College football win totals have been available at 5Dimes for a little while now as bettors have been pushing the juice around with $100 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 first conference to be covered in this 11-conference series that will include the Independent teams is the Southeastern Conference. The SEC had its streak of seven consecutive National Championships snapped last season as Florida State’s late fourth-quarter comeback over Auburn gave the Seminoles their first title since 1999 and the first for a non-SEC team since Texas won in 2005.
The SEC looks to get back to the mountaintop in the first year of the new College Football Playoff format. Here’s a look at the win totals for the SEC West. (The SEC East can be found here.)
5Dimes: 10 -130/110
Heritage: 10.5 -125/105
CG Technologies: 10.5 -120/-110
The Tide are expected to roll to at least 10 wins this season with 11-1 looking like the most likely outcome according to oddsmakers. Some question marks do surround the Tide, who will likely start Florida State transfer Jake Coker at quarterback and have to replace C.J. Mosley, HaHa Clinton-Dix, and Ed Stinson from the defense. The offensive line returns three starters and will have to go on without top OL Cyrus Kouandjio. New offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will create an interesting storyline depending how the offense does.
Alabama’s toughest non-conference test is a neutral-site game against West Virginia, so the difficult games come in SEC play with a trip to Baton Rouge on November 8 and the Iron Bowl on November 29 in Tuscaloosa. Alabama avoids both South Carolina and Georgia from the East with a home game against Florida on September 20.
Pick: Over 10 (-130) (5Dimes)
Alabama doesn’t rebuild, they reload. With LSU replacing their entire offense, the Tide are three-point chalk in Death Valley and that’s a pretty big indicator on the schedule for the Tide. With a push in play for a 10-2 worst-case scenario season, the value is clearly on the over.
5Dimes: 9 -130/110
Heritage: 9.5 -140/120
CG Technologies: 9.5 -115/-115
Gus Malzahn orchestrated a dramatic improvement for the Tigers from 2012 to 2013 as the team went from 3-9 to 12-2 and played for the National Championship. Auburn’s prolific offense averaged 39.5 points per game and averaged more than 500 yards of offense. Running back Tre Mason is likely the most notable loss for outsiders, but the losses of OT Greg Robinson and DE Dee Ford will definitely hurt Auburn in the trenches.
Auburn has a tricky Thursday night game in Manhattan against giant slayer Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats on September 18. Unlike their in-state rival Alabama, the Tigers get both South Carolina and Georgia, with a trip to Athens on November 15. They’ll also hit the road for the Iron Bowl. Back in 2010, sandwiched between two shutouts in the last three meetings, is the last time Auburn won at Alabama, when Cam Newton and the Tigers won the crystal football.
Pick: Under 9.5 (+120) (Heritage)
Never underestimate Gus Malzahn and the tricks up his sleeve, but the Tigers have three legitimately difficult road games plus a tricky game at Ole Miss on November 1. The Tigers only won by an average score of eight points per game in conference play with an 8-1 record. Some impact players left for the NFL and those guys left big holes to fill.
5Dimes: 8 -240/180
Heritage: 8.5 -215/180
CG Technologies: 9 100/-130
LSU has to replace essentially their entire offense from the 2013 season. Zach Mettenberger was drafted in the sixth round, Jeremy Hill was a second-round pick, and Jarvis Landry (second) and Odell Beckham (first) left school to play on Sundays. The total damage of skill player losses comes to 4,589 yards of production, plus Mettenberger. Twenty of LSU’s 23 passing touchdowns were from players no longer in the program and Hill had double the amount of rushing touchdowns the next closest player had. Jalen Mills, arguably the best player on the LSU defense, faces an indefinite suspension for an offseason arrest.
From a schedule standpoint, we’ll learn a lot about LSU in Week 1 when they face a physical Wisconsin team in Houston. Two November byes might be beneficial to the Tigers, as well as getting Alabama at home and avoiding both Georgia and South Carolina, but an early October road back-to-back against Auburn and Florida might decide this win total.
Pick: Under 9 (-130) (CG Technologies)
The Heritage number might provide the best value with under 8.5 at +180, but the safety net of a 9-3 season against a relatively weak schedule is worth paying the additional 20 cents of juice. The development of Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings at quarterback will dictate LSU’s season. Cam Cameron turned Zach Mettenberger around in a hurry, but he possessed the physical tools that neither Harris nor Jennings have. LSU will be formidable, but the first eight-win season since 2008 is a strong possibility.
5Dimes: 7 -150/120
Heritage: 7.5 -125/105
CG Technologies: 7.5 -110/-120
Hugh Freeze has provided legitimacy to an Ole Miss program that desperately needed it after the final two years of Houston Nutt’s tenure produced a 6-18 record. The Rebels have won two straight bowl games and are coming off a quality 8-5 season. Change-of-pace quarterback Barry Brunetti moved on and wide receivers Donte Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan leave weaknesses in the receiving corps. But, a defense that returned 10 starters last season returns nine this season after improving in points and yards allowed per game.
