The passing of Memorial Day on the calendar signifies many things. Spring is becoming summer, school is ending and the sports calendar is starting to dry up. However, this time of year also means that we're starting to see college football off in the distance, and it is glorious. More importantly, we now have our first real opportunity to gamble on the upcoming season.
Last week, offshore sportsbook 5Dimes released its initial win totals for every team in FBS. That's right, you can put money down on whether UMass will surpass 4.5 wins in 2015. We delved into this arena last season, but not every Pac-12 total had been released, and certainly not every FBS team. Here's a little recap of the 2014 forecast.
Winners: Oregon (Over 10.5 - Love you, Marcus!), Stanford (Under 9.5 - Love you, Kevin!), Wisconsin (Over 9.5 - Love you, MelGor!), Auburn (Under 9.5 - The most obvious call in the history of obviousness. There was no way they were continuing that run of good fortune.)
Losers: WSU (Over 5.5 - I will never learn), UCLA (Over 9.5 - Thanks for the stink bomb against Stanford, Mora), USC (Over 8.5 - Nope, no reason to try and defend a last gasp Hail Mary, fellas), Rutgers (Under 4.5 - A Rob Deer-like whiff), Indiana (Over 5.5 - This was my favorite pick, and looked to be a lock after the win at Missouri. Then Nate Sudfeld went down and, yeah.)
With that out of the way, like Bill Belichick, we're onto 2015. First, a little explanation on the numbers you'll see. 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, Notre Dame's win total is 9 (Over +110, Under -150). So, if you think Notre Dame is going to win 10 or more games, a $100 bet will win you $110. If you think they'll win eight or less (which the bookmakers certainly think is more likely), you have to bet $150 in order to win $100. Let's get to it.
Returning starter data courtesy of CFB Matrix. It includes kicker and punter.
WSU: 5 (Over -110, Under -130, Returning Starters: 16) - 5Dimes gives slightly longer odds on the Cougs getting six wins. Much like The Who, I won't get fooled again. If you include Portland State, WSU is likely to be favored in just four games this season. That, along with a really bad defense, is not a recipe for success. Verdict: Under
Washington: 4 (Over -185, Under -145, Returning Starters: 13) - A Chris Petersen-led Husky team, despite a paucity of talent at the skill positions and a rebuilt front seven, is not losing eight games. No way, no how. NEVER GONNA HAPPEN EVER. Verdict: Over (By a mile!!!!)
Oregon: 9.5 (Over -165, Under -125, Returning Starters: 16) - Not great value either way here, but man is there a lot of juice on the Over. Well, I think that's the play anyway. They may have lost Mariota, but they gained Vernon Adams, who will almost certainly be the starting quarterback. Add to that the amount of returning talent at running back and receiver, plus a new center transfer, and they win 10 games again. Verdict: Over
Arizona State: 8.5 (Over +130, Under -170, Returning Starters: 18) - It's quite possible that ASU starts the season 2-3. It's also possible that they start 4-1. I'll middle that and say they start 3-2. After early games against Texas A&M, USC and UCLA, they're on cruise control for much of the season, except for a visit from Oregon. Mike Bercovici picks up where he left off, Todd Graham keeps screaming into his boat show microphone and ASU keeps winning. Verdict: Over
USC: 8.5 (Over -105, Under -135, Returning Starters: 15) - This is going to follow a familiar script when it comes to my relationship with USC and its coach. I'll look at all that talent and think "man, that roster is back to full strength, and it is loaded. Not even Sarkisian can screw this up." Then they'll go out and blow five fourth quarter leads, suffer inexplicable losses to Stanford and Utah, and finish 7-5. The difference this year? Sark is free to chat up all the Joey's employees he wants. Verdict: Over
UCLA: 9.5 (Over +100, Under -140, Returning Starters: 21) - More juice if you like the Under, but I don't care. I'm tired of UCLA, and this is the year it comes crashing down. Just look at the schedule. They face, um, well, dangit I'm sticking to my guns. A new quarterback means growing pains, and I can't trust that offensive line until they prove their worth. Verdict: Under
Cal: 5 (Over -130, Under -110, Returning Starters: 17) - A little more juice is needed on the over. I disagree. Jared Goff is going to put up sensational numbers this season, especially since Chris Harper is the only loss at receiver. Still, the offensive line loses its two best players, and that defense...oh that defense. Their road schedule isn't doing them any favors, as they head to UW, Utah, UCLA, Oregon and Stanford. Verdict: Under
Other Pac-12 Totals for which I have no lean: Arizona: 7 (Over -150, Under +110), Colorado: 4.5 (Over -140, Under +100), Stanford: 9 (Over +100, Under -140), Utah: 7.5 (Over: Typo, Under: -110)
Here are a few others outside the Pac-12 that I like.
Idaho: 3.5 (Over -130, Under -110, Returning Starters: 13) - Idaho's win totals the last four seasons: 2, 1, 1, 1. I'm supposed to think they'll win four this year? Yeah, no. Verdict: Under
Notre Dame: 9 (Over +110, Under -150, Returning Starters: 16) - I'd just like to go on record as someone who hates win totals without a .5 at the end. Notre Dame is the perfect example. Looking at their schedule, the biggest stumbling blocks are USC, Stanford and either Clemson or Georgia Tech. That's a recipe for nine wins, which is a push. BOO pushes. I
like love Notre Dame this year. Verdict: Over
Kansas: 1.5 (Over -260, Under +180, Returning Starters: 9) - Ok, 5Dimes, you're clearly trolling me here. For one, you're giving me great value on the under. Also, Kansas isn't winning a conference game. That gives them three shots to win two games. Two OOC opponents are Memphis and Rutgers. Kansas isn't beating them, either. Did I mention Kansas returns nine starters? Verdict: Under
Florida: 7.5 (Over -125, Under -115, Returning Starters: 12) - Look for Jim McElwain to get things turned around in Gainesville, just not this year. They still don't have a quarterback, they lost their best defender in Dante Fowler, and their offensive line is a grease fire inside a dumpster fire that's sitting atop a tire fire. Verdict: Under
Iowa: 7.5 (Over -115, Under-125, Returning Starters: 15) - Iowa's schedule is so bad that even Kirk Ferentz and Greg Davis can get eight wins this season. Mark it down. Iowa will go 8-4, lose to somebody like Arkansas by 48 in the bowl game, and half of Iowa's fans will lose their ever-loving minds that they're still paying Ferentz the GDP of Uruguay to be average every year. Verdict: Over
Now it's your turn. Tell us which you like, which you don't, and give us your own picks among the 128.