As we spend the dog days of summer cramming for the college football season, let's not forget that there are still bets to make. The futures market doesn't provide the instant gratification of gameday, but it does help us identify where our opinions diverge from the betting market. It gives us a chance to plant our flag early on a team, watch it unfold during the year and collect a nice return to help ease the sting of the inevitable end of the season.
The futures market can be volatile. The odds swing in reaction to early positions taken by respected bettors and will continue to get shaped as the volume of bets surges over the summer months. So the timing of your bet can be just as important as the team included in your wager. Tracking the line movement and identifying when the market has overreacted can help you secure a significant edge. Let's analyze a team that has already provided plenty of opportunities, the Arizona State Sun Devils.
It's jarring to see Arizona State's win total sitting a full 2.5 games below their 8-5 2021 record. But clearly, the betting market has spoken. Arizona State opened in May at 7.5 wins and quickly plummeted, mirroring the program's current reputation under highly scrutinized head coach Herm Edwards. In addition, the NCAA's investigation into several recruiting violations has continued to place doubt and uncertainty around the program, fueling massive turnover in the roster and coaching staff. Seventeen players, including QB Jayden Daniels, fled to the transfer portal. Their replacements will be learning a completely new system from brand new coordinators on both sides of the ball. On-field inconsistency has been the hallmark of Herm Edwards' tenure. This season will be even more challenging without any semblance of continuity.
Has the market moved too far on the Sun Devils?
Edwards has eclipsed 7.5 wins in his last two full seasons, but betting on him to do it again amidst all this turnover and turmoil is a wild risk. Bettors who pounced on the under at the opening number are in the best possible position. But, there is not a rewind button for the rest of us. So, at the current win total of 5.5, we have to decide if there is value on either side. Here's what we know we can count on from Arizona State this season.
The foundation of the offense will be a strong rushing attack. Emory Jones takes over at quarterback after averaging only 210 passing yards per game last season at Florida. His 13 interceptions tied for the SEC's most, but he only took 11 sacks. His elusiveness will be a major plus for a team that lacks the experience at wideout to get consistent separation early in their routes. Their commitment to the running game this season will be out of preference and necessity. It's what they have done best under Edwards. Xazavian Valladay transferred from Wyoming to spearhead a rushing attack that ranked third nationally with a 42.3 success rate.
Despite its offensive philosophy, ASU's games will feature plenty of passing, mostly from their opponents. The Sun Devils lost all four starters in the secondary, including current NFL cornerbacks Jack Jones and Chase Lucas. Edwards hit the portal hard, but there is no replacing the talent that made Arizona State a top-20 pass defense. Communication is such an important factor for a secondary. It's hard to project the players' success as a cohesive unit while learning under a new defensive coordinator.
The best approach to betting Arizona State's win total
As tempting as the +120 price tag is on the Sun Devils to win under 5.5 games, I think we should pump the brakes. There are plenty of winnable games on the schedule. They should come out of September with two wins after hosting Northern Arizona and Eastern Michigan. Then, after visiting USC on Oct. 1, their remaining four road games are all very favorable matchups.
10/22 at Stanford
10/29 at Colorado
11/12 at Washington State
11/25 at Arizona
Those four games are where the win total will be won or lost. They should have a six-win season at minimum, but the games are not played on paper. Arizona State has been anything but consistent under Edwards. As a road favorite, they are only 4-5 straight-up and 2-7 ATS during his four seasons. Expecting them to win all four of these favorable matchups is too optimistic, but they likely won't have to either. They have a few in-conference opponents they could handle at home.
The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. And that's where I land with Arizona State's win total. Six wins are likely fair value, but this team has too much uncertainty and low-floor potential to bet them over 5.5 wins at -145 odds. I'd much rather wait to see if the market pushes them back up to 6.5 wins. At that point, we can likely bet the under at more reasonable odds. We still have a few weeks until the season starts, but you can bet I will have my eyes locked in on the line movement for this win total.
Stats provided by teamrankings.com, Phil Steele and Athlon Sports.