Let’s Use the Preseason Coaches Poll to Handicap College Football

While the AP Poll and College Football Playoff rankings have more pull in the football-verse during the course of the college football season, the preseason Coaches Poll is actually helpful in predicting what the AP rankings might look like when they are eventually released on Aug. 19.

The poll can also be used to see how the betting markets and coaches line up with their rankings and where they differ.

Let’s take a closer look at the teams in the first Coaches Poll, with their win totals and national championship odds courtesy of sportsbook.ag.

[RELATED: College Football Bettors Should Bet Against These Teams]

Team Win total (over/under odds) Odds to win national championship
1. Clemson 11.5 (-115/-115) 12/5
2. Alabama 11 (-160/+130) 13/5
3. Georgia 10.5 (-165/+130) 8/1
4. Oklahoma 10.5 (-125/-105) 14/1
5. Ohio State 10.5 (-135/+105) 14/1
6. LSU 9 (-115/-115) 22/1
7. Michigan 9.5 (-230/+180) 15/1
8. Florida 8.5 (-135/+105) 60/1
9. Notre Dame 9.5 (+130/-165) 60/1
10. Texas 9.5 (+155/-190) 25/1
11. Texas A&M 7.5 (-140/+110) 80/1
12. Washington 9.5 (-130/even) 60/1
13. Oregon 8.5 (-150/+120) 50/1
14. Penn State 8.5 (-120/-110) 100/1
15. Utah 9.5 (-110/-120) 50/1
16. Auburn 8 (+165/-200) 50/1
t17. Wisconsin 8.5 (+125/-155) 120/1
t17. UCF N/A 1000/1
19. Iowa 7.5 (-150/+120) 250/1
20. Michigan St. 8 (-145/+110) 100/1
21. Washington St. 8 (-120/-110) 120/1
22. Syracuse 7.5 (-140/+110) 200/1
23. Stanford 7 (even/-130) 200/1
24. Iowa State 8 (-115/-115) 120/1
25. Northwestern 6 (-155/+120) 1200/1


Las Vegas agrees with today’s coaches

The first seven teams in the rankings deserve to be ranked that high, and they are also the top seven teams with the best national championship odds. You can argue about Michigan being a bigger favorite than LSU, but that’s likely because the public’s money is driving up the Wolverines’ championship number.


No love for these top programs

Florida, Notre Dame and Texas may round out the top ten, but all three programs are being bet under their season win total. Florida opened at 9 and is already down to 8.5, while Notre Dame opened at 9.5 with -135 juice on the under before recently reaching -165.

Texas has had the most drastic move as they started at 9.5 with -115 juice each way. But the under money has poured in on the Longhorns, and you’d have to bet -190 if you think Texas will win nine games or less in 2019.

That being said, Texas is the outlier of the three because they have 25/1 odds to win the championship, while Florida and Notre Dame are at 60/1. This reveals that Texas is an overvalued public darling, and there should be opportunities to bet against the Longhorns during the regular season.


Strength of schedule matters for Texas A&M and Auburn

Texas A&M’s low win total of 7.5 is an example of how strength of schedule impacts a college football regular season. The Aggies, who are ranked at No. 11 despite their brutal schedule, play four of the top six teams in the preseason rankings, including the top three, and their only home game of the bunch is against Alabama. With even a slightly more favorable schedule, Texas A&M’s win total would absolutely be higher, but they’ll instead have to bring their A-game in order to stay afloat in the SEC.

As for Auburn, you’d have to lay a pretty hefty price to bet the Tigers under 8 at -200. Auburn’s schedule looks daunting on paper, as they face six teams in the preseason top 13, and if Auburn loses to Oregon in their season opener, it could turn into an ugly year for Gus Malzahn. But if you do think the Tigers are capable of surprising some teams, the over at +165 does pay out nicely.


Michigan State and Iowa State could be movers

The two teams near the bottom of the Top 25 that are getting support in the betting markets are Michigan State and Iowa State. Michigan State has seen an aggressive move on their season win total — a number that started at 7.5 (-125 for the over) and is now at 8 (-145 for the over). The Spartans might be overshadowed by three Big Ten East teams ranked higher than them, but the bettors clearly like Mark Dantonio’s squad.

Iowa State’s win total opened at 8 with plus money on the over (+110), but that has been adjusted to -115 on both sides of the total. There’s a lot to like with the Cyclones this season with Head Coach Matt Campbell, quarterback Brock Purdy and a strong offensive line. A Week 3 win against in-state rival Iowa could help ISU climb up the rankings before Big 12 play starts.

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