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 South. (The Pac-12 North can be found here.)
5Dimes: 9 -145/115
Heritage: 9.5 -115/-105
CG Technologies: 9.5 -115/-115
After enduring three losing seasons out of four under Rick Neuheisel, the Jim Mora Jr. era at UCLA has brought 19 wins and eight losses in two seasons. Possible first-round pick Brett Hundley returns for his junior season and 17 starters return from a 10-3 team that could give Oregon a run for its money as the most talented team in the conference. Leading receiver Shaq Evans and linebackers Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt are big losses, but the southern California recruiting pipeline is strong for Mora and the Bruins return a lot of impact players. This team is a darkhorse National Championship contender.
UCLA had to go to Stanford and Oregon in back-to-back weeks last season and it showed as they lost by a combined score of 66-24. This season, UCLA hosts both of them. An interesting “neutral” site game in Arlington against the Texas Longhorns highlights the non-conference schedule and the Bruins go to Tempe on Thursday night for a raucous atmosphere against Arizona State. A trip to Washington in mid-November is also tough.
Pick: Over 9 (-145) (5Dimes)
The schedule appears daunting, but maybe it won’t be as bad as it looks. Washington looks to take a step back with their losses, Stanford had some substantial losses, and Arizona State lost practically their entire defense. From a talent standpoint, this team can play with anybody in the country and Hundley is poised for a huge season in what is likely his final year at UCLA. Most of the toughest games are at home and there’s extra prep time for the game at Arizona State. This is a team to have on your radar.
5Dimes: 8 -215/170
Heritage: 8.5 -180/160
CG Technologies: 9.5 110/-140
There’s a bit of a disagreement between the offshores and Vegas, but the offshores have compensated by forcing bettors to lay heavy chalk on a 9-3 USC season. Steve Sarkisian makes the trip down the Pacific Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles for his third stint with the program and first as head coach. Cody Kessler took the starting job and provided stability for the Trojans offense last season after Matt Barkley’s departure. Sark inherits a very athletic team with a strong defense and an offense that has components that just need to be assembled properly.
USC ends the season with a trip to UCLA and a home game against Notre Dame, but they avoid Oregon and host Stanford in Week 2. The Trojans have one of the better Pac-12 South schedules because they avoid a trip to Washington and get Washington State and Cal out of the North Division. This schedule sets up well for USC to have a chance to lock up the division at UCLA on November 22.
Pick: Over 8.5 (-180) (Heritage)
This is too much to lay on a win total and probably not worth taking, but a pick has to go in this place regardless. The Trojans will be favored in 10 or 11 of their 12 games and their conference schedule is decidedly easier than UCLA’s. The better play in this instance would probably be to take USC to win the Pac-12 South when those odds come out because it will take over 8.5 wins to do that.
5Dimes: 7 -150/120
Heritage: 7.5 -140/120
CG Technologies: 8 -130/100
The Sun Devils must have something special brewing since they’ve managed to get Todd Graham to stay for more than two seasons AND sign an extension. He also recently bought Poison frontman Bret Michaels’s house in Scottsdale, so he’s clearly there for the long haul. His uptempo offense that has scored 38 or more points per game over the last two seasons returns six starters, but loses starting running back Marion Grice. The defense, which regressed last season, loses nine starters. How quickly the defense comes together will be the deciding factor in Tempe. A lot of JUCO transfers dot the two-deep, so those players staying eligible and picking up the new schemes are the key for 2014.
A trio of wins over Weber State, New Mexico, and Colorado leads to a brutal four-game division stretch with UCLA on September, a trip to USC on October 4, a bye week, Stanford at home, and then a trip to Washington to end October. Utah, Oregon State, Washington State, and the Territorial Cup in Tucson are the final conference games. Arizona State also takes on Notre Dame at home.
Pick: Under 8 (+100) (CG Technologies)
Unfortunately, at 7.5, the under is probably a stay-away play at Heritage, because the chances of an 8-4 season are pretty high. The game that should be circled on UCLA’s schedule is their home Thursday night game against UCLA. Will the defense be ready for a test like that after facing three awful offenses leading up to that game? Oregon State looks a notch or two down, but Mike Riley always pulls that one big upset and Arizona State could be it. Washington hasn’t beaten Arizona State since 2001 and they’ll go to Husky Stadium for Chris Petersen’s first Homecoming Game.
