Welcome back. It’s been too long. Well, for myself and the 3.67 of you who read this weekly exercise in self-flagellation, it certainly feels like it’s been too long. While the weekly column won’t be up and running for another few weeks, we’re here today to take a look at the season totals, both in the Pac-12 and around the country.
But before we look ahead, we look back to 2016.
- Arizona (Under 6): Well that was easier than expected.
- ASU (Under 5): Yes, I know they went 5-7. Here’s what I said then - “I actually foresee a push here, but ties are no fun.” Am I putting that in the win column? You bet your Todd Graham teaching method bobblehead I am.
- Stanford (Over 8.5): Looked a little dicey in October, but still came through!
- UW (Over 9): Easiest money on the board. /insert shedding tears emoji
- Oregon (Under 8): More obvious than something that is, well, really obvious.
- Utah (Over 7.5): Came through despite their annual November collapse.
- Colorado (Over 4.5): In retrospect HOLY S**T THEIR TOTAL WAS 4.5!
- BC (Under 6.5): That BC had a total this high will confuse me for the rest of my days.
- Kansas State (Over 5.5): Never, ever doubt the Wizard.
- Ohio State (Over 9.5): Not only did we win this one, the Over paid +105! Please stop doubting Urban Meyer, odds-makers. Wait, I could use more free money. Doubt away!
- WSU (Under 7.5): Never screw with a streak. You’re welcome!
- Cal (Under 4): Looks like I was a year early.
- UCLA (Over 8.5): In my defense, here’s what I said, “I really want to be wrong here.” And I was!
- USC (Under 7.5): Holy moly, this looked like a lock after the first few weeks.
- OSU (Under 3.5): OSU was still pretty lousy. If only stupid Cal had not gone down in OT.
- Florida State (Over 9.5): So I guess I shouldn’t have been happy when UNC kicker Razor Ramon hit that last-second field goal to beat them. Damnit.
- Iowa (Over 8.5): Lost to an FCS team which cost me the bet. I’d say this was unexpected, but I’m a Cougar fan.
- NC State (Under 6): Still don’t know how I lost this one.
So, 10-8. Not terrible!
With that, we move forward to 2017. I will reference Bill Connelly’s returning production metric more than once, instead of the standard “returning starters.” I like it better, and you can read about it here. Even though Bill C. clearly hates WSU (kidding, sorta), he’s a smart guy (except for that time he said Jason Hanson went to Washington).
All odds are courtesy of Bovada. These are for regular season games only, so when the Cougs win the Pac-12 Championship game, it won’t count toward their total.
WSU: 7.5 (Over -140, Under +110): Holy smokes, there must be some serious action on the Over, as you now need to bet $140 to win $100. I’m not going to provide any sort of insightful analysis here (“par for the course” everyone says). I’ve been on the wrong side of the Cougs ever since I started this thing. As I said before, never screw with a streak.
Arizona: 5.5 (Over +120, Under -150): Not too many people buying into RichRod this year, but they return a lot of production on both offense and defense. As you’ll see with Oregon, when you return a lot of production from a terrible unit (defense, in both cases), that’s not necessarily a good thing. Lots of early season referendum games in the Pac-12, and Arizona has theirs when Houston comes to town. The temperature on RichRod’s seat will likely be turned up considerably after 2017.
ASU: 5 (Over +110, Under -140): Five again? Come on. ASU continued the trend of QBs from the state suffering injuries, and now they return all of their quarterbacks and welcome Alabama transfer Blake Barnett to the fold. They also still have N’Keal Harry, Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage. So if they can find a QB, they’re set on offense. Defense? That’s a different story. Bill C. expects their defense to be relatively the same. That’s a problem, as they gave up at least 37 points in each of their final six games. Smells like another push.
Cal: 3.5 (Over -115, Under -115): New coach, new quarterback, same old crushing debt and administration that hates football. They return (looks, looks again) just 38% of their offensive production. That, uh, isn’t good. But at least they have that rock-solid defense, right? Right? Wrong. Cal has precisely one gimme on the schedule. Outside of that, they have coin flips at home against OSU and Arizona. Even if they win both, they only get to three.
