With the school soccer season just a bit over a month away, now is an effective time to seek out some worth on season win totals — earlier than the NBA season ends and the general public eye begins shifting to the pigskin markets. Listed below are some that deserve consideration:
Rice Over 5.5: Wait, is that this 1957, when Jess Neely’s Owls had been Cotton Bowl-bound and boasted the subsequent 12 months’s high NFL draft choose, King Hill, at quarterback? No, that is 2021, and for the primary time in a very long time there may be real pleasure at Rice — the place what as soon as appeared a suicidal resolve to put in a Stanford-type, energy offense coached by David Shaw disciple Mike Bloomgren is beginning to pay dividends.
The Owls impressed throughout their compressed 2020 slate and had been in place to win all 5 of their video games. They return eight defensive starters from the stingiest Rice unit for the reason that Neely period, rating twelfth nationally in scoring protection. With depth on the offensive line and a giant extensive receiver goal in 6-foot-5 Bradley Rozner (55 catches in 2019 earlier than opting out in 2020), all Bloomgren wants is a quarterback.
The switch market supplied choices together with ex-Nebraska QB Luke McCaffrey (NFL RB Christian’s brother) and former Weber State QB Jake Constantine, who began 23 video games for the Wildcats and has 33 profession TD passes.
True, the schedule opens like an outdated Southwest Convention slate (Arkansas, Houston and Texas). However even when the Owls swallow the large doughnut towards that trio, loads of wins await within the watered-down Convention USA, they usually additionally play crosstown FCS group Texas Southern. Bloomgren can get Rice to a bowl and begin to achieve point out because the heir-apparent at Stanford every time Shaw decides it’s time to maneuver to the NFL.
Air Pressure Over 6.5: Underestimate Falcons coach Troy Calhoun at your individual threat. Apart from 2013, when accidents decimated his roster, Calhoun’s Air Pressure groups have often punched above their weight.
The Falcons cut up six video games final 12 months regardless of virtually their total projected protection opting out. A number of starters from the 2019 protection will resurface to compete with many who stepped into their roles a 12 months in the past, with the end result possible a extremely combative unit. That has usually been the ingredient to probably the most profitable Calhoun groups.
On the opposite facet of the ball, longtime offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen is often in a position to cobble collectively a useful option-based assault. The truth is, the offense led the nation in speeding a 12 months in the past. Starters have to be changed en masse alongside the road, however reloading up entrance is normal working process for the Falcons, and Haaziq Daniels flashed sufficient upside in his quarterback audition final fall to recommend this might be one other dynamic Calhoun offense.
The schedule presents many win alternatives, with non-conference video games towards Florida Atlantic and Commander-in-Chief foes Military and Navy all winnable, moreover many alternatives for wins within the modest Mountain West. Getting above .500 and to a different bowl is nicely inside attain.
Texas Over 8: For some purpose, it grew to become virtually compulsory for sports activities analysts to degrade the Longhorns within the Tom Herman period, and plenty of are doing it once more at the same time as Steve Sarkisian takes management after a profitable stint as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator with title-winning Alabama. Sarkisian inherits a program that was a handful of performs from playoff consideration a 12 months in the past after slim losses by two and three factors, and one other in time beyond regulation towards Oklahoma.
We additionally noticed sufficient of sophomore QB Casey Thompson within the blowout of Colorado within the Alamo Bowl to recommend he might be a worthy successor to four-year starter Sam Ehlinger, although sophomore Hudson Card has some assist. Whichever QB takes snaps will spend time handing off to sophomore RB Bijan Robinson, maybe the highest-touted again from the 2020 recruiting class and posed for a breakout after gaining 8.2 ypc final fall. An skilled secondary and loads of potential throughout the entrance seven suggests the protection needs to be not less than useful.
In the meantime, Sarkisian will embrace this second probability as a head coach after the USC journey went off the rails and he was fired in 2015. The mixture of his Pac-12 expertise plus the rehabilitation of his repute underneath Saban suggests Sarkisian ought to hardly be over his head within the Massive 12.