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 West:
Image Credit: Kelley Ford, Twitter
Ole Miss — Under 7.5 wins; Confidence: 1/10
At DraftKings, the over is -130, while the under at FanDuel is +140. So, the hold is -1.81%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 62% chance that the Rebels go over. This gives an expected return of $0.10 per $1 put on the over at DraftKings.
Through its first six games, Ole Miss should be 5-1 or 6-0, with Kentucky being the lone game in question.
The final six games are where Ole Miss plays the entire SEC West, with a bye week halfway through that gauntlet before hosting Alabama.
The word ‘opportunity’ comes to mind when looking at Ole Miss’ schedule.
When we went through and picked all of the games, we came to 7-5, but there are a few toss-up games that could swing the other way in favor of Ole Miss.
Arkansas — Over 7.5 wins; Confidence: 2/10
At FanDuel and PointsBet, the over is +140, while the under at DraftKings is -145. So, the hold is 0.85%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 75% chance that the Razorbacks go under. This gives an expected return of $0.27 per $1 put on the under at DraftKings.
Arkansas may very well have the toughest schedule in the country. To paraphrase Josh Pate, “one of the greatest myths in college football is you are not what your record says you are.”
And Arkansas looks like it could be one of the best eight- or nine-win teams of all-time — so good that it might really play like a top-10 team that will be ranked lower due to the number in the loss column.
We have Arkansas at 9-3 but the potential exists for 6-6 or 7-5 depending on if some combination of Cincinnati, South Carolina, Texas A&M, BYU, and Ole Miss goes differently than we expect.
Mississippi State — Over 6.5 wins; Confidence: 3/10
At Barstool, the over is +115, while the under at DraftKings is +110. So, the hold is -5.87%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 59% chance that the Bulldogs go over. This gives an expected return of $0.27 per $1 put on the over at Barstool.
Between Memphis, Arizona, Bowling Green, and East Tennessee State, we have the Bulldogs at 4-0 in non-conference play.
Auburn traveling to Starkville after Mississippi State’s bye week is another game we give the Bulldogs.
Between LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Ole Miss, Mississippi State just needs to find two more wins. We think it’ll get done.
LSU — Over 6.5 wins; Confidence: 4/10
At FanDuel and PointsBet, the over is -110, while the under is +135 at Barstool. So, the hold is -5.07%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 56% chance that the Tigers go over. This gives an expected return of $0.07 per $1 put on the over at FanDuel and PointsBet.
Florida State, Southern, New Mexico, and UAB is not exactly a star-studded non-conference list for LSU. At a minimum, LSU should get three wins.
Also, getting a bye week before hosting Alabama in Week 10 will give LSU its best chance at pulling off the upset. Unfortunately, Alabama also will be coming off of a bye week.
There are a couple of teams that we think that LSU loses to outright, like Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas A&M.
But we only think there’s one or two other losses on the schedule, namely some combination of Florida, Ole Miss, and Arkansas.
We have 8-4 as the most likely number for Brian Kelly’s first-year Tigers. Even with quite a few toss-ups, 6-6 feels like a bit of a reach.
Texas A&M — Over 8.5 wins; Confidence: 6/10
At DraftKings, the over is -150, while the under is +170 at FanDuel. So, the hold is -2.96%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 66% chance that the Aggies go under. This gives an expected return of $0.78 per $1 put on the under at FanDuel.
Texas A&M has had four consecutive recruiting classes in the 247Sports Recruiting Composite top 10.
The Aggies also have nine consecutive seasons with less than 10 wins. This is the season for head coach Jimbo Fisher and Co. to put it all together.
After beating Alabama last season, we think that pulling off consecutive victories against Nick Saban is incredibly unlikely.
But other than that, there are no games that we think are likely losses.
Miami, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Florida, Auburn, and LSU could all be potential losses. We personally see 9-3 or 10-2 as much more likely than 8-4.
For the sake of chaos, 8-4 or worse might be fun to watch, though.
Auburn — Over 5.5 wins; Confidence: 7/10
At FanDuel, the over is -130, while the under is +112 at Barstool. So, the hold is 3.69%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is an 88% chance that the Tigers go over. This gives an expected return of $0.56 per $1 put on the over at FanDuel.
When Shakespeare wrote, “to bowl or not to bowl, that is the question,” it’s impossible that he could have fathomed the precarious position that Bryan Harsin and Auburn would find themselves in.
The win totals task here is to find bowl eligibility, so let’s try and do that.
Mercer, San Jose State, and Western Kentucky? Should be easy wins.
Georgia and Alabama? Both unlikely, although the Iron Bowl is a “throw out the record books” type of contest.
Even though we give the game to Arkansas, Auburn does get to host that game following its bye week.
Perhaps the biggest benefit that the Tigers enjoy is that they only play four away games. Furthermore, two of the four away games are Georgia and Alabama.
If a team is in a situation like Auburn, where its fighting for bowl eligibility, it’s almost better to play the best teams on the road and take the proverbial lumps.
Penn State, Missouri, LSU, Arkansas, and Texas A&M are all home games that could be within reach.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State are the two other road games. We think Auburn is likely to split those.
Alabama — Over 10.5 wins; Confidence: 10/10
At DraftKings, the over -230, while the under is +210 at FanDuel. So, the hold is 1.96%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is a 32% chance that the Crimson Tide go under. This gives an expected return of -$0.01 per $1 put on the under at FanDuel. The over gives an expected return of -$0.02 per $1.
Congratulations to the Crimson Tide and Nick Saban. Though we haven’t given confidence ratings to every win total yet, we’re pretty confident this will be the only 10/10.
We also know for a fact that Alabama is the only team that we have predicted to go 12-0.
The fact of the matter is, Las Vegas thinks that there is nearly a 70% chance that Alabama gets to 11 or more wins.
In Saban’s third year at Alabama, it went 14-0 en route to Alabama’s first championship in a long time.
Including that season, Alabama has won 11 or more games in 11 out of 14 full seasons with Saban at the helm.
Games against Utah State, Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt, and Austin Peay should be pretty easy.
Getting to host Texas A&M and Auburn are both pluses.
Between Texas, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, and maybe Auburn — due to the competitive nature of the Iron Bowl — there could be a landmine for the Tide. But we think it runs the table and dances into the SEC Championship a perfect 12-0.