LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The happy talk is about to end. The serious blocking and tackling is about to begin.

I promise.

The local college football season kicks off in one week.

On Wednesday, I shared analysis on Louisville from Brian Edwards, a senior handicapper from VegasInsider in Las Vegas. The Vegas guys look at numbers and trends. They're cheering for their bank accounts, not their favorite players.

I also asked Edwards to discuss Kentucky, Indiana and Western Kentucky.

For the record, the Hilltoppers open at home against Rice at 8 p.m. Thursday (CBS Sports Network), Indiana visits Florida International in Miami at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (ESPNU) and Kentucky plays host to Southern Miss at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU).

Here are Edwards' thoughts on the Wildcats, Hoosiers and Hilltoppers. You can read more of his work at BrianEdwardsSports.com. (The link.)


EDWARDS: "I like UK's wide receivers, offensive line and running backs. We'll see on (quarterback Drew) Barker, obviously well regarded coming out of high school.

"My opinion on UK could easily change if he has a good September, but major doubts about UK's defense. I have Cats going 5-7. The wins being over Southern Miss, New Mexico State, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Austin Peay.

"They can certainly beat Vanderbilt, but I'm real high on Vandy's defense. As easily as they could beat Vandy, they could lose to Miss St., but I give UK slight edge in that game with two weeks to prepare, while Bulldogs are off a game out West, albeit on Friday, at BYU the week before. 

*Westgate Sports Book has UK with 200-to-1 odds to win the Southeastern Conference & 1,000-to-1 odds to win the College Football Playoff.

*5Dimes Sports Book has UK's season win total at 5 (over -115, 'under' -105). 

*5Dimes has UK with 33-to-1 odds to win the SEC East. 


EDWARDS: "I like IU's offensive line, running backs & wide receivers. We'll see on quarterback. I don't think much of the defense (per usual).

"I've got no idea on IU at QB -- didn't I read Zander Diamont is redshirting? (Not officially. Many expect him to play.) I haven't seen Richard Lagow (a junior-college transfer and the likely starting quarterback) play.

"I have IU finishing 6-6, starting 3-0, then losing 4 straight before beating Maryland, Penn State and Purdue down the stretch. They can win at Rutgers, but I give Rutgers slight edge being at home and getting an open date the week before and thus 2 weeks to prepare.

"But 6-6 after losing (quarterback) Nate Sudfeld is a decent year for the Hoosiers, I would think - in terms of (coach Kevin) Wilson's job security.

*Westgate has IU with 100-to-1 odds to win the Big Ten and 1,000-to-1 odds to win the CFP.

*5Dimes has IU with 60-to-1 odds to win Big Ten East. 

*5Dimes has IU with a season win total of 5.5 ('under' -130 odds, 'over' +110).

*5Dimes has (halfback) Devine Redding with 175-to-1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy.


EDWARDS: "I have Western Kentucky 8-4, losing to Alabama, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee and Marshall. Scheduling note for Hilltoppers: during three-week stretch at Middle Tennessee, vs. Old Dominion (home) and at Florida Atlantic, all three of those foes have open dates the week prior (to playing WKU). That gives them two weeks to prep, whereas 'Tops will be playing their seventh, eighth and ninth games in as many weeks.

"They might lose at Louisiana Tech (short week favors home team for Thursday game) and could lose at FAU, but I doubt it.

"The loss at home to Vandy is one that could go their way. I thought (possible WKU starting quarterback) Mike White (presuming he's going to be starter?) was horrible at USF. Maybe he'll be much better under (Jeff) Brohm?

"I don't have much confidence in my preseason thoughts on 'Tops. Love their o-line and running backs. And by the way, Phil Steele ranked Tops' o-line as 13th best in the nation."

*Westgate has WKU as 3-to-1 co-favorites with Southern Miss & Middle Tennessee to win Conference USA title game. 

--5Dimes has WKU with season win total of 8 ('over' -130, 'under' +110). 

--5Dimes has different C-USA odds compared to Westgate. 5Dimes has Western Ky. +385 to win C-USA title game (risk $100 to win $385). Those are 3rd-shortest odds -- So. Miss +260 & Marshall +350. 5Dimes has Marshall as +180 favorite to win C-USA East with WKU at +195. 

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