It will be a unique college football season, with two Power Five conferences idle (Big 10 and Pac-12), one playing an expanded exclusively conference schedule (SEC), one playing an expanded conference schedule in addition to an in-state non-conference game (ACC) and the other playing a round-robin conference schedule with one non-conference contest (Big 12).
One team will be playing for a conference title for the first time in its storied history (Notre Dame in the ACC). In total, 76 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams will compete in the fall of 2020, with many having to scramble to find opponents to fill out their schedules.
The change in schedule has made the betting outlook a little different.
Impact of Schedule Changes
With the schedule changes and reduced number of games, predicting the number of wins for each team and making a winning over/under bet will be especially challenging this season. For the first time, the SEC and ACC will be playing a ten-game conference schedule. The SEC teams have long argued that the conference’s strength made nine league games difficult because of the wear and tear on the teams.
Now we get to find out if an extra couple of games against Power Five teams will make a difference for the SEC, especially for the top teams like Alabama and Georgia. In the ACC, will Clemson be able to navigate a schedule that now includes a game at Virginia Tech?
For the Big 12, which had already instituted a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule when the league was reduced to 10 teams, the changes will have no impact except to reduce the number of non-conference games from three to one.
Teams in the conference have traditionally had some of the weakest non-league slates, so it could be argued that for many, not playing at all won’t be much different than playing an FCS or non-Power Five patsy.
Over/Under Betting Picks
The relative uncertainty of the 2020 college football season is reflected in the over/under totals of the Power Five conferences. The only team that is given a chance of running the table is Clemson, with a win total of 10.5 (-125o/-105u). The oddsmakers, with those odds, indicate that they see a better chance of Clemson going undefeated than losing a game, despite late road games at Notre Dame, Florida State, and Va. Tech.
The biggest surprise on the board has to be Alabama with a win total of 8.0 (-170o/+140u). Granted, they’re leaning toward the Tide getting another win, as you’ll give up a little if you win the over bet.
But still, Alabama, being predicted to lose at least two SEC games, is quite a departure from the recent past. Conversely, Georgia is at 8.5 (+100o/-130u) and the SEC favorite, but the odds are leaning toward the Bulldogs losing a couple of games.
In the Big 12, the favorite is Oklahoma, with odds of 8.5 (-115o/-115u). Again, two losses for Oklahoma seems unlikely, but they’ll be breaking in a new quarterback, which hasn’t been much of a problem for head coach Lincoln Riley.
It appears that there is some opportunity to make some money by betting the over on a group of top teams, as it seems that the oddsmakers have been pretty conservative to the low side.
To give the oddsmakers some credit, we’re still a month from the start of the season, and we could still see players opting out, entire teams missing a game, and other unforeseen events related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It still seems that betting on Alabama to lose a pair of games with very few hostile fans for away games would take some thought before placing the wager.