The prospects of playing a full college football season in 2020 remain up in the air, but that isn’t stopping oddsmakers from doling out their annual cornucopia of future bets.
On Monday, Caesars Entertainment released regular season win totals for every FBS team. The Clemson Tigers have the highest total at 11.5, with the juice (-140) set to a 12-0 record. On the other end of the spectrum, it costs $1.15 to win a dollar betting that the UMass Minutemen will finish with fewer than two wins.
We’ll take a look at a few intriguing propositions in a second, but first a note that will be of interest to many readers here:
The total for the Oklahoma Sooners is set at 10, with the over paying +175 and the under at -200.
… At first glance, that either has to be a misprint or one hell of a tantalizing bet. OU has won at least 10 games in the regular season for five years straight and topped 10 in four of five. In the last 10 seasons, the Sooners have failed to win at least 10 games just twice.
Of course, assuming that price is legitimate, it makes you wonder what you’re missing. There are a few reasons to think the Sooners might swoon into single-digit wins this year:
- They went 5-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer
- In all likelihood, teams around the Big 12 will be stronger this year
- The non-conference schedule includes a taxing trip to Army and a home game versus an improving Tennessee team
- They have to replace their quarterback for the third year in a row, along with arguably the best wide receiver in school history
- Their leading tackler, top interior defender and best cover cornerback are gone
Still, a 9-3 record for this team in 2020 doesn’t quite fit with what we have seen from the Sooners lately, all things being equal. Additionally, there’s plenty of reason to assume that the offense will be better in 2020, and the 2020 recruiting class brought about a nice little infusion of quality depth.
Anyway, here are five other bets that stuck out to me:
Texas over 9 (+150)
Yeah, I don’t like it anymore than you do. Not to mention, UT has a history of coming up short here.
The pundit class seems to lag Texas’ actual performance by about a year, though, with their predictions. It wasn’t that tough to see the flaws in the 2018 team that meant its performance in the win-loss ledger probably wouldn’t carry over to 2019. Last year, however, the team probably played better than its record would indicate. Many of the players from that group will be back, including a four-year starter behind center and a boatload of seasoned players on defense.
Not having the spring to work with new offensive and defensive coordinators hurts, but this looks like a year in which the Longhorns will gun for a conference title. I’d take plus money on the over.
Oregon State under 5.5 (-110)
The Beavers won five games last season, and this total suggests that at worst they hold steady in ‘20. Why?
Aside from the fact that Oregon St. is playing just four true road games this season, this team offers little to like. Seven of the top 10 tacklers from last year return, so the D has some seasoning. Unfortunately, the unit ranked 93rd last year in Defensive SP+. Meanwhile, an occasionally dangerous O brings back just three starters and loses quarterback Jake Luton.
I suspect the wins are more likely to move backward than forward in Corvallis this year.
Louisville under 7.5 (-110)
On the one hand, I really like the coaching staff in charge of things for the Cardinals. On the other, Louisville went 3-0 in one-score games, and I can’t find many the Cards lost that they should have won. The schedule is essentially the same as last year when the Cards went 7-5, so they need to do better than just run in place to get to eight wins.
Honestly, I feel less comfortable about this one than any of the others here.
Virginia Tech over 8 (-115)
We saw two versions of the Hokies last year. They stumbled around in the early part of the season, then flipped a switch after getting pasted by Duke in their fourth game of the year. The guts of that team are coming back in 2020, including QB Hendon Hooker, whose ascent to starter coincided with Tech’s strong finish.
Tech will be a stronger team this year, and the schedule is all but the same as ‘19. I’d put the Hokies on nine or 10 wins this fall, and -115 isn’t that steep.
Oklahoma State over 8.5 (+115)
Texas and OSU? Yeah, I didn’t stutter. Get ready because both of them look to be primed for big years.
The Pokes have so much firepower back in the fold following the decisions by receiver Tylan Wallace and running back Chuba Hubbard to save the NFL for next year. There are also nine of the top 10 tacklers back from last year, along with star-in-the-making Trace Ford at linebacker.
OSU gets a few 50-50 games in Stillwater, including Iowa State, West Virginia and Texas. Chalk up one of those as a loss along with a trip to OU. Going under eight means losing two out of these three road games: Baylor, Kansas State and TCU. At +115, I’m willing to bet they don’t.