5Dimes: 6 -190/158
Heritage: 6.5 -170/150
CG Technologies: 7 105/-135
It went unnoticed last season, but Rich Rodriguez’s defense improved by over 10 points per game and nearly 100 yards per game in the second season of his tenure at Arizona. He took BJ Denker and Ka’Deem Carey and created a pretty potent offense that ran for 5.3 yards per carry, but a 4-0 non-conference record over NAU, UNLV, UTSA, and Boston College skewed the overall numbers. There are three intriguing transfers to possibly start at quarterback with Jesse Scroggins from USC, Connor Brewer from Texas, and former LSU recruit Jerrard Randall from JUCO. The defense has some impact players to replace with Shaq Richardson leaving via the draft and the top two tacklers out of the program.
Arizona has four tricky road games in conference play with trips to Oregon and UCLA as the hardest, but a trip to scrappy Utah in the altitude with Rodriguez’s uptempo offense is a challenge. The season kicks off with the home part of a home-and-home with UNLV, a trip to UTSA, and a home game against Nevada. Arizona hosts the Territorial Cup to end the season, in a game that could very easily decide this win total.
Pick: Over 6 (-190) (5Dimes)
Ugly chalk. Probably a no-play again, but Rich Rodriguez has done some nice things with Arizona and has had two different quarterbacks in his first two seasons. He’ll have a third this year, but the defensive improvements are substantial and Arizona is in a better position to run the 3-3-5 scheme with three years worth of recruits than they were when Jeff Casteel installed it in 2012.
5Dimes: 4 -170/140
CG Technologies: 4.5 -130/100
The Utes got some good news this week as Travis Wilson was medically cleared to play this season. He was the starting quarterback last season and though he struggled, he probably gives them the best chance to win. The Utah offense could get a shot of life from the hire of former Wyoming coach and offensive mastermind Dave Christensen as offensive coordinator. It’s the seventh OC of Kyle Whittingham’s tenure. The hallmark of Utah teams are big, physical linemen and this year’s group is no different, but there’s a lot of defensive production to replace.
The Utes host Idaho State and Fresno State before a trip to Michigan in Week 4 for their non-conference schedule. They draw Oregon and Stanford from the Pac-12 North and also have to go to UCLA and Arizona State. USC and Oregon come to Salt Lake City, but this is one of the conference’s toughest schedules.
Pick: Under 4 (+140) (5Dimes)
Utah remains a scrappy, difficult team to play against, but they lack impact players and draw pretty much every good team in the Pac-12 during conference play. They played some close games against quality competition last season and beat Stanford, but there are some losses that are a concern and the schedule will have Utah as an underdog probably nine out of 12 times.
5Dimes: 4 150/-180
Heritage: 4.5 145/-165
CG Technologies: 4 -125/-105
The Buffaloes made some positive strides in the first year of Mike MacIntyre’s regime after he came over from San Jose State. Their 4-8 mark was the best season since 2010, the final season of Dan Hawkins’s tenure. The Buffaloes improved by eight points both offensively and defensively and MacIntyre may have found something in quarterback Sefo Liufau. He’ll be without Paul Richardson, clearly the team’s top player, so somebody will have to replace that production, but eight starters return on each side of the ball for MacIntyre’s second year.
Colorado won three games at home last season and went 3-0 in non-conference play, including a season-opening win over rival Colorado State. Colorado hosts Hawaii in late September before opening conference play at California. Along with the annual game against Colorado State, the Buffaloes head east to take on UMass. In conference, Colorado has tough road tests at USC, Arizona, and Oregon, but winnable home games against Utah and Oregon State.
Pick: Over 4 (+150) (5Dimes)
MacIntyre inherited a pretty bare cupboard and turned it into a 4-8 team. The Buffaloes should keep improving and recruiting better with more legitimacy infused into the program. They went from -19 in turnover margin to -3 and improved across the board. Richardson is a big loss, but there’s a higher comfort factor in the program and it’s Liufao’s job from day one.
The win total analyses for the Pac-12 North are also posted. Check them out!
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.