Welcome to another edition of For Entertainment Purposes Only! Last year, this rather informal column went 251-190 (57%) +41.0 That's 251 wins and 190 losses for a winning percentage of 57%. If you were wagering $100 fake dollars per game, you would have netted $4100 at season's end. But since these are fake wagers, we refer to our wager amount as "units." First though, a disclaimer:
I want to emphasize that we don't endorse gambling at this site, and anything on here is for entertainment purposes only. Always check with your local, state, or federal laws to determine the legality of wagering.
Last time, we discussed some wagers for conference and division winners. Since then, the odds on Clemson have gone from +1000 to +500, and Ole Miss went from +350 to +200. No odds went against our decisions.
Today we will discuss season win totals. Vegas sets the number, we call it over or under!* If any of this seems really foreign to you, I assure you it is quite simple. Please refer to our previous post (linked above).
Take a look at those, figure out what you like. I have to say that some of these look very easy- until you consider the "juice" (the "vigorish/ the "vig" / the "odds"). Figure out which you like and then scroll down. Oh, and these numbers do not include conference championship or bowl games- though they do include games against 1-AA opponents.
Maryland Terrapins under 6 wins at -165. (Fake wager of 165 to net 100)
First, I don't think Maryland is a good team. They only return 9 starters, a number that could drop to 7 if they lost Left Tackle Bruce Campbell or Nose Guard Travis Ivey to grades. They schedule is tough, and they will be definitive underdogs in at least 6 of their 12 games (@ Cal, Clemson, @ Wake, @ NCST, VTech, @ FSU) . Of the remaining 6, 4 look to be tossups (Rutgers, UVA, @ Duke, BC). Only James Madison and Middle Tennessee appear to be sure wins for the Terps- and Zach_Nole reminds us that MTSU BEAT Maryland last year. Their recruiting has really dropped off in recent years and since their magical 2001-2003 run (31-8 record), they have just two winning seasons. I also prefer to wager on unders whenever possible, because the public is typically overly optimistic about every team, and lines often fail to properly account for the possibility of attrition. I predict Maryland to finish at 5 wins, and will say that I believe they are more likely to finish with 4 than 6.
Texas Over 10 wins at -155 (Fake Wager of 155 to net 100)
Hook 'Em! This one is fairly simple. The Longhorns are one of the best teams in the country. They return 9 offensive starters and an excellent college quarterback in Colt McCoy. In a conference that doesn't play defense and produces no defensive talent, having a great quarterback can really make all the difference. Texas' non-conference schedule is beyond pathetic and they will be 4td+ favorites in each of those contests. Their Big 12 road games are @ Missouri (should be significantly down), @ Oklahoma State (a dangerous game), @ Baylor (not in Texas' league yet, but improved), and @ Texas A&M (a stagnant below average program that should go bowling by virtue of a terrible non-conference slate). They of course do play Oklahoma. After looking at this schedule, I estimated that that Texas will drop 0 or 1 games more than 60% of the time, which makes this profitable. Further, we have the opportunity to "push" (no winner, money returned), if Texas wins only 10 games. Do you think Texas is losing 3 games with their schedule? Thought not.
Rutgers over 8 wins at -200
This is some heavy juice to pay. In order to win this, Rutgers would need to win 9+ games 66% of the time. You already know that we are holding Rutgers at +500 to win the Big East. Again, enthusiasm for the Scarlet Knights is all about schedule and style. Rutgers loses 3 of their top four receiving threats and their all time leading passer in Mike Teel. Yet the guys they lost weren't all that special; they just started for a long time. So, how does Rutgers get to 9 or more wins? Start with a terrible non-conference schedule (a theme I like to emphasize). They play Howard, Florida International, Texas Southern, and @ Army. That's about as sure a four wins are you can get. We'll call it 3.7 Then they travel to a very iffy Maryland team, who could overlook the Knights as they have Clemson the next week. We'll say 4.2 wins in the non-conference. So, can Rutgers find 5 wins in their 7 conference games? They get Cincinnati (lost their entire defense) at home to open the season, and get Pittsburgh at home on a Friday night and have a bye week before the panthers. Touchdown or greater favorites in both of those games? Likely. Let's call is 5.6 wins through 7 games. 5 left and we need to find 3.4 wins. @ a highly suspect UConn team seems like a game Rutgers will be a slight favorite in, so we'll say .7 wins there, putting the Knights at 6.3 wins. Then they get another weekday night home game off a bye week, hosting USF (USF is also off a bye). I'll say .6 wins there, putting them at 6.9 wins with three games to go. @ Syracuse should be a piece of cake, as the Orange are terrible. .85 seems reasonable there, bumping them to 7.75 wins. Two to go. @ a bad Louisville team in a conference road game on a Friday- I'll say .6 wins- putting the Knights at 8.35 wins. They finish out the season hosting WVU in a game that should send them to get pummeled in the Orange Bowl by the ACC champ. With the extra day (they played Fri @ Louisvile), they'll beat WVU .65, putting them at 9 wins even. Oh, and that style thing? Schiano just wants to run the ball and play defense. With the league's best offensive line and a very solid defense, the Knights could conceivably extend their current undefeated streak from 7 to 19- and play for the National Championship. Doubtful- but they'll still win 9+ games and our wager.
