College football win totals have been available at 5Dimes for a little while now as bettors have been pushing the juice around with low-limit max wagers. Heritage Sportsbook has a handful of win totals as well, but it was CG Technologies in Las Vegas that set the standard that most sportsbooks will now follow with their college football season win totals.
To date, the five power conferences have had win total numbers released and here at BangTheBook, we’re going to take a look at each team on a conference-by-conference basis with a little bit of schedule analysis, depth chart analysis, and some coaching thoughts.
The fourth conference to be covered in this 11-conference series that will include the Independent teams is the Pac-12 Conference. The Pac-12 had a rather disappointing season as Oregon found itself in the Alamo Bowl against a lame-duck Texas team, Stanford lost in an ugly fashion to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl, and UCLA drubbed a mediocre Virginia Tech team in the Sun Bowl.
The Pac-12 has a couple of teams that are very legitimate candidates to make the inaugural College Football Playoff and could win the conference’s first National Championship since USC in 2004. Here’s a look at the win totals for each division, beginning with the Pac-12 North. (The Pac-12 South can be found here.)
5Dimes: 10 -115/-115
Heritage: 10.5 100/-120
CG Technologies: 10.5 -130/100
Marcus Mariota decided not to enter the NFL Draft and his return is huge for the Oregon Ducks and second-year head coach Mark Helfrich. Two of their top skill players, De’Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff, are gone, but Oregon has no problem replacing skill players. Second-leading receiver Bralon Addison tore his ACL in the spring, so his status is in doubt. Mariota ran less last season while dealing with injuries and planning for his NFL future, so the Ducks threw for nearly 300 yards per game. The biggest loss for the Ducks may be the departure of defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.
The highlight game of Oregon’s non-conference schedule is a home matchup against Michigan State. The Ducks are on the road for their biggest test on October 11 at UCLA and play the Civil War in Corvallis, but Stanford and Washington are both at home and the Ducks have additional time to prepare for UCLA. It’s not easy to find losses on this schedule.
Pick: Over 10 (-115) (5Dimes)
The Ducks opened a three-point favorite at UCLA in Golden Nugget Games of the Year lines and should be a double-digit favorite against everybody else. It’s been five seasons since Oregon won fewer than 10 regular season games. With one potential landmine on the schedule and a lot of other games that Oregon will be at least 77 percent likely to win, it’s really a stretch to see the Ducks winding up with only nine wins.
5Dimes: 8 -135/105
Heritage: 9.5 +140/-160
CG Technologies: 8.5 -130/100
For having an 11-3 season, 2013 felt like a bit of a disappointment for the Cardinal. They ruined Oregon’s National Championship hopes by beating the Ducks, but losses to Utah, USC, and Michigan State seem to have forced bettors and oddsmakers to take another look at the Trees this season. This is, after all, the reigning Pac-12 champion. The offensive line will be extremely young and the Cardinal will have to replace 21 TDs and 1,750 yards from Tyler Gaffney. Those shoes could be filled by Barry Sanders, Jr. The defense also lost some playmakers, as well as defensive coordinator Derek Mason, who is now the head coach at Vanderbilt.
The biggest reason oddsmakers are a little skeptical of Stanford is their schedule. There are top-notch recruits all over the depth chart, but the Cardinal have road contests at Notre Dame, Washington, Arizona State, and Oregon. Steve Sarkisian will have a shot at his first signature win at USC when they travel to Palo Alto to take on Stanford in Week 2, which could be a concern for Stanford with their inexperienced offensive line. Stanford may have the toughest schedule in the Pac-12 North.
Pick: Under 9.5 (-160) (Heritage)
This is a big number to lay, but the Cardinal have a brutal road schedule. Six of their final nine games are on the road, including a back-to-back with Washington and Notre Dame. Stanford’s season finale comes at UCLA on November 28, which will present a hedging opportunity if the Trees manage to enter that game at 9-2. The Cardinal appear to be vulnerable this season and there’s a target on the backs of the reigning two-time Pac-12 champs.
5Dimes: 9 165/-205
CG Technologies: 9 -140/110
Chris Petersen will be tested in his first season with the Huskies after a 92-12 record in eight seasons with Boise State. He inherits an offense that has to replace running back Bishop Sankey, quarterback Keith Price, and tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. However, he does have the luxury of a full complement of returning offensive linemen from a team that ran for 5.1 yards per carry. The defense may have overachieved a little by only allowing 22.8 points per game, despite a yards per play average of 17. The success of the Huskies may depend on Cyler Miles, a highly-touted sophomore that has to follow the legacies left by Jake Locker and Keith Price.
The Huskies have one of the best home-field advantages in all of college football and they’ll use that to their benefit against Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA, and Oregon State in conference play. They do open the season with a trip to Hawaii before hosting Eastern Washington, Illinois, and Georgia State. Road trips to California, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and Washington State are mostly winnable games.
