I’m picking every over/under regular season win total for all 130 schools in college football. I’ll try to keep the odds/injuries/suspensions as current as possible, but I’m doing this in pieces, so it is what it is.
1* through 5* based on confidence. I’ll be betting anything 3* and higher.
Last year was pretty successful, to say the least. Results:
3*: 10-2-3 (+24.1*)
4*: 1-1 (+0.0*)
5*: 1-0 (+5.0*)
I’ll give my best bet for the conference champion based on perceived value.
Washington – over 10 (-130) – 1*
Alabama is probably the only team I’d ever consider actually betting over a double digit win total, but the Huskies are close. They return 17 starters, they’ve got the best QB/RB duo in the country, and their defense is going to be insane.
With that said, they start with a de facto road game with Auburn to start the year in Atlanta. If they drop that, there’s no room for error. In conference they have road tilts with Utah, Oregon, UCLA, Cal, and Wazzu. None of those teams are close to as good as the Huskies, but all five are capable of stealing one at home. They’ll also get Stanford at home.
Stanford – over 8.5 (-115) – 2*
I think the perception of Stanford is that they’re “boring”, a consistently great defense full of smart kids that happened to land a couple of exceptional running backs over the last few years. They’ve got the potential to change that narrative this year. It pretty much all depends on KJ Costello. If Costello builds upon the end of last season, this offense can be explosive. Everyone knows about Bryce Love at RB, but the receiving corps are one of the most talented in the country. Their TE duo of Kaden Smith and Colby Parkinson have been two of the most highly-regarded recruits at their position in the past few years. Combine all that with one of the elite offensive lines in the nation.
The slight regression defensively last season was surprising. And just based on losing three draft picks on that side of the ball, you might expect the slide to continue. But I think you have to maintain confidence in the program to keep playing at a high level, like they’ve done year-after-year. Their “regression” was still only to 22 PPG and if they can even just maintain that level, they’ll be a better team overall with an expected uptick in offensive production.
The problem with all of this is that their schedule isn’t very forgiving. They have road games with UW, ND, and Oregon among others. They’ve also got USC at home in Week 2.
Oregon – over 8.5 (-130) – 1*
I was ready to tee off again on the Ducks after last year’s disappointment with Justin Herbert getting hurt. But wow, that’s a high number. The schedule isn’t overly difficult with only two Top 25 opponents (UW and Stanford) on it and both coming to Eugene, but there are quite a few road games against decent teams. And, yeah, Herbert’s injury still lingers in the back of my head. Royce Freeman is also gone and I’m not sure they can match that production.
Although Willie Taggart bailed, I like that Cristobal moved up from co-OC, Marcus Arroyo went from co-OC to the lone OC, and Jim Leavitt also stayed at DC. I’ll still lean over here, but can’t bet the farm this year.
Cal – under 6.5 (-125) – 1*
I think Justin Wilcox is going to be a really good coach and that was evident in Year 1 when his and Tim DeRuyter’s defense improved by two touchdowns a game. Unfortunately, the offense went the other way. The O has 10 starters coming back this year, but they’re going to have to improve quite a bit to survive a schedule with only one gimme and a couple of scheduled losses.
Washington State – under 6 (-115) – 1*
Mike Leach is Mr. 8-4, but outside of that level of consistency, there’s not a lot to grab on to in Pullman this year. Leach always seems to get production out of his offense, but it’ll be a challenge this year after losing his Top 2 QBs, his top RB, and his Top 2 WRs. Only two starters return on the O-Line.
Defensively, they were pretty good last year, but a big reason was QB pressure and 17 sacks are out the door with the losses of Hercules and Frankie Luvu. DC Alex Grinch left for Ohio State. Tracy Claeys takes over that role and he’s had some good defenses at Minnesota, but the talent that steps into starting roles this year suggests it might take some time.
And, quite frankly, there’s some weird vibes in Pullman. Obviously, it started with the incredibly sad loss of Tyler Hilinski and continued with Leach’s Twitter account throughout the summer.
Oregon State – over 2.5 (+130) – 1*
Live to take flyers on terrible teams with a low total. If we don’t get Southern Utah, we’re screwed. I will remind you that the Beavs nearly beat Colorado and Stanford at home last year. In the words of Casey Jacobsen, “Nobody wants to play in Corvallis!”