College Football Futures: Why There’s Betting Value on Iowa & UCLA Ahead of Week 2
Matthew Holst/Getty Images. Pictured: Riley Moss (33), Jack Koerner (28), Charlie Jones (16), and Max Cooper (19).
The first full week of the college football season has come to a close, and there were multiple outcomes that affected the landscape of the CFP picture.
Most notably, Georgia’s victory over Clemson in Charlotte puts the Dawgs in great position for a spot in the top four as long as they can handle their business in the SEC East. Meanwhile, Clemson will pretty much need to run the table and win the ACC to have any shot at getting back to its seventh consecutive playoff.
There were some other surprises along the way, as Washington dropped a stunner to Montana, and Wisconsin lost its home opener to Penn State despite dominating much of the game.
Let’s use WynnBET’s college football odds to dig into where we think there may be some value at both the national and conference level now that we know how Week 1 shook out.
National Championship Picture
Aside from Clemson and Wisconsin, most of the top contenders’ playoff odds remained the same or even slightly improved after the first week of play.
Clemson only dropped to +900 on WynnBET, and to me, that is too short of a number for a team that struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball.
Wisconsin has many difficult games still on its schedule, and it would have to win all of them, so I will pass on the Badgers as well.
The team that caught my eye to add this week comes in the form of a longshot. With an intriguing price of 100-1 to win the National Championship, I believe the Iowa Hawkeyes could be worth a small dart to add to your futures portfolio.
The Hawkeyes absolutely dominated Indiana in Week 1, and although his numbers weren’t all that pretty, Spencer Petras showed some significant signs of improvement.
The defense smothered what was a potent Indiana offense a year ago, and Tyler Goodson averaged over five yards a pop on the ground.
If you believe that Iowa is a legitimate contender to win the Big Ten and make the CFP, then I think now is the time to go ahead and add a ticket on the Hawks.
Iowa heads to Ames this weekend for a heavyweight battle against in-state rival Iowa State.
If the Hawkeyes can win that game, I believe you’ll see this 100-1 number cut in half by next Monday. It won’t be an easy task, but Iowa has owned the Cyclones in recent memory, and it boasts a defense that can hang around in a hostile road environment.
Looking at the rest of the Hawkeyes’ schedule, a couple of things jumped out at me.
Iowa has already beaten Indiana in the Big Ten East, and they don’t have to play Ohio State or Michigan in the regular season. They get Penn State in Iowa City, and while a Friday night road trip to College Park could be a tricky game, the Hawkeyes should be able to have their way in the trenches against the Terps.
From a nonconference standpoint, after the showdown in Ames this weekend, the Hawkeyes get Kent State and Colorado State both at home. Both of those games should presumably be easy wins that will allow Iowa to enter October and Big Ten play with some significant momentum.
A trip to Madison will certainly be the most difficult test of the Big Ten West matchups, but the good news is that with Wisconsin’s loss last weekend, the Hawkeyes could theoretically drop that game and still win the division and head to Indianapolis having a chance to control their own destiny.
In summary, this is a triple-digit number for a reason, as the Hawkeyes still have plenty of difficult games on their schedule, starting Saturday. They don’t have the top-end skill-position talent that the other top five teams have, and they would be a double-digit underdog to Alabama.
I get all of that. But when I look at this team and their remaining schedule, I think there is a clear and legitimate path to the Playoff, and with a ticket at 100-1 on WynnBET, you’ll certainly take your chances from there.
Split the road games in Ames and Madison, handle business at Kinnick and against the teams you should beat, and Iowa will enter Lucas Oil Stadium in early December (likely against OSU) with everything to play for.
At 100-1, what more can you really ask for?
Well, how about that for the Sissy Blues.
Before the game, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron went viral and LSU got hyped up all over social media. That didn’t matter to the Bruins. After a slow start, UCLA eventually turned it on and paced the LSU Tigers to a 38-27 win.
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson improved as the game went on. After struggling against Hawaii, he bounced back by throwing 9-of-16 for 260 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.
But it wasn’t the passing game that sealed the deal.
Once again dominating the run game, UCLA rushed for 210 yards It limited LSU to just 49. A majority of the yards came from Zach Charbonnet, who racked up 117, while Brittain Brown recorded 96. They each also scored a rushing touchdown.
This wasn’t just a win. It was a statement win.
It caught my attention. After a 10-21 start in Chip Kelly’s first three seasons, the Bruins have now won their first two games going into this season.
I tempered my opinion after they played Hawaii, but now? Now they have my full attention. Enough, in fact, to pull the trigger on a Pac-12 Championship ticket.
When it comes to placing a futures bet mid-season, it’s all about timing. There are two questions you need to ask yourself:
- Is this team for real?
- Will I ever get a better number?
After the first two games, I think UCLA has what it takes to win its conference championship.
Collin Wilson has the Bruins as the second-highest Pac-12 team in his betting power ratings, as of Sept. 6.
That makes UCLA a 0.5-point underdog to Utah on a neutral field, our highest power-rated Pac-12 team.
In the current futures market at WynnBET, the Bruins sit at +700, which is the sixth-longest odds on the board. With all of the top six power-rated close to evenly, some value opened up on UCLA.
I believe now is the time to tackle the Bruins. They have a bye week this week and then face Fresno State and Stanford. Those are two very winnable games that will only drop their current odds.
While on their break, Utah has to play a tricky rivalry game on the road at BYU, and Oregon plays Ohio State. Both lead the way on the odds board.
With rivalries always making things wild and a very tough game against the Buckeyes, I can picture both of them losing and opening the door even wider for the Bruins.
Like I said, mid-season futures are all about opportunity.
And boy, do we have an opportunity. With a number that we will most likely not get again this season and its biggest threats both getting tough draws this week, UCLA stands out most to me as a mid-season futures add.
What to Watch in Week 2 & Beyond
Keeping my attention on the Pac-12, the Utah Utes (+500) have my attention this week.
I’m not sold on futures board leader Oregon. A public darling, the Ducks have flaws and are too favored for me to take — especially when they lost potential top-three NFL Draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux with a foot/ankle sprain that will keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
So, why Utah this week?
Utah at BYU. The Holy War. Coming off of Week 1 wins, both the Utes and Cougars square off in Week 2 rivalry game. This presents itself with an interesting opportunity that correlates with my mid-season futures add with the previously mentioned Bruins.
With UCLA being our second-highest power-rated Pac-12, Utah takes the cake at No. 1.
The Utes have talent on both sides of the ball, as Baylor transfer quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns in their first game this season against FCS foe Weber State.
On the defensive end, linebacker Devin Lloyd created Havoc all over. Lloyd logged 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and an interception. He will be expected to lead the Utah defense all season.
So, if Utah is the best Pac-12 team in our projections, why not take it now? Because I’m not sold it will win this week.
Playing in Provo, BYU will be a home underdog with the current number sitting at 7. That makes the Cougars a sizeable underdog, but it’s a capable upset nonetheless when it comes to a rivalry game.
Before placing the bet, I’m looking for one of two situations. Utah dominates this game and shows me it’s worthy of its No. 1 slot in our power ratings, or it narrowly loses but still shows flashes of an excellent team.
Either way this game transpires, the time to take Utah will be after this week.
Utah goes to San Diego State next week and hosts Washington State the week after. The Utes will be a sizable favorite in both. Before that two-game stretch, it may be our last opportunity to get Utah at its current odds, as it should steamroll both of its next opponents.
With both UCLA and Utah being in the same division, my goal is to get one of them to the championship game. If one of them can make it, we potentially have a small hedge opportunity.
Profit is the name of the game when it’s all said and done.