Wilson: A Running List of College Football Futures I’ve Bet
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cole McDonald
College football betting season never ends. But the games are coming soon, don’t worry.
To help get you ready, we’ve compiled all the futures I’m betting into one handy post, with links out to full conference previews that will give you an early edge when betting this fall.
Some numbers have moved and will continue to move as the season gets closer, and some plays have not been included because they’re so stale. More conferences to come soon!
- Alabama to Miss the Playoff +200: The best way to fade Alabama isn’t with a flat price on Under 11 wins, it’s betting that this team will be left out of the playoff. Alabama’s schedule ends with LSU, Mississippi State, Tin Horn Weekend, Auburn and potentially Georgia in the SEC title game. There are questions around the offensive line, the defense allowing big plays and a swinging door of coordinators.
- Georgia to Win the SEC +275: Kirby Smart feels that he has found the solution to the problems in 2018, lack of havoc and red zone scoring. A parlay of Georgia beating Florida and Alabama projects to +275, while any other team than the Crimson Tide would lower it, so lock in Georgia to win the SEC now.
- Mississippi State Over 8: The Action Network win total projects to 9.1, requiring an investment on a Joe Moorhead rebound. Tommy Stevens brings pedigree and knowledge of the playbook from Penn State, while the defense will continue to be havoc-minded.
- Arkansas Under 5: Shop around, as multiple outlets have 5.5. The difference between the 2018 roster and 2019 is that this group believes in the message. The talent level has not increased, the wide receivers enter the season beat up, there are questions all over the offensive line and quarterback play will be moderately improved at best. This Razorback team needed 5 turnovers to beat Eastern Illinois and shutout Tulsa for their only FBS win in 2018. A jump to 6 wins after last season would be one of the best coaching jobs in the nation.
- Missouri Over 7.5: The juice at this number is too high, but the play is still approved at 8, 8.5 and a plus-number on 9. Our projections have this at 9.5 for a Kelly Bryant-led offense that should score points in bunches. A cake non-conference schedule with Arkansas in cross division play ensures there will be plenty of noise out of Columbia.
- Kentucky Under 6.5: This plus-money future comes down to a couple of coin flips with Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. The secondary has plenty of holes and opens with pass capable offenses in Toledo and Florida. If Tommy Stevens pans out at Mississippi State, the month of September may be a complete struggle for the Wildcats.
- Ohio State Under 10.5/10: Changes with the head coach, quarterback and defensive coordinator leave plenty of signs the Buckeyes may not reach 11 wins. While it is conceivable that their poor advanced defensive statistics were a result of Greg Schiano’s schemes, depth at quarterback and wide receiver continuity is a blaring issue.
- Michigan +0.5 wins vs. Ohio State: In lieu of taking a juiced win total, Big Ten or playoff prop, elect for a head-to-head battle with Michigan’s rival. The new offensive scheme with Josh Gattis may be a resounding success, but the efficiency of the defense is a concern with the number of plays per game increase. Still, Michigan is -3 in the lookahead line against the Buckeyes, while this prop offers head-to-head action at even.
- Nebraska Under 8.5: Depth in the back seven is a concern with the Cornhuskers. A depleted linebacker and secondary unit leaves Nebraska open against passing attacks. Adrian Martinez’s health is paramount to the success of Nebraska, and a depleted offensive line may have the quarterback on the run. Wait to hit this number until late August as public inflation may get a 9 to pop in the market.
- Michigan State Over 7.5: Regardless of Dantonio’s record off disappointing seasons, the offensive line is deep. That should translate to a healthy Brian Lewerke we all loved to back two years ago. The non-conference schedule screams three wins, the Spartans own James Franklin and Rutgers/Maryland to end the season should get this ticket to the window.
- Penn State Under 8.5: More offensive decline is expected in the post-Moorhead years. Now Trace McSorley departs while Sean Clifford is thrust into an offense full of questions. The defense is one of the best in the nation, but a lack of points and five of nine conference games on the road will get the Nittany Lions no more than 8 wins.
- Illinois Over 4: Maybe I am a fan of the long term beard growth on Lovie Smith, but this offense has playmakers. A cake non-conference schedule and 5 conference games at home add to the chances this ticket is at least a push.
- Oklahoma to Make the Playoff +225: One of my biggest preseason wagers comes on the Sooners to make the playoff once again. To win the Big 12 comes at a price of -140, but this wager would be a ‘To win the Big 12 and only have one loss‘. With a schedule loaded with inefficient defensive lines, not many will be able to expose the new faces on the offensive lines. Jalen Hurts takes plenty of criticism, but a national championship with a 26-2 record as a starter should not be dismissed. If Alex Grinch can get Oklahoma back to mid-pack, Lincoln Riley may get past the playoff semifinals.
