The Westgate Superbook released its college football win totals last Sunday. What makes that notable considering we've already seen three or four numbers out there at this point? A couple of things.
One, the Superbook makes its lines and totals in-house. It isn't buying these numbers from a line-making service (as a lot of sports books do). That means that, two, there's the chance here to have been watching the market a bit and the numbers, in my view, show it. These are tough totals.
Here's an example. Less than two weeks ago I wrote about 5Dimes having Nebraska at 8.5 wins with +164 odds on the over and -194 on the under. You had to pay the juice to take the under, which made the over look pretty attractive.
When the Superbook put out its Nebraska total on Sunday, the same 8.5 wins, you had to pay the premium on the over (-160/+140). The Superbook's bookmakers either value Nebraska a little more or they have an idea where the money has been coming in on the Huskers. It's likely a combination of both.
That said, who doesn't like a challenge? There are a few numbers here that I like (for entertainment purposes only).
Texas 9.5 (+120/-140) – Under
It's not cheap to take the under on Texas, but there's no way I'd go over at 9.5. None of the ranking systems I regularly look at has the Longhorns projected for even eight wins in 2019. There's the game against LSU in Week 2 that will be an early indicator of which way this could go. Trips to West Virginia and Iowa State are trickier than they look. I'm a professional seller when it comes to Texas this season. I made a burrito bet with our own Derek Peterson and Greg Smith on which team will have the higher ranking at the end of the year––Nebraska or Texas. I'm on the red side and look forward to my burritos at the end of the year.
West Virginia 5 (-130/+110) – Over
Do I really want to sweat a sixth win for West Virginia all season? I guess so. This one is going to be close. The Mountaineers play 11 games against P5 opponents with Missouri and North Carolina State on the nonconference schedule and lose a ton from last year on offense, including quarterback Will Grier. But maybe that natural fresh start will be a good thing for new head coach Neal Brown. He's the big reason I'm here for the over.
Boston College 6 (-130/+110) – Under
Plus odds on the under? Sold. I like Steve Addazio while still understanding why he's been hot-seat-adjacent the past couple of years. Boston College is remarkably consistent, winning seven games in four of the past five seasons, and while that's not bad given the Eagles' traditional standing in college football, being consistently good (but not great) always eventually becomes a curse in this sport. BC wins with defense, but returns just three starters on that side. Four of the top defensive backs are gone and that's a problem after the Eagles nabbed 36 interceptions over the past two seasons.
USC 7 (-140/+120) – Under
Clay Helton needs a big year and the schedule isn't doing him any favors. The Trojans open with Fresno State, and while all the early money has poured in on USC there it's still a tricky one. Then there's this: USC plays Stanford, at BYU and Utah in Weeks 2–4. That's three straight physical football teams, one of them on the road. What's the cumulative effect of that? Oh and after facing Utah the Trojans go to Washington, have a bye week, and then go to Notre Dame. The last six games are comparatively easier, but I'm not anywhere close to penciling in USC wins over Oregon or UCLA at this point. If Urban Meyer wants to get back into coaching, my guess is that by the end of the year there will be a big-time program trying to woo him. This big-time program.
UCF 9 (+110/-130) – Over
Do the Knights have another run to double-digit wins in them without quarterback McKenzie Milton? Grad transfer Brandon Wimbush, formerly a starter at Notre Dame, won't wow anyone with his completion percentage, but he offers a little bit of stability at quarterback that wouldn't be there otherwise. The Knights host Stanford in mid-December and that one will likely be key to going over, as will the October trip to Cincinnati. At plus money on the over, however, I feel good betting on UCF again and if it pushes at nine, so be it.
Nebraska 8.5 (-160/+140) – Under
I'd probably leave this one alone, but this team is probably why you're here so here we are. This one is all about the odds. At -160, Nebraska would have to win nine games 61.5% of the time for the over to break even. While I think the Huskers certainly can win nine, I don't know if I'd give them that percentage chance to do it. But this, in combination with the other 8.5 I wrote about it earlier, should tell you about where I'm at with Nebraska––8.5 is a pretty good number, I think, though most of the power rankings out there would tell you take the under.
The Grab Bag
- Darrion Daniels is Derek Peterson’s second-most intriguing Husker heading into the 2019 season.
- Greg Smith released his July update to Greg’s Guys.
- A couple more Huskers landed on preseason watch lists on Tuesday.
- Adrian Martinez was a little surprised, and honored, to be picked to attend Big Ten Media Days.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.