Win totals time! The last step in the CFB futures portfolio. Today I’m just going to focus on the P5 (& independent) win totals to split up the write ups and I’ll have the Group of 5 win totals by the end of the week.
There are multiple ways to bet a team you think has value and it’s about picking which bet you think is most likely to hit and where the value is. For example, I think Alabama will lose a game and not win the SEC West this year. However, I think there is way more value in betting the teams I like to beat them (Texas A&M and Ole Miss) to win the SEC West rather than bet the Alabama win total under. Another example is Penn State, I gave out Penn State as a longshot to win the B1G. I could take their win total over but I honestly think they’re a boom or bust team that could pull off an upset and win the conference but could also flop on their face if everything goes wrong. So that’s just something to think about when choosing your futures.
Just a quick look into my thought process on win totals- you will hear a lot of stupid conversation around win totals like “oh this team is 4th in strength of schedule bet their win total under” or for a team like Cincy “they are by far the best team in their conference bet their win total over.” Let’s be clear, these win totals are based off of a large number of factors including strength of schedule, how they are power rated against each team on their schedule, and more. Basically, most factors are built into these numbers already. So as a bettor, your mission when looking at win totals is to find teams that you think will lose games they should win or win games they should lose. Those that have read my work in the past know that I don’t have a power rating system so I don’t have “projected wins” for these teams. I have teams I like and dislike from weeks and months of studying this summer and then I just go through their schedule the old fashioned way and see if there’s an edge I see compared to their win total.
The only other piece of advice I’ll give- unders have a built in edge with win totals. If you counted up all of the win totals in college football, there are more projected wins out there than actual games. Meaning at the end of the season, more unders will hit than overs on win totals simply because of how the math works out. That doesn’t mean you somehow find a way to bet every single under because you would still lose money with juice- that means if there is an under number you like, you already have an edge and if there is an over number you like, you better really like it because you’re starting at a slight disadvantage.
Enough with the boring shit now. Let’s get into the win totals.
1u Notre Dame under 8.5 wins (+115)
I see a major down year coming for the Irish. They lost longtime starting QB Ian Book and are replacing him with Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan who is completely unproven at the college level. The Irish only return 9 starters in total and have a pretty tough schedule. I only see 6 “sure thing” wins on their schedule (Toledo, Purdue, Navy, UVA, GA Tech, and Stanford) which means they’ll need to find 3 wins from the rest of a tough schedule to go over this number. They have a brutal 3 game stretch of Wisconsin (neutral), Cincy, and VA Tech (road) where ALL THREE of those teams will be off a bye when facing ND. Then ND has their bye and then will face USC and UNC who will both also be off byes when facing ND. So even if they win all of their “sure thing” games (not a sure thing) and take care of business against FSU Week 1, they will still need to find 2 wins in that brutal 5 game stretch in the middle of the season. I don’t think they do.
2u Michigan under 7.5 wins (+105)
Michigan is staring another disappointing year in the face. In the Harbaugh era they have gone from National Championship hopefuls, to Big 10 title hopefuls, to win 8 games and beat Rutgers hopefuls. It’s another year and another new starting QB for Michigan with TTU transfer Alan Bowman stepping in who I am not remotely sold on. When you look at their schedule I see 3 “sure thing” wins (W. Michigan, N. Illinois, Rutgers) and 3 “sure thing” losses (Ohio State, at Wisconsin, at Penn State) and I find it much more likely they are upset by a Western Michigan then pulling off an upset over a Wisconsin. I really can’t see Michigan beating a Washington team that I am high on this year either. So if those games fall as predicted, that leaves Michigan needing to go 5-0 against Nebraska (road), Northwestern, Michigan State (road and off a bye), Indiana, and Maryland (road). I think Michigan State will be improved this year and Indiana should be around a PK against Michigan in November. Basically, 8 wins is the absolute ceiling for this Michigan team in my opinion and the floor is much much lower giving this 7.5 win total value, especially with + money to the under.
