I’m picking every over/under season win total for the Power 5 schools in college football, as well as quite a few others from around the country. I didn’t write all this shit in a day, so the odds are probably not the current ones. Also, there’s a good chance I missed an injury or suspension or twelve. It’s a lot of teams to keep track of and I’m currently putting in 60 hour weeks. Don’t @ me.
Huge shoutout to Phil Steele and a variety of websites on the line making their #content available for all of us to consume. If you don’t use Phil to help you with gambling on college football, you’re lost, pal.
Also, at the bottom of each of these, I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion. It’s not based on who I actually think will win, just my best perceived value. So again, don’t @ me.
Washington – over 9 (-120) – 1*
It’s hard not to really like Washington’s chances this year. They return 15 starters. They were close to busting loose last year. It’s third year for Chris Petersen as head coach, which is usually the time it takes off for a program if the coach is any good. They don’t have a weakness anywhere. But the Pac-12 is impossible for me to really figure out.
The Huskies are rather young on offense. They will start six sophomores, but four of those guys started most of last year. QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin are two of themand they combined for over 4,300 yards of offense last year. Browning was a highly touted guy out of high school and was really impressive in his true freshman year.
Defensively, they were the best in the league a year ago and are primed to be the best again. They lose their two best pass rushers, but the Back 7 is one of the best in the country and that’s key in a pass-happy league.
I’ve got UW for two wins in conference play and the rest is up in the air. That will be a common theme in this write-up. Their non-con is really soft, with their “toughest” game being Rutgers at home. They’re favored by 26.5 right now.
Stanford – over 8.5 (-130) – 2*
They only return half of their starters, but I think you just kinda have to put faith in David Shaw. In his five seasons, he’s won double digit regular season games in four of his five seasons (only won 7 in ’14 when they lost three games by three points).
They have to replace QB Kevin Hogan and three O-linemen on offense. Hogan had a great senior year, but he’s replaced by Keller Chryst, who was a big-time recruit last year. As far as the O-line goes, they’re always good in Palo Alto, no matter how many they have to replace. I’m not worried about it, especially due to the fact that Christian McCaffrey is running behind them.
I’d expect them to return to form on defense this year. Last year, they only had three guys back and still only gave up 22.6 ppg, which was a high under Shaw.
The snag in this might be the schedule. They’ve got road games at UCLA, Washington, Notre Dame, and Oregon this year. It won’t be easy, but I’ll ride with Shaw’s resume here.
Oregon – under 8.5 (-115) – 1*
A lot of question marks for the Ducks this year. They lose Vernon Adams, who they struggled without when he was injured last year, and replace him with Montana St. transfer Dakota Prukop. Prukop doesn’t have near the hype that Adams – a transfer from EWU – did last season. They were terrible defensively last year and have to replace 6 of their Front 7 from last year, including stud DE DeForest Buckner. They also have to replace all three of their interior O-linemen.
The obvious strength for this team is their skill guys. They’re loaded at running back and return most of their relevant receivers.
They also are dealing with two new coordinators. OC Scott Frost is not at UCF, but he’s replaced by WR coach Matt Lubick, so that’s not a huge concern especially with HC Mark Helfrich’s experience with the offense. Brady Hoke is the new DC, who’s never been a DC in college and hasn’t had glowing things to say about his unit’s progress in camp. The Ducks didn’t hold anybody under 20 a season ago.
The biggest test in their non-con will be a road game at Nebraska. They avoid UCLA in the South, but have to play on the road at both USC and Utah. They do get both Washington and Stanford at home.
Washington State – over 7.5 (-120) – 2*
Offensively, they’re obviously lethal in the passing game under Mike Leach. QB Luke Falk not only puts up big numbers, but is pretty highly regarded as a pro prospect, as well. He’s got 10 of his 11 top receivers back too, RBs included. The running game is less important, but they made significant strides in YPC last year, with a high of 3.6 in Leach’s tenure. The O-line suffers a couple of losses, but they were really banged up last year anyway.
They improved by nearly 11 ppg last year in their first year under DC Alex Grinch. They lose a couple of key guys in the Front 7, but I’d expect them to be near the same level with a full calendar year in Grinch’s system now. Their DBs made big strides last year and return most of their two-deep, so they should be good once again.
Their schedule is one of the more favorable ones in the North division. They avoid both USC and Utah entirely from the South and they get UCLA at home on homecoming. They only have four road games in the league and they could/should be favored in three of them. They get both Oregon and Washington at home. They do have to travel to Boise State in non-con.
California – under 4 (-110) – 1*
Obviously this one is off the board already, given that the Bears already played a game, but I’ll leave it here for brief discussion sake.
QB Davis Webb will be good, as will their O-line. Their RBs kind of stink and they lost a ton of their receivers. Their defense is probably gonna get lit up more than a couple of times this year.
Their schedule is really difficult. Hawaii was the lone game I had them marked down for a sure W. They go at SDSU and home for Texas to finish the non-con. They have to play UCLA, USC, and Utah from the South. The only favor the Pac-12 did them is playing Washington, Stanford, and Oregon all at home.
Oregon State – under 3.5 (-110) – 1*
I actually think they’ll be an improved this year after a 2-10 (0-9 in Pac-12) stink bomb in Gary Andersen’s first season. Their only wins were against Weber St. and San Jose St.
