College Football Betting Preview: Notre Dame, Independents, Pac-12 & Mountain West Alliance

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Written By Brett Gibbons | Last Updated
notre dame odds

In the past, I’ve lumped the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in with the ACC betting preview. In the past, I’ve also had a Pac-12 preview. College football in 2024 isn’t like the past. So, for the first time ever, we’re taking a look at Notre Dame odds with their fellow independents – the UConn Huskies and UMass Minutemen – and our two remaining Pac-12 teams, the Oregon State Beavers and Washington State Cougars.

Oregon State and Washington State’s futures are in limbo at the moment, but the 2024 “Pac-2” season shapes up to be fascinating. The orphans struck a scheduling alliance with the Mountain West Conference. While it’s unlikely they will play for a conference championship, who isn’t rooting for that?

So, let’s examine Notre Dame odds and the season outlooks for UConn, UMass, Oregon State, and Washington State.

Independents, Pac-2 & Notre Dame Odds To Make College Football Playoff

Compare college football futures below. Remember, it is the first year of the 12-team College Football Playoff. That’s why Notre Dame odds to do so are shorter than they have been in recent years.

College Football Independents Betting Preview

college football odds

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Another year, another prolific ACC quarterback landed in the transfer portal for Notre Dame. This year, Marcus Freeman brings in Duke transfer Riley Leonard. The dual-threat QB passed for over 4,400 yards and rushed for over 1,200 more in three years at Duke. Unfortunately, an ankle injury sidelined Leonard for most of 2023. He attempted multiple times to return, ultimately undergoing “multiple” offseason surgeries. His health will be a massive focus for Notre Dame moving forward.

Perhaps equally exciting an addition as Leonard is offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock. At LSU, Denbrock led Jayden Daniels to a Heisman Trophy last year and the Tigers offense to record-breaking numbers. However, barring some massive breakouts, Notre Dame doesn’t currently roster two first-round NFL receivers as LSU did. In fact, Freeman turned over the entire receiving room, coaches included. To bolster the corps are transfers Kris Mitchell (FIU) and Beaux Collins (Clemson). But this unit is thin.

Notre Dame has a lot to replace on the offensive line. Top-10 draft pick Joe Alt departs, as does starting center Zeke Correll. ND typically cranks out NFL-ready offensive linemen, but replacing four starters is a tough ask.

Defensively, the Irish will again be stout. They finished fourth in points per drive (PPD) under Al Golden and returned a good chunk of what sent them to such heights. Safety Xavier Watts and defensive tackle Howard Cross are All-America candidates. Cornerback Benjamin Morrison should make a good case, too. Although the linebacking corps needs revamping, this should be another top finish for the stop unit.

A season opener at Texas A&M and a season closer at USC make for tough schedule bookends. Notre Dame hosts Florida State and Louisville and, other than that, might not see a top-40 opponent the rest of the year.

That schedule is certainly a factor in Notre Dame odds, but keep in mind that Notre Dame is not eligible for a first-round College Football Playoff bye. Before betting Fighting Irish odds this season, lock in a new promo at Fanatics Sportsbook.

UConn Huskies

The story for the 2024 UConn football Huskies is what the team lost. Starting QB TaQuan Roberson hit the portal, All-American offensive lineman Christian Haynes was drafted, and three of their top four receivers departed. Jim Mora dismissed last year’s passing game coordinator, and offensive coordinator Nick Charlton left for the NFL during spring practice. However, presumed QB1 Joe Fagnano returns after missing most of last year due to injury. UConn landed a big transfer in Nick Evers – former Wisconsin and Oklahoma QB and also a former four-star recruit.

Defensively, UConn makes a schematic change. Mora hired Mississippi State defensive coordinator Matt Brock, who will install the 3-3-5 in Storrs. Three starters return on the defensive line, but the 3-3-5 takes a specific set of players to work. Top to bottom, UConn doesn’t have those players.

According to an opposing coach, UConn “[wasn’t] as bad as 3-9 last year.” The Huskies finished 1-4 in one-score games, including a tough 21-14 loss to Boston College in late October. They did manage a win over Rice (who made a bowl!) and closed the year with two wins over Sacred Heart (FCS) and UMass. Just two top-50 opponents grace the schedule (Maryland, Duke) and none inside the top 40.

