The elite programs have fallen into a predictable routine. They win all the time with few hiccups along the way.
This makes their over/under total easier to predict than the spread of any given game.
Here is a breakdown about four of the best teams, and how you can bet their win totals could look this season.
Disclaimer on betting season win totals: We aren’t necessarily advocating that you get money down on these, and that there may be greater value on other teams. Betting over 11 wins isn’t going to get you a lot of return, even though you would’ve won your bet on Alabama last year. You’re often giving your sportsbook a long loan by pushing.
Alabama – 11 wins
Hell hath no fury like an angry Nick Saban. Look for Alabama to refocus after an embarrassing 44-16 loss to Clemson in the national championship.
Sure, three important offensive linemen are gone. Quinnen Williams won’t be destroying opposing offenses from the interior of the defense. And the exodus of assistants closer resembled the women leaving this season of “The Bachelor” than a stable coaching foundation.
It doesn’t matter. Not when Saban is the one in charge.
A healthy Tua Tagovailoa should keep the offense humming after putting up almost 4,000 yards and 43 touchdowns as a sophomore. His three of his top receiving targets (Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs III) return, too.
A trip to College Station in October should get Saban’s attention. The Aggies almost upset Clemson at home last season. Another offseason under Jimbo Fisher with a more experienced QB Kellen Mond will provide hope to some in Aggieland. Though, Saban has never lost to a former assistant.
Traditionally, LSU has the best chance to match Alabama’s on-field talent. However, in the three contests since Ed Orgeron took over, the Tigers have lost by a combined 43-10. Quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 184 yards and an interception on 35 attempts in ’18. He doesn’t have the arm to stress the Alabama defense in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Perhaps the beatdown in last season’s national championship did show some cracks forming in the Alabama dynasty. It certainly seems that Kirby Smart and Georgia’s recruiting prowess spooked Saban into overemphasizing recruiting and underemphasizing coaching on his 2018 staff. Everything comes to an end eventually, but this isn’t the year.
Sometimes the best thing to do is step back and remember what’s most important. The last time Alabama didn’t win at least 11 games in the regular season was 2010. Alabama will have the most talent and best coach in every game.
Alabama rolls to an undefeated regular season again .
Clemson – 11 wins
Clemson blitzed the ACC last season on the way to winning the national championship. It could repeat the performance in 2019.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Justyn Ross are big reasons why. The dynamic duo developed great chemistry down the stretch of their freshmen seasons. They showed the nation Clemson would remain in the spotlight for years to come after thumping Alabama 44-16 in the national title game.
Lawrence looked like the second coming of Peyton Manning after throwing for 3,280 yards and 30 touchdowns as a teenager. Ross became one of his most reliable targets, producing 9 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards.
Junior wide receivers Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers would be primary targets on most teams. Here they help round out one of the most talented wide receiver groups in college football.
Add in junior running back Travis Etienne after his 1,658 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns from a season ago, and this should be one of the best offenses in the country.
Clemson must rebuild a historically-strong defensive line. The Tigers also need answers at linebacker. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is one of the highest-paid assistants in the country because he routinely solves these problems.
Syracuse has given the Tigers the most trouble in the ACC recently. Clemson needed a touchdown with 41 seconds left to win at home last season and the Orange won 27-24 in 2017.
A return trip to Syracuse could be one of the biggest regular-season hurdles once again. Coming off a 10-3 campaign, Dino Babers and Syracuse are no joke. But can his game plan give Dabo Swinney’s offense problems three years in a row, especially without quarterback Eric Dungey?
The week before facing Syracuse, Clemson will host a Texas A&M team trying to prove last season’s close game wasn’t a fluke. The Aggies lost 28-26 in College Station, but this season the matchup could be different. Lawrence only threw nine passes in the game and Ross didn’t record a catch. Jimbo Fisher also is in his second year at Texas A&M.
Clemson might get tripped up once, especially early in the season, if the defense hasn’t found answers. No team will be able to match the offensive firepower, though.
Oklahoma – 10.5 wins
Remember when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman? You could kind of squint your eyes and see how it would work, but you knew he would never live up to Christian Bale or Michael Keaton.
Oklahoma may have its Ben Affleck in Jalen Hurts.
The Sooners and coach Lincoln Riley enjoyed back-to-back years of spectacular quarterback play from transfers Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who have the Heisman Trophies to back it up.
Oklahoma is going to get a dropoff at quarterback.. The question is, how far? And can the Sooners again reach the College Football Playoff semifinals despite it?
Hurts is a fine quarterback, but he won’t be to elevate the offense quite like the other two. He went 26-2 as a starter at Alabama, averaged 5.2 yards per carry, rushed for 23 touchdowns, and threw 3 interceptions in his last 324 passes. The production will be there, just not the spectacular plays to carry a really good team to a national championship.
Add the loss of production from talented wide receiver Marquise Brown and the offense is likely to regress from its historical numbers.
The offense carried the team to a lot of wins in 2018, but it ultimately couldn’t overcome the flaws on that side of the ball. If the offense has an off day or three, the defense cannot be counted on to win games. Oklahoma didn’t finish in the top 100 in scoring or total defense last season. Without an elite offense, it’ll be tough to run through the Big 12 like the previous two seasons.
The Texas game will be tough. After splitting with the Longhorns last season, coach Tom Herman adds another strong recruiting class entering his third season. Iowa State has given Oklahoma trouble in back-to-back 8-5 seasons under Matt Campbell. A trip to Stillwater, Okla., to end the season won’t be easy.
Oklahoma will have a good season, but they’ll trip at least twice.
Georgia – 10.5 wins
Is Kirby Smart the next Nick Saban or Mark Richt? This season could go a long way in defining how he’s perceived by the people in Athens.
The Bulldogs were young last year and dominated the SEC East for a second time. With a more experienced defense, they could maintain elite status.
The defensive coaching staff kept things simple last season. Smart wants to blitz and be more disruptive. A return to 2017 (34 sacks) would serve the Bulldogs well (24 in 2018).
Quarterback Jake Fromm likely will continue his efficient play into his junior year. He put up 2,749 yards and 30 touchdowns with a 67.3 percent completion rate, and played just one stinker (a loss at LSU). Throwing behind one of the best offensive lines in the county should lend itself to another step forward.
A home game against Notre Dame and back-to-back games at Auburn and vs. Texas A&M could be close to tossups. Playing two of the three at home is fortunate for the Bulldogs. If Auburn can’t find a reliable quarterback, or the Auburn fans and boosters vs. Gus Malzahn drama peaks in November, that road test becomes far less daunting.
It’s a good bet Georgia wins two of those three and runs the table against the rest of the SEC East.