It has become a ritual of sorts, as much of the offseason buildup as preview magazines and conference media days. The it is the leisurely release of college football odds, point spreads and prop bets, and things just became much more interesting now that the first legitimate win totals have hit the market.
For those familiar with it by now, welcome back. Please, take your assigned seats. For those of you new to this ritual, welcome.
A win total is exactly what it sounds like: a number posted by a sportsbook to be wagered on. These numbers serve as an assessment of sorts, an educated number to speculate for how many regular-season victories college football teams are expected to finish with.
With this number there are two choices to make: over or under.
There’s also the juice, an important part of the win total experience that is often overlooked. It’s not just the number you need to look for, but it’s also the juice attached to every over or under.
For example, an over with (-220) juice would mean a bettor would have to wager $220 to win $100. This would be a significant favorite. An over with (+170) attached would mean a bettor would only have to wager $100 to win $170. In the second instance, the over would be a substantial underdog, and thus would pay much more favorably.
With this concise crash course out of the way, let’s get to the win totals that were just posted on the Kegs ‘n Eggs Blog.
Some of the notable numbers are below.
Kegs 'n Eggs
What stands out? What do they mean? Where is the value?
Here are some observations on the initial numbers posted.
Even Without a QB, Alabama’s Expectations are Still Close to Perfection
Nick Saban spent much of his time at the SEC meetings on Monday defusing the Jacob Coker buzz building at quarterback.
Nick Saban says "everybody" is way ahead of him thinking Jacob Coker will start at QB. "I haven't seen him throw a ball since high school"— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) May 27, 2014
It hasn’t stopped the buzz from building regardless, and it will continue to do so around Coker. It also hasn’t stopped the oddsmakers from placing a high win total of 10.5 on the Crimson Tide. Making this number even more impressive is the robust (-140) attached to the over.
This is nothing new, of course. Alabama will be favored for the 55th consecutive game against West Virginia in Week 1, and that would likely be the case if you were under center.
The schedule, by SEC standards, isn’t terribly daunting. It's not a cakewalk, either. Trips to Ole Miss and LSU headline the road voyages, while home games against Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn are the notable home matchups.
With a win total of 10.5, Alabama has exactly one loss as a cushion for the over to cash. That second loss—if it comes—will trigger an under cash. I suppose now is the time to point out that Alabama has lost more than one regular-season game once since the start of the 2008 season, and it’s been cashing on similar over bets for years.
Sanctions and All, the Oddsmakers Love Penn State
James Franklin has done plenty on the recruiting front since he’s touched down in Happy Valley, although it won’t end there. The Nittany Lions have been given a regular-season win total of 8.5, which is remarkable given everything that has gone over the past few years.
The over at (+100) is an underdog in this instance, but not a significant one. Penn State could certainly reach the nine-win mark, especially if quarterback Christian Hackenberg delivers more of the superhero throws that he did in spring practice.
Seriously, this throw should come with a disclaimer.
The other item certainly working in the Nittany Lions’ favor is the schedule. Road trips—outside of any early trip to Ireland to take on UCF—include stops at Rutgers, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. They’ll also get Ohio State and Michigan State at home.
They’re not all layups, but it could be much, much worse.
The North Carolina Love Isn’t Completely There…Yet
It might just be the best value on the board, even with (-140) tagged to the over.
North Carolina has been given a regular-season win total of 7.5, and it might not be enough. It won’t be if the team that won (and covered) in six of the last seven games shows up against Liberty on August 30.
Now, Liberty won’t be a problem. Neither will San Diego State the following week. Road trips to Clemson, Miami and Duke, however, will determine whether the eight-win mark is reached. It doesn’t hurt not to have Florida State on tap, though. Each and every game on the schedule is winnable, even without the services of dynamic tight end Eric Ebron.
The offense should be Larry Fedora’s best yet; it simply comes down to taking that next step and winning games that haven’t gone their way over the last few years. Even if just one or two of those games go in the Tar Heels' favor, the over should be feasible.
Even With a Talent Exodus, Missouri Still Has Lofty Expectations
The losses are noteworthy: James Franklin, Michael Sam, Kony Ealy, L'Damian Washington and the unexpected departure of Dorial Green-Beckham are all key pieces Missouri will be without in 2014.
And yet, even despite those losses, the Tigers were handed a regular-season win total of 9.5. Perhaps they're not ready to fade back into mediocrity like many believe.
Of course, the juice is significant. The under is heavily favored at (-230), but that doesn’t make the win total any less intriguing. The schedule sets up favorably, although it isn’t without its landmines. Mizzou will travel to South Carolina, Florida and Texas A&M. The Tigers will also welcome Georgia and Central Florida at home.
Betting the over will come with perks. The (+170) tag is a fair amount of value for a team with a manageable path, although you’ll have to get 10 wins to get paid. That’s no easy task. If you believe that quarterback Maty Mauk will be as good as he has looked with limited snaps, however, it might be a surprising plunge worth taking.
-Should we be surprised to see Duke—yes, football Duke—with a robust win total of 8.5? Even though the under is favored, it’s incredible to see how far this program has come in just a few seasons. (With this schedule, there are not many people lining up to bet that under, either.)
-What do we possibly make of Texas? The Longhorns were handed a win total of 8.5, and the under is a substantial favorite. Perhaps the bigger question—bigger than any Charlie Strong-related matter—is what will the Longhorns get out of quarterback David Ash? He will likely swing this bet one way or another.
-Oklahoma was not included in the first batch of win total releases, which shouldn't be all that shocking. No team, particularly from a gambling standpoint, will be more difficult to assess heading into the season. The schedule sets up well, the defense is loaded and Trevor Knight could be as good as advertised. Expect a number in the 10 to 10.5 range once it's released.
-Florida State has also not been given a win total yet, although it will at some point. It’s likely that the Seminoles will open with a total around 11 or 11.5 when they are, meaning the over/under will likely come down to whether or not the Seminoles deliver back-to-back regular seasons.