The college football regular season is pretty much over (outside of the Army-Navy game), so the season win total bets we made in July and August are finally able to be graded.
Here’s a closer look at 12 Power Five teams that exceeded betting market expectations by going over their win total and/or having a strong against-the-spread record in their 12 regular season games.
[RELATED: Brett McMurphy’s Penultimate College Football Bowl Projections]
Ohio State (12-0) | Regular season win total: 10 | Against the spread record: 9-3
Ohio State entered the season with some question marks, which is why their win total was only 10 instead of 10.5 or 11 (the preseason hype surrounding Michigan also was a reason why Ohio State futures were deflated). But Ohio State dominated this year, covering the spreads by large margins — and the betting market never did catch up to their success.
Kansas State (8-4) | Regular season win total: 5.5 | Against the spread record: 9-3
Kansas State began a new era this season with Chris Klieman replacing the legendary Bill Snyder. Klieman built his resume at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, but there were question marks regarding how his previous success would translate in the Big 12. The Wildcats passed almost every test this season, finishing with eight wins and exceeding their win total by 2.5 games. Their most impressive victories were an early-season road win at Mississippi State and a huge upset as 23.5-point underdogs against Oklahoma.
Utah (11-1) | Regular season win total: 9 | Against the spread record: 9-3
Utah isn’t a brand-name college program, but they entered the season with high expectations. Sometimes that can lead to a disappointing season, but the Utes exceeded their expectations and are about-a-touchdown favorite in the Pac-12 title game on Friday. Outside a slip-up on a Friday night in September against USC, the Utes won every other game straight-up and covered all eight matchups after the loss to the Trojans.
Oregon State (5-7) | Regular season win total: 2.5 | Against the spread record: 9-3
Oregon State was one of the first teams to clinch over their win total in 2019. While they ended up just falling short of making a bowl, the Beavers look to no longer be a bottom-feeder program in the Pac-12 under Jonathan Smith.
Baylor (11-1) | Regular season win total: 7.5 | Against the spread record: 8-4
Baylor was primed to take a big step in Matt Rhule’s third season, and they delivered. The Bears started the year 9-0 and clinched over their win total on Halloween night. They were an impressive 7-2 against the spread in conference play and have the opportunity to win the conference against Oklahoma on Saturday.
Louisville (7-5) | Regular season win total: 3.5 | Against the spread record: 7-5
Louisville was arguably the most disappointing team last season, but Scott Satterfield was hired away from Appalachian State — and he quickly turned around the program. Seven wins with the roster he was given means that he’s responsible for one of 2019’s most impressive coaching jobs in college football.
LSU (12-0) | Regular season win total: 9 | Against the spread record: 7-5
It’s tough to exceed your expectations with a win total set at 9, but LSU went undefeated in the regular season behind the Heisman-worthy play of QB Joe Burrow. Entering the season, a 12-0 year looked unlikely with road games at Texas and Alabama, plus home games against Florida and Auburn, but the Tigers were a joy to watch on offense and exceeded their win total by three games. Their work isn’t done yet, as they are 7.5-point favorites in the SEC Championship against Georgia this Saturday. That being said, they’ll make the College Football Playoff whether they win or lose the conference title game.
Minnesota (10-2) | Regular season win total: 7.5 | Against the spread record: 7-4-1
Minnesota was the fortunate team in the Big Ten West with the way their schedule broke. They avoided Ohio State and Michigan from the Big Ten East and got to play Penn State at home. So it’s not too surprising that they exceeded their win total by 2.5 games, but they also proved to be a solid team on the field. It was vital for P.J. Fleck to have success in Year Three, and his team made a statement.
Wisconsin (10-2) | Regular season win total: 8 | Against the spread record: 7-5
The Big Ten West looked wide open before the season, and Wisconsin was the team that emerged on top. Outside of back-to-back blemishes at Illinois and Ohio State, Wisconsin had a strong bounce-back season after disappointing in 2018.
Indiana (8-4) | Regular season win total: 6 | Against the spread record: 7-5
Indiana football probably hit their ceiling in 2019. They lost to the big four teams in the Big Ten East (Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan) and won their other eight games.
Auburn (9-3) | Regular season win total: 7.5 | Against the spread record: 9-3
A nine-win season usually isn’t exceeding expectations at Auburn, but they had one of the most difficult schedules in the country and a freshman quarterback under center. They lost at Florida, at LSU and at home to Georgia, while having signature wins against Oregon, at Texas A&M and in the Iron Bowl against Alabama. Their win total of 7.5 was mostly based on the schedule, and they overcame that obstacle with an impressive year.
Illinois (6-6) | Regular season win total: 4.5 | Against the spread record: 8-4
Illinois was one of the biggest overachievers in college football this season. They covered six of their last seven games and gained bowl eligibility thanks to upset wins against Wisconsin and Michigan State. It took four seasons, but Lovie Smith finally had a successful year in Champaign.
MORE: Analyzing the Early Point Spreads for Conference Championship Games