We're baaaaack! After a long summer of throwing money away trying to make baseball and soccer (and hot dog eating and....) interesting, it's finally time for the most wonderful time of the year to start up again. We get college football and pro football, then college basketball. So basically we have good sports to bet on from now until mid-April, and that is an absolutely beautiful thing.
Before we jump into game lines, I wanted to throw some thoughts out for the season as a whole.
FBS Championship Winner
Ohio State is the runaway favorite (+260). To put that in perspective, it's the exact same payout as Verona beating Torino in Serie A. I don't follow Italian soccer enough to know anything about either of those teams, but that kind of proves my point. It would be a mild upset if Verona won this weekend, and it would mildly surprising if OSU beat out every other college football team. They are -260 to win the B1G. They are an absolute lock. To keep the soccer parallel alive, that's in the same realm as the moneyline on Bayer Leverkusen (who you have heard of) to beat Darmstadt (who you have not).
That said, there is no value in betting OSU this year in any capacity except game lines. Alabama (+650), Auburn (+1200), and Michigan (+5000) are all better value plays because they have a reasonable shot to win it all and they haven't been bet down for six straight months.
In the end, I like Auburn at +1200. I like the ability to have Gus Malzahn and Will Muschamp running the show, because coaching matters. The last 11 champions have been led by Urban Meyer (thrice), Jimbo Fisher, Nick Saban (thrice), Gene Chizik, Les Miles, Mack Brown, and Pete Carroll. Coaching matters. I like Malzahn and Muschamp.
Recruiting also matters. For the four recruiting years before this season, Auburn had the 7th (2015), 9th (2014), 8th (2013), and 10th (2012) best classes. Yup. +1200, please and thank you.
ACC Championship Winner
The two big teams in the ACC this season are Clemson and Florida State. They've kind of created the same issue as with Ohio State. You can get Clemson at +200 or FSU at +260, but everyone knows those are the two favorites and has known that since the winter.
I like Georgia Tech at +500 as a reasonable longshot. We know they're going to be solid offensively, primarily because they are returning their Second Team All-ACC quarterback who was the MVP of the Orange Bowl.
Big XII Champion
The play here is either TCU +150 or Baylor +250. Because it's kind of a toss-up, you're going to be tempted to bet Baylor.
That's wrong. TCU is the better team. They're hungry, as evidenced by their 42-3 beatdown of Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. And they're returning their quarterback, who #ohbytheway is the preseason favorite to win the Heisman.
Pac 12 Championship Winner
Of the major conferences, the Pac 12 is the most wide open. There are four teams inside 4/1 - you have USC, Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA to choose from.
We narrowed it down to USC and Oregon. USC to go over 9 wins for the season pays -140, and to win the conference pays +200. Oregon to go over 9.5 wins pays -130, and to win the conference pays +240. That means Vegas thinks they're both in the 9-10 win range, has slightly more faith in Oregon to get to at least 9 wins, but thinks USC is ultimately more likely to win the title game. Initially I thought it might be because of the game's location, but it's at the Niner's stadium in Santa Clara so it's about halfway between. I think. I don't know western geography.
When you roll all of that into Dag and Jay's Gambling Machine, it spits out this sentence: even if your coach has a drug and alcohol problem, having a stud quarterback returning and a perennial top-15 recruiting class is a good sign.
#TrojLife +200, put it on the board.