Season win total bets are inherently biased just in their name alone. Vegas wants you to think about how many games a team can win, and then boosts the totals toward that side.
In college football, with non-conference games and teams playing Division I-AA schools, there’s no way to show the bias. But looking at the NFL totals shows the bias. The average win total for every NFL team is 8.17. Last I knew, the average has to be eight. So if you bet every NFL team Over, you’ll probably go 15-17.
With that knowledge, why sweat your favorite team winning every week when you can root against your most hated opponent each week? Besides, a team rarely improves from their pre-season expectations with guys coming out of the blue to have magical years. More often, a team nose-dives because of injuries. Finally, when you’re betting a team to go Over eight or nine wins, there’s not many spots to recover from an upset loss. “Recovering” from an upset win, however, is easier when you’re looking at a bad team to begin with. So let’s find some season-long bargains.
Arizona State U7.5 -115
Projected Wins (6): Weber State, @ New Mexico, @ Colorado, Utah, Notre Dame, Washington State
Projected Losses (6): UCLA, @USC, Stanford, @ Washington, @ Oregon State, @ Arizona
The may start the season 3-0, but the next four games are UCLA, USC, Stanford and Washington. Suddenly the Wildcats could be looking at 3-4 and needing to win their last five games to screw you. Notre Dame isn’t an easy win, even at home, and they’d need to win at Oregon State and in-state rival Arizona.
Boston College U4.5 -105
Projected Wins (3): @ UMass, Maine, @ Wake Forest
Projected Losses (9): Pittsburgh, USC, Colorado State, @ NC State, Clemson, @ Va Tech, Louisville, @ Florida State, Syracuse
The Eagles return only nine starters and look to be sluggish to start, which is why I count Pittsburgh and Colorado State as losses. Look at the projected losses and tell me where they pick up wins. Pittsburgh (which I’ll talk about later), Colorado State and Syracuse are the best options. And they need to win two of those. Going to Wake Forest won’t be easy either.
Vanderbilt U5.5 -115
Projected Wins (4): Temple, UMass, Charleston Southern, Old Dominion
Projected Losses (8): Ole Miss, South Carolina, @ Kentucky, @ Georgia, @ Missouri, Florida, @ Miss State, Tennessee
The slipper doesn’t fit any more. James Franklin was a miracle worker at the typical SEC cellar-dweller, but he’s gone. So is QB Austyn Carta-Samuels and his top two receivers. Only 10 starters return. It’s difficult to find wins at home, so they probably need to beat Kentucky on the road and then find a win at Missouri or Mississippi State.
Minnesota U6 +125
Projected Wins (4): Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee, San Jose State, Purdue
Projected Losses (8): @ TCU, @ Michigan, Northwestern, @ Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State, @ Nebraska, @ Wisconsin
The Gophers must get off to a good start, and they could be 3-1 heading into conference play. But if they don’t have that sixth win before November, it’s not happening. They close the season with Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. They need wins at Illinois and a huge upset (maybe hosting Northwestern?) just to push this bet. You can get U6.5 at -135, but I think Under 6 is safe.
Iowa O8.5 -115
Projected Wins (10): Northern Iowa, Ball State, Iowa State, @ Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, @ Minnesota, @ Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska
Projected Losses (2): @Pittsburgh, @ Maryland
Here’s a team that I think could run the table if things break the right way. The two losses, on the road, could become wins. The rest of the road schedule is manageable. Kirk Ferentz always over-achieves with Iowa, scratching out wins with a solid ground game and a stout defense. Be wary, however, as everyone likes this bet. It started at +115 and dropped to -115. At 8.5, there’s room for an upset loss, but betting nine and having to win 10 could be tight.
Pittsburgh O7.5 +120
Projected Wins (9): Delaware, @ Boston College, @ Fla International, Iowa, Akron, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke, Syracuse
Projected Losses (3): @ Virginia, @ North Carolina, @ Miami, FL
I’m wary of this one. Pitt screwed me a couple times last year, but I swear I saw good things in the team. One is sophomore RB James Conner, who could have a breakout season with four returnees on the offensive line. I’ve already projected three road losses, so if they trip up it has to be at home. The Iowa game could become a loss. But I think Va Tech and Duke are due for down seasons. Plus, you have to like +120 if you win.