My projections for every college football team with a new coach

June 3, 2022 06:54 PM
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As I start my multi-week prep for the 2022 college football season, my first topic is coaching changes. Why? Because coaching changes can have a big impact, particularly early on.

The upcoming season will feature 28 new head coaches, 15 of whom will be taking the lead role for a full season for the first time. 

Over the last decade in the NFL, 27 of 41 rookie coaches led their new team to a better record than the season before they took over. I’ll have the numbers in college football in a few weeks, but I can tell you the success rate at the college level is nowhere near as high. 

There are a few reasons for this, with instability being the primary factor. A head coach leaving a college team typically means new coordinators and new systems on both sides of the ball. That’s a lot for young players to overcome. 

(Changes at head coach and/or offensive/defensive coordinator make up a big part of my Stability Ratings each year. The more changes there are at the highest levels of a coaching staff, the lower that school’s Stability Rating will be. I’ll refer to this idea throughout this report.)

There are typically three reasons for head-coaching changes at the college level:

— First, a coach is let go because of poor performance (usually because of a talent shortage). Building a team with more overall talent takes time for new coaches. 

— Second, a successful coach leaves for a bigger, more established program. This is a painful one for Group of 5 teams, and re-establishing the magic is not easy. 

— Third, a longtime coach retires. This leaves a huge void, as programs grow accustomed to certain routines. 

In all three of these cases, finding lightning in a bottle in a coach’s first year can be a challenge. In the NFL, on the other hand, where teams are more talent-equal, a breath of fresh air often makes a world of difference.

With that in mind, let’s run through the 28 FBS head-coaching changes since the conclusion of last season. I’ll try to provide my insights as well as a prediction for 2022, with a focus on College Football News and ESPN projections and PointsBet season win totals.

Akron

New coach: Joe Moorhead 

Career record: 14-12

Former coach: Tom Arth (three seasons)

2021 record: 2-10 SU, 5-7 ATS

Steve’s thoughts: Moorhead is an interesting hire for a program unaccustomed to big-name coaches. He had reasonable success as Mississippi State’s coach in 2018-19 but takes over a Zips team that won a total of three games over the last three seasons. Moorhead, who was an offensive coordinator at Penn State in 2016-17, will assume that role for Akron, and that group needs serious improvement. The defense allowed 39.5 PPG last season. 

Better or worse in 2022? College Football News projects Akron to win about 3 games. PointsBet has yet to post a number on the Zips, but I wouldn’t touch anything higher than 3. Moorhead could have a positive impact in Year 2 or 3.

Colorado State

New coach: Jay Norvell 

Career record: 33-26

Former coach: Steve Addazio (two seasons)

2021 record: 3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS

Steve's thoughts: In four seasons since its last bowl appearance in 2017, Colorado State is on an 11-29 slide. Obviously, Addazio didn’t move the program forward in his two-year stint. Norvell could be a welcome change, as his Nevada teams were successful and entertaining over the last four seasons. Plucking a successful coach from within the conference is usually a plus. 

Better or worse in 2022? The Rams closed on a six-game skid in 2021, but they were only outscored by 4.6 PPG for the season. Norvell’s offenses are creative and prolific,  and he should put the program back on the right track. CFN projects 5.5 wins for the Rams, meaning they’ll be better. I agree.

Connecticut

New coach: Jim L. Mora 

Career record: 46-30

Former coach: Randy Edsall (15 seasons)

2021 record: 1-11 SU, 6-6 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Connecticut went back to the well with Edsall in 2017, hoping to rekindle the program’s glory days. His latest tenure was a nightmare, however, with the team winning only seven games in four seasons (UConn opted not to play in 2020 amid the pandemic). A change was obviously in order, and the Huskies made a relatively big splash with Mora Jr. There’s a ton of work to do to get back to respectability, but Mora has been successful at both the college and pro levels and has some experienced players returning.

Better or worse in 2022? CFN’s projection of 2.5 wins seems like a stretch, considering UConn will be heavy underdogs in all but two games. Assuming the Huskies defeat FCS CCSU, which is a big assumption, they would need to beat both UMass and FIU to reach the three-win mark. They lost to UMass by 14 in 2021, and it’s reasonable to think FIU will rebound from last season’s mess. I’ll say 2-10 in Mora’s first year.

