College football win total odds, predictions: Fading the hype on Texas, Texas A&M and USC

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to an official's call during the second half of the team's Nov. 13 game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. Texas A&M is set to kick off its season next Saturday, against Sam Houston State. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to an official's call during the second half of the team's Nov. 13 game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. Texas A&M is set to kick off its season next Saturday, against Sam Houston State. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The college football season starts Saturday, and by Labor Day, every team in the country will have played its opener.

That means you’re running out of time to bet on season-long win totals — but not out of time yet.

We’re here for you. Over the course of the past seven weeks, we’ve previewed every FBS conference in the country, complete with odds and win totals for every team. The last conference previewed was the Southeastern Conference; the bottom of that story includes links to all of the other leagues.

But now that the season is here, it’s time for some official picks. Last year, I made six college football win total picks and went 4-1-1 for a nice profit.

Below are 10 of my favorite win totals for 2022 at Caesars Sportsbook.

Texas A&M UNDER 8.5 wins (+140)

There is a chance the Aggies are really good this year. Like, national championship good. Besides Alabama and Georgia, they have the best odds to win the SEC.

But more likely is that Texas A&M is a good team that must play an extremely difficult schedule. The SEC West is loaded, of course, and it starts for the Aggies with four straight games away from home: Arkansas at a neutral site, then road games at Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina. Getting through that gauntlet at 2-2 would be a feat.

There’s also a non-conference game with Miami, a later road trip to Auburn and home games with Ole Miss, Florida and LSU.

A&M can only lose three of those for the over to cash. Even if this is a good team, 8-4 is at least as likely as 9-3 or better, and you’re getting +140 odds.

Missouri OVER 5 wins (-150)

For some of these bets, a whole number (versus one with a ½ attached) can give you a quite a value boost. Here’s a good example. Missouri could get to 6-6 and win this bet, but if you throw in the fact that your bet pushes at 5-7, this becomes an obvious bet for me.

The Tigers’ non-conference slate consists of Louisiana Tech, at Kansas State, Abilene Christian and New Mexico State. They’ll be at least 17-point favorites in three of those games, and an SEC home game against Vanderbilt will provide another likely win.

We’ve already gotten to four wins without breaking a sweat. So if the Tigers win just one of their “toss-up” games against K-State, Auburn, South Carolina and Kentucky, you’ve got your five wins. If they go 2-2 in those games, that’s six wins and an over. And that’s before we even get to the possibility of an upset against a team like Florida, Tennessee or Kentucky.

This pick is the opposite of A&M: While Missouri won’t be a great team, this total is too low for the schedule. It’s worth betting even with the hefty price.

Texas UNDER 8.5 wins (-120)

This might be my favorite pick on the board. What are we doing with this total? Yes, Texas might be on the rise with Quinn Ewers installed at quarterback for the next couple of years, ostensibly followed by Arch Manning, but that means the Longhorns are going 9-3? Last I checked, neither of those guys plays offensive line — and Ewers, talented as he may be, is still a freshman.

I’ll remind you that last year, Texas started 4-1 and was the apple of college football’s eye, right where they want to be — and then promptly lost six straight when the schedule got tougher, with their defense unable to stand up against most Big 12 opponents.

This year, the nonconference schedule incudes a visit from Alabama, and unless Texas pulls an upset there, they need to go 7-2 in Big 12 play to avoid this under cashing. A four-game stretch from October to November includes Oklahoma (in Dallas), a home game against Iowa State and road trips to Oklahoma State and Kansas State. There could be three losses in that quartet alone.

SMU OVER 7 wins (-115)

If you believe that this is no worse than the fourth team in the American Athletic Conference, then 7-5 should be the floor.

The Mustangs do play at Maryland and home against TCU in non-conference play, but neither of those is unwinnable, and a 3-1 non-con mark means that in order to push our bet, SMU must just break even against an AAC schedule in which it may only be an underdog twice. If they do better than that, we’ve won.

Of course, there’s some risk with a new coach in Rhett Lashlee, but a lot of talent remains, and SMU is in a good spot for a good season. The ceiling of this team is AAC champions; we just need them to get about halfway there.