Pick: Over 9 (+165) (5Dimes)
Chris Petersen will bring some new life into the program and Steve Sarkisian doesn’t always maximize his talent, but he does recruit well. Petersen is the benefactor of that and he has taken a job that he has to be excited about after so many good years at Boise State and having the ability to handpick his next job. The schedule sets up rather nicely with four very winnable conference road games and the Huskies have only lost once at home in each of the last three seasons. Take a shot with the big plus-money payout as 10-2 doesn’t look like that much of a stretch.
5Dimes: 6 -185/155
Heritage: 6.5 -160/140
CG Technologies: 7 -125/-105
There aren’t many coaches in the country that get more of their players than Mike Riley. The Beavers return 14 starters, seven on each side of the ball, though the loss of Brandin Cooks and his 128 receptions, 1,730 yards, and 16 touchdowns is impossible to fill. The Beavers lose three offensive linemen, but the quick dropbacks of Sean Mannion should negate some of the effects. Mannion completed nearly two-thirds of his 603 attempts last season, so this is an offense that should be just fine. The defense was a big letdown last season and that had to be the point of emphasis over the offseason.
The Beavers welcome Portland State and San Diego State to Corvallis around a trip to Hawaii and a bye week before conference play starts at USC on September 27. Oregon State goes to Colorado, Stanford, and Washington as well, with Utah, Cal, Washington State, Arizona State, and Oregon at home. This isn’t one of the harder Pac-12 schedules, as the Beavers avoid UCLA.
Pick: Over 6 (-185) (5Dimes)
The chalk is terrible here and 7 -125 at CG Technologies looks a bit more attractive, but a good friend of mine in the industry suggested that a half win is worth about 60 cents, which would mean that 6 -185 should be a better value play than 7 -125. If you can stomach laying this number, the Beavers should go over it comfortably. They may win five at home alone with Portland State, San Diego State, Utah, California, and Washington State and that leaves road wins at Hawaii and Colorado for the over.
5Dimes: 5 -145/115
Heritage: 5.5 -145/125
CG Technologies: 5.5 -130/100
The Washington State Cougars should enter the season with a huge chip on their shoulder after blowing their first bowl game appearance since 2003 in epic fashion. The Cougars led by 15 with 4:17 to play and inexplicably ran plays instead of kneeling and wound up losing 48-45. Fourteen starters including Connor Halliday return, though top defensive player Deone Bucannon was a first-round draft pick. The Cougars made huge strides offensively in Mike Leach’s second season, jumping over 10 points per game and 60 yards per game. The defense also improved, albeit slightly.
Rutgers, Nevada, and Portland State lead into a conference schedule that starts with Oregon at home. Cal, Arizona, USC, and Washington also make the trip to Pullman, while the Cougars travel to Utah, Stanford, Oregon State, and Arizona State. Washington State won at USC, at Cal, and at Arizona last season. They also only lost by a touchdown to Auburn on the road. Three road wins was the most since 2006. Leach has the program going in the right direction.
Pick: Under 5.5 (+125) (Heritage)
Somebody has to lose in this division, so Washington State draws the short straw. They miss Colorado from the Pac-12 South and four of the five home games in conference are against some of the league’s best teams. The only quality spot is Homecoming against California. Arizona will be in a revenge spot when they go to Pullman and the Apple Cup at the end of the season is always a hard-fought game.
5Dimes: 2 -140/110
Heritage: 2.5 -150/130
CG Technologies: 2.5 -125/-105
The Cal Golden Bears will be in the second year of Sonny Dykes’s tenure, but it’s going to take some time for Dykes to recruit the pieces that fit his style of offense. Cal’s defense gave up almost 46 points per game last season and the offense managed just 23. It’s amazing that they won any games at all, and in fact, they nearly lost to Portland State in Week 2. With nine returning starters on offense and no real big losses, the offense should improve. The defense returns six, but a new defensive coordinator, Art Kaufman, is in his fourth school in as many seasons and the Bears have a new DC for the third straight year.
Unlike other teams in major conferences, California has a non-conference schedule that looks pretty daunting. They travel to Northwestern to open the season, host Sacramento State in what could be their lone win, and then host BYU to end the season on November 29. In conference, Cal hosts Colorado, Washington, UCLA, Oregon in Santa Clara, CA, and Stanford, which means that they have four road games with trips to Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State, and USC.
Pick: Under 2.5 (+130) (Heritage)
Cal was so putrid last season that even a two-win improvement seems like a struggle. It’s a risky proposition for bettors because Cal could be 2-2 with wins over Sacramento State and Colorado before October starts, but Cal was 0-9 in conference last season and lost by 28 points per game, including a 41-24 loss at Colorado. Don’t take anything for granted with the Bears. The under at plus money looks solid here and the Bears will be sizable moneyline underdogs in possible hedging spots.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.