Duke

New coach: Mike Elko 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: David Cutcliffe (14 seasons)

2021 record: 3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Duke won three bowl games during Cutcliffe’s 14-year run, but the era ended with a three-year bowl drought and a 10-25 slide. Elko, most recently the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, takes over for the Blue Devils, and his top priority will be improving a defense that allowed 39.8 PPG last season. Duke is near the bottom in the nation in returning experience, which could be a good thing in the long run.

Better or worse in 2022? Until Elko demonstrates he can bring in some high-level recruits, the rebuilding job in Durham will be arduous. PointsBet posted the win prop at 3.5. Knowing what I know from my Stability Ratings, a new coach, new coordinators and little returning experience often equals continued struggles. Let’s go Under.

Florida

New coach: Billy Napier 

Career record: 40-12

Former coach: Dan Mullen (four seasons)

2021 record: 6-7 SU, 3-10 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Napier is the latest successful Group of 5 coach to ascend to the big time. His Louisiana team was 13-1 last season and won the Sun Belt. Napier has also spent time in the Clemson and Alabama programs, so he’s been around elite college football. Things got ugly for Florida last year, both on and off the field. However, four of the Gators’ seven losses were by seven points or less. With the way the program recruits, Florida could be poised for an immediate rebound. 

Better or worse in 2022? PointBet’s win prop is 7.5. CFN projects 8.5. I’ll play the Under, however. Florida’s first two games are against Utah and Kentucky, when the Gators will be at the height of their instability. They also have games at Tennessee, Texas A&M and Florida State, plus Georgia on a neutral field. They would have to win two of those six games to even have a chance at going Over.

Florida International

New coach: Mike MacIntyre 

Career record: 46-65

Former coach: Butch Davis (five seasons)

2021 record: 1-11 SU, 3-9 ATS

Steve's thoughts: FIU went 1-16 in the last two seasons under Davis, and you have to assume the program bottomed out. In steps MacIntyre, who served as head coach at San Jose State from 2010-2012 and at Colorado from 2013-2018. After that, he was a defensive coordinator at Ole Miss and Memphis. FIU needs obvious work on the defensive side, having allowed nearly 40 PPG last season. The team is in the bottom half for returning experience, which could be a good thing considering how poorly things have gone.

Better or worse in 2022? Again, nowhere to go but up, and CFN projects 3.5 wins. FIU plays one of the weakest non-conference schedules I’ve ever seen, and coming up with a win in Conference USA on any given week is always possible. FIU might not be much better, but the record should be.

Fresno State

New coach: Jeff Tedford 

Career record: 108-71

Former coach: Kalen DeBoer (two seasons)

2021 record: 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Fresno State fans and bettors should be quite familiar with Tedford, who went 26-14 and won two bowl games from 2017-19 in his first stint with the program. Though Tedford is known for his offensive mind, the 2017 and 2018 Bulldogs had the best defensive teams in the program’s history. The Bulldogs won 10 games last season and should continue to be one of the top teams in the Mountain West. Prolific QB Jake Haener returns for his final college season to lead an experienced group.

Better or worse in 2022? CFN projects a modest 8 wins for the Bulldogs, who have almost 80% of their on-field production returning after a 10-3 season. This is not a team I consider unstable, as Tedford is familiar with the job. There are some challenges on the schedule, but the only game I consider a probable loss is at USC. I think 9-3 or even better is not out of the question.

Georgia Southern

New coach: Clay Helton 

Career record: 46-24

Former coach: Chad Lunsford (five seasons)

2021 record: 3-9 SU, 6-6 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Yes, this is the same Clay Helton who coached at USC last season. He takes a step back to a Sun Belt program that had a surprisingly poor season in 2021 after a three-year stretch in which it won two bowl games. Helton is the biggest name to ever lead Georgia Southern, so perhaps the program is looking to hit a grand slam in the recruiting department. The initial returns aren’t great, with a combined transfer/recruiting ranking of 112 in 2022, but the Eagles did score a four-star player and former Buffalo starting QB Kyle Vantrease.

Better or worse in 2022? In terms of returning on-field production, Georgia Southern ranks sixth in the nation. Last year’s 3-9 mark was a massive disappointment, considering GSU had 16 starters back from its 2020 team that went 8-5. CFN projects 5.5 wins, and I think that’s conservative. With returning experience and a recent winning pedigree, Helton might be set up for one of the biggest bounce-back seasons of any team.

