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Predicting win total over/unders for 15 college football contenders

Sporting News logo Sporting News 5/19/2017 Bill Bender

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College football win totals for the 2017 season are out, and now it’s time to figure out which playoff contenders will go over and under.

The Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology released season win totals on nearly 50 college football teams on Thursday. That list starts with Alabama, which topped out with a total of 10.5. More sportsbooks are sure to follow soon. 

MORE: SN Preseason Top 25 

Sporting News broke down those totals for 15 College Football Playoff contenders, including USC, Ohio State, Florida State and Clemson, among others. Who can you trust to go over? Under? We didn't do too bad last year.

Here’s a closer look:

Alabama

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Total: 10.5

Lowdown: Vegas learned its lesson after putting the Crimson Tide at 9.5 last year. There’s little margin for error, and the key is a victory in the opener against Florida State in Atlanta. Road tests at Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn won’t be easy.

Verdict: Over. Alabama has won 11 or more games in the regular season each of the last six seasons. You’re getting to bet against that? 

MORE: At QB, it's Hurts and everybody else for 'Bama

USC

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Total: 9.5

Lowdown: This is a year where USC has five Pac-12 home games, a slate that includes Stanford, Utah and UCLA. Provided the Trojans take care of business at home against Texas and on the road at Notre Dame, they should get to 10 wins as planned with quarterback Sam Darnold leading the way.

Verdict: Over. Get it before it bumps up to 10 games.  

MORE: Top 25 QBs for 2017

Ohio State

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Total: 10

Lowdown: Another lesson learned after putting the Buckeyes at 8.5 last season. Unless Ohio State is swept by Oklahoma, Penn State and Michigan — which just doesn’t seem possible with the Sooners and Nittany Lions coming to Columbus — then Urban Meyer will get them back to 10 wins.

Verdict: Over. Meyer has lost three regular-season games in five years.  

MORE: 14 September games we can't wait for

Florida State

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Total: 9.5

Lowdown: Florida State went 9-3 in the regular season in 2016, and if they lose to Alabama in the opener this is going to be close. Miami comes early on Sept. 16, and the road trips to Clemson and Florida won’t be easy. If the Seminoles can come away with at least a split in those four games, then you’ll be in business.  

Verdict: Lean toward over, but it’s right on the line. 

MORE: QB controversies? 

Clemson

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Total: 9

Lowdown: Deshaun Watson is gone, but Dabo Swinney will be able to rely on a strong defense, perhaps the best group he has had so far. The back-to-back early-season games against Auburn and Louisville will tell the tale, and November features a similar stretch against Florida State and South Carolina. Unless the Tigers flop in all four of those games, they should make it.

Verdict: Lean toward over, and it’s worth it without the half-game on the nine wins.

MORE: 17 questions for 2017

Penn State

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Total: 9.5

Lowdown: Expectations haven't been this high since the mid-1990s, and with good reason. Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley are Heisman candidates. Pitt and Michigan come to Happy Valley this year, too. Ohio State is the toughest road game on the schedule. 

Verdict: Lean toward over. This is a risky play though. The Nittany Lions' road Big Ten schedule is tougher than it looks.

MORE: Barkley leads Top 25 RBs

Oklahoma

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Total: 9.5

Lowdown: The Sooners will be the Big 12 favorites again, but the season gets rolling with a tough road game at Ohio State on Sept. 9. Big 12 play features four road games, including dates at Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. 

Verdict: Lean toward over. The Sooners will probably get to 10 wins, but it's tough to take that line with all those road land mines.

Washington

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Total: 9.5

Lowdown: The Huskies are the defending Pac-12 champions, and the schedule is set up for another fast start despite four road games in the first seven weeks. Stanford is the toughest opponent after the Huskies' Week 8 bye. 

Verdict: Lean toward over. This is another one that's antsy because of all the early road tests, but we'd still bet on Chris Petersen to get back to 10 wins knowing four of the last five are at home. 

MORE: Way-too-early Top 25

Michigan

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Total: 9

Lowdown: Michigan lost 17 starters, so this will be the biggest test of Harbaugh's first three seasons in Ann Arbor. The opener against Florida at Jerry World is huge, and the Big Ten schedule features tough road games at Penn State and Wisconsin. Ohio State, which has won five in a row against the Wolverines, comes to Ann Arbor. 

Verdict: Push. Michigan needs at least a split in its biggest conference games and no margin for error anywhere else to get to nine wins. We wouldn't be surprised, however, if Harbaugh found a way to beat the push and get to 10. 

MORE: FAQ about Harbaugh

Georgia

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Total: 8

Lowdown: Kirby Smart's second season will be built around Nick Chubb, and the Bulldogs are our second-highest ranked SEC team. The early-season trip to Notre Dame will be a tone-setter for whether Georgia looks like it can win the SEC East. 

Verdict: Over. We have to, considering we're picking the Bulldogs to win the division with our ranking. 

MORE: Smart deals with high expectations

Auburn

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Total: 8

Lowdown: The Tigers have created a buzz with the arrival of transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham, but road games at Clemson and LSU won't be easy. Neither will a November that features Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama.  

Verdict: Over. We're buying the hype, and think the Tigers get to nine wins. 

Louisville

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Total: 9

Lowdown: Sometimes it gets lost that Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016, but the Cardinals get a chance to remind everybody of that Sept. 16 against Clemson. The ACC road schedule, however, features North Carolina, N.C. State and Florida State. The Cardinals also travel to Kentucky.

Verdict: Push. That’s a tough road slate, but we think the Cards can get to nine wins. 

MORE: Jackson No. 1 QB for 2017

Wisconsin

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Total: 9.5 

Lowdown: The Badgers continue to chug along under Paul Chryst as the Big Ten West favorites; the biggest potholes to getting 10 victories are road trips to BYU and Nebraska. Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan all come to Camp Randall Stadium.  

Verdict: Over. We're confident in this pick, too.  

MORE: Vegas over/under totals released

LSU

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Total: 9

Lowdown: Ed Orgeron takes over in his first full season as LSU's coach, and that transition will be met with an SEC road schedule that includes Mississippi State, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee.

Verdict: Under. If LSU squeezes out nine wins here, then there will be doubts about Orgeron heading into 2018. 

MORE: New realignment talk?

Florida

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Total: 8

Lowdown: The schedule is book-ended by Michigan and Florida State, and the Gators have the usual rivalry games with Tennessee and Georgia. LSU and Texas A&M both come to The Swamp in the cross-over games.

Verdict: Push. That's a tough schedule and not worth risking for the over. 

Five more we like

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Northwestern (7)

Over. The Wildcats are an undervalued sleeper pick in the Big Ten West.

Mississippi State (5.5)

Over. The Bulldogs must take care of nonconference games at Louisiana Tech and at home against BYU.

Nebraska (6) 

Over. The schedule is brutal, but we still like the Huskers to get to at least seven wins. 

Utah (6.5)

Over. The Utes have won eight or more regular-season games the last three years.  

Oregon (8)

Under. Transitions are tough, and the nonconference schedule features Nebraska and Wyoming. 

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