Seeing Jake’s bets on Power 5 teams was great and all, but let’s be honest, there is very little thrill in placing a bet on Georgia. Either they go undefeated and the Over hits, or they lose and it doesn’t. Where the sense of excitement?
So if you want to feel alive, you’ve come to the right place. Because I’m here to tell you how to make money on the Group of 5.
I’m starting with the new (and maybe improved?) AAC. As a reminder, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are no longer here, replaced with UTSA, UAB, Rice, North Texas, Florida Atlantic and Charlotte. While none of those teams immediately bring the cache of the teams that left, there are a couple potential sleeping giants in that group. But that’s likely a 2024 or 2025 issue. Let’s deal with 2023.
Here are the Over/Under totals that caught my eye. (Courtesy of Fanduel as of July 1.) As always, gamble responsibility, however I will say that I am confident enough to throw a couple bucks on these wagers myself. So if my logic makes sense to you, let’s ride!
Tulane Under 9.5 (-115) – We are starting off hot.
Expectations are still high for last year’s “G5 National Champ”. And it’s understandable. When we last saw them, they had beaten USC and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams in one of the more entertaining bowl games of the year. They return all-conference caliber quarterback Michael Pratt and three of their main challengers in the conference are gone. Vibes are high.
Here’s the problem. One great year not a program make.
As amazing as last year was, it’s easy to forget that just the year before they were 2-10. While I’m sure they were not as bad as that record suggests in 2021, it’s fair to say they are not as good as last year’s 12-2 record suggests either. Water always finds it’s level.
The fact of the matter is, a 9-3 record and the Under hits. However, it’s honestly not impossible that Tulane loses the first three games on their schedule. They start off with a home game against Sun Belt contender South Alabama, then follow that up with a home game against Ole Miss. While having both those games in New Orleans is nice, Tulane doesn’t have the most daunting home field advantage. (Ask Southern Miss, who went there last year and won.) And speaking of the Golden Eagles, that happens to be Tulane’s opponent Week 3. And while Tulane will be looking for revenge, Southern Miss is solid quarterback play away from being really good, so that’s won’t be easy.
So while 0-3 is highly unlikely, 2-1 is the probably best case scenario. So that means they can only lose one more game for the Over, and road games at Memphis on a Friday night and at Florida Atlantic along with a season finale against UTSA will pose challenges for a team that is going to find a running game to keep the offense balanced now that Tyjae Spears is off to the NFL. Don’t hate me Green Wave, your uniforms are still fire. But the Over is just not hitting.
Rice Over 4.5 (-110) – Pop Quiz: Do you remember where former USC, Georgia and West Virginia quarterback JT Daniels transferred to? Well, if it was anywhere other than Rice this would be a dumb place to put that question now wouldn’t it?
Last year’s Owl squad finished 5-8, but actually went to a bowl game due to academic qualifications. They lost that bowl game to Southern Miss in a game where Frank Gore Jr. accrued about a gazillion yards. So while the defense is definitely going to be an issue, they offense most certainly won’t be. Daniels has an all-conference caliber receiver to throw to in Luke McCaffrey and an offensive line that returns 4 starters. If they can find a running game to provide balance, they will be one of the more fun offenses in the conference.
The defense just needs to be decent for them to be bowl team again, which isn’t even necessary for the Over to hit. 5-7 gets the job done. The schedule no doubt has some challenges. Go ahead and pencil in at Texas and at UTSA as losses, and home games against Tulane and SMU won’t be fun. But a 5-3 record against a rebuilding Houston (at home), Texas Southern, USF, East Carolina, Connecticut, Tulsa, Charlotte and Florida Atlantic is certainly possible.
Navy Under 5.5 (+140) – The most obvious Under for me is honestly East Carolina under 6.5, but a -215 value doesn’t excite me. (If you wait long enough, it’s likely that number will drop to 6 and you will get much better value.) A plus sign for a Navy squad that is breaking in a new coach-quarterback combination that begins the season in Dublin, Ireland against Notre Dame does, however.
Let’s assume the Notre Dame game a loss, and road games at upper echelon teams Memphis and SMU also will be very tough. That means 5-4 the rest of the way still takes you to the pay window. Expecting Navy to win the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy by beating both Air Force and Army is probably expecting a lot and Wagner is the only game resembling a guarantee. The rest of the schedule (USF, North Texas, at Charlotte, at Temple, UAB, East Carolina) are just toss ups. Things will absolutely have to break right for the Midshipmen to win six games this season.