Hawaii

New coach: Timmy Chang 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Todd Graham (two seasons)

2021 record: 6-7 SU, 5-7 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Maybe you remember staying up late and watching Chang, the record-setting quarterback of the Rainbow Warriors from 2000-04. He threw for more than 17,000 yards and played in three bowl games. However, Chang’s highest level of coaching experience was as a position coach for Nevada from 2017-21. Chang brings hype to Hawaii, but the rest is up in the air.

Better or worse in 2022? The only team that returns less on-field production than Hawaii is Chang’s former team, Nevada. CFN has Hawaii pegged for 6 wins, and I think that’s overzealous. A six-win season would mean this year’s team is as good as the 2021 version. No way. The Warriors play 13 games, but I’m hard-pressed to find four wins.

Louisiana Tech

New coach: Sonny Cumbie 

Career record: 1-3

Former coach: Skip Holtz (nine seasons)

2021 record: 3-9 SU, 4-7 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Louisiana Tech winning just three games last year was stunning. The program had a solid group of returning starters from its 2020 team that went 5-5, and Holtz won at least four games in each of his first eight seasons atop the program. Cumbie, who went 1-3 as Texas Tech’s interim coach last year after Matt Wells was fired, has been an offensive coordinator for Texas Tech and TCU.

Better or worse in 2022? The Bulldogs rank in the bottom 30 for returning production, and I don’t like the negative momentum after the team lost four of its final five games as favorites. CFN projects 6 wins, and I find that generous. I’ll say closer to four.

Louisiana-Lafayette

New coach: Michael Desormeaux 

Career record: 1-0

Former coach: Billy Napier (four seasons)

2021 record: 13-1 SU, 7-7 ATS

Steve's thoughts: The Louisiana program is in a good spot, and Desormeaux, who helped put it there as an assistant coach from 2016-21, stands to benefit as he steps into the top spot. Desormeaux led the Ragin’ Cajuns to a New Orleans Bowl victory after Napier took the Florida job, and this should be a fairly seamless transition. Desormeaux’s biggest challenge will be rebuilding a team that lost a lot of experience, including multi-year starting QB Levi Lewis. ULL ranks 126th in returning production.

Better or worse in 2022? While I don’t expect the Ragin’ Cajuns to fall completely off the map, there are plenty of Sun Belt teams ready to take their shot at a weakened ULL program, which has dominated the conference the last three seasons. CFN still projects 8 wins, but with such a large loss of personnel, the new staff has a bigger task than CFN’s number indicates.

LSU

New coach: Brian Kelly 

Career record: 146-61

Former coach: Ed Orgeron (six seasons)

2021 record: 6-7 SU, 5-7 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Kelly has had an immediate impact on the roster, with a recruiting/transfer class that ranks sixth in the nation. He plucked former Arizona State starting QB Jayden Daniels, a dynamic playmaker who should be able to instantly improve an offense that failed to reach the 28-point mark in any of its last six games. The Tigers always have dynamic players on the other side of the ball.

Better or worse in 2022? ESPN’s FPI ranks LSU as the No. 11 team in the nation, with a 7.7-4.4 record projection. The Tigers are improved, but enough to win 7.5 of their 12 regular-season games? Not so sure about that. I’m concerned about the instability factor in the first four games, which is when rebuilding teams tend to struggle. A loss in either the neutral-field opener versus Florida State or Game 3 against Mississippi State would make reaching eight wins tough against a very difficult schedule.

Massachusetts

New coach: Don Brown 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Walt Bell (three seasons)

2021 record: 1-11 SU, 4-8 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Massachusetts is in college football purgatory right now. Considering UMass has won just two of its last 30 games — the program has won fewer than five games every year since 2011 — there doesn’t figure to be much pressure on Brown. His first recruiting/transfer class ranked better than 38 other teams, so perhaps it’s a start. UMass ranks fourth in the nation in returning production. 

Better or worse in 2022? Despite some positive signs, it’s difficult to project even a single win for a team such as Massachusetts. The Minutemen don’t play the toughest schedule, but their FCS game is against a solid Stony Brook team and their easier FBS games are on the road. ESPN still projects 3.3 wins, while CFN says 2. I lean closer to the latter, but think better days are on the horizon.

