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.
Yeah, this kinda doesn't end for me vis-á-vis this blog. Moving on.
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.
|Sept. 1||@ UTEP|
|Sept. 8||Florida A&M|
|Sept. 22||Kansas St.|
|Oct. 6||@ Texas Tech|
|Oct. 13||Texas (N)|
|Oct. 27||Notre Dame|
|Nov. 3||@ Iowa St.|
|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.
|@ Texas Tech||-10.5|
|@ Iowa St.||-10.5|
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.
|@ Texas Tech||80|
|@ Iowa St.||80|
|@ W. Virginia||60|
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.
|@ Texas Tech||1|
|@ Iowa St.||1|
|@ W. Virginia||0.5|
This approach gives us a total of 9.5.
This 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
5Dimes.com has released a number of high-profile teams' totals already. It has the Sooners' win total at 9.5 (-180).