Football. Is. Back. And along with football season comes the start of gambling season. It was a long slog through the winter, spring, and oppressively hot summer (in some parts), but we’re on the verge of the mooooost wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeaaarrrr! In just a few short weeks, we’ll be forecasting actual games. For now, we get to take a look at seasons as a whole, both for the teams we follow the most and others throughout the country.
You may or may not notice a trend toward the end of this [much longer than I initially thought] column. But seriously if you don’t notice the trend seek help. Needless to say, I’m high on a lot of teams this season. None of those teams are named the WSU Cougars. But that’s (mostly) for another day, because today is a happy day!
Before we get to the present day, let’s take a look at how 2017 went.
- Colorado (Under 7.5) - No wonder that was a huuuuuuge vig
- Oregon (Under 8) - Only Justin Herbert’s injury prevented a loss here
- OSU (Under 5.5) - In hindsight, 5.5 LOLOLOLOLOL
- Stanford (Over 8.5) - By the hair of my chinny chin chin
- USC (Over 9.5) - Raise your hand if you thought this would come home after they got poleaxed by Notre Dame. If your hand is up, you’re a liar.
- Utah (Under 6.5) - But at least nobody can take that Dallas Bowl trophy away, Utes.
- Alabama (Over 10.5) - Yep, there’s a reason that vig was -200. Doesn’t matter.
- Michigan (Under 9) - This was mostly a value play, as I was getting +145. But their total should never have been above eight, and the only reason it was is Jim Harbaugh.
- Hawaii (Under 4.5) - Another value play that hit! Funny how that happens.
- Washington (Over 10) - Should have been a loser, but Kyle Whittingham insisted on giving a game away to the Huskies.
- Arizona (Under 5.5) - Thanks a lot Khalil.
- ASU (Under 5) - ASU won six conference game and fired their coach so they could hire a terrible NFL coach. It’s been months and this still blows my mind.
- WSU (Under 7.5) - Never been right about WSU’s total, which I was happy to take the “under” again. That won’t last.
- Cal (Under 3.5) - Don’t know what to say about this.
- UCLA (Over 6.5) - I continue to be amazed at how little Jim Mora could wring out of the considerable talent he recruited to Westwood.
- Florida (Over 8) - Here’s my hard-hitting analysis from last year, “No way Florida loses four games this season.” I was right, they lost seven!
- Navy (Under 7) - Chokey McChokersons
- Rutgers (Under 3) - Give that coach a raise, I guess.
- Will Ohio State make the CFP? - I thought they would, and I was getting +200. Maybe they should have, but maybe they also should have departed the bus when it rolled into Kinnick Stadium.
I’m not a loser, I’m a break-evener!
On to 2018, where the landscape has changed dramatically, especially if you’re a fan of the local team. The Pac-12 North is tough at the top (Washington, Stanford and Oregon), and then there’s a yawning gap until you get to the bottom half of WSU, Cal and OSU. In the Pac-12 South, this feels like a season where there are three or four teams who will finish 8-4. Not exactly a recipe for a CFP entrant.
As always, we’ll use Bill Connelly’s returning production metric to try and give us an edge.
And away we go...
WSU - 6.5 (Over/Under -110): To recap, I took the Under in 2015, and the Cougs went way over. I have taken the Under in the last two seasons, solely because I wasn’t going to screw with a streak. This year? Well, I’m not taking the Under to keep WSU’s streak alive, I’m doing it because they’ll be incredibly lucky to win six games.
Verdict: Under Under Under a thousand times Under
Arizona - 7.5 (Over -120, Under Even): Shaping up to be a season where Arizona goes as far as Khalil Tate takes them. While Kevin Sumlin has proven that he can work wonders with a dynamic QB, he’s also proven that he captains a rudderless ship without said QB. This total may hinge on the Week Two clash in Houston. I don’t think they’re winning that one.
ASU - 5 (Over -120, Under Even): On the one hand, ASU returns a ton of offensive talent, including N’Keal Harry and Manny Wilkins. Defense? Well, just 48% of their production returns. Yikes. They did win six Pac-12 games a year ago, which makes it all the more bizarre that they fired their coach. The only crazier part came when they hired failed NFL coach and ESPN blowhard Herm Edwards. After the opener, they face Michigan State, SDSU and Washington. I don’t think it will get much better afterward.
Cal - 5.5 (Over -120, Under Even): Lots of people are bullish on the Bears this season. I am not one of those people. However, that schedule sets up nicely for them, and they have a legitimate shot to be 5-2 by mid-October. The closing stretch includes WSU and Colorado.
Colorado - 4 (Over/Under -110): I had to do a double-take when I looked up Colorado’s numbers. They return just 35% of 2017’s production. That is quite a surprise, considering how much talent they lost after their (increasingly mirage-ey) 2016 season. Their home games are New Hampshire, UCLA, ASU, OSU, WSU and Utah. They also play Colorado State in Denver. There are four wins in there alone, aren’t there? There better be, because they aren’t winning any road games.
