We’re now less than a month to the start of the college football season and fans can cross another major checkmark off the "good lord, get me to college football season already" check-list: Bovada released its college football over/under win total odds. Simply put, even if you’re not a gambler (and we certainly aren’t, umm, advocating it) over/under win totals are a great way to preview the season. After all, Vegas sets them hoping to get relatively even money on both sides. Therefore, if a number looks totally off to you, it probably isn’t. Instead, it might be your projections that are wrong. Still, even with that said, Vegas did miss on a few. Here are the smartest bets you can make, based on the numbers Bovada has provided.
Georgia – UNDER 9.5 wins (-160)
So let me get this straight: Georgia won nine regular-season games last year with a veteran head coach, a veteran (albeit transfer) quarterback and a fully healthy Nick Chubb. Now they have not only a first-year head coach but a first-time head coach, who is walking into one of the most high-pressure jobs in college football without having ever coached a game? And he’s doing it with (likely) a true freshman at quarterback and Chubb coming off injury? And we expect the Dawgs to actually be better than they were last year? Especially when you add in a brutal schedule that includes an improved Tennessee, cross-divisional games against Ole Miss and Auburn and an opener against an 11-win North Carolina team? Plenty believe Georgia will be good in time under Smart (I’m a bit more dubious than most), but they feel like a nine-win team at best this year.
Iowa – OVER 8.5 wins (-200)
I’m just going to throw it out there: If Iowa can’t win at least nine games last year, Kirk Ferentz should be fired. I’m not even kidding. The Hawkeyes return plenty of talent (including their starting quarterback and most of their defense), and -- as crazy as it sounds -- might have an easier schedule this year than last. They don’t face Michigan State or Ohio State, and while they take on Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad, they do get the Wolverines at Kinnick Stadium. As a matter of fact, you could argue four out of the Hawkeyes five toughest games -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Northwestern -- are all at home, with the only road game that could be considered even remotely tough at Penn State. Seriously, read those last couple sentences. Anything below 10 wins (let alone nine) is an abomination.
Getty ImagesMichael Hickey
Mississippi State – UNDER 9.5 wins (-200)
Simply put, this is the most surprising number on the entire board. Remember, Mississippi State lost the single best quarterback in program history (Dak Prescott), not to mention that Dan Mullen tried to leave with him and take the Miami job. Then there’s the schedule that features Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss (arguably three of the Top 10 teams in the country) all on the road, not to mention a weird mid-season trip to BYU as well. Add in home dates with schools like Auburn and Arkansas, and anything near 9.5 wins seems completely out the window. The Bulldogs will be lucky to get seven.
APRogelio V. Solis
Oklahoma State – OVER 8.5 wins (Even)
I already made the case a few months back that the Pokes could be a college football playoff dark-horse, and all these months later I stand by it. Mike Gundy’s club returns 19 total starters (by far the most in the Big 12), including virtually all of his defense (minus Browns second-round pick Emmanuel Ogbah), as well as quarterback Mason Rudolph. Keep in mind, that is huge, especially in a relatively down year in the Big 12 where Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor all suffered major personnel losses, and the Bears of course are transitioning to life without Art Briles. Simply put, the Pokes are a tried and true Big 12 title and college football playoff contender. It’s hard to imagine any scenario where they lose four games.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY SportsMatt Kartozian
Ole Miss – UNDER 9.5 wins (-200)
I swear, this isn’t an anti-SEC article (fun fact, I actually like LSU to win the national championship) but one team I’m not high on is Ole Miss. Yes, the Rebels return Chad Kelly, but they also lost three first-round picks (Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil and Robert Nkemdiche), not to mention four-fifths of their offensive line. Add in a brutal schedule that includes road games at LSU and Arkansas (that has beaten the Rebels two years in a row), not to mention a neutral-site game against Florida State in Week 1, and it just looks like a really tough year to see the Rebels getting to 10 wins.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsChuck Cook
Illinois – OVER 4.5 wins
Look, I’ve already confessed my man-crush on Lovie Smith (seriously… those eyes) so this should really come as no surprise, but still let’s look at things realistically here. The Illini went 5-7 last year under someone named Bill Cubit, who could be selling steak knives door-to-door by this point for all we know. They upgraded him to Lovie Smith, a coach who was in the SUPER BOWL a decade ago, so you’ve got to assume there will be a little improvement on the field in the overall product of Illinois football as a whole. Add in a manageable schedule and veteran quarterback Wes Lunt, and it feels like five wins is the absolute floor for this club with the opportunity to go much higher.
South Carolina – UNDER 6.5
No seriously, this isn’t an anti-SEC article. You’ve got to believe me! At the same time, having Will Muschamp -- one of the most offensively inept coaches of his generation -- take over a team that ranked 11th in the SEC in total offense and scored just 21 points per game isn’t a good sign, especially when the Gamecocks' best player -- linebacker Skai Moore -- was lost for the year with a neck injury. Add in a brutal schedule that includes three straight road games to start the year, a cross-divisional game against Texas A&M and a season finale against Clemson, and it just isn’t going to be pretty in Year 1 of the Muschamp era. Take the Gamecocks under 6.5 and laugh all the way to the bank. Just do yourself a favor, and don’t actually watch any of their games this year, OK?!