2u Illinois over 3.5 wins (-125)
#BelieveInBret! The Bret Bielema era begins in Champaign, Illinois this season and I like them to exceed expectations. They return 9 starters on both sides of the ball which will help the new coach having so much experience around him. They are also really solid on both the OL and DL which helps keep a not so good teams in games they don’t really belong in. They also have an electric running back in Chase Brown who is capable of taking over a game at any given time. They have a really easy start to the season with Nebraska (who they beat last season) at home, UTSA at home, Virginia on the road, Maryland at home, Purdue on the road, and Charlotte at home. Charlotte is a horrific team and I like UTSA this year but from a sheer athlete perspective, Illinois should take care of them. This is a Nebraska team that I am very unsure on that Illinois beat for one of their two wins last season on the road, so I like them to take that game to start the year. That’s already 3 wins for the Illini and I think they could beat one of Virginia, Maryland, or Purdue in this stretch as well. So I think best case Illini could end that stretch before their bye with 4 wins already and 2 wins absolute worst case. They have Rutgers on their schedule at the later in the season so if they are stuck on 3 after that stretch, Rutgers would make it 4 wins and go over the total.
To sum it up, the Illini have 3 “sure thing” wins with UTSA, Charlotte, and Rutgers which requires them to just find one win against some weak B1G opponents or Virginia which I think they easily find a way to do and could even pull of an upset against a big dog in the conference. #BelieveInBret.
1u Indiana under 7.5 wins (-105)
I think the Indiana hype is too high this year. Tom Allen is being overrated after one (1) good season and Indiana got very lucky last year in games like Penn State where they shouldn’t have even won. I think they definitely lose at Iowa, at Penn State, against Cincy, and against Ohio State. That means they would have to be perfect in their other 8 games to pull off the over here. They have a really tough spot Week 4 against a really exciting Western Kentucky team on the road where WKU will be off a bye. If they get upset there the win total is dead. Even if they win that, I think they will 2-3 heading into their bye requiring them to 6-1 down the stretch and Ohio State is in that stretch. So assuming OSU is a loss, they will have to go a perfect 6-0 against Michigan State, @ Maryland, @ Michigan, Rutgers, Minnesota, and @ Purdue. It is really tough to go perfect on a Big Ten conference slate like that even if they are the better team in each game. I think they drop to WKU and/or one or more of those B1G opponents and finish at 6 or 7 wins.
1u Wake Forest o6.5 (-160)
This Wake Forest team is loaded with experience. They return all 11 starters on offense- that includes QB Sam Hartman who has huge upside, last season’s leading rusher, last season’s top-6 leading receivers, and all 5 starters on the OL plus grad transfer Terrance Davis who missed last season with an injury. This leaves this team loaded offensively and they still return 9 starters on defense, including 7 of their 8 leading tacklers from last season as well as their returning sack and TFL leader. Dave Clawson is going into year 8 with Wake and this just seems like a team that is ready to succeed this year.
There are some 7s with less juice out there but I like this number better (at FD and others) because I think 7 wins is the absolute floor for this team. I have them down for six “sure thing” wins and I’m giving them two losses against UNC and Clemson. That leaves four question mark games against Florida State, NC State, Boston College, and Louisville. I really think they should pick up a win to end the season against BC and those other 3 games are at home and I’d be shocked if they don’t pull out one win from that group (most likely Louisville) and they really should find a way to win 2. I think Wake finishes with 8 or 9 wins and don’t be shocked if they are the team to pull off an upset over a Clemson or UNC in the ACC this year.
BONUS: 2u Wisconsin to win Big Ten West (-115)
I was planning on playing a win total over for Wisco so I did not include this bet in my conference futures blog but I decided I like this more than their win total so here we are. While the B1G East has been won by Ohio State the past four years, Wisconsin and Northwestern have gone back and forth each of the last four years (and if the trend continues Wisco would win it this year). However, I am pretty low on Northwestern this year and think this is a two team race between Iowa and Wisconsin and this bet basically comes down to the fact that Wisconsin has Iowa at home this year. There are a few factors like QB and some scheduling spots that I think Wisco has an edge but this division should come down to that one game and Wisco will be closer to -150 or more on the ML in that game which gives this number huge value. Go Badgers.
That’s it for the P5! Just one blog left to go and then the CFB futures portfolio will be finalized and then… it’s on to Week Zero! COLLEGE FOOTBALL! FOX SPORTS! THE BIG 12!