BetOnline has posted odds to win each of the Power 5 conferences this season. To be clear, these are all terrible bets. If you sum up the implied probabilities for each team in a conference, they exceed 100% by a significant margin. That is: a) mathematically impossible; and b) how sports books make money.
But since we’re in the content desert of May, why not talk about them? Here are a few knee-jerk reactions:
North Carolina +750
Miami, FL +800
Florida State +2500
Virginia Tech +3300
Wake Forest +3300
Boston College +5000
Georgia Tech +5000
NC State +5000
*Look, Clemson is really good. One of the best programs in college football, without question.
Good night, though – how is it possible that the Tigers continue to enjoy that much separation from the rest of the ACC? It still feels to me like the rest of the league’s mediocrity doesn’t get enough attention from the punditry at large.
*The better play would be to figure out which team might win the Coastal and have a slim chance to upset Clemson in the conference championship game. In other words, Miami or UNC.
The Tar Heels host the Hurricanes in mid-October and have the superior quarterback of the two teams in Sam Howell. However, that is UNC’s seventh straight game before its first open date of the season, and the Heels face six conference opponents in that stretch. Miami will be fresh after coming off an open date the week before. Lean to the Canes.
*If you’re looking for a long shot, try... Florida State.
Second-year coach Mike Norvell is still looking at a huge climb to get the Seminoles back to respectability. FSU has a favorable situation going into the Clemson game, though, with an open date two weeks before and a game against UMass immediately preceding its trip to Death Valley. A head-to-head win could put the Noles in position to steal the Atlantic division.
Yes, it’s unlikely.
*With the Oklahoma Sooners going for their seventh straight Big 12 title, it comes as no surprise they’re the favorite. At -140, that feels like a decent option.
*If Iowa State is widely seen as the conference’s No. 2 team behind OU, why does Texas have better odds? First and foremost, Texas is a name brand that attracts lots of bettors. The goal if you’re taking action on the Longhorns is to avoid lopsided exposure. Offer too good of a price, you may end up getting swamped should they win the league.
Of course, UT also has the best talent in the league outside of the Sooners, and the Horns lost three games by a combined 13 points in 2020. They weren’t that far off.
*If you’re looking for a long shot, try... Kansas State.
OU learned all too well last year what the Wildcats can do when Skylar Thompson is healthy. KSU draws four of its 50-50 games in Manhattan, too: Iowa State, TCU, West Virginia and Baylor.
TCU would also work here.
Ohio State -150
Penn State +850
Michigan State +5000
*The Buckeyes have won the B1G four years running, but they do feel a little vulnerable heading into 2021. For starters, OSU sent a total of 29 players to the NFL in the last three years. Even though the Buckeyes generally reload, those kinds of runs can lead to the occasional blip. Moreover, according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly ($), OSU has one of the lowest rates of returning production in the country this season.
On the flip side, Ohio State has a backloaded schedule featuring Minnesota, Rutgers and Maryland in the first half of the season. That should give coach Ryan Day and his staff time to work out the kinks.
*Wisconsin has a dream schedule, with Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa all traveling to Camp Randall Stadium. The toughest conference road game for the Badgers may be a trip to Rutgers. Oh, and no Ohio State on the ‘21 slate.
The bulk of UW’s team from a year ago returns, so count on the Badgers to get back on track this fall. If you can’t bring yourself to back the Buckeyes, Wisconsin looks like the play.
*If you’re looking for a long shot, try... Minnesota.
You might as well set your money on fire, but you asked for a long shot. P.J. Fleck’s team has a veteran quarterback and offensive line, which help when you’re trying to bounce back from a frustrating campaign like last year. The Golden Gophers also have continuity on the sidelines with offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. entering his second season and defensive coordinator Joe Rossi back for a fourth year.
At worst, Minnesota should bounce back from a miserable 2020 season.
*Per usual, uncertainty is the buzzword around the Pac-12. The odds are pointing to one of the clump of four teams at the emerging, but would it really shock anyone to see a team like UCLA playing for the conference title at the end of the season? That’s just how this league seems to shake out.
*Part of the problem here is that it’s hard to trust the coaches of the top four teams. Washington’s Jimmy Lake deserves an incomplete grade for last year, and he could be the best of the bunch.
That said, Oregon seems to have the most talent, so why not the Ducks as the favorite?
*If you’re looking for a long shot, try... Utah.
The Quaker Oats of the Pac-12. The Utes don’t do anything flashy, but they’re about as reliable as it gets. You can usually count on them for a minimum of eight wins and then work up from there.
Veteran coach Kyle Whittingham added two nice pieces who may help jumpstart his team’s offense in Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer at QB and ex-OU running back T.J. Pledger. More importantly, aside from a road game at USC in October, Utah is playing its toughest games in Salt Lake City.
Also keep an eye on UCLA. The Bruins played better last year than many people realize.
Texas A&M +750
Ole Miss +1800
Mississippi State +6600
South Carolina +20000
*Despite the offseason speculation about Texas A&M as a potential contender for the crown and LSU bouncing back, these odds still say the SEC will come down to Alabama and Georgia. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide still have the two best rosters in the conference, if not the entire country. Dethroning either in their division races will probably take some major misfortune befalling them during the course of the season. (Even that may not be enough.)
*If there’s a landmine sitting out there for Alabama, it’s a visit to The Swamp in week three to play Florida. UF will take a step back this season, but the Tide will still be awfully green at that point in the season.
*Speaking of odds, what are the chances Ed Orgeron is still coaching at LSU in 2022?
*If you’re looking for a long shot, try... Missouri.
Mizzou might have hit the jackpot when it hired Eli Drinkwitz away from Appalachian State. The Norman native has infused the program with some needed juice after a few ho-hum years under Barry Odom.
Chances are slim that the Tigers will beat out UGA for the top of the SEC East, but the schedule sets up nicely for them. A loss in Athens is a given, but Mizzou has an early road game versus a Kentucky team that is in for a down year. A&M is a crossover opponent from the West, but the Aggies are coming to Columbia. So is Florida.