College football win totals are a tough market to price, especially with preseason uncertainty. But with uncertainty comes opportunity for bettors who don’t mind doing a little bit of homework. When it comes to betting win totals, I prefer to look at the smaller conferences and schools, where there’s less data and fewer eyes hammering their numbers into place.
Below, I’ll lay out my five favorite win total bets from this offseason and my process behind each of them. Stay up to date with TheLines this football season for daily college football odds, betting analysis, and best bets.
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College Football Win Totals: Best Bets For Overs
NC State Wolfpack: Over
Maybe I’m entirely too bullish on NC State this year, and they’re quickly becoming a darling for much of the college football world. However, I was on this early and I’m not afraid to be part of Wolfpack Mania this coming season. QB Devin Leary returns, who leads returning ACC QBs in yards per attempt and touchdown rate– both strong indicators of breakout performance.
What’s more important, though, is their 82% returning production (eighth nationally), particularly on defense. The Wolfpack is fixed to have one of the strongest defenses in the nation, having the No. 2 secondary and No. 3 linebacking corps, according to Phil Steele. Steele also ranks them third among his surprise teams for the 2022 season.
NC State faces the 45th-ranked schedule this coming season per ESPN’s FPI, below teams like ULM, Kent State, and Kansas. Per SP+ and FPI ratings, NC State is projected to be favored in every game except one– on the road at Clemson.
Their win total is still widely available at 8.5 (though you’re paying juice on the over).
- The bet: OVER 8.5 wins -149 (placed June 1 at BetRivers)
- Best available number: NC State over
Kansas State Wildcats: Over
According to the SP+, there’s three teams in the Big 12 that rate better than Kansas State: Oklahoma, Texas, and Oklahoma State. While K-State will certainly be an underdog on the road at Oklahoma, there is a chance they’re favored at home against Texas by Week 10. Even if they’re not, there’s three games K-State projects to be an underdog to on their schedule.
The Wildcats rank 25th on Phil Steele’s power poll (ranked the most accurate over the last 27 years) and have been lauded as having top-15 potential by ESPN’s Bill Connelly on more than one occasion.
They have a pair of very good offensive tackles, although the interior of the line has questions. K-State landed beleaguered playmaker Adrian Martinez in the transfer portal and return All American back Deuce Vaughn, giving them ample playmaking potential. The Wildcats also roster one of the nation’s top defensive lines (10th, per Phil Steele).
At yet, Kansas State’s win total sits undisturbed at 6.5.
- The bet: OVER 6.5 wins -145 (placed July 12 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
- Best available number: Kansas State over
Houston Cougars: Over
Did you know Houston won 12 games a season ago? If you did, you’re evidently one of few given their projected win total for this season. The Cougars are my favorite pick to represent the Group of Five in a New Year’s Six Bowl and– with their schedule– even a strong chance at an unbeaten year.
UH ranks 44th in the SP+ and 46th in FPI this coming season, higher than any team on their schedule (including against Texas Tech in Week 2). Per FPI, they play the 101st-hardest schedule in the country, which avoids Cincinnati in-conference. Out of conference, they hit the road to play UTSA and Texas Tech– two tough but not unwinnable games (they’re nearly a TD favorite against UTSA).
Clayton Tune is one of the top QBs in the American– if not the entire country– and he returns top receiver Nathaniel Dell (1,300 receiving yards, 13 TDs in 2021). Houston also has one of the most formidable defenses in the Group of Five, despite losing top defensive back Marcus Jones to the NFL, led by a very talented and very deep defensive line.
It’s tough to imagine a world where Houston returns this kind of star power and regresses three games, which is what their lowest win total suggests (8.5).
- The bet: To Win 10+ Games +170 (placed Aug. 5 at FanDuel Sportsbook) — Note: I have enough confidence in Houston to bet the 9.5 number. Instead of buying O9.5 for +100, To Win 10+ Games is offered at +170 at FD. 8.5 is available for a lower price, if you wanted to give yourself a buffer.
- Best available number: Houston over
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College Football Win Totals: Best Bets For Unders
Nevada Wolfpack: Under 6 (-134)
This is where diving into smaller markets can be beneficial and shopping lines is crucial. I got in on the Wolfpack with what I saw to be a severely mispriced 6.0 wins back in early June. That number’s been chopped all the way down to 4.5, which I still see value in.
Let me make this clear: Nevada’s roster is bereft of talent and their coaching staff was stripped for its usable parts. Former head coach Jay Norvell (now at Colorado State) made this clear for us by bolting Reno despite having just won eight games.
Their schedule is a cakewalk, with out-of-conference stints at New Mexico State (last in SP+ and FPI), Texas State (122nd), and FCS Incarnate Word. However, they have road games at Iowa, Air Force, and a San Jose State team not to be overlooked.
Nevada returns just 29% roster production from a season ago, the lowest mark of any team by a lot. Power ratings systems don’t have much faith in them either– SP+ ranks them 110th, FPI 98th, and Phil Steele’s Power Poll 121st. I was elated to bet under six wins, but would still be happy to take under 4.5.
- The bet: UNDER 6.0 wins -134 (placed June 3 at BetRivers)
- Best available number: Nevada over
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors: Under 4.5 (-113)
Speaking of messy programs with no roster talent and rebuilding, Hawaii had one of the most disastrous offseasons in the country. Reports of an abusive culture under former head coach Todd Graham circulated and forced him to resign (one player was even quoted as saying Graham, “…killed our love and passion for football”).
Things were so bad at the Hawaii program that Graham’s own son decided to hit the transfer portal.
A promising young coach steps in to take over, Timmy Chang, but he’s working with peanuts. They rank in the bottom five in most every power ratings system and their QB heir-apparent was abysmal in limited action last year (60.2 completion percentage, two touchdowns, five interceptions).
They play the second-toughest schedule in the Mountain West. The cocktail of a tough schedule, no talent left on the roster, a new coaching staff, and total dysfunction makes their 4.5 win total an intriguing under play, even though they play an unorthodox 13 games in the regular season.
- The bet: UNDER 4.5 wins -113 (placed June 13 at BetRivers)
- Best available number: Hawaii over