Illinois over 7 1/2 wins @ -150
Another moderately high juice wager. Quick! How many Big 10 teams won 8 or more regular season games last year? FIVE. Everyone agrees that Penn State and Ohio State are 1-2 in some order. Then we come to a group that includes Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin. I happen to think Illinois will finish 3rd or 4th in the Big 10. Their non-conference schedule is manageable, and their in-conference road games outside of Ohio State are a joke (@ Indiana, @ Purdue, @ Minnesota). Teams that are favored in 3 of their 4 conference road games win more than 8 games. Illinois will win 9 games and cash this wager. Yes, I do think the Big 10 is a joke conference trending downward. Only PSU, Ohio State, and Michigan are serious big boy programs focused on football. Northwestern, Minnesota, and Purdue would be gifts on the schedule of any other major conference team. Illinois has decent talent and will take care of business.
South Carolina under 7 wins @ -145.
I'll come out and say it. I'd bet them Under 5.5 wins. I think the Gamecocks win 4 games. They should be TD or more underdogs in all of their road games ( @ NCST, @ UGA, @ BAMA, @ TENN, @ ARK), and should also be TD dogs at home to Clemson and Florida (in Florida's case, probably three-TD dogs). To have any shot at topping 7 wins, the Gamecocks almost must sweep their remaining five home games (FAU, OLE MISS, SCST, UK, VANDY). I see at least one loss in those 5. This team lost a lot and unfortunately for them they have to play the West's top two teams and must travel to Arkansas. Arkansas- not bowling, and losing out on Marcus Lattimore. Fun stuff.
Tennessee Over 7 wins at +140 (wager of 100 to win 140)
I think UT wins between 7 and 9 games. UT had 8 home games, and does not play LSU from the west division. They have three gimme non-conference games and while they do play a much improved UCLA, they should win that one too. Even assuming three losses from @UF, @BAMA, UGA, and @OLE MISS, they can pull out 3 wins from , Auburn, South Carolina, Vandy, and Kentucky to reach 8. This is still a very talented defense and their offense should be a lot more cohesive.
Arizona State Under 6.5 at -110
I don't think Dennis Erickson is a good coach. He does some things well but his game management is poor. Arizona State got really lucky to go 5-7 last year with a very good college quarterback who has now graduated. This year they don't look much improved. I'll give them 1.98 wins for Idaho State and Louisiana Monroe. They are large underdogs at Georgia, I'll say .2 wins there, bringing them to 2.18. They are no better than .6 against Oregon State, so 2.78. Then @ WAZU, still terrible but its a road test, so .5, putting them at 3.28. Washington at home and then Stanford on the road is good for 1 wins, bringing them to 4.28. Then the fun starts. They will be underdogs to Cal and USC in the desert, and I'll give them .65 for those two combined (generously), bringing them to 4.93. At Oregon and @ UCLA are good for a .65 as well, bringing them to 5.58. Zona at home is a coin flip type game, bringing them to 6.08. I'll take the half win for the coin flip, knowing they will be underdogs or very small favorites in 9 of their games.
Georgia Tech Under 8.5 at -120
I think Tech is a very good team, but they have a brutal ACC Atlantic draw. I believe the ACC has 7 have's and 5 have not's. The have not's: Wake, BC, Maryland, UVA, and Duke. On a Neutral field, all of the 7 are TD+ faves over those 5. If tech had BC and Maryland instead of FSU and Duke, I'd be all about the over, but they don't, and their schedule is very difficult. I have them at 7.5 wins and believe they will win 8.
Missouri Under 7.5 @ -185.
I think Missouri caught everyone off guard with their offense but college football is catching up. They have to play Texas and OK St. from the south, and play very losable games @ Nevada and v. Illinois in the non-conference. 5.15 wins is my calculation and I wouldn't be surprised to see a 4-8 campaign. 8 wins would be a big surprise.
Alabama over 9.5 @ +145
This is sort of a hedge for our Ole Miss SEC West play at +350. I think Bama is more likely to win 10 games than they are to lose 4. Saban has to avoid losing to a bad team here, but if they beat VT this should cash. I believe that Alabama is slightly better than Ole Miss and LSU. They get the tigers at home but must play at the Rebels. The Tide will be favored in at least 10 and as many as 12 of their games. Bama's defense will keep them in a lot of games this year and at +145, I like my chances for double digit wins by the tide.
Southern Cal Under 10.5 -140
Arizona Over 6.5 wins at -110
VTech Under 9.5 wins at -155
As for FSU...
I think this is a good number. I don't see the 'Noles winning more than 8 games this year with their suspect defense and brutal schedule. They could, but it's not likely.