2023 College Football Win Totals: Collin Wilson’s 4 Early Bets, Including UCLA & Auburn
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UCLA’s Kam Brown.
On a peaceful Saturday morning in May, the average sports consumer had a number of events to choose from for their entertainment.
The third round of the Wells Fargo Championship from Quail Hollow had just gotten underway, while massive tickets were written on the Kentucky Derby just before the NBA showcase between the Warriors and Lakers.
But in this sports consumer’s world, the only item on the agenda was a drive to Kansas in hopes of snagging a few college football openers.
Both DraftKings and Caesars released win totals for every Power Five team on Friday. Defending national champion Georgia had one of the highest win totals at 11, one of the few double-digit totals. Some notable teams that also touched double digits include Clemson, Ohio State and Michigan.
No double-digit total team has taken as much action as Alabama, which opened at 10.5 and was pounded down to 10 with the juice at -130 on the under.
The action began at a Casey’s General Store across the street from a graveyard in Caney, Kansas. The scenery and my one bar of AT&T service marked the beginning of the college football win total wagering season.
Here are a few of my favorite win total selections, with remaining numbers logged in the Action Network App.
Auburn Over 6.5 (-115)
With a projection near 9, there was certainly reason to be skeptical of the offseason numbers put together on the Tigers.
Hugh Freeze takes over for the departed Bryan Harsin, a move that generated a power rating upgrade over the offseason. I have supreme confidence in backing Freeze, a coach who led Ole Miss to two consecutive nine-win seasons and a Sugar Bowl victory.
Not only did Freeze put a blemish on Alabama’s 2016 National Championship team, the coach also elevated a Liberty program high enough to beat Arkansas on its own soil.
Turnover regression also accounts for an increase in rating, as the Tigers finished 122nd in turnover margin in the 2022 season.
Freeze inherits a roster that brings plenty of firepower, leading all SEC teams in offensive TARP. The recent addition of Payton Thorne via the transfer portal upgrades a quarterback room that included a declining TJ Finley and electric dual-threat Robby Ashford.
𝐒𝐈𝐆𝐍𝐄𝐃🦅🎯@payton15thorne is officially an Auburn Tiger! pic.twitter.com/258TBaOwND
— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) May 5, 2023
Auburn will be a minimum touchdown favorite in five games against New Mexico State, Vanderbilt, Samford, Cal and UMass. The final two wins will come from a number of coin-flips that include Arkansas, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.
Between the fishing and hoodie troll war on Twitter, a fitting seventh victory could come against Kiffin and the Rebels.
UCLA Over 8 (-120)
Thank Caesars for posting the better number currently in the market. The Bruins opened 7.5 and quickly flew to 8.5 on the DraftKings board. Caesars was slow to move, allowing action on a win total of 8.
The biggest question in Westwood is the replacement of weapons on an offense that ranked third in available yards last season.
The Pac-12 is absolutely loaded from an offensive perspective this season, as every team fields an experienced quarterback. The Bruins are not as lucky on offense with a mid-FBS TARP number of 64%.
Despite the losses of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet, there remains a plethora of weapons in the arsenal for Chip Kelly.
A true freshman has never won the #HeismanTrophy, could UCLA's Dante Moore be the first to ever do it?
The #GoBruins QB is the only true freshman with Heisman odds (+15000) from @DKSportsbook right now 👀pic.twitter.com/zzxemPx052
— College Football Network (@CFN365) May 3, 2023
The transfer portal retrieved two of the best players from the MAC. Quarterback Collin Schlee brings his “Flash Fast” skills from Kent State, while running back Carson Steele dominated midweek MACtion for Ball State.
There are no gaping holes from a TARP perspective, as the Bruins bring back more than 50% in all production categories from offensive line snaps to defensive tackles.
The schedule is conducive to an over, as well; UCLA projects as a favorite in nine games.
After three nonconference full-confidence victories, Pac-12 play includes road trips against the bottom of the conference in Arizona and Stanford. If the Bruins can defend home turf against Arizona State, Washington State and Cal, then any additional victories will get this number to the window.
Louisville Over 7.5 (-110)
There were plenty of spot checks in the numbers before I fired on the Cardinals.
A rule of thumb in hitting the early win total market is to back high returning numbers and stability within the coaching staff. Volatility in player movement with a first-year coach is generally a blind under path, but when Jeff Brohm is the coach, the ceiling is tough to gauge.
Brohm returns to Louisville after a successful stint at Purdue, leaving the Boilermakers as Big Ten West Division champions. Now in his 10th season as a head coach, Brohm has utilized the portal while inheriting the Cardinals’ assets in an attempt to exceed last year’s passing and receiving yard totals.
Here are some initial thoughts by Jeff Brohm and QB Jack Plummer after Louisville's spring football game.
Brohm – "I want to win."@WHAS11pic.twitter.com/5Ob9lUQSv8
— Kent Spencer (@WHAS11Kent) April 22, 2023
Jack Plummer is the starting quarterback for the offense after he spent two years in Brohm’s system at Purdue. Numerous four-star recruits come via the portal to Louisville, giving the Cardinals defense a great chance of staying top 15 in Havoc and Finishing Drives.
The real driver behind Louisville’s high projection is the strength of schedule, thanks in part to the removal of ACC divisions. The Cardinals are set to face the third-easiest schedule of offenses in terms of opponent SP+. The conference schedule also doesn’t include heavyweights Clemson or Florida State, nor the old Coastal stronghold in North Carolina.
Brohm has plenty of advantages to succeed in the coaching position he’s desired since his days as a Cardinals quarterback.
Stanford Under 3 (-115)
Stanford has all of the ingredients for a win total under.
Each side of the ball returns less than 45% of experience, as a mass exodus of players have hit the portal.
More importantly, new coaches often bring new schemes that may not match the personnel that’s been recruited to the school. This is the case with the exit of David Shaw and his pro-style West Coast offense. Now, the Cardinal will float toward leaner formations and schemes.
New head coach Troy Taylor led one of the most successful campaigns in recent FCS history at Sacramento State. The two-time Big Sky Coach of the Year is familiar with the Pac-12 as a former offensive coordinator at Utah.
Under Taylor, the Hornets utilized a quarterback-wide receiver RPO through a mesh sit scheme with plenty of wheel routes designed for the running back. The days of Stanford loading up the box with 22 and 23 personnel and a pocket-passing quarterback have come to an end.
There are plenty of takeaways from spring practices for Stanford. While every single position is up for grabs, the pace of play will see one of the biggest increases in college football.
Not only will the Cardinal undergo mass changes in play-calling, but the schedule isn’t conducive to many victories either. Stanford is projected to be a favorite in one game, the opener against Hawaii. Arizona, Colorado and Sacramento State represent a path to four wins, but the remainder of the schedule is pure brutality.
Taylor is an innovative head coach who will have future success, but Year 0 often translates to an easy cash for under tickets.
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