When I decided a little over a year about to commit myself to writing about sports, I had no idea what to expect. Would anyone read? Would anyone care? Would I be living in a cardboard box under the train tracks within six months?
While I’m happy to report that I am in fact not living under the train tracks, I have learned a lot over these past 13 months. And one thing that’s surprised me more than anything, is just how much people love to gamble on sports.
Everyone. Young and old. Rich and poor. Degenerates and regular dudes. Basically from what I can gauge, if you’re somewhere between the ages of 18-55, and know what a first down is, you’ve wagered on football sometime in the last calendar year.
Last season, my most responded to articles were my weekly college football picks columns (first one coming in two weeks!). Everybody had an opinion. Why they liked my picks. Why they hated them. Why the pick I made was absolutely, positively the dumbest one they’d ever seen. Until that team covered the following weekend.
Well this year, rather than being caught off guard by all the gambling talk, I’m going to be at the forefront of it. With BetUS.com releasing all sorts of fun college football betting options already, I’ve gone ahead and looked at some of the Over/Under futures bets, and picked out a few that I like, and a few that I don’t.
Of course, by sharing my picks, that almost certainly means I’ll be struck by lightning, or even worse, lose all my money, and end up living under the train tracks. If that happens, it was fun knowing you guys, although I guess I saw it coming.
And finally, as always, feel free to tell me why you agree with my picks, disagree with them, or just think I’m an idiot. It definitely won’t be the first, or last time I’ve heard it.
Either way, let’s get to the picks:
(Also, I need to mention this one more time: BetUS.com is a sponsor of mine. They treat me good.
So if you do want to wager a little online (And are going to do it responsibly), feel free to sign up with them by clicking here. Most importantly, mention www.aarontorres-sports.com in your referral, and you’ll get t-shirts, apparel and other cool prizes. Just for mentioning my website.
Alright, no more peer pressure. Let’s talk football)
Before we begin, it’s important to note, that if I didn’t pick your team, it’s because the Over/Under win total is too close to call in my eyes. Or your team just sucks. Kidding. In all seriousness, I just don’t have enough money to be throwing around on teams I’m not confident in.
Let's take Florida for example. Their over/under win total is right at 10. I think that's exactly where they'll end up, with 10 regular season wins. But I think they could just as easily end up at nine wins or 11. Therefore, it's just a stay away to me. If your team doesn't make this list, I more than likely feel the same way about them too.
Now, here are a few picks I like.
Alabama OVER 10 Regular Season Wins (-115): My stance on this one is simple. With all the players ‘Bama lost on defense, this team is very likely going to lose a football game this year. I don’t think I’m shocking you with that statement, especially with a schedule that includes trips to LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as home dates with Florida and Auburn.
But really, I don’t see a whole ton of downside to this bet. Alabama has gone undefeated two regular seasons in a row. Even if they lose a game this year, you’re still a winner. If they lose two you get your money back.
To be a loser, the Tide would have to lose three regular season games. You don’t really see that happening, do you?
Auburn UNDER 8 ½ Regular Season Wins (-105): Look, I get why everyone likes Auburn coming into 2010: They were fun to watch last year. They score a lot points. They’ve got much better depth this season than last. They signed a monster recruiting class in February. They brought Cam Newton in at quarterback, and the upgrade from him to Chris Todd would be like riding around on a Huffy your whole life and then being handed the keys to a Maserati on your 16th birthday.
At the same time though, aren’t we all a little too excited about them? I mean, they did lose five of their last seven regular season games to end 2009, and needed a prayer and a miracle to beat Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. And this year, the SEC West is as deep as it's ever been. There are no easy night's in the league, moreso in this division.
I like Auburn, and think they’ll get to eight wins. But nine? Let’s not start counting the eggs before they hatch.
USC OVER 9 ½ Regular Season Wins (-165): I know that the depth is a big-time issue. I get it. But for all the talk about USC's demise last year, remember, they still got nine wins, with a freshman quarterback and nine new starters on defense. Just as importantly, the schedule breaks nicely for them in 2010 with Notre Dame, Oregon, Cal and Washington all at home.
And go ahead and look at that schedule one last time. Because USC plays at Hawaii, the Trojans get 13 regular season games this year. 10-3 sounds just about right.
Iowa OVER 8 ½ Regular Season Wins (-200): I really like Iowa. Anyone who reads my stuff regularly knows that.
But I do think they take half a step back this year, mainly because quarterback Ricky Stanzi got himself into and out of more trouble than anyone in college football last year. Yes he went 10-0 in games that he started and finished in 2009, but also threw 15 picks to go along with his 17 touchdown passes. Believe me, I watched those games, and if Stanzi were a cat, he would've had run out of nine lives by about Week 6, and had to take out a loan on a few more to finish the season. Well, the bill is due on that loan, and I think Iowa gets tripped up a few times this year
Then again, the schedule is in their favor in 2010, with Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State at home, so I don’t think they’re a four loss team either. An early season trip to Arizona scares the you-know-what out of me, but I still think they get the win in the desert.
