With the 2009 season right around the corner, California and Oregon look like decent bets to go over their season win totals while the Florida Gators are not likely to go undefeated.
Florida Gators Under 11 Regular Season Wins (-110)
The Florida Gators look poised to have another incredible season, returning Tim Tebow (easily one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time) and remarkably enough all 11 starters on what was an outstanding defense last year. It is easy to see why this team is being penciled in as a near sure thing to defend their national title.
I’m not going to give you a pitch on how much losing Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy will hurt this offense. It certainly will have an effect, but this team has so much talent and speed that they will do just fine. I’m just looking at good old fashioned history on this one.
The SEC, well known to be the most competitive conference in football, was formed in 1933. Putting your feeling about the SEC aside, you can’t deny that the level of play is extremely high and physical.
Since 1933, the Florida Gators have accomplished the feat of a regular season undefeated record ZERO times. In 2006 it was Auburn that delivered their one loss. In 2008 it was Ole Miss. Running the table in any conference is difficult; doing so in the SEC is virtually impossible.
I think this bet has a very high probability of pushing, as I expect Florida to drop only one game somewhere. But I think there is a better chance that two games get away from the Gators that there is they go undefeated, so I’ll take a shot on the Under.
California Bears Over 9 Regular Season Wins (-155)
Cal has been such a difficult to peg team over the last five years, showing flashes of brilliance where they look unbeatable and then inexplicably dropping games they should not be losing. As such, it’s hard to have much confidence in this wager, but the hype around this team is real.
Having a Heisman Trophy Caliber running back in Javhid Best and an outstanding defense, this team seems to have the recipe for success down pat. If they play to the level they are capable of playing, they should be able to put together a 10-win season.
They’d have to lose four games for this bet to end up a loser. Assuming they don’t get caught looking ahead to Oregon the week they play Minnesota, the Bears should enter the Oregon game at 3-0, meaning if they could pick up one win out of three against Oregon and at home against USC or Oregon, they have a good chance to cash, or at the very least push. If they take two of those three, all systems are go.
Oregon will still be sorting issues out on both of their lines, which may give Cal a chance to beat them in Eugene. The nice thing about this wager is that three of Cal’s toughest games; Minnesota, Oregon, and USC; come right away. You’ll know where you stand a mere five games into the season.
Oregon Ducks Over 8 Regular Season Wins (+240)
I don’t expect this one to cash, but it is a pretty exceptional price for a boom-or-bust team that could easily be on the boom side. It also provides a bit of a semi-hedge to the Cal wager; if Oregon comes out on top, their regular season win chances get a lot better.
Oregon’s offense will be excellent this year. I’m not as worried about the O-Line as some are, and think it will be just fine. The D-Line raises some question marks, but the LBs and secondary are both very fast and athletic. This will be a big play defense, and if they can succeed in even slowing down opposing teams, that should be enough for this powerhouse offense to do it’s thing.
I can see things going the other way, too. Time of possession killed the Ducks last year, and a completely rebuilt D-Line with virtually no game experience doesn’t lead me to believe this year will be leaps and bounds better. It’s possible that this year will be a frustrating one for the Ducks.
But one of the nations most explosive and athletic teams at +240 to surpass eight wins? Of arguably the five most difficult games on the schedule; Boise State, Utah, California, USC, and Oregon State; Oregon will be at home for FOUR of these games. And they have plenty of motivation to get revenge on Boise State (their one road game of the five) for beating them on their home turf last year.
An 8-4 season seems very realistic to me. 7-5 may be slightly more likely than 9-3, but not nearly enough to cover the +240 being offered. Another nice bet since you will know exactly where you stand when three of the toughest games come in the first four opponents.