Wilson: 3 College Football Win Totals I Bet Immediately After Opening
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Herbert and Dan Mullen
- March is usually a slow time of year for college football, until sportsbooks begin posting win totals for the following season.
- Collin Wilson details three win totals he bet right away, including Florida and Oregon.
The world is preparing for the craziest few weeks on the gambling calendar in the form of March Madness. March is a time of college football hibernation, with only random news populating our timeline from spring practice.
That all changed this week as win totals popped up for a handful of teams. We have to wait a bit longer to fade UMass and jump on the Texas State money train (as our updated Action Network Power Ratings will recommend), but there are enough teams posted that we can officially start our gambling calendar for college football.
The 2019 schedule was finalized recently with dates added for the Sun Belt and MAC conference games. Our new set of power ratings can lead us to a cumulative single game win probability, allowing us to take a mathematical approach to win totals.
There were multiple teams I was happy to get money down on, including a Texas under. Without hesitation, we kick off our college football gambling season in early March with a few plays on win totals.
- Projected Win Total: 8.86
- The Bet: Under 9 wins (+110)
While our own power ratings predict a win total of 8.86, updated S&P+ for 2019 predicts a number just a shade over nine wins.
There is reason to be optimistic on the Gators as head coach Dan Mullen enters his second year. Florida returns plenty of starters, including quarterback Feleipe Franks.
The defense does lose sacks and tackles, especially on the defensive line, but it is the schedule that is calling for this under. Dates with Auburn, LSU and Georgia in SEC play and Miami and Florida State out of conference pose problems.
The South Carolina spot is tricky after coming off back-to-back brawls with Auburn and LSU. Mathematically, the Gators should finish with nine wins, but there is no room for error on this schedule. The Under +110 does not accurately reflect how often Florida would finish with eight wins rather than 10 if this schedule was played multiple times.
- Projected Win Total: 7.74
- The Bet: Under 9.5 (-130)
Expectations are high in Eugene with the return of quarterback Justin Herbert and the signing of a historical recruiting class. The Ducks return plenty of weapons at the skill positions and have an offensive line chalked full of experience. Like Florida, there is reason for excitement, but a win total of 9.5 leaves no room for error.
An opening game against Auburn at AT&T Stadium will test the offensive line immediately, as the Tigers defense returns a fierce pass rush. Look for Gus Malzahn, who has taken over play calling duties for Auburn in 2019, to go right after new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos.
There is going to be a bit of scheme change for Oregon on defense with the departure of coordinator Jim Leavitt. There is also a dramatic drop off in the Ducks special teams, finishing 2018 with a rank of 111th in S&P+.
The schedule is unforgiving with road games at Stanford, Washington and USC. This is still a Ducks team that has lost four straight to Washington State and three straight to Stanford.
A big question centers around Herbert’s playing time, too. The slightest injury or the Ducks getting knocked out of the Pac-12 North race may result in Herbert focusing on the NFL.
With my projections just shy of 8 wins, Oregon is an under play at 9.5, 9 and 8.5.
- Projected Win Total: 6.10
- The Bet: Under 8 (-140)
The projection for the Trojans to finish just over six wins is not an error. S&P+ is a bit nicer to USC with its updated numbers, setting their projected win total below 7.
The Kliff Kingsbury debacle ended on a positive note with the hiring of Graham Harrell as offensive coordinator. Harrell was previously at North Texas and comes from the school of Mike Leach Air Raid. Quarterback JT Daniels will excel with a talented set of wide receivers, but it is the defense that will struggle in 2019.
USC comes in at 118th in returning production on defense. This was a unit that ranked 90th in defensive IsoPPP and 88th in finishing drives. This Trojans defense has been in decline through the Clancy Pendergast era, so it came as a surprise to most that he was retained as defensive coordinator.
A win total of 9 insinuates USC must win plenty of coin flips. Road games at Washington and Notre Dame may have the Trojans as touchdown dogs, while visits to BYU, Cal and Arizona State act as coin flip situations.
A depleted back seven on defense takes on a schedule chalked full of quality quarterbacks — KJ Costello, Zach Wilson, Jacob Eason, Ian Book and Justin Herbert. That alone could be the formula to give head coach Clay Helton his walking papers.