Per Adam Kramer’s KegsNEggsBlog.com, 5Dimes released its college football over-under win lines for a number of teams. Las Vegas sports books’ numbers are fascinating even from the perspective of the non-gambling fan, because oddsmakers seem to have an uncanny knack for projecting a team’s future.
Of course, it is oddmakers’ job to be exceedingly skilled at setting these numbers. And casinos are exceedingly efficient at bringing in far more revenue than they dole out.
That said, these over-under projections are far from ironclad.
Consider a team like Michigan State, for which 5Dimes set an over-under of 8.5 wins a season ago. The Spartans won the Big Ten championship, the Rose Bowl and 13 games.
Thus, Sparty is a good starting point for 2014 over-under win totals that could finish well off the oddsmakers’ lines–on either side.
Michigan State: 9.5 (Over -155, Under +115)
Last season, Mark Dantonio’s Spartans reeled off the most wins in program history. The 2014 version might actually be better. Connor Cook began to find his rhythm late in the season, and he’s back for another season at quarterback.
Joining Cook is Jeremy Langford, one of the best power-backs in the nation. With a diverse and talented receiving corps, Michigan State’s could be–dare I say?–somewhat explosive.
Though the defense is less experienced and loses such noteworthy contributors as Darqueze Dennard and Denicos Allen, retaining Shilique Calhoun and Taiwan Jones ensures one of the nation’s stingiest teams will take a minimal step backward, if at all.
Michigan State is a realistic national championship contender. The real question for the Spartans is a schedule that includes a Week 2 visit to Oregon and facing the Big Ten East.
The East is clearly the tougher of the Big Ten’s restructured divisions. However, Michigan State gets both rival (and recent punching bag) Michigan at home, as well as divisional contender Ohio State. The Spartans also get West opponent Nebraska at Spartan Stadium. Maryland and Penn State pose threats on the road, but realistically Dantonio should have another double-digit-game winner on his hands.
BYU: 8.5 (Over -160, Under +120)
BYU is a fairly consistent 10-game winner under head coach Bronco Mendenhall. With one of the most talented lineups in recent years returning to Provo and a more favorable schedule than the Cougars faced in 2013, there’s no reason to think Mendenhall won’t again lead them to 10-plus wins.
Quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams combine to form one of the more exciting backfields in college football. Both will operate behind an offensive line returning all five starters.
Losing do-everything linebacker Kyle Van Noy presents the defense with an obvious challenge, but Bronson Kaufusi is primed to become the next breakout star.
A Week 2 trip to Texas is intriguing. The Cougars quite literally ran it up on the Longhorns last season at LaVell Edwards Stadium, something the returning Texas players surely didn’t forget.
BYU cannot afford to suffer another inexplicable loss in Week 1 at UConn, as it did a season ago at Virginia.
Speaking of Virginia, the Cavaliers visit Provo on Sept. 20. After last year’s debacle and the ACC’s recent shunning of BYU as a power-conference opponent, that one could ugly.
Virginia falls in the middle of a stretch that will define BYU’s season, with Texas and Houston appearing before the Cavaliers, and Utah State and UCF following. Boise State closes out October.
If the Cougars win four of those six, 10 wins should be attainable before the bowl game.
Auburn Tigers and Missouri Tigers: 9.5 (Auburn: Over -155, Under +115; Missouri Over +110, Under -150)
The two 2013 SEC Championship Game participants sharing the same over-under win line is noteworthy, albeit for different reasons. Auburn is generating considerable national championship buzz in this offeason; Missouri is not.
Auburn returns an impressive 14 starters from its national runner-up lineup; Missouri is the least experienced team among the five power conferences.
It seems absurd that Missouri is set at the same over-under as Auburn, until one considers scheduling. Auburn’s slate is absolutely beastly.
Auburn certainly got an unfavorable draw from the SEC’s cross-divisional setup. Georgia is its annual rivalry matchup, and this year the sequel to their 2013 classic is played Between The Hedges.
Auburn must also travel to South Carolina, a national championship contender in its own right.
And while Missouri must also face the Bulldogs and Gamecocks, the Columbia Tigers at least get Georgia at home. Moreover, Missouri avoids the heart of the SEC West. Its cross-divisional rival, Texas A&M, is a team in transition. Missouri’s other SEC West opponent is an Arkansas bunch coming off a winless finish in the league.
On the other hand, Auburn faces LSU, Alabama and resurgent Mississippi schools; each of the latter three are road dates. And if that wasn’t enough, Gus Malzahn’s Tigers travel to Kansas State in the nonconference.
Auburn and Missouri could certainly end the season with matching records, perhaps both north of that 9.5 over-under mark. They’ll just have traversed much different paths to get there.