to play with the big boys. Losing QB Casey Pachall at the start of the year was a real disaster for the team, and it set up the men in purple and black to be outstanding for ‘under’ bettors. The end result was an 8-4 mark towards the lower scoring games, and in the high flying Big XII, where six of the 10 teams posted at least 7-5 records for ‘over’ bettors in the regular season, that’s an insane accomplishment.
9: Iowa State Cyclones – It’s almost as impressive as the Cyclones were for ‘under’ bettors. Iowa State probably had no business getting to a bowl game last year, but it got the job done after pulling off a few upsets. The Cyclones know that they had some real quarterback problems last season, and the end result was just 364.2 yards and 24.5 points per game. The defense only ranked 95th in America, but an opportunistic defense that forced plenty of turnovers, the average ISU game only reached 48.5 points per game. Just like TCU, the Cyclones went 8-4 for ‘under’ bettors on the season.
10: Navy Midshipmen – Nothing new here. Navy is a routine ‘under’ team, knowing that it runs the crazy triple option that just makes games fly quickly. The Middies only managed 278.6 rushing yards per game last year though, and that wasn’t good enough to score more than 25.0 points per game. Their defense wasn’t remarkable either, but knowing that the schedule was littered with a bunch of teams that generally played higher scoring games last season, they still managed to go 8-4 for ‘under’ backers.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.