Welcome back, college football. If you are like me, this week marks extreme levels of excitement. It’s great to feel the nervous energy running through us all as we get the bankroll ready for action. We are so close to the Week 1 kickoff, but before we get into those matchups, there are some opportunities in the futures market I’d like to discuss.
Some of you might have seen my videos or read my articles here at PlayPicks last year, so you might remember my feelings toward future wagers. Basically, I’m just not that into them. However, with the invention of secondary marketplaces where you can sell your future tickets to either recoup your money or even make money, we thought it might be a good idea to break down the win projections for the preseason top 10 teams, plus five other values.
If nothing else, it will be fun to look back on this list and see how my predictions went for the 2019 season.
No. 1 Clemson Tigers
The defending champs are projected to win every game they play this year. They’ll potentially be double-digit favorites in every ACC game they play as well. The schedule isn’t the easiest but not so hard either. The biggest test will come early in Week 2 against No. 11 Texas A&M, but that game is at home.
Clemson will travel to No. 22 Syracuse in Week 3, which will be its toughest road game of the year. If the Tigers start 3-0, they will run the table in the regular season. There is just too much talent on Dabo Swinney’s sideline for the likes of Florida State, Wofford, or Wake Forest. While the game against South Carolina is on the road, a trip back to the playoffs will be on the line. I can’t see Clemson choking against their bitter rival in the last game of the year, barring a major injury to star QB Trevor Lawrence.
Pick – Bet the Over 11.5
No. 2 Alabama
Win Total: 11 at DraftKings Sportsbook and 11 at FanDuel Sportsbook
The last time Alabama failed to win the national title, the season following the 2016 loss to Clemson in the Championship game, the Tide beat teams in the regular season by scores of 41-10, 59-0, 66-3, 45-7, and 56-0. Alabama didn’t just go 12-0; they destroyed most opponents.
Bama beat Clemson in the semifinals that season and then beat Georgia to win Nick Saban’s fifth title in Tuscaloosa. This season, Alabama has a tough home game against No. 6 LSU and the road schedule features trips to No. 11 Texas A&M and No. 16 Auburn. While those games are going to be challenging for sure, my sources in T-Town tell me that QB Tua Tagovailoa and company have been stewing on last year’s loss to Clemson and want to take their revenge on all of college football. Don’t bet against this team. I won’t be.
Pick – Bet the Over 11
No. 3 Georgia
While everyone has been talking about the top two teams, the Bulldogs are just as deserving of an undefeated projection in the regular season. Georgia returns star QB Jake Fromm, and head coach Kirby Smart has recruited at the level of Bama and Clemson these last three seasons. The Bulldogs will find out how good they really are early in the season when No. 9 Notre Dame makes a trip between the hedges. But that isn’t the only tough home game on the schedule: Georgia will also face No. 8 Florida (in Jacksonville) and No. 11 Texas A&M. Georgia also travels to No. 16 Auburn in November—a massive test. I think there is a real chance the Bulldogs drop one game in the regular season this year, but not two.
Pick – Bet the Over 10.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook
No. 4 Oklahoma
Win Total: 10.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook and 10.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Can Lincoln Riley do it for a third straight year? Can he take a transfer QB, Jalen Hurts, and make him into a stud NFL prospect like Riley did for Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray? If he does, Oklahoma’s schedule has 12-0 written all over it. But if he doesn’t, the Sooners could be in for some major tests this year against No. 10 Texas in Dallas and No. 24 Iowa State. Oklahoma hasn’t lost two games in the regular season since 2016, but I think this year could be it. The Big 12 is better, and the Sooners are on the road at Kansas State, at Baylor, and at Oklahoma State. I think they lose to either Texas or Iowa State, plus one other game they aren’t supposed to.
Pick – Bet the Under 10.5
No. 5 Ohio State
Enter Ryan Day and Justin Fields to replace Urban Meyer and Dwayne Haskins. Those are some really big shoes to fill, and Buckeye fans expect another tremendous season in Columbus. The problem for Ohio State is the schedule. The Big 10 West is full of competitive teams that OSU must face on the road, like Nebraska and No. 25 Northwestern. They play No. 7 Michigan in Ann Arbor as well. Home games will bring in the likes of No. 20 Michigan State and No. 17 Wisconsin to Columbus, two teams that won’t be afraid of the Horseshoe. I like FanDuel’s number here.
Pick – Bet the Under 10.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook
No. 6 LSU
LSU is saddled with one of the toughest schedules of any top 10 team this year. Road games at No. 10 Texas and No. 2 Alabama are coupled with home games versus No. 8 Florida, No. 16 Auburn, and No. 11 Texas A&M.
Make no mistake: LSU is going to be good this year, but I think the number is right.