UMass Minutemen

Nearly independent no longer! UMass made its return to the MAC in 2025, where it resided from 2012-15. UMass resurrected its program after folding in 1906 and opted for independence after that four-year stretch. Since returning to the football field, it’s been tough sledding for the Minutemen. Just twice have they won more than three games, resulting in a total 24-112 (.176) record. They’ve gone 1-11 five times in 12 seasons.

Unfortunately this season, UMass likely continues its ways. QB Taisun Phommachanh was fun for a weekend, but the team finished an abysmal 128th in average scoring margin (-16.9 points). 1,200-yard rusher Ka’Ron Lynch-Adams hit the portal, and four additional starters transferred post-spring. Without significant changes to the coaching staff during that period, the exodus is concerning.

Three of four starters in the secondary return, a unit that was marginally better against the pass than the run. However, this is a team that likely starts and finishes the year power-rated near the bottom of the nation.

UMass begins its MAC transition with a MAC-heavy schedule that includes Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Miami (OH), and Northern Illinois by mid-October. Perhaps the most exciting piece of the 2024 Minutemen is the prospect of hosting Missouri in Amherst(!!!) in Week 7.

Pac-12 (Pac-2) Betting Preview

Oregon State Beavers

Yes, they are still officially called the Pac-12, even though only two teams remain.

And few teams were gutted quite as badly as Oregon State. Left behind by other former Pac-12 teams and with a nebulous future, head coach Jonathan Smith packed up his things – including a bulk of his coaching staff – and left for Michigan State. The transfer portal took starting QB D.J. Uiagalelei, bell-cow back Damien Martinez, and two of its top three pass catchers.

This year’s returning leading rusher? Backup QB Ben Gulbranson rushed five times for a net -12 rushing yards. The Beavers also lost 12 of their top 13 tacklers. Things are bleak in Corvallis.

Defensive coordinator Trent Bray decided to stick around and take the program reins. He hired UCLA QBs coach and Oregon State alum Ryan Gunderson to call the offense and Keith Heyward, another Oregon State alum, to call the defense. The staff building goal is clear: hire people who care enough about the program to guide it through its most difficult time. In the longterm, likely a savvy move.

Idaho State transfer Gevani McCoy comes in to start at QB, and four running backs transfer in. The lone returning starter on the offensive line is three-time all-conference selection – and likely future NFL draft pick – Joshua Gray. Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan and Van Wells were starters at Colorado in 2023, now Oregon State in 2024. Across the board, the Beavers have a lot to throw together, but talent still exists on the roster.

Oregon State hosts Oregon, Purdue, UNLV, and Washington State. Road games at Boise State and Air Force will be tricky. But overall, this is a winnable schedule, and the Beavs could be favored in as many as seven games.

Washington State Cougars

Wazzu returns none of its leading passer, rusher, receiver, nor its leader in sacks, tackles for loss, or interceptions. Just 55% of its roster production is back in 2024, a bulk of which comes along the offensive line. Three Wazzu starters are back and it adds JUCO transfer Eliesa Pole to shore up left tackle. But while the front will have continuity, the offense ranked just 89th in rushing EPA and 68th in PPD. And that was with an NFL-ready quarterback.

Bryant transfer Zevi Eckhaus appears to be the best option at QB. Last year, he threw for 2,900 yards, 28 TDs, and just seven picks. Those marks earned him Big South-OVC Player of the Year honors, and he was named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award (the FCS’ Heisman). Eckhaus must mesh with eight new receivers brought in between the transfer portal and the 2024 recruiting class. If not Eckhaus, then John Mateer, a multi-year Wazzu backup, takes the reins.

Linebacker Kyle Thornton led Wazzu in tackles and returns to Pullman for his senior season. But the next five tacklers left the team. Washington State, historically, has not been a defensive-focused team. But when the unit buttoned down the hatch in 2022, they finished with a winning record and made a bowl game. With the Air Raid fully back in place for the Cougars, those defensive numbers likely already hit their peak.

The road slate is brutal. Wazzu travels to Boise State, Fresno State, and Oregon State; it also plays rival Washington at “neutral” Lumen Field in Seattle. A concerning trend to note: coach Jake Dickert is 0-5 straight up coming off bye weeks.

Photo by Associated Press