College football is just around the corner, and the sportsbooks are starting to gear up for the upcoming season. Season win totals, conference and championship futures, and spreads on games of the year have all been released. Here’s a look at five of the most interesting options available to bet on in Las Vegas right now.
5. UNLV Rebels – Over 4 wins (-140) Under 4 wins (+120)
The Rebels had their bowl ban lifted and are coming off a season in which they went to their first bowl game since 2000. However, they lost their top running back and their starting quarterback. The good news for the Rebels is they have replacements for both. Nick Sherry will step back in at the QB position and Shaquille Murray-Lawrence and Adonis Smith should be able to fill the void at RB. UNLV has a 13 game schedule this season so to miss the 4 win total they would have to lose double digit games. Historically, that’s not an abnormality for the program, but the step forward last season certainly gives hope for 2014.
4. Oregon Ducks – Win Pac 12 Championship Game (-140)
The Ducks offensive will undoubtably be explosive once again. Marcus Marriota should return to his healthy dynamic self and the loss of Chip Kelly did not seem to slow down the Ducks at all. Oregon enters the season as hands-on favorites to win the Pac 12 Championship, but the conference is so stacked that it makes this option interesting. The championship game will be held at the home of the higher seed, so the game should be played in Eugene, but a game against UCLA, Arizona St., or USC would certainly not be easy. -140 to not only get there, but then win it, is the price too steep? It also makes for some good numbers on the rest of the conference.
3. Florida St. Seminoles (-18.5) vs. Florida Gators
The November 29th matchup in Tallahassee will undoubtably be a huge one for the Seminoles, but what makes this spread so intriguing is the unknowns surrounding the Florida Gators. Last season the Gators were brutal in every facet of the game, but UF doesn’t usually stay down for long. They opted to hang on to Will Muschamp despite the troubles the program has seen since he’s taken over. Florida St. could be undefeated when this game is played and likely will have a spot in the ACC title game already locked up. But it’s a rivalry game and it will almost certainly have an impact on the College Football Playoff. Seminole fans probably think they number is way too low, while optimistic Gator fans can’t fathom another 19+ point drubbing to their in-state rival. Last year Florida St. won by 30, but this is a new year, and there’s a good chance the 18.5 number that’s available now is at least a touchdown off what the number will be on Thanksgiving.
2. LSU Tigers – Win 2015 College Football Championship Game (30:1)
Les Miles’ Tigers had an interesting year in 2013 where they were a very good football team, but because of missteps against Georgia and Ole Miss were never really in the National Championship conversation. Obviously the loss of Zach Mettenberger will hurt, but the Tigers are a defense first team, and they return a majority of their defense in 2014. The NFL Draft always takes a toll on LSU and it did again as Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Ego Ferguson, and Anthony Johnson are all gone, but Les Miles has the ability to replace them and make us forget about the losses quickly. What makes the Tigers so interesting at 30:1 is the fact that they do not have to win the SEC, or even the SEC West to earn a place in the playoff. If they can get there, $30 for every one wagered will look awfully nice.
1. Auburn Tigers – Over 9 wins (-120) Under 9 wins (+100)
Auburn was just seconds from hoisting the crystal football last season, but it took multiple miracles and what some call a gimmick offense to get that close. This year they head to Alabama, play at Georgia, and have LSU and South Carolina at home. Add in the unknown surrounding Nick Marshall’s run-in with the law and this team could wind up anywhere next year. Gus Malzahn will likely add more wrinkles to his creative offensive scheme, but coaches like Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier were also given an entire offseason to try and crack the code. Winning nine games in the SEC is difficult for even the most dominant programs, but doing it as a marked team with QB questions, and a style that’s no longer a surprise might be another story. If the Tigers of 2013 show back up in 2014, nine wins will be a walk in the park, but there are so many questions that this deservedly wins the top spot of most intriguing preseason gambling options.