We’ve sailed past the 100 day window to the start of the college football season. We’re hours away from being exactly three months from our first game day. Early next month, we’ll see pointspreads for the games of year be released. Usually the Golden Nugget in downtown Vegas releases upwards of 100 games the first or second Saturday in June. Needless to say, we’re anxiously awaiting that Christmas in summer.
But what do we do until then? Luckily, we have plenty of odds to chew on. We’ve already taken a look at the small menu of Week One games that have been released. Now lets focus on regular season win totals. Over at 5dimes.com, they have win totals listed for 31 teams in the FBS division. They’ll probably add several more as time goes on, but that doesnt mean we should wait to begin thinking about these. The online book released odds on a handful of Big 10 teams. We’ll take a look at those numbers in a pair of posts this week.
This first one will focus on the three totals in the league that also come carrying some of the most expensive juice as its price tag. Some books will release an actual number designed to get an equal number of bets for each side. Other books will release a softer number, but with highly priced juiced balanced with nice, but not equal payout odds on other side in an attempt to get an even amount of bets. In this case, 5dimes appears to have done the latter. And three Big 10 teams–Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan–all carry some of the most expensive juice on the conventional wisdom play on the win totals released.
Wisconsin, Over/Under 8.5 wins. Over, -260; Under +180
The -260 price tag (risk $260 to win $100) for the Badgers Over is the third most expensive juice on the 5Dimes college football win total board. Only Ole Miss Under 5.5 at -380(!) and USC Over 9.5 at -275 are pricier than the Over 8.5 on Wisconsin. If you’re biting on the enormous juice with the Badgers, your fate really rests with how the Badgers do in Week 2 when they travel to the northwest to play Oregon State. The trip to Corvalis is the return game after last season’s 35-0 controlled scrimmage, Badger win in Madison between these two teams. I’m willing to make the Badgers at least 5-3 in league play considering they’ve attained at least that mark in six of the last seven seasons. Should they hit that again, combined with a 4-0 out of conference mark, would push them to at least nine wins and over this total. The Badgers will steamroll Northern Iowa, Utah St and UTEP, so the only thing standing in the way of the Badgers and nonconference perfection is the trip to Oregon State. I know all too well that Big 10 teams early season hopes and postseason dreams all go to the Pacific Coast to die. But I just dont think Oregon State is at a point where they have the ability to beat Wisconsin, especially given the fact the Beavers annually endure poor Septembers. After that, factor the Badgers sweeping at Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois and at Indiana. They’re 26-1 against those teams since 2004. Splitting their conference swing games at Nebraska, MSU, OSU and at PSU seems like a common outcome. That tells me that a loss in Corvallis wouldnt be a death knell for the Over, although the MSU and Ohio State home games would then become make or break games. It also tells me that a best case scenario involving the Over hitting with a 9-1 mark before their final two legs of the season vs OSU and PSU isnt that out of the question. You can see why books have made this price on the over so expensive.
What if this moves to 9 or 9.5?……..The real question might be if you adjusted the total towards the likely outcome by a full game, would you still take it? I suspect several books as they release their own totals will indeed do that. That would make it Over 9.5 for Wisconsin. An 3-2 record against at Oregon St, At Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State and at Penn State would hit the Over as I dont think the Badgers will lose a game among the other seven contests. I dont think thats a stretch. If you think this scenario is happening, wait to see if another book does offer a 9 or 9.5 number and save yourself at least $100 in juice per unit bet on the investment.
Ohio State, Over/Under 8.5 Wins. Over, -230; Under, +170
The Over 8.5 at -230 for OSU is the 4rth most expensive price on the board. It’s pricey because Ohio State’s season looks so destined for 9-3 that Earle Bruce ought to be its honorary coach. You have to feel the Bucks will be hard pressed to get out of East Lansing and Madison ailve with a win. And despite the Urban Meyer hype, the new machine likely wont be humming to perfection enough to sweep Nebraska, at Penn State, Michigan. While I know there will be plenty of respectable people drawing road maps to upset wins by either UCF or Cal in non-conference September games, I dont think that will happen and will pen in a 4-0 out of league mark for OSU. Although, I can not lie, if I wager on the Over at this price and it becomes dicey as a result of an upset in one of those two games, then I would consider it money well spent. #JCBJinxWorkingForGood. So there you go, a likely 4-0 OOC, 5-3 Big 10 season for a 9-3 mark. The talent of OSU looms large and everyone is pulling in the same direction unlike all of 2011. They werent far off from a 9-win season last year when seemingly everything that could have gone wrong did do wrong.