Pick – Pass on it
No. 7 Michigan
Is this the year Jim Harbaugh finally beats the Buckeyes? It feels like it. Now his team has to go out and actually do it. The Wolverines are loaded with talent. And with new OC Josh Gattis coming on board from Alabama, Michigan is expected to do some big things. The schedule is no cakewalk. Michigan will be tested early when they play at No. 17 Wisconsin early in the year. The Wolverines also play on the road at No. 15 Penn State and then face No. 19 Iowa, No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 20 Michigan State and No. 5 Ohio State all at home. Even facing a number of preseason ranked teams, a 10-2 season is very possible.
Pick – Bet the Over at FanDuel Sportsbook
No. 8 Florida
The win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl has created a lot of hype around this year’s Gators squad. Another reason things are looking up in Gainesville is the schedule. The Gators play their first game of the year against Miami and then get a bye. They have another bye week at the end of October. Florida will face No. 16 Auburn and No. 6 LSU in back-to-back weeks and then No. 3 Georgia two weeks later. That four-week stretch will make or break the season. I’m higher than some on the Gators; I think they can go 10-2.
Pick – Bet the Over
No. 9 Notre Dame
Clearly, someone doesn’t like the Irish at FanDuel, but I think this total presents an opportunity. Notre Dame has talent, but the schedule is a monster, which has some people scared. The first big game is at No. 3 Georgia in Week 3. Then, Notre Dame travels to No. 7 Michigan and No. 23 Stanford later in the year. At home, the Irish will face traditional rivals in USC, Navy and Boston College, but all three of those should be wins. Even if Notre Dame loses all of its tough road games, nine wins are in the cards if all goes well at home.
Pick – Bet the over at FanDuel Sportsbook
No. 10 Texas
This is one of my favorite plays of the preseason. I’m a massive Tom Herman fan, and I do expect some burnt orange magic this year. UT returns a Heisman candidate at QB in Sam Ehlinger and a hungry defense. Week 2 brings No. 6 LSU into Austin, and we will learn a ton about the Longhorns in that contest. Road games at West Virginia, at TCU, and at No. 24 Iowa State will not be easy, but Texas can lose to No. 4 Oklahoma and LSU and still win 10 games. I like that a lot.
Pick – Bet the over
No. 11 Texas A&M
This top-15 team is projected to barely make a bowl game. Why? The schedule. It’s absolutely brutal, and even with star QB Kellen Mond back for Jimbo Fisher, it’s hard to see the Aggies making much noise this season. There are only three layup victories on the schedule with Texas State, Lamar, and UTSA all traveling to College Station. A&M has road trips at No. 1 Clemson, at No. 3 Georgia, and at No. 6 LSU. Yikes. They also have home games against No. 2 Alabama and No. 16 Auburn. Even if they do beat Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State, that’s only six wins. It’s just too tough of a schedule.
Pick – Bet the Under
No. 13 Oregon
The Ducks are ready to come back on the national stage this year. With QB Justin Herbert’s surprise return for his senior season, Oregon is set up to win the Pac-12 North and play for a conference title. The offensive line is one of the best in the country and the defensive line stacked with young talent. Oregon is going to surprise some people this year. Facing No. 16 Auburn out of the gate will be a very difficult challenge, but if you take the 8.5 at FanDuel, the Ducks can lose at No. 23 Stanford, at No. 12 Washington, plus the Auburn game and still win nine games.
Pick – Bet the over at FanDuel Sportsbook
No. 24 Iowa State
The Cyclones are for real. Matt Campbell might have thought about leaving for Ohio State for a split-second, but his 2019 Iowa State team has the chance to be a major story this year. QB Brock Purdy came of age last season and is back to lead one of the best offenses in the Big 12. Iowa State will host in-state rival No. 19 Iowa in Week 2, and I think they will win. ISU must play at No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 10 Texas in back-to-back weeks, but the rest of their Big 12 schedule is manageable. Iowa State can lose three games and still cover this line.
Pick – Bet the Over
If Nebraska stays healthy, Year 2 of head coach Scott Frost could be special. QB Adrian Martinez is a dark horse Heisman candidate, and the schedule is exactly what Husker fans want. All the tough games this year are at home, including No. 5 Ohio State, No. 25 Northwestern, No. 17 Wisconsin, and No. 19 Iowa heading to Memorial Stadium. If Nebraska can protect its home field, the Huskers could be in the Big 10 title game.
Pick – Bet the over
This might be a strange one, but I’ve got friends who cover this team, and they have been telling me this is a layup bet. Tony Sanchez’s job is on the line. He must take the Rebels to a bowl this year, and that means six wins. For our purposes, we only need five, and the schedule has automatics in Southern Utah and Arkansas State at the front. The rest of the schedule isn’t as easy, but if QB Armani Rogers stays healthy, UNLV will win at least two games in conference.
Pick – Bet the Over