Wilson: Best Power 5 Conference Betting Values
Mark D. Smith – USA TODAY Sports. Pictured Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
- Washington is the most talented team in the Pac-12 and has the easiest schedule.
- Collin will suggest Virginia Tech when Coastal Odds are available, but the ACC is all Clemson.
- There are potential landmines on Georgia’s schedule. Buy all the Dawgs’ futures after their first loss.
June is the month when the college football action begins to heat up. Many magazine publications will start to hit newsstands, and that translates to the public blindly betting on teams en masse. So it’s no surprise conference odds have recently been released
Let’s take a look at some of the Power 5 conference odds with a few pointers on where to hit and where to stand.
The Pac-12 South should be one of the worst divisions in the Power 5, as USC is expected to take a step back after losing Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones II. The Trojans make an early season trip to Stanford, but their road trips to Utah and Arizona complicate things. Both the Utes and Wildcats should have fantastic must-see-TV offenses and could make a showing in the conference title game. When division odds are released, I will grab a piece of both Utah and Arizona.
Ultimately, Washington is the most talented team in the conference and has the easiest schedule. The Huskies draw the worst three teams in the South Division (Arizona State, Colorado, California) and host Stanford. Oregon deservedly gets plenty of press with quarterback Justin Herbert and for keeping defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, but games at Utah and Arizona will be tough to overcome. I would take the Huskies to win the Pac-12 even if it gets down to +100.
Oddsmakers knew a flood of money would come in on Clemson, as I wrote about the Tigers’ team total, College Football Playoff prop and national championship numbers. If you want to look elsewhere for value, the Coastal Division offers Miami and Virginia Tech. The Hokies’ opener against Florida State is a non-factor, as the Hurricanes visit Blacksburg on Nov. 17. Mathematically, I have both Miami and Virginia Tech as double-digit dogs to Clemson in a hypothetical ACC Championship Game. I’ll suggest Virginia Tech when Coastal Odds are available, but this conference is all Clemson.
There may be a little bit of value with the Georgia Bulldogs sitting at +300. While I have Georgia as a 3-point dog to Alabama on a neutral field, S&P+ makes the Bulldogs a 5-point underdog. The moneyline in the SEC title game should be somewhere in the +200 to +250 range. Personally, I am laying off the Georgia numbers until that inevitable single loss comes during the regular season. Whether it’s South Carolina +10, LSU +4, Florida +9, or Auburn +3 … there are potential landmines on Georgia’s schedule. Buy all the Dawgs’ futures after that first loss.
Is there a point in discussing the SEC West outside of Alabama? The Tide also hold a bit of value here at +125, as they will not enter the SEC Championship Game as underdogs. There aren’t many trap games on this schedule, with Mississippi State and Auburn traveling to Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban should be fully prepared for road trips to Ole Miss and LSU. Alabama at plus money for the conference always leaves hedge room in the SEC Championship.
If there is one conference to gamble on, it’s the Big 12. We saw the implementation of the new conference championship game rules in 2017. The top two teams will face off after a regular season of round robin. The chances of Oklahoma finishing third or worse in this conference are very small. With the news of Kyler Murray playing for the Sooners this fall, +150 has plenty of value for the Big 12 Championship game.
Statement from head coach Lincoln Riley on Kyler Murray: pic.twitter.com/j4Mhl1qgWP
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) June 5, 2018
Which team has the best value to face off against the Sooners on Dec. 1? Throw out Oklahoma State, as it has five conference road games (including Bedlam) and lost its top offensive weapons. You can slingshot Kansas State into that bucket as well, with a soft defense and new coordinators on both sides of the ball. I love me some Will Grier this season, but +600 will be close to what the moneyline will be on the Mountaineers as double-digit dogs against the Sooners in the title game. Also, if West Virginia hopes to make the Big 12 title game, it will have to beat the Sooners in the final week of the season. The odds are greater than +600 to beat Oklahoma in consecutive weeks.
How about we roll the dice on a Texas Tech +2000? Kliff Kingsbury may have a glimmer of hope on defense with the work David Gibbs has put in as coordinator. The Red Raiders moved from 125th to 88th defensively in S&P+ in 2017 thanks to forcing a conference high 29 turnovers (sixth nationally). Furthermore, the defense ranks second in returning production for 2018. Texas Tech gets Oklahoma, Texas, and WVU at home and could have an outside chance at competing in the conference championship game.
If you can correctly predict the finish of the Big Ten East Division, head down to your local casino and play some roulette. Ohio State is favored, but with road trips to a dangerous Penn State team and an experienced Michigan State club, I will pass. Both Michigan and Penn State have tough schedules hosting the best team from the West, Wisconsin. For Sparty to cash the +1000 odds, they have to win at least two of their games against either Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State before beating Wisconsin in the title game. If you like Sparty, consider laying a unit on the moneyline in each of those contests, which may pay more.
The sleeper team here might be Iowa. After the Hawkeyes dropped a piano on Ohio State in 2017, their schedule is manageable, with a home game against Wisconsin and a trip to Penn State. With the Badgers having a difficult conference schedule, don’t be surprised if Iowa hops in the driver’s seat out of the rising Big Ten West.