- Joined ESPN in 2014
- Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008
Before we dive into this year’s Notable Bets college football preview, let’s take a quick glance at one of the more intriguing donations … err … wagers that Caesars Sportsbook attracted this offseason: $20 on Kansas to win the national title at 5,000-1 odds.
Kansas has fallen short of the national title the past two seasons, going a combined 3-18, but if the Jayhawks, who boast a season-win total of 1.5, somehow shock the world, the bettor would win $100,000.
Moving on, this year’s preview provides a look at the betting action that’s taken place this offseason at sportsbooks in addition to coaches’ records against the spread and over/under marks and an abundance of statistics. But let’s start with a few more intriguing bets.
$1,500 on Kansas over 1.5 wins (+140). [PointsBet]
$70,000 on Fresno State over 6 wins (-125). [Caesars Sportsbook]
$20,000 on Arizona State over 8.5 wins (-120). [SuperBook]
$3,500 on Ole Miss QB Matt Corral to win the Heisman Trophy at 50-1. Would pay a net $175,000. [BetRivers]
$4,000 on Texas A&M to win the national title at 40-1. Would pay a net $160,000. [BetMGM].
$2,500 on Michigan to make the College Football Playoff at 20-1. Would pay a net $50,000. [BetMGM]
$1,500 on TCU to win the Big 12 title at 28-1. Would pay net $42,000. [BetRivers]
$1,000 on UCLA to win the national title at 500-1. Would pay a net $500,000. [SuperBook]
$1,000 on Liberty to win the national title at 200-1. Would pay a net $200,000. [Caesars Sportsbook].
$300 on Illinois at 500-1 to win the national title. Would pay a net $150,000. [Caesars Sportsbook]
$10 on Kansas to win the national championship at 10,000-1 odds. Would pay a net $100,000. [SuperBook]
$0.25 on UMass to win the national championship at 1,000-1 odds. Would pay a net $250.25. [DraftKings]
National title notables [via Caesars Sportsbook]
Ohio State (+600)
Texas A&M (+3,000)
National title notes:
UCLA is the biggest liability for the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas.
Oklahoma is the biggest liability for BetMGM.
Tennessee is the biggest liability for Circa Sports.
Alabama and Oklahoma account for more than 50% of the money that’s been wagered on sportsbook PointBet’s odds to win the national title.
Heisman Trophy [via Caesars Sportsbook]
Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler (6-1)
Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud (14-1)
Georgia QB JT Daniels (12-1)
Texas RB Bijan Robinson (25-1)
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder (50-1)
Texas QB Casey Thompson
Conference title notes:
As of Tuesday at PointsBet, there had been no bets on Penn State (+800) to win the Big Ten title.
More bets and more money are on Georgia (+225) to win the SEC title than any other team. [PointsBet]
By the Numbers
8.77: The percentage of regular-season games over the past 10 years that have ended with a margin of victory of three, the most common margin of victory, followed by seven (7.87%), 14 (4.38%) and 10 (4.14%).
56.9: Average points per game over past five regular seasons.
56.5: Average closing over/under total over past five seasons.
51.8: The percentage of games over the past five seasons in which the underdogs have covered the spread. Underdogs have covered the spread in more games than favorites in four of the past five seasons.
51.6: The percentage of games over the last five seasons that have stayed under the total.
31.1: Alabama’s margin of victory at home over the last 10 seasons, the largest of any team.
12.8: The average spread differential-the difference between the margin of victor and the closing spread-in last season’s games, the highest since 2003. Over the last 10 seasons, the average spread differential in college football games has been 12.4.
-12.8: Kansas’ margin of victory at home over the last 10 seasons, the worst of any team.
Inside an oddsmaker’s power ratings
Ed Salmons, a veteran oddsmaker with the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, broke down his power ratings for ESPN during a recent phone interview.
Top 5 in Salmons’ power ratings
4. Ohio State
Teams that improved from last season to this season:
Utah State up 13 points.
