Vegas doesn't know it all, but they are pretty smart. You've seen it before your eyes. Your team is favored by four points and somehow the game is coming down to the final possession and your team leads 27-23. Or you hear the Warriors are favored by 5.5 and someone drops what appears to be a meaningless three at the buzzer and see the final score is 118-113.
We have reached that period before college football starts where we turn our attention to the storylines and the schedules of our favorite teams(or you are still engulfed in what your boosters are paying for 17 year old players). You play the game of what their record will be and always seem to give them the benefit of the doubt in those tossup games. It's what June and July are supposed to be about in college football.
But what does Vegas think? Or what do the people that supposedly are in the know in setting those lines and win totals think of your team and what if they are right? Let's take a look at those win totals for our state teams and wonder if fan expectation will accept the projected outcome:
Most sportsbooks have Florida at either 7 or 7.5 wins. There were a few books that had the number at 6.5 a few weeks ago but let's settle on 7 wins for now. Billy Napier, by the nature of taking the Florida job and his background and connection to Nick Saban, has given him the cache of someone that will be very successful. But will he in year one? This column is not about evaluating the talent of Florida or any state team but more about if the win total is on target and fan reaction. Would Florida fans view 7-5 as a successful season? The Gators ended 2021 in a hot mess, fired Dan Mullen and lost to UCF in its bowl game to finish 6-7. This year's schedule finds Florida opening with a tough Utah in Gainesville. The Gators leave the state once until November 5th and that's for a late September game at Tennessee. With Georgia, in Jacksonville, and the road game at Texas A&M as potential losses, where might oddsmakers see other losses? Utah and Tennessee would appear to be games smart guys see Florida losing and then dropping a game against LSU, Kentucky or South Carolina would be a fifth loss. I always say the journey to a team's record matters, not just a projection before the season. My guess is, today, Florida fans would be disappointed with a 7-5 regular season under Napier. But while he inherited some talent, he also got a team that did go 6-7 and has areas to improve. But a 7-5 regular season might have many thinking 2022 was not a success...
The Seminoles win total lands at 6.5 at most sportsbooks. After a 5-7 season last year, some FSU fans may feel that getting to a bowl game would be a nice improvement but my guess is 6-6 would have most supporters not pleased with Mike Norvell. I've said many times that Norvell's arrival, during a pandemic, came at a very tough time. The cupboard was bare and recruiting was basically all zoom and he never got a chance to really lay a foundation in his first season. He has recruited better and is just now getting his style of offense implemented. But again, this about what fans would think of a 6-6 or 7-5 regular season. FSU plays LSU in New Orleans in week two and play a tough road game at Louisville the following week. Worth noting, the FSU game at Louisville comes one week after the Cardinals play at UCF on a Friday night. That outcome could have an impact on FSU's game against a Cardinals team that opens at Syracuse and then at UCF. But FSU's gauntlet to start the season after the Duquesne game is challenging with games vs LSU(in New Orleans), at Louisville, Boston College(good QB), Wake Forest(very good QB), at NC State(really good QB), Clemson(really really good team). Then after a road game at Syracuse the Seminoles travel to south Florida to play Miami and end the season against Florida. The six game stretch that starts with LSU will need to be a 3-3 run to get to seven wins. If the number is 8 for Mike Norvell's team, Seminole fans should be enjoying an improved year.
Oddsmakers have Miami's number between 8.5 to 9 wins. The buzz surrounding Mario Cristobal's team is high and the development of QB Tyler Van Dyke is a good reason to feel that the Canes are set for a big season. Miami went 7-5 last season and won four of their final five. But an off-season of Cristobal hype, big booster money and swag has the "U" fan base thinking big for 2022. Would 9-3 be a season to celebrate? With Bethune Cookman and Southern Miss to start the season, the Canes will be 2-0 going to College Station to face Jimbo and Texas A&M in a potential game making season. If Miami wins, they are a top 10 team and could get on a roll. The Canes get Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina home after the A&M game and there would not be a game left on their schedule where they would not be favored or a very small underdog with the exception of the November 19th game at Clemson. A win at Texas A&m and Miami could be 10-0 going into the Clemson game. A loss in that game and the swag might lose its sizzle. But 9 wins seems attainable but the feeling here is Canes fans expect 10 wins or more.
Gus Malzahn's 2021 team is the example of how the journey matters. UCF fans might have said 9-4 and a bowl win was below their expectation but with all the injuries and a freshman QB, the Knights record and bowl win against Florida was a season to celebrate. But what now do UCF fans think about the team in 2022? UCF's win total is a bit scattered from 8.5 to 9.5. Would UCF fans take a 9-3 season? The Knights leave the state just three times this season because of seven home games and road games at FAU and South Florida. They get Cincinnati at home as well as Louisville and Georgia Tech and a tough SMU team. Their road games(out of state) are at Memphis, East Carolina and Tulane. If UCF beats South Carolina State and Georgia Tech to start the season the momentum could lead to a 4-0 start with games at FAU and home against Louisville. Last year, the Louisville loss turned the season for UCF with all the injuries and this year it could make the season. The SMU game is sneaky tough, The Mustangs rolled UCF last season and brought back a lot from that team. The road trip to ECU and the home game against Cincinnati will not be easy. The Pirates have a veteran QB and the Bearcats are still loaded. If Luke Fickell's team can win at Arkansas to start the year, they may be 6-0 headed into a game at SMU before coming to UCF. For the Knights, the Cincinnati game is followed by a road trip to Memphis, who will be waiting for the Knights after losing in Orlando last year with a fourth-string quarterback. And the final three games are not easy as UCF plays at Tulane the week after Cincinnati then comes home to play Navy and that offense before the rivalry game at South Florida. UCF may not be an underdog in any game on its schedule, but there are challenges. Will UCF fans be happy with 9-3 or is it 10 or more for the season to be a success?
Vegas isn't always right, but they are pretty good. Fans are always right and if their team doesn't live up to expectations, no fan base stays quiet. After all, it's college football.
Final note: The win total for Kansas last year was 1. The Jayhawks are up to 2.5 this season