College Football Season Win Totals Odds and Predictions
by Robert Ferringo - 7/26/2011
Every year someone has to be the sportsbook that unveils the first betable, beatable numbers of the football betting season. Routinely, that is the Las Vegas Hilton, which prides itself in putting out the first numbers of the year for the sharps, sharks and big-action syndicates on The Strip to take advantage of. This season was no exception, as Sunday night the Hilton produced the first college football season win totals of the year for 35 of the top programs in the country.
If you’re not familiar with this type of futures wager, college football season win totals are a number from the sportsbooks based on how many wins they think a certain team will accrue during the regular season. Conference championship games and bowl wins don’t count toward this total, and the books take action based on what bettors expect to happen
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Season win totals don’t just offer a great opportunity for high rates of return on relatively short (six-month) investments. They also provide some insights into the teams that the books and college football handicappers are looking at as over- and underrated heading into the year.
Below is a team-by-team look at the early release college football season win totals odds from the Las Vegas Hilton. I have broken this down into two sections: East Coast and West Coast (with the Midwest split between each side). Here is the East Coast breakdown and you can find our West Coast predictions on our homepage in the next couple days:
Alabama – 10 (Over- 120)
Breakdown: The Crimson Tide will likely begin the season as the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country, so obviously expectations are high. The defense has the opportunity to be legendary, and they bring back eight guys on offense with significant starting experience. As I mentioned in my Alabama football predictions article, it’s all about how A.J. McCarron (or possibly Phil Sims) handles the quarterbacking. I like the ‘over’ here as I really only think that there are three games on the Alabama Crimson Tide football schedule that they could lose, and I don’t see them losing all three.
LSU – 9.5 (Under -160)
Breakdown: I definitely don’t see the Tigers winning double-digits in games this regular season. They open with Oregon in Arlington and should be underdogs in that game. They have to travel to Alabama in November, and both teams have an extra week to prep for that one, but the edge clearly goes to the Tide in Tuscaloosa. With other trips to Mississippi State (who will be spry), to West Virginia (revenge game for the Mountaineers in Morgantown), and to Tennessee (the Vols are going to upset someone significant this year) that is just way too many losable games for me to think LSU is going ‘over’.
South Carolina – 9 (Under -150)
Breakdown: Having only four road games helps out this team quite a bit. So does having all-Americans in Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore. But taking the Gamecocks to go ‘over’ here means you’re putting an awful lot of stock in perpetually suspended quarterback Stephen Garcia. South Carolina won nine games last year and definitely has an easier road this season. Their Week 2 game at Georgia is mammoth, and the rest of the season will be determined by how they handle three straight road games (with one bye mixed in) at Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas in the middle of the year. If I had to play this one I think I would play it ‘over’.
Arkansas – 8.5
Breakdown: More than one handicapper I’ve spoken to has tabbed Arkansas as a dark horse team in the SEC. I’m not sure if I’m really buying that (does anyone know if Tyler Wilson is any good?), but as I look at the Arkansas Razorbacks football schedule I can definitely see why some people are excited about their prospects. The bad news is that the Razorbacks have to travel to Alabama and to LSU this year. Even if we pencil in two losses there the Hogs would have to drop two more in order to not hit this number. I think they only have three other games – South Carolina and Mississippi State at home, Texas A&M in Arlington – that they really need to worry about. I would let others stick their neck out with this team.
Georgia – 8.5 (Over -160)
Breakdown: I have said it before while making Georgia Bulldogs predictions: UGA has an eight-day season. They open the year with Boise State (in Atlanta) and South Carolina (in Athens) on friendly soil. And how the Bulldogs fare in those games will set the tone for their season. If they can earn a split in those two games then this team should be off to the races. But even if they were to lose both they would still have an outside shot of getting ‘over’ this number (that is, if Bulldog Nation doesn’t demolish Sanford Stadium and run Mark Richt out of town). Georgia’s toughest games after the opening two weeks come against Florida (off a bye), and probably at Tennessee. They only play three true road games, and one of them is at Vanderbilt.
Florida State – 9.5 (Over -130)
Breakdown: I think that this is an ambitious number for the Seminoles. And a wager here is putting a lot of faith in unproven quarterback E.J. Manuel. Florida State has an absurd amount of experience, and they welcome back 16 starters (including nine three-year starters). But they have a huge question mark under center and that can derail a wager like this quickly. The ‘Noles have two gimme games to open the year (ULM and Charleston Southern), but then perhaps their two toughest games of the year (vs. Oklahoma, at Clemson). FSU also has a brutal November, with a Thursday night game at Boston College preceding their game against Miami. They close the year with a trip to Florida, and I think that projecting a 10-win season (with this juice) is quite ambitious.
Virginia Tech – 10
Breakdown: The Hokies are the only team in the country that has won 10 or more games in seven straight seasons. If you want to know why just look at their September schedule: Appalachian State, at East Carolina, Arkansas State, and at Marshall. Three of their next four games are at home, and the road game against lowly Wake Forest. Their three other road games come at Duke, at Georgia Tech after a bye week and at Virginia. I don’t see them losing any of those four September games or any of their ACC road games. So unless they lose twice in Blacksburg -- something they haven’t done since 2002 -- I can see Virginia Tech eclipsing this number.
