College football is coming, which means it is time to start reviewing the win totals being published by the experts in the desert, as our old friend Brent Musburger might say. Various sports books have been releasing their win totals and other odds in recent weeks and months, so now is as good a time as any to start considering which bets you may want to make this fall.
More importantly, this is also a good time to figure out which bets you should avoid like the plague.
The win totals from South Point Sportsbook in Las Vegas have been released, so let’s sift through them and figure out which five you should consider strongly and which ones you should stay away from.
5 Smart Bets
Duke 4.5 (Over EVEN, Under -120) It may not be a good value pick by betting on the Blue Devils getting to five wins, but it may be a safe one. Duke won just four games last season and the experts are seeing the Blue Devils in a division with Miami supposedly on the rise, Virginia Tech still looking sturdy and North Carolina and Pitt as formidable foes. And the non-conference slate is not easy with Northwestern and Baylor, but Duke gets both of those teams on their home turf. Duke’s win total has gone down the past three seasons, but getting to five wins should not be out of the question for the Blue Devils this fall.
Maryland 3 (Over -120, Under EVEN) My goodness, pound the over on this one and thank me later. Maryland is a far way off from challenging for a Big Ten East Division title and may very well get smoked at Ohio State and perhaps Wisconsin, but you just need four wins out of the up-and-coming Terps to get paid on the over here and that is definitely not out of the question. Maryland could very well have two wins in September and still gets a home game against Indiana and a game against Rutgers in Yankee Stadium later on. Four wins is very much within reach for Maryland (and they may even pull a stunner at the end of the year against Michigan or Penn State at home in November).
Connecticut 4.5 (Over +110, Under -130) Randy Edsall’s return to UConn should be a fun storyline to follow this season. Some of us may feel getting to a bowl game is not only possible, but expected, and all we need here is five wins to make some money. The road to five wins may be challenging, but it is certainly within sight. Scoring a road win at Temple could be a swing game here, but sometimes you have to roll the dice. Go ahead and roll the dice on the over here.
Boise State 8, (Over -110, Under -110) Eight wins for the Boise State Broncos feels almost routine for the program. The Broncos have been good for no fewer than eight wins each year since 1998. So why is this number so low? It’s the road schedule. Boise State plays games at Washington State, BYU, San Diego State and Colorado State. All could end up being losses, but losing all of them seems like a reach. There also is some hype surrounding Wyoming this season and Air Force has been tricky for the Broncos. Still, Boise State getting to eight wins feels like a safe pick.
Northwestern 8.5 (Over -110, Under -110) Everybody seems to love the Wildcats, but getting to nine wins is a tall order for Northwestern. This should be an easy under pick, because just getting to eight wins is an achievement in itself for the program. Northwestern has to play road games at Duke, Wisconsin, Maryland and Nebraska (and you just saw what I think about those Duke and Maryland numbers), and they also draw Penn State at home. And we’ll see how much Purdue and Minnesota improve under new offensive-minded coaches. There could be some hiccups in store for Chicago’s Big Ten team, which is why the under pick is the way to go here.
3 Bets to Avoid
West Virginia 6 (Over -130, Under +110) The over still feels like a safe pick here, although going with the under is somewhat tempting. A push is also entirely in play, which means this is probably one to avoid. The problem here is WVU could have no fewer than three wins before getting to October (and could be 4-0 with a win over Virginia Tech in the season opener). That’s dicey especially with a favorable home schedule this season (Oklahoma State, Texas).
Temple 7 (Over -110, Under -110) The Owls are coming off the AAC championship, but will have a new look with a new coach this season. There are too many question marks to suggest that going one way or the other on a win total of seven games would be wise. Bet either way on the Owls only if you are a true degenerate because this one is too tough to predict.
USC 10 (Over -110, Under -110) The Trojans sure look like a playoff contender to me entering the 2017 season, but 10 wins leaves a small margin for error for a program that is re-learning how to deal with expectations. USC can get on the right track early on with games against Stanford and Texas in back-to-back home games in September. Getting through September at 5-0 puts USC in great position, but slipping twice is still possible. USC ending the season with 10 wins could be a real possibility.
This one is too risky. Beware the preseason hype machine and wait to see USC prove it over the course of a season before placing any serious money on them. USC has won 10 games in a season three times since 2009 and hasn’t had back-to-back 10-win seasons since a stretch from 2002 through 2008.