- TCU Under 7.5: TCU’s loss of Ben Banogu and LJ Collier as edge rushers cannot be understated. The defensive ends accounted for 23.4% of the total team havoc. TCU was held together last season by a fantastic defense and an offense that was only a shade better than Cal in the Cheez-It Bowl. Besides the returning production and toughest conference schedule, TCU had a Special Teams S&P+ rank of 115th that was down from ninth the season before.
- Texas Under 9: Tom Herman is an excellent buy as an underdog and fade material as a favorite. Sadly for the Horns, Texas will be a favorite in plenty of games this season. Injuries have started to pile up on a roster that was already thin on experience. Even with excellent recruiting in recent years, this coaching staff has had an offensive IsoPPP rank outside the top 100 the past two seasons.
- Kansas Under 3: The Jayhawks project as two touchdown underdogs in the final 10 games of the season. Kansas will be without their best player in the opener against Indiana State, who keeps everyone on a team that just missed the FCS playoffs. While Coastal Carolina looks like a slam dunk, new head coach Jamey Chadwell came up just one point shy of winning at Arkansas two seasons ago. This win total has the highest probability to cash.
- Oklahoma State Over 7.5: Princeton averaged 47 points per game and was the top scoring offense in the FCS last season. Tigers offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson moves into the same role in Stillwater, giving a needed punch to a Pokes attack that was 75th in explosiveness during passing downs. The trench takes a major hit defensively, but winning Big 12 teams generally have a formula of explosive offensive attacks.
- Utah to win Pac-12: The South division was filled with teams that had at least 4 conference losses. Even a loss at Washington should not interrupt a return visit to Santa Clara for the Utes. Utah is projected to be a favorite over any other Pac-12 team on a neutral site this season.
- Oregon Under 8.5: There are too many potholes on the schedule, starting with a neutral site trip to face Auburn. The defense is undergoing a scheme change, and the Ducks have issues winning on the road. Any injury to Justin Herbert late in the season may have the quarterback left on the sidelines thinking about the NFL.
- Washington Under 9.5: This number has been plummeted over the summer down to 9 at some sports books. The returning production will be hard to overcome with quarterback, skill positions and an entire defense with new starters. A quarterback battle continues through camp with no clear sign of who the starter will be against Eastern Washington.
- Cal Over 5.5: The Bears are a play on team with one of the best defenses in the nation. With any improvement from an offense that was 126th in IsoPPP and 99th in success rate, Cal will be bowling once against with at least 6 wins.
- Florida State Over 7.5: Sure my raw projection has the Seminoles at 7, but it cannot be understated what Kendall Briles will do with the offense. That should affect both the offense and defense. From an investment standpoint, we have seen the floor on the Seminoles stock and 2019 should return to the mean and redefine the ceiling.
- Boston College Under 6: There are 6.5’s out there worth investment, as a 6 is more likely to push. If the Eagles do not go 6-1 through their first 7 games, there is a great chance this under cashes. The season ends with Florida State at home and four road games against Clemson, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt. As stated before, the offensive changes to uptempo did Boston College no favors in 2018. Missing offensive lineman and receivers could hurt in the numerous coin flip games.
- Virginia Tech to win Coastal +200: While certain sports books offer odds as great as 25-1 to win the ACC, a Coastal Division bet does not have to worry about a hedge against a heavy Clemson line. The Hokies have a higher returning production number than anyone in the ACC. The toughest game on the schedule is at Miami, while the Hurricanes could easily lose two or more in their conference slate. If the experienced defense can stop the big play, the Hokies will make their way to Charlotte to take on Clemson.
- Arkansas State to win Sun Belt +400: Someone has to represent the Sun Belt West in the title game. Despite losing their quarterback, Arkansas State has the best talent in the division. The Red Wolves host Texas State, ULL and Georgia Southern while dodging Appalachian State altogether.
- Texas State to win Sun Belt +10000: Breaking plenty of my own handicapping rules with this selection, I am supporting a first year coach with new schemes on both sides of the ball. If there is any place to do that, the weakest division in the Sun Belt conference is a place to take a shot. The schedule screams opportunity while all the talent returns for a respected coaching staff.
- Texas State Over 4.5: Home games against Nicholls, UL-Monroe and South Alabama have the Bobcats projected favorites. Coinflip games against Coastal Carolina, Wyoming, and Louisiana should be enough to get the Bobcats to 5.
- South Alabama Under 2.5: Depth issues will plague the Jags in 2019 along with a tough schedule. South Alabama will be a double-digit underdog in 10 games this season. The Jags are expected to be touchdown underdogs at Georgia State, while a victory over FCS Jackson State is not a cake walk.
