Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Engineering an early win total for Oklahoma

Vegas skyline
Beyond the Bets, one of my favorite gambling/handicapping sites around, published a fantastic article Tuesday on the process for setting college football regular season win totals. The BtB post came on the heels of an article posted a week earlier by our friend Todd Fuhrman of Caesar's Palace on how he determines an opening number. Together, the articles provide insight into the approaches of both a sharp gambler and a bookmaker when it comes to futures.

Todd's basing his number on how he thinks gamblers will bet. BtB is looking to find a baseline against which you can evaluate the totals set by guys like Todd. Not surprisingly, though, their approaches don't differ that much.

I figured I'd try out the BtB system on OU and see what we come up with. Let's take it step by step.

1. Research

Yeah, this kinda doesn't end for me vis-á-vis this blog. Moving on.

2. Schedule

OU's schedule is far from diabolical, but it does offer some tests. A few observations:

*Two byes in September mean no rest for the weary come November. Starting with a trip to Lubbock on Oct. 6, the Sooners play nine straight games. That's a grind, and it won't leave many opportunities to get healthy in case of injury.

*Looking for a trap game? Check out Nov. 3 at Iowa State. The Cyclones put the kibosh on Oklahoma St.'s perfect season a year ago, so precedent is there. Plus, it's sandwiched between Notre Dame's visit to Norman and a revenge game versus Baylor.

*The final three games seem pretty daunting: at West Virginia, Bedlam, at TCU.

Oklahoma's 2012 Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 @ UTEP
Sept. 8 Florida A&M
Sept. 22 Kansas St.
Oct. 6 @ Texas Tech
Oct. 13 Texas (N)
Oct. 20 Kansas
Oct. 27 Notre Dame
Nov. 3 @ Iowa St.
Nov. 10 Baylor
Nov. 17 @ West Virginia
Nov. 24 Oklahoma St.
Dec. 1 @ TCU

3. Assign point spreads

I honestly haven't studied OU's opponents this year enough to feel confident in any lines that I'd project right now (e.g., UTEP). However, here's what I've got off of the cuff.

Point Spreads
Opponent Spread
@ UTEP -24
FAMU -1,000,000
Kansas St. -9
@ Texas Tech -10.5
Texas (N) -7.5
Kansas -21
Notre Dame -8.5
@ Iowa St. -10.5
Baylor -18
@W. Virginia -3.5
OSU -8.5
@ TCU -7.5

I make the Sooners favorites in all 12 games this year. (Yes, I know that OU won't be favored by seven figures against Florida A&M, but hopefully you get the picture.) However, based on the numbers I eyeballed, I see three games that probably fall into the "toss-up" category: the Red River Shootout, at West Virginia, at TCU.

In other words, a total of 9 is as low as I'll go.

4. Calculate win odds

I used SBR's converter for point spreads to money lines to come up with these odds.

Win Odds
Opponent Win Odds
@ UTEP 95
Kansas St. 75
@ Texas Tech 80
Texas (N) 75
Kansas 95
Notre Dame 75
@ Iowa St. 80
Baylor 95
@ W. Virginia 60
OSU 75
@ TCU 75
Wins 9.79

This route projects 9.79 wins.

5. Assign win values

OK, how about if we just shoot from the hip on what's a likely win, what's a likely loss and what's a toss-up? Wins are worth a value of one, losses get zero and toss-ups get a half.

Win Values
Opponent Win Value
@ UTEP 1
Kansas St. 1
@ Texas Tech 1
Texas (N) 0.5
Kansas 1
Notre Dame 0.5
@ Iowa St. 1
Baylor 1
@ W. Virginia 0.5
OSU 0.5
@ TCU 0.5
Total 9.5

This approach gives us a total of 9.5.

6. Conclusion

chart_1-2This is actually pretty easy. I know that I won't go lower than 9 wins. Two of the three sets of numbers suggest the appropriate number is more like 9.5. With a win projection of 9.79, the win odds indicate OU is more likely to go over 9.5 than under. And, let's face it, it has been more of a surprise when OU has lost more than two regular season games in a season under Bob Stoops.

Therefore, I'd set the line at 9.5 with the juice on the over.

Checking our work has released a number of high-profile teams' totals already. It has the Sooners' win total at 9.5 (-180).

Not bad.