During the college football season, Stadium’s staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice. Here are our thoughts on bets to make before the season:
Note: Ben and Nate will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
1. What is your favorite regular season win total currently available?
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: Georgia over 10.5 wins (-130).
Is this the year all the stars align for Kirby Smart? He got a full offseason with QB JT Daniels, and his recruiting success is now paying off with a bunch of offensive returners. And on top of that, the Bulldogs’ schedule is incredibly favorable after a Week 1 matchup with Clemson.
If you’re a “Negative Nancy” and think they’ll lose Week 1, you’re still in luck because the path to 11 wins is still possible — dare I say, probable. The only sweat game seems to be against Florida the day before Halloween. So as long as Georgia doesn’t blow any cakewalk games, the over here should be a cakewalk bet. And who knows, maybe they’ll get lucky and pull off a ‘W’ over Clemson? It’s not like they’ve had trouble winning big games in the past…
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Auburn under 7 wins (-125).
This is the win total I have the most money on and is still playable at the current price. The Tigers fired head coach Gus Malzahn and paid him a $21.5 million buyout after last season. They were turned down by several coaches before settling on Boise State’s Bryan Harsin. He could prove to be a good hire, but it’s hard to see a path to success this season unless quarterback Bo Nix lives up to his potential.
The schedule is brutal for Auburn with the normal SEC West opponents and their permanent cross-division game against Georgia. They also have a non-conference affair at Penn State in Week 3 in a game already scheduled at night. I expect losses against Penn State, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama. They would have to win the other seven just to push — and I’d expect another loss against one of the Mississippi schools.
2. What is your favorite division or conference future currently available?
BW: Minnesota to win the Big Ten West (9/1).
I’m currently putting on my thickest pair of nerd glasses in order to say this: “Okay, hear me out because this is more of a numbers play than anything else.” I think the Golden Gophers are severely underrated heading into this season. Yes, they went 3-4 last season. However, they had two overtime losses against bad teams, and if they win one of those then they’re over .500.
This year, they have a ton of returning players, including QB Tanner Morgan and some of his top receivers. They get Wisconsin at home to end the year and a fairly favorable Big Ten schedule in general. For me, it comes down to a number that is too good to pass up on a team with such large upside. Also, how quickly did we forget that 11-win team in 2019?
NJ: Oklahoma to win the Big 12 (-170).
It’s usually not my style to bet a team at this price in the futures market, but Oklahoma is clearly the class of the Big 12 thanks to head coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Spencer Rattler. I’m worried the high expectations and pressure will catchup to Iowa State, and Texas has a new head coach in Steve Sarkisian.
What I like about this bet is Oklahoma just needs to finish in the top two in the league to make the conference title game because the Big 12 doesn’t have a two-division system like the other Power Five conferences. They’ll certainly make the conference title game and be bigger than a -180 favorite in that contest as long as they stay healthy.
3. Considering the price, which team outside the top five (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia) would you bet on to make the College Football Playoff?
BW: Iowa State (5/1).
I know there’s chatter out there in the hot-take universe about them being overrated, but it’s hard to not look at their offensive personnel — along with Matt Campbell — and see a team that has a shot to make the playoff. They came within a score of beating Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship and are in position to push even harder this year.
NJ: Utah (17/1).
I don’t think Utah will make the playoff, but this would be my pick at the price. The Utes are a team I bet on the over for their win total of 8.5, and they’re my preferred team to win the Pac-12. They avoid Washington from the Pac-12 North and host Oregon in late November in one of the toughest environments to play in the conference. They also added Baylor transfer quarterback Charlie Brewer, who led the Bears to an 11-win season two years ago. The easy schedule and experienced quarterback could mean that they crash the playoff party.
4. Is there a Week 0 game or “early” game in Week 1 that you might bet on?
BW: Minnesota +13.5 vs. Ohio State on Thursday.
Did I just convince myself to take Minnesota against Ohio State in Week 1? I might have accidentally done that. As of this writing, it’s at +13.5, so I’m thinking if it moves to +14 or higher, I’d hit the Gophers. They’re at home, they have the talent and they have a favorable line — seems like a good move to me. Plus, I always enjoy rooting against Ohio State, so that’ll be a little added bonus.
NJ: Michigan State +3 vs. Northwestern next Friday.
The Spartans opened +6 earlier this summer, so I’ll likely stay away since this has been bet down to a field goal. I agree with the line movement because I expect improvement from Mel Tucker’s program after they faced many obstacles last year from the day he was hired in East Lansing. Northwestern won the Big Ten West last season, but lost a lot of starters and production from last season.