Miami

New coach: Mario Cristobal 

Career record: 62-60

Former coach: Manny Diaz (three seasons)

2021 record: 7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS

Steve's thoughts: You probably know Cristobal best from his four-year stint at Oregon from 2018-21, but the Hurricanes job is what he’s always wanted. Cristobal is a Miami guy: He played there (winning two national titles as an offensive lineman in 1991-92)  then coached there (at different levels in the program for six seasons). How far has the program fallen and how quickly can he turn it around? Miami has only one season with double-digit wins since 2003, and there isn’t a whole lot of returning experience this season. Cristobal’s first recruit/transfer class ranks just 24th, but he does have his QB of the future in Tyler Van Dyke, who led a vastly improved offense after taking over for D’Eriq King.

Better or worse in 2022? The PointsBet win prop and ESPN’s projection are both 8.5. Looking at the schedule, a 3-1 start seems almost automatic and should propel Miami to at least an 8-4 finish, but I’m not ready to call the win total either way.

Nevada

New coach: Ken Wilson 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Jay Norvell (five seasons)

2021 record: 8-5 SU, 8-4 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Norvell seems to have picked the right time to leave Nevada after a multi-year run of competing for titles in the Mountain West. Not only are the Wolf Pack losing QB Carson Strong to the NFL, they are returning the least amount of production in the nation. In steps Wilson, whose upper-level college coaching experience includes just one year as the co-defensive coordinator at Oregon. Prior to that, he was a linebackers coach for Oregon and Washington State. In other words, this is a pretty big jump.

Better or worse in 2022? ESPN and CFN put Nevada in the area of 6-6.5 wins, an optimistic view. The Wolf Pack have lost a lot of talent, and after a soft start to the schedule, things get a lot tougher. I’m calling for six wins maximum, with a bowl bid equating to a highly successful season.

New Mexico State

New coach: Jerry Kill 

Career record: 52-47

Former coach: Doug Martin (nine seasons)

2021 record: 2-10 SU, 7-5 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Besides a four-game interim stint at TCU last year, Kill’s last head job was in 2015 with Minnesota. Kill had assistant positions with Rutgers, Virginia Tech and TCU since leaving Minnesota, and New Mexico State is far from the level of those Power 5 programs. The Aggies have played in one bowl game over the last 62 years and are 8-30 since that 2017 Arizona Bowl game. Kill’s first transfer/recruiting class ranks 88th in the nation, an astounding success story for NMSU.

Better or worse in 2022? Despite the good work done by Kill and his staff in the offseason, the Aggies only have one surefire win on the schedule (against Lamar). The Aggies beat UMass last year but face the Minutemen on the road this time. They’ll be heavy underdogs in all other games. Despite CFN and ESPN projections of more than 3 wins, I have a hard time stretching to two.

Notre Dame

New coach: Marcus Freeman 

Career record: 0-1

Former coach: Brian Kelly (12 seasons)

2021 record: 11-2 SU, 9-4 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Freeman has made a quick ascension in college football, and I’m not a huge fan of that, particularly at a program such as Notre Dame. That said, he scored the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, a sign that top players are embracing his player-first style. The 36-year-old has challenges ahead, including heavy personnel losses and a difficult schedule.

Better or worse in 2022? Freeman inherits a pretty solid roster, although a rebuilding effort on offense continues for a second straight season. Fewer than half of the snaps return on that side of the ball. Freeman is expected to turn to highly rated QB Tyler Buchner, who has thrown just 35 passes in mop-up duty. ESPN puts the win projection at 9.1 and CFN has it at 9, while the PointsBet prop is 9.5. With likely losses at Ohio State and USC bookending the schedule, the Irish will have to avoid slipping up against teams such as BYU, Clemson and Boston College to beat that number. Let’s go Under for 2022, but the future looks bright.

Oklahoma

New coach: Brent Venables 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Lincoln Riley (five seasons)

2021 record: 11-2 SU, 6-6 ATS

Steve's thoughts: It was only a matter of time before Venables graduated from a highly successful run as Clemson’s defensive coordinator to a head-coaching job at a national power. The architect of a stout Tigers defense from 2012-21, he was also DC at Oklahoma for 13 seasons. With Venables, the Sooners are making a major directional change from the offensive-minded approach of Riley. We’ll see if it can raise this program to a new level, as OU defenses have allowed fewer than 25 PPG just once in the last six seasons. Jeff Lebby takes over the offense after leaving his OC post at Ole Miss.

Better or worse in 2022? The PointsBet prop is set at 9.5. CFN has the Sooners going Over by about a half-game, while ESPN leans Under by about the same margin. There are no major non-conference challenges on OU’s schedule, and in the Big 12, Texas seems to be the only team on OU’s level in terms of talent, as Oklahoma State lost a ton of production on both sides of the ball. I’ll call for an 11-1 record and an Over, as an improved defensive concept should be a big benefit in this conference.