West Virginia – 9.5 (Under -140)
Breakdown: This number seems high considering the tumultuous offseason that the Mountaineers endured. But a game against LSU and closing the season with four of six on the road are significant impediments. WVU hasn’t won 10 games since Rich Rodriguez left town. We’ll see how quickly they take to Dana Holgorsen’s impressive offense.
Florida – 7.5 (Under -130)
Breakdown: This number seems awful low for a team that has won less than eight games only once in the last decade. However, they have a new head coach, two new coordinators, and an entirely unique system. Florida also has a big question at quarterback with John Brantley, and this team returned only 10 of 22 starters from last year’s 8-5 disappointment. But the 2011 Florida Gators football schedule does work to their advantage. They have only five games that I think they are danger of losing – Alabama, at LSU, Georgia, at South Carolina and against Florida State – and in order for them to stay ‘under’ they would have to either dump all of them or get upset at home by a team like Tennessee or Vanderbilt. I think there is some value here even though I don’t think UF is going to be all that good.
Mississippi State – 7.5 (Under -130)
Breakdown: Yeah, the books are all over my sleeper team this year. I really, really like the Bulldogs this season and I think that Dan Mullen is ready for a breakthrough. These guys are tough and experienced and they enter the season with little to no national profile. But they have one problem, and it’s a big one: the Mississippi State Bulldogs football schedule is brutal. They have only one bye week, they play six true road games, and they will be sizeable dogs in home games against LSU and Alabama, and may be a home dog against South Carolina as well. They will be even better than last year, but they may not surpass their 8-5 regular season mark.
Miami – 8 (Under -120)
Breakdown:The Hurricanes have topped their Vegas wins projections exactly one time in the last six years. That tells you everything you need to know about this wager. Jacory Harris is the African-American Rex Grossman and is an accident waiting to happen. Mix in overrated athletes at a lot of positions, a new coach, a completely new system, and a schedule that doesn’t provide a bye week after Sept. 10, and the Hurricanes seem destined for another “underachieving” season.
Auburn – 6 (Over -155)
Breakdown: I hope that the Tigers and their fans enjoyed every single second of their National Championship season, because they are going to pay for it this year. I actually think that six wins is optimistic considering how lucky they were last year, the amount of talent that left, and what their schedule looks like. They do have three gimme games (Utah State, Florida Atlantic and Samford). They also get Ole Miss at home. But beyond that I don’t see a lot of positive situations waiting for the champs. To beat this number they would have to win three games from the following: Mississippi State, at Clemson, at South Carolina, at Arkansas, Florida, at LSU, at Georgia or Alabama. I can see them winning two of them. I don’t see them winning three.
Tennessee – 6.5 (Over -120)
Breakdown:This is one of my sleeper teams in the SEC and I think that Tennessee will be a thorn in the side of the top-tier programs all season long. I really like what Derek Dooley is doing here, and once they dumped Matt Simms for Tyler Bray this offense (and team) took off. The Vols have only four road games. And even if they lose all four (the finale is at Kentucky) they can beat this number by winning two of three at home against Georgia, LSU and South Carolina. I think that is very doable and I can see UT busting some people’s other futures bets with their upsets this season.
Penn State – 7.5 (Over -155)
Breakdown: I don’t think Penn State stands a chance against Alabama in Week 2. And I don’t think they will win a game after Oct. 29. But I still think that they could end up beating this number because the rest of the 2011 Penn State Nittany Lions football schedule is so manageable. In fact, their toughest game in the middle of their schedule is a trip to Northwestern; so don’t shy away from this veteran team.
North Carolina – 8 (Over -130)
Breakdown: The window for a Tar heels breakthrough was wide open last year. Well, until suspensions decimated the team’s depth and undercut UNC’s BCS dreams. They haven’t won nine games since 1997, however last year’s issues have also made this one of the most experienced teams in the ACC. Quarterback is a question mark. But if they can get a win at Georgia Tech on Sept. 24 then UNC could be 6-0 heading into a home game against Miami. They also get Wake Forest and Duke at home (both wins), and that means that if they can win just one game against either Miami, at Clemson, at N.C. State, or at Virginia Tech (after a bye). I think UNC finally gets over the hump and I think that the worst-case scenario still has them at eight wins and ‘push’ on this line.
Michigan State – 7.5 (Over -120)
Breakdown: Mark Dantonio finally had his breakout season in East Lansing last year. But the Spartans have to play five road games against teams that played in bowl games last year. They lost a lot of talent from last year’s club, and I don’t think they will benefit from the same amount of good fortune that they had last year. A five-week stretch at Ohio State, (bye), against Michigan, against Wisconsin and at Nebraska will tell the tale of this season.
Michigan – 7 (Over -130)
Breakdown:The Wolverines are a very dangerous team this year. They have a lot of experience because Rich Rodriguez had been playing young guys the last couple years. And Denard Robinson is good enough to win a game all by himself. But Michigan has a new coach and entirely new system that doesn’t really fit the personnel that they have. The swing game for the Wolverines is a home contest against Notre Dame in Week 2. If they win that game they should start the year 5-0 and then I think that they can find two or three more wins on their slate in a very mediocre Big Ten.
Robert Ferringo is a professional football handicapper and is coming off an exceptionally profitable 2010-11 football betting season (college and pro). Over the last year his football picks clients have more than tripled their bankrolls with his predictions in all sports. He is looking forward to building on his stellar football handicapping resume again this fall and you can check him out here.
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