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College Football Futures: Best Bets to Win a Conference (2020)

by May 25, 2020

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Assuming a return to normalcy over the summer, the 2020 College Football season is now just over three months away. Games are set to kick off on August 29th, but sports bettors can get action ahead of the season courtesy of team futures odds. One such wager involves picking the winner of any of the 10 FBS conferences. Here are my preseason conference champion best bets, courtesy of the odds available at PointsBet Sportsbook.

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Big Ten | Penn State Nittany Lions | +500

Ohio State (-200) is the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten, and deservedly so. But the Buckeyes will be tested in their own conference, with none foe tougher than Penn State. The fact that the Nittany Lions get the Buckeyes at home in Happy Valley makes this pick all the more intriguing. PSU will also host Michigan State (+5000) and West Division foe Iowa (+1800) this year. Their two biggest road tests will be against Michigan (+750) and nonconference opponent Virginia Tech.

Coach James Franklin is bringing in a top-15 recruiting class to join a lot of returning production from last season. Quarterback Sean Clifford will look to build on the promise he showed last year, but he will have to find new favorite targets with the departures of KJ Hamler and Justin Shorter. Even so, Penn State has it all in front of them. In what figures to be a bit of a down year for both Michigan and Michigan State, the game against Ohio State could prove to be for the division.

Conference USA | Louisiana Tech Bulldogs | +450

If not for a pair of critical suspensions during the thick of C-USA play last season, Louisiana Tech could arguably have won the West Division and earned a spot to play for the championship game. As it was, a road loss to UAB doomed the Bulldogs’ 2019 hopes. Coach Skip Holtz’s roster saw plenty of turnover in the offseason, with over half of last season’s production departing. Nonetheless, Tech figures to once again be in the thick of the wide-open conference race.

A road game at Baylor will prove difficult, but outside of that, the Bulldogs can beat anyone on the schedule. They get UAB (+300) at home this year, with critical West Division road matchups coming at Southern Mississippi (+600) and at North Texas (+3300). A home game against Marshall (+600) will likely be the toughest task from the East side. If they run the table in-conference and pick up a win over Vanderbilt late in the year, LA Tech could play their way into the New Year’s Six conversation.

MAC | Buffalo Bulls | +450

Buffalo ranks 37th in the country in returning production from 2019, with a particularly high level coming on offense, where they will return 80%. Of particular importance is the star running back duo of Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks, who both topped 1,000 yards and combined for 27 rushing scores last season. Quarterback Kyle Vantrease figures to take the next step as well, adding another element to the Bulls’ offensive attack.

Lance Leipold’s squad faces a daunting nonconference schedule that includes road games at Kansas State and Ohio State to start the year. MAC play gets off to an easy start, with key games coming down the stretch at Northern Illinois (+1700), against defending champion Miami (Ohio) (+750), and at conference championship favorite Ohio (+250). A trip to West Point to play Army will provide another strong midseason test.

Pac-12 | Arizona State Sun Devils | +1300

Arizona State has the fifth-shortest odds on the board to win the Pac-12, but a strong fleet of returning talent on defense and playing in a Pac-12 South Division that figures to be wide open bode well for Herm Edwards’ team. The Sun Devils welcome in a top-25 recruiting class in an effort to achieve a successful turnover around rising young quarterback Jayden Daniels.

ASU’s first key stretch on the schedule comes early. After wrapping up nonconference play against BYU in Week 3, a critical showdown against presumptive South Division favorite USC (+225) follows. The Sun Devils will then face both UCLA (+2200) and Utah (+600) at home later in the year. Another game to circle is their road matchup against North Division opponent and odds-on conference favorite Oregon (+210).

SEC | Georgia Bulldogs | +400

Kirby Smart’s Georgia team once again benefits from playing in the SEC East, by far the conference’s weaker side. The team will have to work in new names at various positions on offense, including at quarterback and running back, but a vaunted defense from a year ago is mostly back. Smart believes this could be one of the best defenses he’s ever coached.

The Bulldogs should have no trouble getting past Virginia in a not-so-neutral site game in Atlanta to kick off the season. Concerning the SEC East, their toughest tests are likely to come in a road game against Kentucky (+8000) and at the Cocktail Party against Florida (+500). In crossover play against the West Division, Georgia will travel to take on conference favorite Alabama (-110) in Week 3 and host Auburn (+1000) at home later in the year.

Other Picks

AAC | Memphis Tigers | +225
ACC | Clemson Tigers | -715
Big 12 | Texas Longhorns | +175
Mountain West | Wyoming Cowboys | +1200
Sun Belt | Appalachian State Mountaineers | -145

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Henry John is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Henry, check out his archive and follow him @HankTimeSports.

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