Colorado: 7.5 (Over +145, Under -175): Bill C. projects the Buffs to give up a additional touchdown per game. I’m no expert, but that doesn’t seem good if you’re a CU fan. Given that, getting to eight wins seems like a bridge too far. One look at the schedule suggests, well, not much. I count four sure wins and 4-5 tossups. Man, 7.5 just seems like a lot.
Verdict: Under (That’s all Unders so far. Apparently every team will lose every game)
Oregon: 8 (Over Even, Under -130): So they fire the coach after a 4-8 season, and the total stays the same? As mentioned, the Ducks return a ton of defensive production. Problem is, those guys didn’t exactly produce anything of value last season. We’ll know where this season is headed after Week Three as the Ducks face Nebraska at home, then go to Laramie in a major “trap game” situation. Willie Taggart will win there, but he won’t win nine this season.
OSU: 5.5 (Over +115, Under -145): The Beavs won four games last season, still don’t have a quarterback, and lost a lot of defensive production. Setting the total at 5.5 seems odd, and their schedule doesn’t set up very well. No wonder there’s so much juice on the “under.” Well, count me in.
Stanford: 8.5 (Over -140, Under +110): On the other end of the spectrum from Arizona, lots of money appears to be coming in on the Cardinal winning at least nine. This is a tough one. The Cardinal lost two high NFL Draft picks and don’t have a proven quarterback. That’s not a recipe for success. In David I trust.
UCLA: 6.5 (Over -165, Under +135): If UCLA can keep Josh Rosen upright, which they’ve been pretty terrible at, the Bruins will be very improved. On the other hand, they lose nearly as much defensive production as Colorado. UCLA’s early season referendum game comes right out of the gate, as Texas A&M (UCLA’s underachieving doppelganger) comes to Pasadena. All of those Four-and-Five star recruits have to step up at some point, don’t they? DON’T THEY??!!
USC: 9.5 (Over -180, Under +150): Come on, Vegas. Stop raising the juice and just increase the total to 10 or 10.5. -180 is beyond ridiculous. Somebody at Bovada must have let the intern set the total while everyone was on vacation. Credit USC for aggressive non-conference scheduling, but all of their toughest games, save for WSU, are at home. 9.5 is a dumb number.
Utah: 6.5 (Over +105, Under -135): Kyle Whittingham goes through offensive coordinators like Wilt Chamberlain went through groupies. The Utes have another one this season. While they always seem to have a salty defense, they lost a ton this year on both sides of the ball. Outside the hiccups in 2013 and 2014, Utah always seems to win at least seven games despite their awfulness at QB. I just don’t see it this year.
Verdict: Under (Utah’s awful fan base will still say they’re better than everyone)
Washington: 10 (Over -130, Under Even): Nine ready-made wins out of the gate on that absurd schedule. Sorry, Coug fans, but Washington is going to the Pac-12 Title game, and a win will put them in the CFP.
Quick Hitters around America
Alabama: 10.5 (Over -200!!!, Under +160): I don’t care how much juice is required. Every year I pass right on by, and every year Alabama goes 11-1 or 12-0.
Florida: 8 (Over -155, Under +125): No way Florida loses four games this season.
Hawaii: 4.5 (Over -135, Under +105: Strictly a value play here.
Michigan: 9 (Over -175, Under +145): Another value play, buttressed by the fact that they lose the most production of any Power Five team.
Navy: 7 (Over Even, Under -130): The Middies lose a ton of offensive production. Does that ever seem to matter?
Rutgers: 3 (Over -135, Under Even): I’ll be stunned if they get three wins.
Will Ohio State make the CFP? (Yes +150, No -200): Um, look at that schedule.
With that, we’re out of gas. Let’s hear what you folks think about these picks, and give us some picks of your own. Football is almost here. Let us rejoice and be glad.