Only 83 days, Cougar fans. As this post is being written, we are less than three months away from the start of Cougar football. As the legendary broadcaster Carroll H. "Beano" Cook was fond of saying, "Once the calendar turns to June, college football is almost here." It may seem like a long way off, but think about how far away it seemed in mid-January. Mark has done a good job of compiling the many previews that initially surface in June, so today we'll talk about something more important: gambling (for entertainment purposes only).
A couple weeks ago, unbeknownst to me, the initial season over/under win totals were released. Among the 35 teams listed, there are five Pac-12 teams, including our beloved Cougars. I figured I'd take an initial stab at how I think things will shake out among the Pac-12 teams listed, and I'll throw in a couple other teams as well. The entire list can be found here. In his weekly Mailbag column, Stewart Mandel also provided some analysis on a few of the totals.
MLB Draft recap: Rosen leads 4 Cougs picked
Yale Rosen, Nick Tanielu, Tanner Chelborad and Collin Slaybaugh are selected, leaving some juniors not selected with tough choices. We recap the day's action.
There's one thing to keep in mind when looking at these totals, the odds. Odds-makers are loathe to adjust the actual total after the original one is released. They only do so if a dramatic amount of money comes in on one side of the ledger. What they will do is change the amount of money you can win with a $100 (for example) bet. This is commonly known as the "vig" or "juice." For example, BYU's win total is 8.5 (Over -160, Under +120). So, if you think BYU is going to win nine or more games, you have to bet $160 to win $100. If you think they'll win seven or less, a $100 bet will get you $220 (your $100 bet plus $120 in winnings). If a large amount of money were to come in on BYU's "under," the odds would skew more toward the house, likely to +110 or +100.
Without further adieu, let's give our opinion on some of these totals:
WSU: 5.5 (Over -165, Under +125) - If I weren't a dyed-in-wool Coug, taking the Under would be awfully tempting. There is far better value, considering WSU will likely be an underdog in five of its last six games. One early clunker, and that 5.5 total may be a tough one to reach. The good news is that the odds-makers are placing longer odds on the Under. Verdict: Over (Because no way in hell am I taking the Under)
Oregon: 10.5 (Over +100, Under -140) - Even though there are a couple tricky games on the schedule, nearly every major test, save for UCLA is at home. Given that Marcus Mariota is at the controls, and they are home for Michigan State, Stanford and Washington, I think the Ducks have another strong season. Verdict: Over
Stanford: 9.5 (Over -120, Under -120) - Well then, not any obvious value either way here. Stanford is the anti-Oregon this year. Their road schedule is daunting. They travel to Notre Dame, ASU, Washington, Oregon and UCLA. Couple that with heavy losses on defense and the offensive line, and the Under looks really good. I am convinced that the offensive line will be just fine, but they also lost their defensive coordinator. I also think Kevin Hogan is easily in the bottom half of Pac-12 quarterbacks. Verdict: Under
UCLA: 9.5 (Over +100, Under -150) - Vegas was bearish on the Bruins last year, setting their total around 7.5. They surpassed that pretty easily. I love UCLA this year, but their schedule is just tough enough to give me pause. An early matchup with Texas, which I think they win, is followed by ASU on the road. However, they have a bye week in-between, which helps, but so does ASU. I think this total comes down to the last two games, both at home, against USC and Stanford. All aboard the Brett Hundley bandwagon! Verdict: Over
USC: 8.5 (Over -130, Under -110) - Um, I, uh, is it possible to push at 8.5? No? Dammit. This is the toughest call of the five teams listed. I think this year's USC team could swing wildly in either direction. They have an early game at Stanford, and they close with UCLA and a Notre Dame team which I think will be pretty good. They also have a game in November, following a road game at Utah, against a certain team, from a certain town, who will be laying in the weeds ready to pounce. Oh who am I kidding? They're too talented to lose five games, and lane Kiffin is two time zones away. Verdict: Over
So that's four Overs and one Under. Surely nothing could go wrong there.
Here are some other future bets I like:
Wisconsin: 9.5 (Over -135, Under -105) - They're going to start 0-1 (vs. LSU in Houston) but their schedule after that is borderline criminal. Where are the other losses? Nebraska at home? At Northwestern (possibly known by then as Wildcats Local 632)? There's a little more juice on the Over than I'd like, but still. Verdict: Over
Rutgers: 4.5 (Over -110, Under -130) - What do you get when you combine a complete dumpster fire of a defense with conference cross-over games against Wisconsin and Nebraska? You get a maximum of three wins, and a probable O-fer in the inaugural B1G season. Verdict: Under
Auburn: 9.5 (Over -155, Under +115) - I have a feeling I'm gonna pay dearly for this one, but hear me out. Teams will be ready for Auburn this year. They'll still score a ton of points, possibly more than last year. However, they pulled their share of Houdini acts in 2013, escaping WSU, and lucking out against Georgia and Alabama. I think their fortunes take a dip this year, especially with visits to Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama. Throw in visits from LSU and South Carolina, and it's a recipe for four losses. Verdict: Under
Indiana: 5.5 (Over +145, Under -185) - The best value pick on the board. Indiana has a dynamite offense. If they can get their defense to play slightly below average, this is a bowl team. This one likely comes down to the last game against Purdue. Did I mention they'll only need a win over Purdue will get them to six? I feel like you should know that they'll be playing Purdue, at home, because they will be. Verdict: Over (Lock and Load baby!)
Let us know which totals, if any, you think are good bets.
Key stretch of 2014 football season for Washington State Cougars - ESPN
The final stretch of Oregon State, Arizona State and Washington should ultimately determine the Cougars’ postseason fate -- whether that’s the bowl location or a bowl game at all.
Phil Steele's Preseason All Pac-12 Team
Mr. Steele doesn't list many Cougars among his top four teams. In his defense, he's probably busy trying to find out whether Marshall covered the spread against East Carolina in 2010.
Scout.com: 2014-2015 Way Early Bowl Projections
Who doesn't love looking at preseason bowl projections? /Ducks to avoid Brian Anderson's thrown shoe. There's an old saying: Revenge is a dish best served with poi. At least I'm pretty sure that's the saying.
Saturday 1, 2, 3: Klay Thompson’s true value – Talking Points
One thing is certain: Klay Thompson is going to sign a huge second contract. One thing is uncertain: Where Klay will be playing after he signs it.
Four Cougars Selected in MLB Draft - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Washington State junior outfielder Yale Rosen was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Saturday. He was the 327th player taken overall.
Say Hello to the Bad Guy
Most of you probably remember him as Deebo, but he'll always be Zeus to me.
Craft Beer Swaps Can't Be Stopped - TheStreet
One more Over/Under: Craig Powers purchased this many black market cans of Heady Topper from the enterprising lady in Vermont: 75 (Over -5,000, Under +Eleventy Billion). Verdict: Over
Orlison Brewing Co. | Brew No Evil
A microbrew that benefits Team Gleason? Yes, please!
Finally, I'm not saying I'm going to order a custom-made Lego Martin Stadium. I'm just saying I won't rule it out. I would much rather put one together with my Lego-crazed sons, though.