Unlike your average talking head at ESPN, Las Vegas oddsmakers can’t just make bad predictions and suffer no consequences. They lose money if they’re wrong.
So perhaps it’s a good sign that the sharps in Vegas have posted an over/under of 6 wins for the Vanderbilt Commodores in 2017. It means that, unlike hot-take artists, people with a real stake in this think that Vanderbilt could be pretty good.
What’s more, and this is key, the price on the over is -130 while the price on the under is +110. What this means is that a bettor would have to lay down $130 to win $100 on the over; while you’d need to wager $100 to win $110 on the under. That means that Vegas is somewhat more concerned that Vanderbilt will win more than six games in 2017 than they are that the Commodores will win less than that. Or else they’re more concerned that the public will be all in on Vanderbilt winning seven or more games oh who are we kidding they’re worried about getting murdered by the sharps because there’s no way the public thinks Vanderbilt is good at football.
That said, in an interesting quirk, the totals for all 14 SEC teams add up to 101. Since there are 56 conference games, Vegas effectively is projecting the SEC to go 45-11 out of conference. Something tells me that some teams are going to hit the under.
Among Vanderbilt’s 2017 opponents, Alabama has the highest win total at 10.5, but you knew that. The second-highest is... Western Kentucky at 9.5? Georgia’s total is 9, though their prices are Vanderbilt’s in reverse — Vegas is evidently concerned that bettors may want to fade the Bulldogs. Florida is at 8, Tennessee is at 7.5 (which is basically Vegas asking you if you think Butch will get fired), Kentucky is at 7, Missouri at 6, Ole Miss at 5.5, and South Carolina at 5. Vanderbilt’s other two nonconference FBS opponents — Middle Tennessee and Kansas State — are both projected to win 7.5 games.
In other words, Vegas thinks Vanderbilt’s opponents will be good — but also thinks the Commodores will be decent themselves. An extremely early line for the Commodores’ September 2 season opener at Middle Tennessee confirms this, as Vanderbilt is listed as a 9.5-point favorite.
So, perhaps this is going to be a good year for us? People with money on the line think it will be.