College Football Win Totals: Comparing Vegas’ and The Action Network’s Projections

College Football Win Totals: Comparing Vegas’ and The Action Network’s Projections article feature image

Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Matt Rhule

  • We're comparing The Action Network's projected wins for every college football team to actual win totals from Las Vegas.
  • All 130 FBS teams are assigned a probability of winning each game, which is used to derive a projected number of wins.

What goes into a college football win total? A whole lot.

Since the 2017-18 season ended, The Action Network’s Collin Wilson has been tinkering with his projections for this fall to arrive at a win total for all 130 FBS teams.

Wilson uses things such as efficiency, explosiveness and defensive havoc to assign a power rating to each team, then creates a win probability for each game. From there, a win total can be derived. That’s how he projects Clemson’s 11.43 wins when a team can’t win 43% of a game — it’s based on probability over the course of 12 games.

Oddsmakers offshore and in Las Vegas follow a pretty similar pattern. They’ve already baked in regression, both positive and negative, to these numbers. Factors such as scheduling are also accounted for using those win probabilities.

Here are win totals from South Point in Las Vegas compared to The Action Network’s projections.

Biggest Win Total Differences

Teams we’re projecting to be better than sportsbooks anticipate:

  • Rice (+2.06 wins)
  • Arizona (+1.81)
  • Baylor (+1.76)
  • Eastern Michigan (+1.64)
  • Oregon State (+1.31)

It’s important to not blindly follow these win-total projections, and instead use them as part of your betting arsenal.

We like Oregon State to go under its win total of 2.5 despite projecting 3.81 wins. That’s because there isn’t a third winnable game on the Beavers’ schedule. The sum of probabilities might add up to 3.81 wins, but it doesn’t translate to reality.

By contrast, we like Arizona more than the oddsmakers due to explosive quarterback Khalil Tate, so Wilson thinks the Wildcats will upset USC and/or Oregon to top eight wins.

Teams we’re projecting to be worse than sportsbooks anticipate:

  • Stanford (-2.25 wins)
  • South Carolina (-2.08)
  • West Virginia (-1.97)
  • FIU (-1.8)
  • Kansas State (-1.75)

There are a variety of reasons Wilson’s projections are lower for these teams, such as poor defenses for Stanford and West Virginia. South Carolina could also regress even more than oddsmakers think the Gamecocks will.

Authors of this article include The Action Network’s own: Steve Petrella and Collin Wilson.