Oregon

New coach: Dan Lanning 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Mario Cristobal (four seasons)

2021 record: 10-4 SU, 5-9 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Like Freeman at Notre Dame, Lanning arrives at Oregon after taking a rocket ship up the college football ladder. He is best known as the DC of Georgia’s national championship team, which produced multiple first-round picks on the defensive side. He also gets a pretty good assignment at Oregon, a program coming off of a 10-win season that’s again expected to compete for a conference title. Lanning’s first transfer/recruit class ranks just 20th, but QB Bo Nix, the former Auburn star, is part of that class as a transfer.

Better or worse in 2022? The PointsBet prop is 8.5, somewhat modest considering the Ducks topped that number in each of the last three full seasons. There are some tricky spots on the schedule besides tough games against Georgia and Utah. My Stability Ratings point to the first four games as a danger area, and Oregon plays BYU and at Washington State in Weeks 3 and 4. I’ll go Under the 8.5.

SMU

New coach: Rhett Lashlee 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Sonny Dykes (four seasons)

2021 record: 8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Lashlee was SMU’s offensive coordinator in 2018-19 before leaving for the same position at Miami. The Mustangs scored 41.8 PPG in his second season as OC, and now he gets to build on the momentum for what has become a successful program (25-10 in the last three seasons). SMU, which scored 38 PPG last year, returns 79% of its on-field production, including starting QB Tanner Mordecai.

Better or worse in 2022? ESPN’s FPI ranks SMU as the 56th-best FBS team. Do I see the Mustangs winning eight games again? Probably not. They started 7-0 last year but lost four of their final five games. Four of their first five games on this year’s slate are fairly tough, and the beginning of the season is when teams with new coaches usually stumble. Let’s call for 7-5, even though the AAC won’t be as tough as a season ago.

TCU

New coach: Sonny Dykes 

Career record: 71-63

Former coach: Gary Patterson (22 seasons)

2021 record: 5-7 SU, 2-9 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Dykes revived the SMU program over the last four years and hopes to do the same for the Horned Frogs, who haven’t won more than seven games in a season since 2017. He’ll have a good amount of experience back, as TCU ranks ninth in returning production. TCU underachieved in 2021 — other than an upset win over Baylor — as it returned 18 starters from the 2020 team that went 6-4.

Better or worse in 2022? TCU is a candidate for a turnaround season, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. Both ESPN and CFN project 6.5 wins. I think that’s an underestimate and feel the Horned Frogs could be a surprise team in the Big 12.

Temple

New coach: Stan Drayton 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Rod Carey (three seasons)

2021 record: 3-9 SU, 2-10 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Drayton, who spent the last five seasons as the running backs coach and running-game coordinator at Texas, has been coaching at the pro and college levels since 1993. This will be his first head-coaching job, though, and it won’t be an easy one after Temple flatlined the last two seasons — winning a combined four games — after playing in a bowl game in each of the previous five seasons. Last year’s team was relatively inexperienced and this year’s version will be a little better off, ranking in the top half of the nation in returning production. Temple was outscored by a 21.2 PPG last season, though, and seems to be a long way from returning to a bowl game.

Better or worse in 2022? The Owls are projected as the worst team in the AAC by CFN and ESPN. Don’t expect much in 2022.

Texas Tech

New coach: Joey McGuire 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Matt Wells (three seasons)

2021 record: 7-6 SU, 7-5 ATS

Steve's thoughts: McGuire spent the first 22 years of his coaching life at the high school level in Texas before becoming an assistant at Baylor in 2017. As an assistant head coach for the last three seasons, he played a big part in Baylor’s 12-2 run last year. Texas Tech has failed to reach the eight-win mark for eight straight seasons. After years of offensive-minded coaches, the Red Raiders turn to McGuire, who has spent almost his entire career on the defensive side. There is some momentum to build on, as Texas Tech won its bowl game over Mississippi State by 27 points as a double-digit underdog. The Red Raiders scored three other outright upsets en route to their first bowl game in four seasons.

Better or worse in 2022? McGuire’s first recruiting/transfer class ranks 47th, behind six Big 12 schools. His returning production ranks 90th. Both CFN and ESPN project Texas Tech to finish .500 at best. I’ll call for a lesser mark.