USC UNDER 9.5 wins (-135)

Like with Texas and Texas A&M, the hype train has gotten out of control with the Trojans. Yes, Lincoln Riley is a good coach, and yes, he’s got elite transfers at quarterback and receiver with Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison.

But still … we think this team is immediately poised to win 10 games? I’m not buying that, not with road games at Utah and UCLA and a visit from Notre Dame on the docket.

To cash this bet, USC would have to win at least one of those games and run the table in the other nine games. Even if Riley has an immediate impact on the offense, that feels majorly optimistic.

Temple OVER 2.5 wins (-140)

It’s safe to say the Owls are going to be favored in exactly two games: September home games against Lafayette and Massachusetts. Other than that, they’ll be underdogs.

But being an underdog 10 times means 10 chances at an upset, and simple math says Temple will take one of them. They open the season as 7-point underdogs at Duke, for instance, and the +220 money line implies a 31% chance at an upset. But even if it doesn’t happen, there will be plenty of other similar opportunities — none of Rutgers, Tulsa, Navy, South Florida or East Carolina exactly strikes fear in your heart, and three of those are SMU home games.

If you feel like rolling the dice, you can shop around and find a win total of 3 for Temple at plus money, but we’ll play it safe and take what should be a win at 2.5.

Wake Forest OVER 7 wins (-105)

The big offseason news for the defending ACC runners-up is that returning quarterback Sam Hartman, a dark-horse Heisman candidate in some circles, is out indefinitely with an undisclosed medical condition. Those are scary adverbs, and of course first and foremost that Hartman’s health is going to be OK aside from football.

But there are reports that suggest that Hartman’s issue is blood clots and that they could be resolved in time for him to return this season. Even if he doesn’t, this offense is well worth believing in, and the schedule allows for some value here.

There are four built-in wins within the first six games, four more in which the Demon Deacons should be favored in the final six games, plus a tossup or two along the way. Do the math here — even if Wake slips from last year’s 11-3 form, they should be able to squeeze out eight wins. And even 7-5 gets your money back.

North Texas OVER 6 wins (-120)

Last year’s Mean Green started 1-6 before finishing with five straight wins. If this team similarly improves throughout the year, this over is a cinch.

That’s because the front half of the schedule isn’t nearly as good. North Texas is a pick ’em on Saturday against UTEP, and that’s a key game. A win there sets up the Mean Green for possibly an eight-win season. A loss, and we’ll be fighting to avoid a push here.

Still, with many key weapons back on offense, all of the momentum from last season’s finish and a weakened Conference USA all point to a winning season from North Texas.

Ole Miss OVER 7.5 wins (-150)

The major storyline around this team is the number of transfers Lane Kiffin has brought in and how quickly he can get them to gel. Nowhere is that more important than at quarterback, where Matt Corral is gone and either Jaxson Dart or Luke Altmyer will take over.

But consider that Corral played the second half of last season with nagging injuries and clearly wasn’t himself as a runner. The Rebels still won seven of their last eight gaems, including wins against LSU and Texas A&M. The defense got better as the year went on, and Kiffin has proven he’s a matured coach who can win games in multiple ways.

On top of that, the non-conference slate is soft — a road trip to Georgia Tech is the only challenge, and the Yellow Jackets are one of the ACC’s worst teams. Ole Miss also draws Kentucky and Vanderbilt out of the SEC East. There’s a non-zero chance the Rebels actually start 8-0 before the schedule gets a lot tougher; either way, there should be eight wins in there one way or another.

West Virginia UNDER 5.5 wins (-110)

Neal Brown has spun his tires in three years in Morgantown to the tune of a 17-18 record, mostly because of a slow-producing offense. The hope is that new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell will change that, but I have my doubts.

It really boils down to a similar question as Texas here: If you assume the Mountaineers will lose at least one of their tough non-conference tests at Pitt and at Virginia Tech, then they must go 4-5 or better in the Big 12 to hit the over here. In a balanced league that has power at the top and salty opponents throughout the middle, that’s not going to be easy. WVU does get five conference home games, but two of those are against Oklahoma and Baylor.

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