Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletics
Welcome back to our series of articles going over the preseason win totals for all 131 FBS teams.
Thanks to Playoff Predictors for being a free site that allows each and every game to get picked. To ensure that we didn’t just blindly choose overs or unders, all 131 teams had their schedules picked.
Explaining the Math
All Power 5 win totals and odds are from June 13, so not all odds listed may be current. Group of 5 odds are not yet widely available at multiple sportsbooks, so those articles will get started whenever those odds are released, but the games have been picked.
Where sportsbooks had differing win totals, the combination of odds with the lowest hold was kept, because sports bettors usually look for the lowest holds before looking at any prices or numbers.
For those unaware, the hold is however much over 100% each side of the bet adds up to. It’s how the sportsbooks win bettors’ money in the long run.
A lower hold is better for bettors. Anything below 2% is considered good, and a negative hold is great because it means the bet is skewed in the bettor’s favor.
Plus odds (+) means that betting $100 will profit that much. Minus odds (-) means that to profit $100, a bettor must wager that much.
The sportsbooks considered — due to having all, or very nearly all, of the Power 5 teams — were PointsBet, FanDuel, DraftKings, and Barstool.
Special thanks to Kelley Ford. We’ll be referencing some of his models that he’s posted to his Twitter (@KFordRatings).
We’re able to take the odds and turn it into expected return. Expected return means how much profit should be expected per $1 wagered if the models are correct.
By his own admission, they’re not perfect. And as the old saying goes, “all models are wrong, but some are useful.”
They’re an interesting piece of the puzzle worth considering, but do not take any of these opinions as gospel. It’s all in good fun and to acknowledge just how wrong we were at the end of the season.
We continue this series with the SEC East:
Image Credit: Kelley Ford, Twitter
Missouri — Over 5.5 wins; Confidence: 1/10
At FanDuel, the over is +125, while the under at DraftKings is -120. So, the hold is -1.01%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 56% chance that the Tigers go over. This gives an expected return of $0.26 per $1 put on the under at DraftKings.
The good news for a middle-of-the-pack team in the SEC East is that there are not a lot of games that are confidently losses.
The bad news for is that there are a lot of toss-up games that could go either way.
Kansas State, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas are all on that list. Georgia is the one game on the schedule that we look at Missouri confidently as outclassed, and even that’s a home game.
Louisiana Tech, Abilene Christian, Vanderbilt, and New Mexico State should all be wins.
So, Missouri just needs to go 2-5 in the toss-up games to get to a bowl game.
Georgia — Under 10.5 wins; Confidence: 2/10
At DraftKings, the over is -205, while the under is +170 at FanDuel and PointsBet. So, the hold is 4.25%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 72% chance that the Bulldogs go over. This gives an expected return of $0.07 per $1 put on the over at DraftKings.
Going into the 2021 season, Georgia had one preseason first place vote in the Fifth Quarter Top 25 — from the author of this article.
In short, Georgia was the preseason pick to win the national championship — at least for one person.
This all feels relevant to mention on account of the fact that we have them at 10-2.
With a high win total like 10.5, we’re just looking for two losses. Games against Samford, Kent State, Vanderbilt, and Georgia Tech are confident wins, sure.
But we think between Oregon, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Kentucky that Georgia understandably takes a step back after winning its first national championship in 41 years.
Florida — Over 6.5 wins; Confidence: 3/10
At FanDuel and PointsBet, the over is -170, while the under is +145 at FanDuel. So, the hold is 3.78%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 69% chance that the Gators go over. This gives an expected return of $0.09 per $1 put on the over at FanDuel or PointsBet.
Who knows how good Florida will be in the first year under Billy Napier? We think at least “seven wins good”.
South Florida, Eastern Washington, and Vanderbilt are likely wins.
Getting Georgia after a bye week for what was once rightfully called the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” is pretty fortunate.
Looking at this schedule, we see a 9-3 ceiling for the Gators, with 7-5 or 8-4 being pretty likely. It would take losing in most of the toss-up games for Florida to finish 6-6 or worse.
Because it’s a new coach bringing a drastically different culture, we’re going to temper our confidence to just a three.
