The start of the college football season is less than one week away which means if you’re hoping to take a last second Vegas trip before the year or just happen to not live in the state of Washington so you can bet online, then time is running out. Future bets aren’t the best investment for trying to secure a kid’s college fund but at the very least they’re something fun to argue over. As we close in on the start of the regular season on Saturday I though we’d run through where the Huskies currently stand with regards to futures.
In case you’re not familiar with betting odds terminology, (+200) signifies 2-to-1 odds. If you placed a bet of $100 you would get back your $100 plus also win $200 if that event came to pass. In all other circumstances you would lose your $100.
ODDS TO WIN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Alabama (+175)
2. Ohio State (+300)
3. Georgia (+400)
4. Clemson (+1000)
t-5. Texas A&M (+2500)
t-5. USC (+2500) (!?!?!?!)
10. Utah (+5000)
t-13. Oregon (+9000)
22. Michigan State (+12000)
29. UCLA (+18000)
t-35. Washington (+25000)
This means that if you were to bet $1 on the Huskies at DraftKings to win the national title you would win $250 in return. If you are looking for an entertaining way to set a dollar on fire I can think of worse things to do. This year appears to be particularly top-heavy and if someone other than Bama, OSU, or Georgia ends up winning it will certainly be an upset. Clemson has a shot if they can get reliable QB play given how ridiculous their DL will be but if you want to bet on UW and have a shot at winning, probably not the bet for you.
ODDS TO WIN THE PAC-12
1. USC (+220)
2. Utah (+240)
3. Oregon (+280)
4. UCLA (+900)
5. Washington (+1400)
6. Oregon State (+2500)
A reminder that the goal of a sportsbook is not to predict what will actually happen but to try to entice equal betting on all sides. If there are X outcomes and the money is equally split X ways then the way they design the odds guarantees that the house can’t lose money. That’s where the concept of the public team comes into play. USC is (at least for another 2 years) the biggest brand in the Pac-12 and they certainly had the loudest offseason and likely the highest ceiling. That has led them to having the #1 conference odds even though the analytics and experts are much more likely to pick Utah.
Let’s talk briefly about Washington’s chances here. The Huskies don’t play either of the teams at #1 and #2 on the schedule here. The Pac-12 did away with divisions as a championship game requirement this year so the teams with the 2 best records will move on. That means the minimum is likely 7-2 to have a chance to make the Pac-12 title game but it could be 8-1 depending on tiebreakers.
The Dawgs play the #3 and #4 teams on the road but there’s a big gap between Oregon and UCLA in the odds. Let’s say UW beats UCLA but loses to Oregon which is the more likely split. Now Washington needs to win out in conference and have Oregon lose 2 games (likely some combo of Utah, at Wazzu, and at OSU). That would involve the Huskies never losing as a favorite and the Ducks slipping up at least once.
Alternatively let’s say UW instead falls to UCLA but beats Oregon in Eugene. Now Washington holds the tiebreaker and can probably afford a slip-up somewhere along the line as all it would take is a Utah victory over Oregon to drop them to 7-2 as well. In this scenario you’d also need USC to not gel instantly under Lincoln Reilly and wind up 6-3.
And on top of all of that Washington would have to then beat Utah in the Pac-12 title game again. I will leave it to all of you to do the math on whether 14-to-1 is worth all of that. But if the Huskies can end up being around the 20th best team in the country with their schedule it isn’t all that hard to imagine. And if UW actually got to the Pac-12 title game you would have a chance to hedge with a bet on their opponent to guarantee you come out a winner no matter what (if you’re being a smart bettor and not an ardent UW homer).
REGULAR SEASON WINS
Washington: Over 7.5 (-130), Under 7.5 (+110)
We just ran through some of the scenarios above but this tells you that DraftKings essentially views the most likely outcome of this season is an 8-4 finish. Your payout is less if you bet on the over which says they are trying to incentivize to bet under and therefore that more of the action has been coming in on the over. Not a surprise since people like to vote for positive outcomes.
Bill Connelly’s SP+ system is one of the best at coming up with predictive college football rankings. The finalized version for 2022 just came out and Washington is 57th. If the Huskies actually end up the 57th best team in the country then it’s probably smarter to bet the under and thank your lucky stars for a + number. If you believe that Jimmy Lake was a colossally terrible coach and that DeBoer is an above average one then that’s a variable these projections aren’t taking into account.
Let’s just say UW improves to merely 40th across college football. A good but not amazing team. Washington only plays Michigan State (15th), Oregon (24th), and UCLA (36th) who would slot in as better teams. Only lose those games and it’s 9-3. Arizona State is 51st but there’s not a factor in the computer for a program that is under investigation and half the coaches quit and the head coach could be fired any second because all the best players left in the portal (there is a component for the players leaving part). Oregon State is 56th but that game is in Husky Stadium. Then you have Washington State (69th), Stanford (74th), and Cal (78th).
There are a ton of unknowns around this Husky team but it certainly wouldn’t take much for Washington to bounce right back and win 8+ games. It’s certainly not a lock but there’s a reason it’ll cost you some value to bet on that side.
REGULAR SEASON CONFERENCE WINS
Washington: Over 5.5 (+130), Under 5.5 (-160)
Here’s where things are a little more interesting. The oddsmakers are implying that more people are betting on UW to win at least 8 games this season. But at the same time they’re heavily incentivizing you to bet on a 6-3 conference record rather than a 5-4 one which suggests people have bet the under here. It’s possible for Washington to win 8 games and still go under 5.5 conference wins. That’s the case if UW beats Michigan State and ends up undefeated in the non-con part of the schedule before struggling in Pac-12 play. But if the Huskies are good enough to beat the Spartans in Seattle then they’re probably good enough to win 6 games against this conference slate as well.
If you think the Huskies are good enough to win 8 games this season, you should probably just bet the over 5.5 Pac-12 wins and get +130 odds rather than the -130 for betting the overall season win total. Typical disclaimer that I’m not telling you to do that, just saying if you were going to bet the over anyways then it might make sense to do this instead.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.