Photo courtesy of California 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 Pac-12 North:
Image Credit: Kelley Ford, Twitter
Washington — Over 7.5 wins; Confidence: 2/10
At DraftKings, the over is -110, while the under at PointsBet is +120. So, the hold is -2.16%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 57% chance that the Huskies go under. This gives an expected return of $0.25 per $1 put on the under at PointsBet.
After just going 4-8, Washington at over 7.5 was surprising to some. But after going through each game, winning eight games is incredibly plausible.
Kent State and Portland State should start out as an easy two victories — not that Washington is impervious to losing games it should win.
Also, the two teams that the Huskies don’t have to play from the Pac-12 South? USC and Utah. Those are arguably two of the strongest teams in the division.
Stanford, Arizona, California, and Colorado should be wins. So, it just takes two more wins between Michigan State, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon State, Oregon, and Washington State.
We like Washington’s chances at going 2-4 or better in those six games.
Washington State — Over 5.5 wins; Confidence: 3/10
At DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet, the over is +125, while the under is -145 at DraftKings. So, the hold is 3.63%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 63% chance the Cougars go under. This gives an expected return of $0.06 per $1 put on the under at DraftKings.
Washington State had an unprecedentedly weird season as far as coaching was concerned in 2021. But it still rallied to find seven wins and a bowl appearance.
The Cougars add Incarnate Word quarterback Cameron Ward — one of the most sought FCS transfers ever.
Washington State should beat Idaho, Colorado State, Stanford, and Arizona.
So, it just needs to find two more wins in the remaining eight games.
California, Oregon State and Utah all come to Pullman. After the Cougars have a bye week, Arizona State, and Washington are all games that we think Washington State has a fighting chance in.
Oregon — Over 8.5 wins; Confidence: 4/10
At DraftKings, the over is -105, while the under is +105 at FanDuel. So, there is no hold.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 53% chance the Ducks go over. This gives an expected return of $0.03 per $1 put on the over at DraftKings.
Oregon controlled its own College Football Playoff destiny late into last season, and finished with 10 regular season wins.
This one was a little tricky because it’s easy to play devil’s advocate for either side of this total.
The unfortunate news for the Ducks is that they have tough non-conference contests against Georgia and BYU. It’s good news is that BYU makes the trip to Autzen Stadium.
It’s unfortunate news that five of the nine conference games for the Ducks are away. More good news is that the four home games include UCLA, Washington, and Utah.
The five potential regular season losses we see are Georgia, BYU, UCLA, Washington and Utah. All it takes is for Oregon to win two of those games and take care of the rest of its schedule.
Oregon State — Under 6.5 wins; Confidence: 5/10
At DraftKings, the over is +115, while the under is -130 at PointsBet. So, the hold is 3.03%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 48% chance the Beavers go over. This gives an expected return of $0.03 per $1 put on the over at DraftKings.
Oregon State is a weird team to try and project. A non-conference schedule of Boise State, Fresno State, and Montana State should lead to a 2-1 or 3-0 start.
Also, the Beavers get five home games in Pac-12 play, including against USC and Oregon.
Oregon State should do no worse than 5-7, and it’s unlikely it does better than 7-5. It just feels like 6-6 is the most likely outcome.
Starting 2-0 vs. Boise State and Fresno State will go a long way to proving this wrong. But with potential losses to Fresno State, USC, Utah, Washington, and Oregon, Oregon State would have to go perfect the rest of the way to get to seven wins.
Stanford — Under 4.5 wins; Confidence: 6/10
At PointsBet, the over is +125, while the under is -134 at Barstool. So, the hold is 1.71%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 45% chance the Cardinal go over. This gives a paltry expected return of $0.01 per $1 put on the over at PointsBet.
Stanford has not won five or more games since the 9-4 season of 2018, although 2020’s team was 4-2.
The Cardinal do themselves no favors with tough non-conference opponents, including Notre Dame and BYU.
Also, Colorado and Arizona being the two teams “avoided” from the Pac-12 South is basically the worst case scenario.
In short, Stanford is against the current, up a creek, and without a paddle.
Seriously, whoever made Stanford’s schedule had an axe — and not the Stanford Axe given to the annual winner of the rivalry contest with California — to grind. Away games against Washington, Oregon, UCLA, and Utah showcase some of the best of the Pac-12.
Colgate is a win. We also like Stanford’s chances against California.
Then between Oregon State, Washington State, and Arizona State, we think Stanford steals one or two at home. Even then, we’re only at three or four wins.
California — Under 5.5 wins; Confidence: 7/10
At Barstool, the over is +120, while the under is +100 at DraftKings. So, the hold is -4.55%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 53% chance that the Golden Bears go over. This gives an expected return of $0.17 per $1 put on the over at Barstool.
UC Davis and UNLV to start the season should give California a couple of wins.
From there, games against Arizona, Washington State, Colorado, Oregon State, and Stanford should all be closely contested.
It doesn’t help that three of those five teams are on the road. To make a bowl game, California would need to go 4-1 or 5-0 against those five teams, or steal one from some of the top teams in the conference.
Despite that, we’re pretty confident in the under. California has been pretty mediocre of late under Justin Wilcox. The last time Wilcox made a bowl was in 2019. He’s 6-10 over the last two seasons.