College football is back! I think I speak for a ton of fans when I say it’s good to have college football going once again. One of the areas where I have been most profitable over the years is finding regular season win totals plays that have value. I love breaking down a team’s strengths and weaknesses and evaluating the schedule to see what kind of value I can find on these season long wagers. If you are comfortable with tying up your money for a few months, I truly believe season win totals are among the best bets out there. Here’s a look at five of my favorite college football win totals for 2014.
1. Virginia Tech over 8 Wins- This one is available for the regular -110 juice almost everywhere, and I really like this play. Frank Beamer is still one the best coaches in the land, and Bud Foster might be the best defensive coordinator in all of college football. The Hokies churn out the best defensive backs into the NFL every single year. I expect Virginia Tech’s secondary to be a “no fly zone” once again this year. The key for me though is the Hokies improved offense. Michael Brewer should be a big step up from the extremely inconsistent Logan Thomas. Brewer showed what he could do at Texas Tech, and he’ll excel in the ACC. The Hokies receivers and running backs are much better than they were a year ago. There is plenty of depth at every position on offense. Another big key here is the Hokies schedule. Virginia Tech plays at home against Georgia Tech and Miami. The Hokies have to travel to Ohio State and North Carolina this year, but with Braxton Miller down with an injury I wouldn’t be surprised if Virginia Tech is competitive in that game. The Hokies won eight games despite being awful offensively last year. Ten wins is far more likely than eight this season. Bet the over.
2. Vanderbilt under 6 Wins- This one was originally available at under 6.5 wins. Now, you’ll have to pay up a bit to get under 6, but it should be worth it in the end. The Commodores have had two overachieving seasons under James Franklin, and they are very due for a down year. Vanderbilt was -76 yards per game last year in the SEC despite their 4-4 record. That tells me last year’s 9-4 record was a fluke. In addition, last year’s team had loads more talent than this year’s team will have. The loss of Jordan Matthews will crush this team’s offense. They also lost three of their top four tacklers from a year ago. I look at Vanderbilt’s schedule and see a 4-8 record in their future. Bet the under.
3. UCLA over 9.5 Wins- The UCLA Bruins are a national title contender in my opinion. I love Brett Hundley, and the job he did last year was nothing short of amazing. Nearly everyone around him (running backs, offensive line, etc) were going down with an injury, and Hundley still managed to put up big numbers and lead the team to a 10-3 record. The Bruins have recruited really well, and Jim Mora Jr. is an underrated head coach. They should certainly stay healthier than they did a year ago. UCLA hosts Oregon as well as USC and Stanford. The schedule sets up nicely, and UCLA should be favored in at least 11 games. Take the over.
4. Toledo over 7.5 Wins- The Toledo Rockets are going to dominate in the trenches in the Mid American Conference this year. The MAC is a conference where there are a bunch of weak teams in the trenches, and that allows Toledo to take advantage of their strength. Keep advantage of Kareem Hunt as a future star at running back. The Rockets are a veteran team (16 returning starters) who is very capable of making short work of nearly every conference foe. They get Bowling Green at home this year, and Northern Illinois should be much weaker than they have been in recent years. I think Toledo wins at least nine games this season. Take the over.
5. Stanford under 9 wins- The Pac-12 is going to be extremely good with lots of improved teams this year, and that means that someone has to take a step back. I expect one of those teams to be the Stanford Cardinal. While I respect what David Shaw is doing at Stanford, I think the talent level at this program has dipped significantly below the talent level at a school like Oregon or UCLA. Kevin Hogan is going to have to be the man for this offense this season, and I’m not sure he is the type of quarterback that can win games alone. The Cardinal front seven on defense is much weaker than a year ago. Look at the road games Stanford must play this year: at Washington, at Notre Dame, at Arizona State, at Oregon, and at UCLA. I see seven or eight wins for Stanford in 2014. Take the under.