Southern Miss up 11 points.
LSU up 11 points.
Akron up nine points.
Syracuse up eight points.
Michigan State up eight points.
Teams that dropped from last season to this season:
Buffalo down 14 points.
BYU down 10 points.
Alabama down eight points. “Trust me, their number is still the highest I have of any team, and they’re down eight points,” Salmons said. “Last year, I had them playing to a number that I’ve never come close to.”
Florida down eight points.
Coaches against the spread and over/under records
Top 5 ATS career [minimum 20 games]:
Ohio State’s Ryan Day: 70.0% (14-6-0 ATS)
Kansas State’s Chris Klieman 68.2% (15-7-0 ATS)
Louisiana’s Billy Napier 64.7% (22-12-0 ATS)
Georgia Southern’s Chad Lunsford 61.9% (26-16-0 ATS)
Iowa State’s Matt Campbell: 60.8% (62-40-3 ATS)
Bottom 5 ATS career:
Washington State’s Nick Rolovich 34.0% (17-33-4 ATS)
Troy’s Chip Lindsey 39.1% (9-14-0 ATS)
UTEP’s Dana Dimel 39.4% (39-60-0 ATS)
Western Michigan Tim Lester 40.5% (17-25 ATS)
New Mexico State’s Doug Martin 41.4% (65-92-3 ATS)
Top 5 ATS in conference games [minimum 10 games]:
Ohio State’s Ryan Day 75.0% (11-4-0 ATS)
Arkansas’ Sam Pittman 73.3% (7-3-0 ATS)
San Jose State’s Brent Brennan 66.7% (18-9-3 ATS)
Kansas State’s Chris Klieman: 66.7% (12-6-0 ATS)
Kent State’s Sean Lewis 65.0% (13-7-0 ATS)
Bottom 5 ATS in conference games:
Akron’s Tom Arth’s 21.4% (3-11-0 ATS)
Bowling Green’s Scot Loeffler 23.1% (3-10-0 ATS)
Washington State’s Nick Rolovich 32.4% (11-23-2 ATS)
UTEP’s Dana Dimel: 36.9% (24-41-0 ATS)
Michigan State’s Mel Tucker 37.5% (6-10 ATS)
Top 5 ATS after a loss [excludes season opener and coach’s first game with team]:
Louisiana’s Billy Napier 70.0% (7-3-0 ATS)
West Virginia’s Neal Brown 66.7% (18-9-0 ATS)
Louisville’s Scott Satterfield 66.7% (18-9-1)
Kent State’s Sean Lewis 66.7% (10-5-0 ATS)
Tulane Willie Fritz 65.8% (25-13-0 ATS)
Bottom 5 ATS after a loss [minimum 10 losses]:
Akron’s Tom Arth 20.0% (3-12-0 ATS)
Washington State’s Nick Rolovich 20.8% (5-19-2 ATS)
Bowling Green’s Scot Loeffler 25.0% (3-9-0 ATS)
UMass’ Walt Bell 30.8% (4-9-0 ATS)
Penn State’s James Franklin 34.2% (13-25-1 ATS)
Best ‘over’ coaches [minimum 20 games, including bowls]:
Florida State’s Mike Norvell: 62.9% (39-23-0)
Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith: 61.3% (19-12-0)
UCLA’s Chip Kelly: 60.2% (50-33-0)
Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley: 57.7% (30-22-1)
Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh: 57.5% (69-51-0)
Best ‘under’ coaches [minimum 20 games, including bowls]:
Cal’s Justin Wilcox: 66.7% (28-14-0)
Louisiana-Monroe’s Terry Bowden: 65.1% (30-56-0)
BYU’s Kalani Sitake: 62.5% (24-40-0)
Kansas State’s Chris Klieman: 60.9% (25-37-0)
Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell: 59.7% (25-37-0)
ESPN Stats and Information researchers Matt Willis and Mackenzie Kraemer contributed to this article.
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