Verdict: Over (probably Push if I’m being honest)
Oregon - 8.5 (Over -120, Under Even): There’s a reason the Over requires more juice. In the last couple months, the Ducks have gone from underrated to possibly overrated, largely because they have the Pac-12 North’s best QB in Justin Herbert. They also have Jim Leavitt, which, ugh. This total could swing wildly, anywhere from six to 10, depending on Herbert’s production. They get both Stanford and Washington at home. I think they win one of those, and that gets them to nine.
OSU - 2.5 (Over/Under -110): The Beavs will probably start out 2-1, following an opening week curb-stomping at the hands of Urban Liar and Ohio State. After that? Welp. Their best shot at a win is either WSU or Cal, both of whom go to Corvallis. Ryan Nall ain’t walking through that door.
Stanford - 8 (Over/Under -110): While the defense loses a lot, the offense returns 81% of its production, including Heisman contender Bryce Love. I’m not as crazy about K.J. Costello as many others, but that doesn’t matter. Oh, and counting backward, here are Stanford’s win totals under David Shaw: 9, 9, 10, 7, 10, 10. You mean to tell me I can get their total at eight? Yes, please!
UCLA - 5 (Over/Under -110): This one is all about how quickly Chip Kelly is able to squeeze some water from the stone that is UCLA’s quarterback room. The Bruins return just 45% of their offensive production, but that may be a blessing, as it gives Kelly a chance to start with a blank slate. Still, two of the first three are definite-to-possible losses (Oklahoma and Fresno State), and the final two are against USC and Stanford. See ya next year, Charles.
USC - 8.5 (Over Even, Under -120): USC will likely start a quarterback who should be attending the Enchantment Under the Sea dance this fall. There are seven sure wins on the schedule, and the Trojans always have a wealth of talent. However, they have a crappy coach that is in charge of all that talent. Jimmys and Joes before X’s and O’s. Also there’s more value on the Over.
Utah - 7 (Over/Under -110): Feels pushy, which is why Vegas has it pegged right there. But let’s be real, every season total should have a .5 attached to it because pushes suck, hard. The Utes don’t return a lot of production, and I think Tyler Huntley isn’t very good. They still have Zach Moss, and their defense will likely be as salty as ever. I think my favorite part about Utah is all the love they get for producing so many NFL draftees, yet all that NFL talent never seems to win anything better than the Vegas Bowl.
Washington - 10.5 (Over Even, Under -120): Credit to the Huskies for playing Auburn in what amounts to a road game. Other than that, largely through no fault of their own, the schedule is a laugher. If they lose that opener, the total will likely come down to the Apple Cup which, lolololol. On the other hand, they could very well start the season 1-2. That almost certainly isn’t happening.
Verdict: Over - LEAD PIPE CINCH OF THE CENTURY OF THE YEAR
Let’s take a look at some other tasty totals from around the nation:
Boston College - 5.5 (Over -120, Under Even): Lots of returning production on both sides, possibly the best defense in the conference (non-Clemson category) and a potential All-American running back. And you mean to tell me they won’t make a bowl game??!!
Verdict: Over - If you make one bet from this column, make this the one.
Wyoming - 6.5 (Over/Under -110): Even if the Pokes lose to WSU (inshallah), they should get to seven wins. They might even better this year despite losing Josh Allen. That’s largely because Allen wasn’t very good.
Air Force - 4.5 (Over/Under -110): Zero analysis. That total just seems low.
Iowa - 7.5 (Over Even, Under -120): Better value on the Over, and there are only two likely losses on the schedule (Wisconsin and Penn State). Iowa also returns arguably the best quarterback in the conference, and they’re almost always solid along the lines.
Kansas State - 6 (Over/Under -110): Are we supposed to believe that Bill Snyder won’t make a low-level bowl game for seemingly the 125th time? I certainly think he will.
Maryland - 4.5 (Over/Under -110): Maryland was a bowl team last year, until they suffered a biblical amount of injuries, including their top two quarterbacks. Here are five of their opponents: Bowling Green, Temple, Rutgers, Minnesota, Illinois. They also play Indiana.
South Carolina - 7 (Over -120/Under Even): Much like Iowa, there are only two highly probable losses on the slate (Georgia and Clemson). The Cocks also return 84% of their offensive production, and have a decent defensive coach in Will Muschamp. They could get to 10 wins.
TCU - 7.5 (Over/Under -110): Air Force 2.0.
Just realized that I’ve picked 11 consecutive Overs. What can I say? I’m an eternal optimist.
Illinois - 3.5 (Over Even, Under -120): Had to find someone to end the streak of Overs. Fighting Illini, come on down!
Tulane - 5.5 (Over/Under -110): What better way to round out the forecast than with /checks notes, the Green Wave? That’s right. ALL ABOARD THE WILLIE FRITZ EXPRESS!
That’s all I got. Let me know who you think will either exceed or fall short of expectations. The board is wide open, and not limited to the teams above. Happy gambling!