- Troy Over 6.5: Chip Lindsey had his play calling taken away at Auburn last season after a successful 2017 that had victories over Georgia and Alabama. A move to Kansas as offensive coordinator for Les Miles came to an end when Troy came calling. Lindsey is a former North Alabama player and Troy quarterbacks coach, which should help in recruiting the area. As mentioned earlier, the road to the Sun Belt title comes through Troy, but the road schedule is where this ticket will cash. Troy visits Akron, Georgia State, Coastal Carolina, Texas State and Louisiana.
- Bowling Green Under 3: Player turnover, new coaches, new schemes and no depth in the program are all factors leading to this wager. There are three realistic chances at a win with Akron, Central Michigan and Morgan State. The Chipps new head coach Jim McElwain may get this ticket to the window in mid-October.
- Kent State Over 4: Shop around as 3.5 does exist in some shops, but the extra plus-money juice on four is worth a gamble. Besides excellent marks in returning production, the Golden Flashes face most of their winnable games at home with Kennesaw State, Bowling Green and Ball State. A road game at Akron is good for four wins, while coin flips with Buffalo and Miami of Ohio will make this a winner.
- Ohio to win the MAC +350: Toledo was the pick when the number opened +300 on the Rockets, but at +150 there is little to be desired when a potential MAC Championship game may have Toledo as a pk. The Bobcats and quarterback Nathan Rourke should win the East, as division rivals Miami of Ohio and Kent State come to Athens. There is room to hedge the +350 if needed. Western Michigan and Northern Illinois possess enough talent in the defensive front 7 to contain Rourke.
- East Carolina Over 4: A stellar hire in Mike Houston as head coach and a schedule that includes Gardner Webb and William & Mary will all help get East Carolina to 5 wins. The Pirates may flirt with a bowl game as early as this season.
- Tulsa Over 4.5: Not a large investment, but certainly worth it if you can keep the juice low. Offseason power rating bumps in returning production and second-order win total favor the Golden Hurricanes. The retirement of Bill Young, who started coaching in 1969, paves the way for Joseph Gillespie to lead Tulsa in their second year of using the 3-3-5 defense. This defense is 19th in returning production on defense.
- South Florida and Houston Under: As written in this Action Network article, these win totals are both way off my projections. I immediately hit both unders.
- Memphis to win the AAC +350: This number opened 5-1 in some spots before taking heavy action. The schedule is kind, but Memphis has the highest ranking in second-order win total and has the most overall returning in the AAC. With a 2018 offensive IsoPPP rating of 1.37, look for the Tigers to possibly host the conference championship game.
- Boise State to win MWC -105: Offensive skill positions missing and a new defensive coordinator may doom the Broncos in the opener against Florida State. Because of the schedule and lack of contenders in the division, Boise State is the best bet to make the conference championship game. The Broncos will not be a pick em, thus giving value to this future.
- Hawaii to win the MWC +2500: If there is a year where San Diego State or Fresno State do not win the West division, 2019 may be it. Keep in mind that San Diego State switching schemes after a seven-win season and Fresno State losing every player on the roster without reloading could help the Warriors. A healthy Cole McDonald can beat anyone in the conference with the Run-and-Shoot, regardless of how bad the defense is. Five of the last seven games are on the island, and that includes division rival Aztecs and Bulldogs. Any sports book offering division odds would also be worth an investment on the Warriors.
- New Mexico Under 5: New Mexico has new coordinators for a spread attack that got slower as the year went on. The Lobos lose their top six tacklers in the secondary and will plug holes with junior college transfers. All of the new faces on the roster and the coaching staff will play three of their first four FBS games on the road. Despite having a defense outside the top 100, you can succeed in the Mountain West with an explosive offense. The Lobos offensive IsoPPP rating has moved from 2nd in 2016, to 39th in 2018, to 111th last year. The Under is juiced, but should be played through 4.5 and 4.
- Florida International to Win Conference +450: Butch Davis has done nothing but fast track the Panthers since he took over a 4-8 team in 2017. Hidden IsoPPP metrics prove it will be tough for any team to blow out the Panthers. Quarterback James Morgan is the best in the conference not named Mason Fine from North Texas. Some hidden bye weeks will help FIU’s conference odds also. The Panthers have New Hampshire scheduled before travel to Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion before travel to Florida Atlantic.
- Middle Tennessee Under 5.5: This was an early and larger investment from me, and not just because Rick Stockstill must turn to a quarterback who isn’t his son for the first time since 2014. Depleted units on both sides of the ball make this a fade season for the Blue Raiders.
- Louisiana Tech to Win the West +350: A stellar defense and a high returning production rank are advantages, but getting North Texas and Southern Miss at home will help. Skip Holtz has finished higher than than Littrell’s Mean Green in two of the last three seasons.