Give me 10-2 on the Hawkeyes and OVER 8 ½ wins in the college football futures betting.
TCU OVER 10 ½ Regular Season Wins (-300): TCU returns 16 starters off last year’s team that blitzed through the Mountain West Conference, meaning, that- as crazy as this sounds- I think they could be even better in 2010. Especially on offense, where they return Andy Dalton, who threw for 23 touchdowns last year and also doubles as one of my favorite red-haired quarterbacks in college football this year.
It may have taken me a long time to get on the TCU bandwagon last season, but I won’t make the same mistake in 2010. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
Boston College OVER 7 ½ Regular Season Wins (-130): I know picking Boston College is about as “sexy,” as seeing your grandma in a bathing suit. But look at their schedule: Virginia Tech, Clemson, Notre Dame, all at home. No Miami, Georgia Tech or North Carolina. Their only legitimately tough road game is at Florida State.
Plus, do you know the last time Boston College didn’t win at least eight regular season games? 2003! Seriously, look it up. Do you even remember 2003? Did we even have the internet back then?
(One thing that does admittedly scare me about Boston College is coach Frank Spaziani. Look, it’s nothing personal against “Spaz.” Just that I’m a big believer that guys that “look,” like coaches tend to be more successful. It’s one of my goofiest theories, but one that holds water.
For example, Urban Meyer just looks like a coach. He walks in the room and commands respect, demands respect. The same with Nick Saban, Chris Petersen, and Jim Tressel. Well maybe not Tressel. He looks like a librarian. But you get the point.
On the flip side, Charlie Weis never looked like a guy that should be in charge of a major Division I program to me. He was fired eight months ago. Dave Wannstedt looks like a guy that should be working at Jiffy Lube, and it took him five years to make Pitt relevant, after getting fired twice from NFL jobs. Bill Stewart? Well just insert your own joke here. But do you get my point?
And to me, Spaziani just doesn’t look like a coach. A nice guy, sure. A good coordinator, yep. But not a head football coach. Which is concerning to me.
Admittedly, this is the stupidest logic ever for betting against Boston College, but I felt like I had to mention it. When BC goes 12-0 and wins the ACC, please come back and call me an idiot. I insist.)
UConn OVER 8 Regular Season Wins (EV): This is my AT-approved, can’t miss, lock of the year (And yes, I know that I just sounded like some cheese-ball with slicked back hair, on a 2 a.m. infomercial. My apologies).
Either way, look at the Huskies. They return all 16 starters off a 7-5 team. They return a quarterback with a ton of experience. And a 1,000 yard rusher. And four starters on the best offensive line in the Big East. And they rang in the New Year by bludgeoning Steve Spurrier, and South Carolina in the PapaJohns.com Bowl.
One final thing too: Those five games they lost last year? They were by a combined 15 points. This is at least an eight win football team. Take my word.
With those picks, here are a few more I like, but will ultimately stay away from for various reasons:
Boise State OVER 11 Regular Season Wins (+130): I think they’ll beat Virginia Tech on Labor Day, and will explain why in the coming weeks. But just in case they don't, stay away. You don’t really want to lose a season long futures bet in Week 1, do you?
Stanford OVER 7 ½ Regular Season Wins (+110): I like the Cardinal a lot as a sleeper to maybe win the Pac-10 this year (+650). At the same time, there is goofy parity in this conference, and they get Notre Dame, Oregon and Washington all on the road.
Also, don’t you think that USC will have a little extra juice when they head down to the Farm after what happened last year? Because I’m thinking so.
West Virginia UNDER 8 ½ Regular Season Wins (+140): My No. 1 rule in life: Whenever the opportunity presents itself, always bet against Bill Stewart. Sorry West Virginia fans, it’s a strict company policy.
Notre Dame OVER 8 Regular Season Wins (-115): I love Brian Kelly to the point that the guy should probably get a restraining order against me. Just in case.
But I don’t love that schedule. Stanford, Utah, Pittsburgh, USC, Boston College, plus desperate Michigan and Michigan State teams could all go either way. And as we’ve learned to never, ever count out Navy.
Miami (FL) UNDER 8 ½ Regular Season Wins (-115): This team has 10 win talent. Unfortunately, they also have an eight win schedule. Stay away!
Finally, a few long shot Heisman Trophy picks:
John Clay, RB, Wisconsin (+1400): I’ve already made my case for Clay, but I’ll briefly make it again…
The dude is an animal. He averaged five yards a carry last year, even though everyone in the stadium, watching on TV and on the opposing defense knew he was getting the ball. He has no competition for carries this year. He’ll be running behind one of the most experienced lines in college football. And as always, Wisconsin, will live and die by the run.
I like this bet a lot. And may have already wagered a substantial amount on it. Wish me luck.
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (+1500): He’s going to have the stats (although I have to imagine his touchdown to interception ratio can’t possibly top last year’s absurd 39-3). And if Boise runs the table he’s going to have public sentiment.
Stranger things have happened…
Also, for his take on all things sports, be sure to follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook.com/AaronTorresSports or by downloading his APP for FREE for your iPhone or Android!)