The schedule makers were kind to the Rebels this season as they avoid both South Carolina and Georgia. A somewhat neutral site game in Atlanta against Boise State is the toughest non-conference matchup. The Rebels host the Egg Bowl to end the season in a game that could decide the win totals for both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
Pick: Over 7 (-150) (5Dimes)
Despite a minor arbitrage play with over 7 (-150) and under 7.5 (+105), Ole Miss has a really favorable schedule with winnable road contests at Vanderbilt, at Texas A&M, and at Arkansas. That leaves them with upset chances over Alabama and Auburn at home. With favorable matchups in their other home contests, Ole Miss has a shot to go 9-3 if they win every game they’re favored in. Laquon Treadwell had a great freshman season and Markell Pack, another highly-touted wide receiver, could produce a similar freshman campaign.
5Dimes: 7 110/-140
Heritage: 7.5 -115/-105
CG Technologies: 7 -130/100
The Bulldogs struggled to find consistent quarterback play as Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott traded injuries and snaps last season. The offense looked more efficient with Prescott’s running ability, as he was the team’s leading rusher by more than 300 yards. The Bulldogs return 16 of their 22 starters from last season, though they do lose offensive coordinator Les Koenning to Charlie Strong’s coaching staff at Texas. Coach Dan Mullen has won at least six regular season games in each of the last four seasons and is 3-1 in bowl games.
An easy non-conference schedule will leave the Bulldogs 3-0 when conference play begins on September 20 at LSU. With the exception of an October 11 meeting with Auburn, the Bulldogs have a great chance to run the table at home with Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt in conference and Southern Miss, UAB, and UT-Martin at home. If the Bulldogs do go 6-1 at home, a win at South Alabama would leave them needing just one win out of Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi to go over the total.
Pick: Under 7.5 (-105) (Heritage)
This bet likely hinges on the outcome of the October 25 game at Kentucky. That’s the swing game as the Bulldogs project to be 7-4 in their other 11 contests. Considering that Mississippi State is only a three-point home favorite over Texas A&M in Golden Nugget Games of the Year lines, there’s a good chance they may be a dog, or at best a slight favorite, in Lexington. That would leave a one-game hedge possibility on the win total. A nine-win season looks like a pipe dream, so it’s a decent plan of attack for bettors.
5Dimes: 7 145/-175
Heritage: 7.5 170/-200
CG Technologies: 7 -105/-135
What a difference a year makes. With Johnny Manziel, Jake Matthews, and Mike Evans in the NFL, the Aggies, who went 20-6 in the first two seasons of Kevin Sumlin’s tenure, are pegged for a rude awakening in their third season of SEC play. The team returns just 22 passing attempts worth of experience from Kenny Hill, but the Aggies do have the nation’s top quarterback recruit, Kyle Allen. Saturdays may be difficult for the Aggies, who return nine starters from a defense that allowed 32.2 points per game, with a lot of inexperienced talent on offense. That includes a couple former top recruits in Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil at wide receiver.
Not only did the Aggies lose a lot to the draft, but the schedule is an animal. A Week 1 game at South Carolina kicks off the SEC slate, though the Aggies do have a legitimate chance to be 6-1 entering their October 18 game in Tuscaloosa. The final seven weeks of the season include two byes and road games at Alabama and Auburn and a Thursday night Thanksgiving showdown against LSU at Kyle Field.
Pick: Under 7 (-135) (CG Technologies)
If the Las Vegas lines are unavailable to you, there’s no sense in laying obscene chalk on a win total. The Aggies have talent and being the only SEC team in the state of Texas doesn’t hurt recruiting, especially with Kevin Sumlin’s in-state roots as the former head coach at Houston. If the offense gels quickly with a freshman at quarterback and two freshmen at wide receiver, there’s big play ability. But the defense is a lot to overcome. The Aggies won five games in which the defense allowed 30 or more. Don’t expect that again.
5Dimes: 4 -115/-115
Heritage: 4.5 -105/-115
CG Technologies: 4.5 -125/-105
The first year of Bret Bielema’s tenure at Arkansas did not go well. The Razorbacks were outscored by an average of three touchdowns per conference game and they ended the season on a nine-game losing streak. Because Arkansas struggled so much last season, there weren’t many impact losses on either side of the ball. The two main losses were C Travis Swanson and DE Chris Smith. Will Year Two of Bielema’s systems and recruits lead to improvements?
Considering the daunting schedule the Razorbacks face, the magic 8-ball says that’s unlikely. The Razorbacks luck out that Jordan Lynch graduated, otherwise a Northern Illinois win in Fayetteville would have been a real possibility. It might be anyway. But the Razorbacks host Alabama and LSU, travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech and also open the year at Auburn, and get Georgia at a friendly neutral site in Little Rock. It’ll be tough sledding for Bielema again this season.
Pick: Under 4.5 (-105) (CG Technologies)
Even in a bit of a rebuilding phase, Texas A&M is an 11-point favorite in Arlington against Arkansas. That’s arguably Arkansas’s most winnable conference game. With wins likely over Nicholls State, Northern Illinois, and UAB, over bettors have to find two additional wins on the schedule to cash this over and that seems far too difficult to do, as the Razorbacks will be an underdog in every conference game and at Lubbock against the Red Raiders.
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.