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Forecasting the 2020 Pac-12 football win totals

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Which teams have the best value?

Stanford v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning. Team Kendall managed to escape the cold and rain of Germany for a long weekend, alighting upon the lovely island nation of Malta. While we haven’t happened upon a bejeweled falcon, the Mediterranean’s warm waters and blue skies are calling, so this week’s Sunday edition won’t take long. Try and feign disappointment.

As Nick Nordi mentioned earlier this week, we have our latest set of season win totals for the Pac-12’s even-more truncated schedule. While there aren’t many surprises among the perceived favorites, there were a couple that stood out as “really?” types of totals. So let’s take a look at the team-by-team totals and throw out some predictions.

PLEASE BE AWARE: When the odds-makers publish these totals, they are not necessarily a prediction. They are meant to generate equal betting on both sides of the total, so the casino can profit from the vig. Also, you’ll see that while there are some strange totals, they tend to be balanced somewhat by the vig.

As with Nick’s post, we’re using the totals from betonline.ag.

Washington State Cougars - 2 (Over -165, Under +135)

Here’s a case where you look quickly and think, “Two??!! DISRESPEKT!” And you might be right. However, look at how much juice you have to throw out on an “over” bet. That means that the odds-makers are a slight lean toward WSU exceeding those two wins.

Prediction: Under (probably a push and goddammit stop with the whole numbers, fellas.

Arizona Wildcats - 1 (Over -160, Under +130)

Very similar to WSU regarding the juice. UA’s best shots at a win are Colorado and UCLA. I doubt they get two, and they may not even get one. Plus, there’s better value on the other side.

Prediction: Under (probably a push)

Arizona State Sun Devils - 4.5 (Over -130, Under +100)

I now Jayden Daniels is a great place to start if you want to have a good season, but do we really know how good he is? ASU lost its best running back and a first round NFL Draft pick at wide receiver in Brandon Aiyuk. And I still don’t think Herm is anything better than a slightly above average coach.

Prediction: Under

California Golden Bears - 4.5 (Over -130, Under +100)

Exactly the same odds as ASU, which is funny since they’re facing each other in the crossover game. It’s gonna come down to whether Cal can beat one of Oregon or Washington, and I think they can indeed win one of those.

Prediction: Over

Colorado Buffaloes - 1.5 (Over -160, Under +130)

Finally sensing a trend here, and the folks at BetOnline are hedging their low win total picks by requiring a lot of juice if you bet the over. Such is life in a six game season fraught with several unknowns. Lots of tumult in Boulder this offseason, and I am really tempted to take the “over” after looking at that schedule. Then again, Karl Dorrell. WHAT TO DO

Prediction: Over

Oregon Ducks - 6 (Over +120, Under -150)

Oregon is not going 7-0, even if other guys opt back in, which is such a hilarious process in and of itself.

Prediction: Under

Oregon State Beavers - 1.5 (Over -220, Under +180)

Hahahaha look at that juice on the “over”! This is a classic case of the odds-makers expecting Johnny Square Play to look at OSU and go, “they always suck, give me the under!” That -220 number screams “we’re pretty sure they’re winning at least two.” I agree, despite the vig.

Prediction: Over

Stanford Cardinal - 3.5 (Over -140, Under +110)

Did Stanford get better over the offseason and nobody told me? No? Ok then, give me the pick with the better value since these folks haven’t caught on to the fact that David Shaw is not actually a good coach anymore.

Prediction: Under

UCLA Bruins - 3.5 (Over +110, Under -150)

UCLA and its garbage coach don’t even want to play this season.

Prediction: Under

USC Trojans - 5.5 (Over/Under -115)

If USC can’t get to six wins with that schedule, Clay Helton better spend 2021 flying cargo planes full of rubber dog sh*t out of Hong Kong.

Prediction: Over

Utah Utes - 4.5 (Over +100, Under -130)

Looks like three bankable wins for Utah out of the gate, with tossups against ASU and OSU to boot. I think they get one of those, and then the seventh game as well. I won’t be surprised if they can’t get past three wins given all the personnel losses, but hey, at least Kyle Whittingham still has a chance to flame out late in the season. A tradition unlike any other.

Prediction: Over

Washington Huskies - 4.5 (Over/Under -115)

Three locks and three tossups, which means that the Huskies have to get two of the three tossups, or one of the three and the seventh game against a TBD opponent. Seeing as how the Pac-12 South is a grease fire for the most part, Washington should cruise to at least five wins and no this isn’t a jinx attempt so don’t even ask.

Prediction: Over

So there you have it, our third attempt at this over the past few months. Hopefully we at least see this version of a season through to its conclusion. And as far as our predictions from other conferences, that Mississippi State “under” is looking better by the week, eh Mike?

Football

Washington State preseason notes (Oct. 10): Liam Ryan says player accountability key in new COVID-19 environment | The Spokesman-Review
Across the country, teams have been debilitated by swaths of positive COVID-19 results.

Under the category: That didn’t take long!

Mississippi State Bulldogs might need to purge malcontents, Mike Leach says after loss
The Bulldogs, who opened the season with a 44-34 win at defending national champion LSU and an SEC-record 623 passing yards, failed to score on offense and had six interceptions against Kentucky.

This Week in Parenting

I mentioned that we escaped south for the weekend, and it has been a welcome respite. It’s also been somewhat adventurous, including the dining. On the way to the hotel, our Bolt driver told us that a couple local delicacies are horse and rabbit. Sure enough, both were on the menu at the restaurant that evening. I’m not ready to cross the horse bridge, but I’ll eat me some rabbit, and the 12 year-old was also on board. Gotta say I’m proud of the kiddos for their willingness to try new stuff.

The folks at this restaurant were nice enough to bring us some dessert, which again contained some new(ish) flavors. Since Malta sits where it does, and has been conquered by the countries it has, there is some decided Italian and Middle Eastern influence here. The dessert was definitely of the Middle Eastern variety, with fig-flavored ice cream and date-infused pastries. I know I’ve said it before, but the folks in the Middle East are really good at making sweets. The eight year-old’s mind was blown by the date pastry.

Finally, we took a ferry to the island of Gozo because dad had to check out Malta’s only craft brewery, Lord Chambray. The place wasn’t much to look at, but they had some good stuff on draft. The kids, of course, weren’t interested in any of this, so mom sent them off looking for something to snack on, with a 10 Euro bill and a five Euro budget. Minutes later, they emerged with nothing except a crying eight year old. What does that look like under a mask? Here you go:

Turns out the ice cream they wanted was 2 Euro 60 each, and the 12 year-old was convinced that mom gave them a budget five Euro combined. The eight year-old wasn’t having it, and complained that “IT’S ONLY 10 MORE CENTS!” and here came the tears. Mom had to explain that the budget was five Euro each, not total, and the 12 year-old was talked off his “we will spend five and only five” ledge. I can’t imagine what this store owner was thinking when two kids were yelling at each other over 10 cents, without a parent in site. Luckily I didn’t have to see it! Magically, the ice cream bar that followed erased the tears.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Lord Chambray makes a great beer known as 67 IPA for one restaurant here on Malta, and we happened upon it Friday. Quite the happy accident, as the DIPA was incredibly good.

Best Fall Beers: 49 Perfect Ales, Stouts, Porters, and IPAs to Drink in 2020 | GQ
To find the best fall beers we talked with fourteen bartenders and restaurateurs about the brews they favor when it starts to get cold.

Non-Sports

The Man Who Refused to Spy | The New Yorker
The F.B.I. tried to recruit an Iranian scientist as an informant. When he balked, the payback was brutal.