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December 18, 2018

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Futures Rewind: Looking back on college football win totals

The biggest hits and misses from picking 124 over/unders to start the season

Miguel Recinos

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Iowa place kicker Miguel Recinos (91) celebrates with teammate Matt Hankins, left, after kicking a 41-yard field goal on the final play of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 31-28.

Before practically every major sports season, Talking Points picks win totals and/or makes future bets in a preseason post.

After practically every major sports season, Talking Points ignores those prognostications in the postseason.

That ends here. Welcome to a new series called, “Futures Rewind,” where the blog will look back on wagers dispensed at the beginning of the season.

It will serve a dual purpose in holding Talking Points accountable while also giving an entertaining view of whether perceptions carried into the year turned out to be accurate.

The 2018-19 college football season feels like a natural place to start given that the blog picked over/under win totals for all 124 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in conferences — the six Independents were regrettably left out.

The success of the, “countdown to college football,” depends on the judging criteria.

As a whole, it wasn’t pretty. The overall record finished at 49-63-12 picking every team’s win total.

The picks labeled as “plays,” however, ended up quite positive. Plays went 15-11-3. If a bettor placed a $100 wager on each of the 28 plays, he or she would have come out ahead $315.12 — not exactly a king’s ransom but a nice bonus at the conclusion of a long season.

Let’s dive deeper into Talking Points’ win total plays below ahead of bowl season. Here are some the highlights and low-lights of the suggested wagers.

Best call: USC under 8.5 wins at Even money

Given the ever-present Los Angeles sports-fan influence, Las Vegas sports books traditionally see the Trojans as one of the most popular preseason bets in college football. Talking Points faded the hype this year, and reaped the benefits. This bet was clinched before the end of October, when USC fell to Arizona State 38-35 as 3-point favorites. The Trojans went on to lose three of their final four games from there, finishing 5-7 for their first losing season in 18 years.

Runners-up: Cincinnati over 5 wins at minus-125; Hawaii over 3.5 wins at minus-120

Worst call: Wisconsin over 10 wins at minus-115

Not only was Wisconsin regarded as, “a team without any weaknesses,” but the problems were compounded by giving out the Badgers as a bet to make the College Football playoff at 5-to-1. Oof. Turns out, Wisconsin was a team without any real strengths and never threatened to eclipse double-digit wins. The Badgers went 7-5 straight-up in a regular season that was in all likelihood the team’s most disappointing since they endured a losing year in 2001. They were among the worst teams to bet on in the nation at 3-9 against the spread with outright losses as double-digit favorites to BYU and Minnesota.

Runners-up: Bowling Green over 4.5 wins at minus-120; Western Kentucky over 5 wins at minus-140

Luckiest win: Iowa over 7.5 wins at minus-135

This one literally came down to the final second of the regular season. Senior kicker Miguel Recinos, who had missed a 37-yard field goal minutes earlier, needed to make a 41-yarder at the conclusion of regulation to allow Iowa to beat Nebraska 31-28 and reach an 8-4 record on the season. Recinos nailed it through pouring rain, ensuring Talking Points wouldn’t totally strike out on the Big Ten West Division.

Worst beat: Memphis over 8.5 wins at minus-120

By any metric, Memphis was better than its 8-4 record indicated. The Tigers just suffered a pair of inexplicable one-point losses. First, in Week 2, they far out-performed Navy but lost 21-20 by virtue of committing four turnovers. Then, in Week 7, they blew a 16-point lead and dominant first half against UCF to lose 31-30. The Tigers were one of the tougher teams in the country and came close to winning the consistently underrated American Athletic Conference, but they won’t be remembered as such because of the couple collapses.

Most profitable conference: Pac-12

Pac-12 champion Washington was the only team to let Talking Points down in the conference. The Huskies were tabbed to go over 10.5 wins and reach the playoffs at 3-to-1 but losses to Auburn, Oregon and California stifled those plans. Otherwise, Utah went over 7.5 wins at 9-3 to reach the Pac-12 Championship Game against Washington, Stanford fell under 8.5 wins at 8-4 and USC bottomed out. Put it all together, and the Pac-12 made for a $215.24 profit if a bettor placed a $100 wager on each of the blog’s plays in the conference.

Biggest losing conference: Big 12

The Big 12 was the only conference where the blog didn’t cash a single play — but that’s largely because it made only one play. Smitten with TCU, Talking Points called for the Horned Frogs to go over 7.5 wins and also win the conference at 5-to-1. Ravaged by underperformance and injuries, TCU needed an upset victory over Oklahoma State in the final week of the season just to become bowl eligible at 6-6 straight-up. In the previously mentioned scenario of betting $100 on plays, Talking Points lost $100 on the Big 12 — more than any other conference.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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