Kentucky — Over 7.5 wins; Confidence: 4/10
At DraftKings, the over is -160, while the under is +150 at FanDuel. So, the hold is 1.54%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 64% chance that the Wildcats go over. This gives an expected return of $0.04 per $1 put on the over at DraftKings.
Miami University, Youngstown State, Northern Illinois, and Vanderbilt should all comfortably be wins.
Having a bye week before trendy division pick Tennessee should help.
Getting Louisville, South Carolina, and Georgia at home is also a plus.
Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Missouri, and Louisville are all toss-ups.
This is another instance of a schedule where it would take losing most of the toss-up games to go under. Even if quarterback Will Levis doesn’t show the first-round NFL Draft talent that some analysts are projecting from him, Kentucky should be able to play some solid, eight-win football.
South Carolina — Under 6.5 wins; Confidence: 4/10
At FanDuel, the over is +125, while the under is -139 at Barstool. So, the hold is 2.6%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 69% chance the Gamecocks go under. This gives an expected return of $0.19 per $1 put on the under at Barstool.
This is hard to write, because South Carolina was a very, very easy and fun team to root for under now second-year coach Shane Beamer.
But South Carolina really outperformed expectations with last season’s six-win regular season.
And let’s remember what those six wins looked like:
46-0 over Eastern Illinois, 20-17 over East Carolina, 23-14 over Troy, 21-20 over Vanderbilt, 40-17 over Florida shortly before the Dan Mullen firing, and 21-17 over Auburn during the Tigers’ freefall.
The 38-21 Duke’s Mayo Bowl win over North Carolina was a solid win that was well-earned and hard fought.
And let’s not ignore the big-time additions of Spencer Rattler and Austin Stogner, among others.
Unfortunately, we just see some regression, at least record-wise, for a team and coach that we want to succeed and enjoyed seeing outperform expectations.
It’s just that 5-7 or 6-6 seem so much more likely than 7-5.
Tennessee — Over 7.5 wins; Confidence: 5/10
At DraftKings and PointsBet, the over is -160, while the under is +145 at FanDuel. So, the hold is 2.35%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 41% chance the Volunteers go under. This gives an expected return of $0.004 per $1 put on the under at FanDuel.
“We’re not going to fall for the preseason hype about Tennessee and Hendon Hooker,” we kept saying to ourselves in advance of picking every game.
But goodness, it’s hard not to.
Ball State, Akron, Tennessee-Martin, and Vanderbilt should be wins. Four down, four to go.
Pittsburgh is completely overhauling the offense and replacing four-year starter Kenny Pickett and Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison.
Florida and LSU have new coaches, and Tennessee gets LSU after the bye week.
Kentucky has to travel to Knoxville, although Will Levis had his only SEC game with more than 200 passing yards when he threw for 372 against Tennessee in 2021.
Missouri and South Carolina look more like teams that are solid but will fight for bowl eligibility late in the season.
We see four more wins in there, somewhere.
Vanderbilt — Under 2.5 wins; Confidence: 7/10
At FanDuel, the over is +150, while the under is -140 at DraftKings. So, the hold is -1.67%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 46% chance the Commodores go over. This gives an expected return of $0.15 per $1 put on the over at FanDuel.
Vanderbilt is 5-28 over the last three seasons, and 2-10 under Clark Lea. Last year, Vanderbilt opened the season with a 20-point loss to an FCS team.
This sounds like we’re describing an NCAA ’14 dynasty set to maximum difficulty. Not a Power 5 team in the undisputed — unless you’re Danny Kanell — best conference in college football.
In light of the 23-3 loss to East Tennessee State last season, we’re not saying any of the games are confident wins. However, Hawaii and Elon are both games we think Vanderbilt will win. From there, though, it’s tough sledding.
Wake Forest and Northern Illinois are the remaining non-conference opponents. Beating the reigning MAC champions or the 2021 runner-up in the ACC is a tall task.
If Vanderbilt can’t beat Hawaii, Elon, and Northern Illinois, getting to three wins will hinge on either winning at home against Ole Miss or South Carolina. Both come after a bye week, and crazier certainly has happened.