The problem is their schedule. There’s a pretty good chance they start off 1-2 in the non-con with a game at Minnesota and a home game against Boise State. I’d say they’ve only got about three or four winnable games in conference and I can’t see them really sweeping all of those, but you never know.
UCLA – under 9 (-130) – 1*
Really struggled with this one. As you can see, I don’t really like the Bruins to top 9 wins, but I do think they have probably the best chance of any team to make the Pac-12 title game. The reason for that is their schedule. They’re traveling to Texas A&M and BYU in the first three weeks of the season. If you read the SEC piece, you know I’m high on the Aggies. Their conference slate is favorable in that they don’t have to play Oregon or Washington and get both USC and Utah at home. That goes both ways, though. They get their toughest conference opponents at home in what should be tight games, but have a greater chance of getting upset a couple times because they’ll be playing on the road against the mediocre teams of the conference. Mora’s Bruin teams have been good against teams they should beat on the road, however.
Their offense is replacing a lot, but Josh Rosen is back for his sophomore year and might be the best QB in the country. Their defense has 9 starters back and should improve on their 26.0 ppg from last season.
I don’t know, man. The Bruins have my brain in a pretzel. They could win 6 games or 11. I’ll go with history and the fact that Mora’s never won 10 games in a regular season.
USC – over 7.5 (-130) – 2*
The offense returns 10 starters from a unit that put up 34 ppg a season ago. Of course the one replacement is at QB, with Max Browne stepping in. Browne is in his fourth year of the system, though, and he was the top QB recruit in his class. He doesn’t have much real game experience, but all he needs to do is throw it to JuJu. The running backs are awesome. The O-line is awesome. He can’t screw it up too bad.
The D-line is the biggest question mark. They’ll run a 5-2 under DC Clancy Pendergrast and all of the 5 will be new starters, but no surprise they’re all really talented. Pendergrast was the DC back in ’13 and the Trojans put up their best PPG mark in the past six years under his watch. The DBs are some of the best in the country.
So why is their win total at 7.5 and why is it only 2*? Their schedule is absolutely brutal. Two of their non-con games are against Alabama in Arlington and Notre Dame at home. Their conference schedule features road games against Stanford, Utah, Washington, and UCLA. My unscientific projections had them right at 7.5 wins, but I think they’ve got too much talent and experience to not at least go 8-4.
Utah – over 7.5 (-110) – 1*
I have no idea. QB Troy Williams could be good, but I don’t know. He started one game at Washington, lit it up in junior college, and the only thing you can read about him is how hard he works and all the cliché “a lot of ups and downs” talk. He was a big-time recruit out of high school and I would guess he can at least be as good as Travis Wilson. RB takes a big hit with Devontae Booker gone, as does WR, but the O-line is one of the best in the country.
As is the D-line. They should be a Top 25 defense overall.
The first half of the schedule isn’t too bad. The two toughest games will be BYU and USC, but they’re both at home. In the second half they travel to UCLA, but do get Washington and Oregon at home, at least.
I really don’t have a good feel for the Utes this year, but Kyle Whittingham is 94-46 here, both of the lines are good, and they should build some confidence in the first half of the season.
Arizona – under 6.5 (-115) – 1*
The offense will likely put up good numbers again, just like they have since Rich Rod got to Tuscon. They’re above average in every group on that side of the ball, but also not great at any of them.
While they return 8 starters on D, it’s a defense that gave up almost 36 ppg last year. I would expect better numbers this year after an out of character season and a new DC.
If it sounds like I’m positive about the team, it’s because I am, but the biggest reason for the under is the middle of their schedule. They’ll come out of non-con 2-1 or 3-0, depending on if they beat BYU in Glendale, a game they’re a small favorite in. After that, though, they play 6 of the league’s best 7 teams and half of them are on the road. As Steele points out, they might not be favored in any of those games.
Arizona State – under 6 (+170) – 1*
Apparently I’m going heavy against the grain on this one. It’s a 6-6 team that returns 10 starters that won one of the seven games they were dogs in last year and got blown out four times.
They lose their starting QB who was quite good last season and four of the guys who were protecting him. Their Front 7 should be among the best, but everywhere else besides RB has some questions and most of the answers seem to be JUCO guys or transfers.
They could come out of non-con 3-0, but 1-2 is also a possibility if they aren’t sharp to start the season. They have five road games in league play and two of them are Washington and Oregon from the North, in addition to USC in division play.
Colorado – under 4.5 – 3*
Yes, they have 18 starters back. I don’t care. They’ve won two league games in the three years Mike MacIntyre has been head coach. They only had 4 wins last year and they played 13 regular season games. They get one less game this year and they essentially swap playing UMass at home last year to playing at Michigan this year. They’ll be favored in three games this year and the only lock is Idaho State.
Best Bet for Conference Champion
Washington State +1500
It’s just more fun to root for Mike Leach. In addition, they have a lot coming back from a team that was 9-4 last year and three of those losses were by one score. I think their schedule is about as favorable as you can ask for them being in the North. Their defense is headed in the right direction, their QB is really good, and they won four games on the road last year. It’s time for the Cougs to get back to the glory days of Ryan Leaf and Mike Price.