We like gambling in this space, because gambling is fun! For true gambling enthusiasts, the nightmare portion of the calendar — where there's only baseball and preseason NFL football on which to bet — is finally over. REAL football is here, with a full slate of games this weekend, including a Sunday night game between the University of Houston and Oklahoma, and a Monday night game between Notre Dame and Louisville. I've never been more excited to perch myself on the sofa at 11 a.m. Saturday and not move for twelve hours.
For those of you wanting my Week 1 CFB Best Bets, they're listed at the bottom of this post. For those of you who are a little nervous about betting on games week to week, who might want some skin in the game that's a little less volatile, may I interest you in my best Season Win Total bets of the 2019 season? I can? Good. Here they are:
ARMY OVER 10 wins (-120)
Army head coach Jeff Monken, a Bear Bryant Award finalist each of the past two seasons, has a triple option machine going at West Point. His is an offense that, once you get the program to a certain level, should hum at a nice enough clip to win a ton of games. Monken has led Army to double digit wins each of the last two seasons and, this year, they have 13 games on the schedule (one extra at-bat!), so the Cadets would have to go 9-4 to lose this bet. The only game in which Army will certainly be underdogs is in Week 2 at Michigan, but last season they took Oklahoma to overtime early in the 2018 campaign in Norman. On top of all that, you get to root for future defenders of our country, so.... USA! USA! USA!
TEXAS UNDER 9 wins (-110)
I love this wager. Texas is one of a handful of truly "public" teams in college football, in no small part because they're the ONLY college football team with their own in-house TV network. So, theoretically, you're getting value right out of the gate, because a lot of bettors climb on the public UT train, especially when the AP voters have them in the top 10 in the preseason poll. The truth of the matter is that this is a Texas team that was actually OUTGAINED on a per play basis in 2018, and went 7-3 in one score games, a stat that tends to regress to the mean year to year. The Longhorns lost a ton in the front seven and at cornerback, which is death in the pass-happy Big XII. Oh, and they play LSU out of conference in Week 2. (begin sarcasm font) The good news is I'm sure Tom Herman will stay very sane and measured if the season goes sideways (end sarcasm font).
NORTH CAROLINA UNDER 4.5 wins (+140)
Speaking of Texas, y'all remember Mack Brown, one of the greatest head coaches in Texas history? Well, he is back in the game, at age 67, and back at the school he led to big success in the 1990s before heading to the Forty Acres. It's one thing to rebuild Texas in your late 40s, but it's another thing entirely to rebuild North Carolina in your late 60s. UNDER 4.5 wins is the underdog, but I like the value at +140, as the only automatic win on the schedule that I can see is against FCS Mercer. All of the other non-Mercer teams on the schedule went to bowl games last season, including Appalachian State, who is fully capable of knocking off the Tar Heels.
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OKLAHOMA STATE OVER 7 wins (-130)
It's hard to believe that Mike Gundy is heading into his fifteenth season as head coach at his alma mater, and even harder to believe that he hasn't finished below .500 since his first season in 2005. Gundy has built OSU into a sometimes-power, but-always-a-perpetual-pain-in-the-ass Big XII team, that somehow finds a way to be, at least, respectable each and every season. That's all we're asking for here is respectability, and with three extremely winnable out of conference games (at Oregon State, McNeese State, at Tulsa), all we need is a 5-4 record in conference to get our money. Four-5 in conference gets us a push, and I just can't imagine the Cowboys going 3-6 in conference. Fear the Mullet!
NEW MEXICO UNDER 5 (-150)
Bob Davie won nine games with the Lobos in 2016 but, since then, his program has gone just 6-18, and been one of the worst FBS programs on the planet. I went to Notre Dame, so I'm very familiar with Bob Davie's work back in the late '90s and early 2000s in South Bend, and I'm familiar with how his team would probably be more inspired by the knowledge he was getting fired than they would be by whatever he is telling them on game day. Apparently, he's brought a bunch of junior college transfers in to try to stem the tide, and get the ship righted. Sure... that always works. Most of the statistical models don't even have the Lobos winning four games, let alone five (or six, which is the only way you lose this bet). Fading Bob Davie feels pretty damn good.
WEEK 1 BEST BETS
Georgia Southern +27.5 over LSU
Mississippi State -20.5 over UL-LAFAYETTE
MEMPHIS -5 over Ole Miss
South Carolina -9.5 over North Carolina (at Charlotte)
Louisiana Tech +20.5 at TEXAS
Northwestern +6.5 over STANFORD