What if this moves to 9 Or 9.5………….Even though I think its more likely that OSU ends up 10-2 as opposed to 8-4, I’m not so sure I would take Ohio State Over 9.5. Every time I play out their season in my head, so much of the math keeps coming back to 9-3. That might make an Under 9.5 as expensive on the juice as the Over 8.5 is right now at 5dimes. But if you still want to take the Over on any hypothetical 9.5 total, you’re thinking you have a good shot at getting to nine wins before the Michigan game and then you just need an OSU win at home–where I suspect they will be favored–to cash that ticket. None of that sounds implausible. What doesnt seem plausible is OSU stumbling around clueless like they did for stretches a year ago, assuming they’ll start losing games they shouldnt like its their job and projecting them to be as big game shaky as they were in 2011. And thats maybe why I feel 10-2 is more likely than 8-4 for this OSU squad.
Michigan Over/Under 9.5 Wins. Over, +140; Under, -180
The last couple of seasons, the Wolverines win total prop hovered in the 6-7 win range, forcing bettors to decided whether or not Michigan would have a winning record. The bar is higher in 2012, and we must now weigh if Michigan can pull a double digit win season out of its hat to make a call on their win total bet. Lets call that the Brady Hoke Difference. Or the Head Coach With Common Sense Who Doesnt Melt Down When Things Arent Perfect Difference. Or the Coaches With A Clue On Defense Difference. All of those work. They’re pretty much all synonyms at this point.
The Wolverines will probably lead the nation this summer in references to ‘they might be a better team than last year, but wont have as good a record.’ In fact, expect me to lead the refrain in hopes off damping down local expectations in the face of a much harder slate than a year ago. Fact is, for me, I’ll be doing cartwheels to a certain extent if the team escapes September with a better than .500 record. And that’s one of the issues when looking at Michigan’s projected win total compared to the OSU and Wisconsin ones earlier in this post. You can reasonably assume an unblemished out of conference mark from those schools. Obviously, thats not the case with Michigan. For the purposes of objectively assessing Michigan’s win total against the odds, you have to consider that Alabama game an automatic loss. That makes the difference between a 2-2 and 3-1 September a coin flip game at Notre Dame. I know most Michigan fans feel pretty comfortable against the Irish these days, but I am a child of the 1980s and scarred into accepting that every game with the Irish will be a back and forth, fight to death game, that will have be vomitting in my mouth at least once a quarter. Michigan cant continue to pull games out against the Irish they way they have been lately, can they? Even with a rosy 3-1 calculation heading into league play, Michigan would still need to improve upon last year’s 6-2 league mark in order to hit this over. And I’m still not prepared to call at Nebraska or at Ohio State anything but tossups to lean loss. Dont forget this program still has a lot to prove regarding its ability to play quality football away from home. Wins in either of those games would be Michigan’s best conference road win in years, maybe in even a decade if it can outrank 2006 PSU. And of course who are we too even pencil in a W on 10/20 against the Spartans. I’m finally ready to believe that Michigan has the combination of team, experience and setting to finally anticipate a win with credibiity. But thats a long way from it being a lock. Bottomline, Michigan is going to have to beat a couple ranked teams on the road in order to hit this over. And they havent done that once in six years. Michigan will be a good team this year. But they will be a more talented outfit in each of the ensuing 2013, ’14 and ’15 seasons. Still not vintage Michigan talent combined with a harder schedule would make another double digit win season more of an accomplishment than last year’s 11-win team.
What if we moved it to 9 or 8.5?………. If the Michigan total was lowered to 8.5, I think an Under play still has to be considered. I just cant shake the feeling that Denard’s career will end by playing a South Carolina or an Auburn in the Capital One or Outback Bowl after losing their spot in the Big 10 Championship with a defeat in Columbus. Their 6-2 league mark will have them in a lojgam for first place in the division with MSU and Nebraska and their early season losses will cost them a rankings tie breaker. I know that situation sounds untenable, but even with better souding scenarios, Michigan going 2-2, 6-2, 8-4 doesnt seem like a bad bet. In fact, anything better, you could argue you’re relying on the program to win the sort of games it hasnt really proven it can yet in its climb out of the Rodriguez hole.
I’ll take a look at the MSU and Nebraska win totals, both set at 8.5, later in the week.