Troy

New coach: Jon Sumrall 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Chip Lindsey (three seasons)

2021 record: 5-7 SU, 4-8 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Sumrall, another under-40 former assistant, built his resume by helping Kentucky revive its defense over the last three seasons. He steps into a program that won exactly five games in each of the last three straight seasons (after three straight years with double-digit wins). Sumrall gets a good amount of production back (17th nationally) but struggled with his first recruiting class (111th).

Better or worse in 2022? Both CFN and ESPN have the Trojans finishing at least .500. In my opinion, it would take an upset or two to get to that bowl-eligible level. I’ll call for fewer than six wins.

USC

New coach: Lincoln Riley 

Career record: 55-10

Former coach: Clay Helton (seven seasons)

2021 record: 4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS

Steve's thoughts: It was the move by Riley to USC that truly started the coaching carousel in late 2021, and it got the transfer portal spinning too, as Riley scored his former Sooners QB Caleb Williams a bit later in the process. With Riley’s accomplishments at Oklahoma and his ability to bring in big-time recruits, the expectations at USC are off the charts. That the Trojans went just 4-8 last season seems to have been completely erased from memory. Riley’s first recruiting/transfer class ranks in the Top 10, and that should ease any concerns about the lack of returning experience (94th nationally).

Better or worse in 2022? CFN projects 9 wins, while ESPN is noticeably lower at 7.9. The PointsBet win prop sits right in the middle at 8.5. I stand on the more optimistic side, as Riley’s offenses have been explosive and Williams will instantly improve the quarterback position. USC’s early schedule is relatively easy and the Trojans could be 4-0 entering October. I see at least nine wins and an Over.

Virginia

New coach: Tony Elliott 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Bronco Mendenhall (six seasons)

2021 record: 6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Virginia is coming off of back-to-back .500 seasons and turns to Elliott, the former Clemson offensive coordinator. As OC or co-OC for the Tigers over the last seven seasons, Elliott has seen big-time football and is familiar with the workings of the ACC. Elliott has a talented quarterback to work with in Brennan Armstrong, who isn’t Trevor Lawrence or Deshaun Watson but threw for nearly 4,500 yards and 31 TDs last season.

Better or worse in 2022? Despite Armstrong being back, Virginia ranks 123rd in returning experience. The Cavaliers also lost their final four games to fall short of a bowl bid. Both ESPN and CFN project Virginia around 7 wins. The PointsBet prop is 7.5. I’ll call for an Under, with Armstrong good enough to get this team to seven wins but more likely six due to the inexperience factor.

Virginia Tech

New coach: Brent Pry 

Career record: 0-0

Former coach: Justin Fuente (six seasons)

2021 record: 6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS

Steve's thoughts: Pry, the former Penn State defensive coordinator, gets his first 

head-coaching assignment at Virginia Tech. The Hokies opened last season with an upset of No. 10 North Carolina but ended it with an embarrassing 54-10 bowl loss to Maryland. In between, the Hokies were upset losers three times. Pry’s first team brings back a mid-level amount of experience but didn’t score well in the recruiting department. 

Better or worse in 2022? The PointsBet win prop is a modest 5.5, and CFN calls for the Hokies to blow past that number, projecting 7.5 wins. In a weakened ACC, I think this is an Over play, too, and feel this team will be a bowl qualifier.

Washington

New coach: Kalen DeBoer 

Career record: 12-6

Former coach: Jimmy Lake (two seasons)

2021 record: 4-8 SU, 3-9 ATS

Steve's thoughts: DeBoer capitalized on a strong season at Fresno State to make a quick rise to the Pac-12 after just two years in FBS. You can’t blame DeBoer for jumping at the chance for a high-profile job in Washington, but it won’t be easy resurrecting a program coming off of its worst season in 13 years. The Huskies opened by losing as 22.5-point favorites against Montana and finished by being walloped by Washington State 40-13. In between was forgettable.

Better or worse in 2022? The early returns for DeBoer leave a lot to be desired, as his first recruit/transfer class ranks 70th. His returning experience ranks 36th, a group that includes Indiana transfer QB Michael Penix Jr. Both ESPN and CFN project about 7.5 wins, same as the win prop at PointsBet. I’m going to lean Under based on the level of dropoff last season. I think seven wins is possible, with home games against Michigan State and Stanford in Weeks 3 and 4 being the key momentum generators.

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