College football season is right around the corner with Week 0 kicking off on Saturday! It’s a great time of year for fans, and I know I am as excited as ever to get the sport we love back. I am also excited to get back to the betting grind of the college football season. While I love the pageantry, I love making money just as much and college football is my sport of choice to try and do so.
Betting the totals and spreads each week is an important part, but betting win totals is also a good way to make some long-term investments. If you do the preseason prep you can usually find some value in a team's win total that can possibly help your bankroll down the stretch. Overall, I locked in 14 college football win total bets leading up to the season.
Here are some of my favorites.
TCU Horned Frogs: Over 7.5 wins
Nearly every team in college football will return a lot of production, but the TCU Horned Frogs are a team that will return more than most. They get back 10 starters on the offensive side of the football, and eight on the defensive side. However, with the age of the transfer portal you can’t just take returning starters into account, you also have to take a look at what was gained in the portal.
A new stat in college football that has been birthed due to the transfer portal is a stat called TARP which stands for Transfer Assets & Returning Production. This formula weighs the returning production along with the transfer assets that a team gained. In terms of Net TARP, TCU ranks No. 4 in the nation. Their conference mates in Oklahoma lead the country and Iowa State comes in at third. Overall, I think this is a team that is being overlooked with the two top-heavy players in the conference, but they are right there with them in terms of production coming back.
The schedule starts out well for TCU as they get Duquense and Cal at home to start, then a bye, and then SMU and Texas at home. The Horned Frogs don’t hit the road until October 2 at Texas Tech before heading to Oklahoma. To me, I think that is a 5-1 start. After that, you’ve got West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas still at home. Each of those should be wins. Even if the Frogs trip up somewhere in the games they are favored they’ve got road trips to Oklahoma State and Kansas State which are both winnable games. I think this team is 8-3 at worst as they head into the finale against Iowa State for a possible Big 12 Championship play in-game.
Colorado Buffaloes: Under 4.5 wins
It’s hard to take a lot from last year's PAC-12 season as many teams only played a few games. One of the surprises was Colorado, who finished the year 4-2 but started 4-0. That led to Karl Dorrell taking home Coach of the Year honors for the conference, but I think the Buffs got a little lucky a year ago.
In their four wins, they got four turnovers against UCLA, and we’re in a tight contest with Stanford that went down to the wire. They then beat a San Diego State team that was pretty poor, and an Arizona team that had completely quit on the season. To me, I think they benefitted a lot and 2021 may be more of a struggle.
Part of that struggle is due to the schedule, which is absolutely brutal. The Buffs get 11 games against Power Five teams which is nearly unheard of in college football these days. Those games aren’t against lower-tier teams either, as they get Northern Colorado, Texas A&M, and Minnesota in non-conference. You maybe get 2-1 there at best, but 1-2 seems far more likely.
The PAC-12 schedule is incredibly tough as well, as you draw the favorites from the North in Oregon and Washington, and also get a road trip to Cal and a home date with Oregon State. In the South, four teams are expected to contend and Colorado gets three of those games on the road in UCLA, Arizona State and Utah. The lone game at home is against USC.
To me you can likely bank on seven losses which means Colorado would have to win the other five games against Minnesota, Arizona, Oregon State, at Cal, and Northern Colorado. I just don’t see them winning each of those so for me I feel safe on the under 4.5.
Iowa Hawkeyes: Under 8.5 wins
Kirk Ferentz is the longest-tenured coach in college football currently. He enters year 23 with 168 wins at Iowa. That averaged over a 22-year career comes out to 7.6 wins per season. You can almost bank on Iowa being 7-5 or 8-4 each and every year. With a win total of 8.5 you’d win on the under just by playing the averages.
To lose this bet Iowa would have to go 9-3. Ferentz and company have hit nine wins or more just eight times in his 22-year career. Four of those seasons were over a decade ago (2002, 2003, 2004, 2009) and in one of those seasons the ninth win came in a bowl, so it would not count for a win total bet. To break it down, in the last decade Ferentz has won nine regular-season games just twice. Betting is playing the odds and numbers, and I think you have to play that here.
When looking at the schedule it’s hard to pinpoint the exact losses, but it’s also hard to find the wins you can bank on outside of Kent State and Colorado State. To me, Iowa has toss-up-type games with Indiana, Penn State and Minnesota. Add in road trips to Wisconsin and Iowa State and you’ve got five games that are pretty tough.
Sprinkle in a road trip to the hell hole Ryan Field late in the season, as well as trips to Maryland and Nebraska and I think you’ve got spots to trip up there too. When looking at win totals sometimes you have to decide what is more likely, and I think a 8-4 finish is much more likely than a 9-3, so I will take the under.
Quick Hitter Win Totals
Northwestern Wildcats Under 6.5: No team loses more production than the Wildcats. I know Pat Fitzgerald is a magician but I don’t see it this year.
Clemson Tigers under 11.5: Someone will trip them up if Georgia doesn’t in the opener.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers under 10: Incredibly easy schedule but this program goes from a Cinderella story to having a target on their back and the Sun Belt is much improved in 2021.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets under 5: Geoff Collins is still moving away from the triple option and the personnel doesn’t seem to be there just yet. Also, the schedule is brutal with Clemson, North Carolina, Georgia, Notre Dame and Miami (Fla.). Yikes.
Wyoming Cowboys over 8: Four banked wins in non-conference and they draw Utah State, Hawaii and New Mexico who are all rebuilding. Seems very likely they get to eight at a minimum.
Old Dominion Monarchs under 3.5: One of the few teams that didn’t play last year, and they’re incredibly young. This number makes no sense to me.
Tennessee Volunteers Under 6: No team was hit harder with transfers out than Tennessee. Non-conference is favorable with Bowling Green, South Alabama and Tennesee Tech likely wins but Pitt is likely a loss. Hard to find three conference wins to go with that. Vandy and South Carolina are possibly two, but no guarantee. I don’t see any W’s in road trips to Florida, Missouri, Kentucky or Alabama. Georgia or Ole Miss at home? Probably not.