Home is where the heart is. Even a mediocre college football team with seven or eight home games can make a decent bowl if it can run the table in its home slate.
Let’s look at the Top 5 FBS teams to wager on at home for the 2017 season.
1. Wisconsin Badgers – Paul Chryst’s squad went just 4-4-1 against the spread in Camp Randall last season, but it has a very favorable schedule this year. Wisconsin should roll over both Utah State and Florida Atlantic in its first two home games and doesn’t face a scare in Madison until the tail end of the season when it plays Iowa and Michigan in back-to-back weeks.
Wisconsin should be favored in both of those games. Iowa has major concerns at the quarterback position heading into this season, while Michigan has concerns about every position after losing 17 starters from last year’s team.
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook should be better in his second season, and he still has two solid options to throw to in Jazz Peavy and Troy Fumagalli. The Badgers also have four of their five starters along the offensive line back as well as the majority of their front seven. That will blunt the losses of Corey Clement and TJ Watt to the NFL.
2. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs – Skip Holtz has to be smiling when looking at this home schedule. The Bulldogs have an FCS patsy that went just 1-10 last season in its opener before getting a very winnable game against Mississippi State.
Louisiana Tech is just a 4.5-point home underdog in that game. The Bulldogs have performed pretty well against Power Five schools in recent years, taking Kansas State to triple overtime in 2015 and nearly beating Arkansas last year with freshman quarterback J’Mar Smith at the helm. Both of those games were on the road, and they will be fired up to beat an SEC school.
Of Louisiana Tech’s five remaining home games, its opponent that finished with the best record in 2016 was Southern Miss at 7-6.
3. Appalachian State Mountaineers – Speaking of teams that can knock off Power Five foes, the Mountaineers are actually short favorites against Wake Forest in their fourth game of the season. Appalachian State has won 21 contests over the last two seasons and brings most of its talent back from 2016’s squad.
Other than Wake Forest, none of the Mountaineers’ home opponents finished last season with a winning record. Only Louisiana made a bowl, and Appalachian State cruised to a 24-0 win in Cajun Country. It would be a surprise if anyone besides Wake Forest stayed within 10 points of Appalachian State at home this year.
4. Texas Longhorns – The crowd in Austin is notorious for being lackluster, but there is a lot of buzz about Tom Herman’s first year on the job in Austin. The Longhorns should be able to start off Herman’s tenure the right way with home games against Maryland and San Jose State.
The toughest part of this home schedule is right in the middle. Texas will host Kansas State and Oklahoma State in October with the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma sandwiched right in between. The Longhorns will get an extra few days to prepare for Kansas State with a Thursday night game against Iowa State on the docket the week before though.
Texas couldn’t ask for an easier way to end the season. The Longhorns host Kansas and Texas Tech in November, probably the worst two teams in the Big 12.
5. Georgia Bulldogs – There’s already a tremendous amount of buzz around Georgia this season. The Bulldogs might have the best quarterback in the SEC in Jacob Eason, and the ground game will be superb with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel carrying the load.
Opposing offenses typically have a hard time in Sanford Stadium, and it won’t be any easier this season now that Kirby Smart has worked out the kinks with this defense. Ten starters return from last season, and this defense will be one of the best in the nation.
This home schedule bodes very well for the Bulldogs. Georgia should be favored by double-digits in every game, and its toughest test is probably a South Carolina team that finished 6-7 last season.