Hi all, and welcome to this year’s version of Black Shoe Degenerates!
For the fifth season in a row, this column will host the weekly gambling picks of BSD’s biggest degenerates. I’m taking over this column from Eli, who dominated the game the past two seasons.
Today’s column features my futures picks for the upcoming season. I picked four win-total prop bets and four Heisman winner bets, including Penn State’s odds in each. I’ll have the week one picks at the start of that week.
Let’s start the season off with a disclaimer: since Pennsylvania hasn’t legalized sports gambling yet, these picks are all for entertainment purposes only. Also, if you actually do bet on these picks and lose money, you aren’t allowed to be mad at me.
Now, let’s get into it.
These players are my best picks to win the Heisman, based on value. Obviously players like Bryce Love will have better odds in the books, but I think you’ll have a better chance to make some hypothetical money with these picks.
Alabama QB Tua Tagouvailoa (+750)
I’m all aboard the Tua Train here. Yes I said I’d give value picks here and then listed one of the odds-on favorites, but there’s a reason for it. I think Nick Saban will end up naming Tagouvailoa the starter at QB for the season-opener, and he won’t give it up. The half of football he played against Georgia in the national championship was arguably the best half of football an Alabama QB has played in years. I wouldn’t be surprised if he struggles a bit to start the season, but finishes strong and leads the Crimson Tide to another Playoff appearance. If he does that, he’ll be invited to New York City for sure.
Arizona QB Khalil Tate (+1500)
Tate is the first of two Pac-12 QBs on this list, and I’m expecting them to both be in Heisman contention by the end of the year. Last year Tate put together a six-week run to bring Arizona to bowl eligibility, and this year the schedule sets up for him to do even more. His toughest two games are at home (USC and Oregon) -- if the Wildcats can split those two, a Pac-12 South title is a real possibility. Basically, the kid’s a stud and reminds me a lot of Lamar Jackson. If he continues to put up video-game numbers it wouldn’t surprise me to see him as a Heisman finalist, and +1500 odds make it a no-brainer to me.
Penn State QB Trace McSorely (+1500)
I’m a homer. Sue me. Really though, McSorely is the best quarterback in the country this year, and with Penn State’s home schedule he’ll have plenty of big stages to have his Heisman moment. With the improved offensive line the Nittany Lions will have this year, I think he’ll have a better chance to win it than Saquon Barkley did in 2017.
Washington QB Jake Browning (+2500)
Honestly, betting on Browning is the best chance to make some serious money on this list. +2500 for a quarterback coming off two straight New Years Six bowl appearances is wild. He’ll have a chance to make a gigantic statement if he can lead Washington to a win over Auburn in the season opener, and other than an interesting two-week stretch at UCLA and at Oregon, the schedule shakes out nicely. I don’t see this team losing the Pac-12, and Browning is one of the main reasons. The quarterback of a 12-1 or undefeated Pac-12 champion will be a Heisman favorite for sure.
Dark horses: West Virginia QB Will Grier (+1500), Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush (+5000)
Ohio State under 10.5 wins (+110)
There’s just too much going on in Columbus to make me confident that the Buckeyes will win 11 games. Even if Urban Meyer returns to coach, I think the controversy might affect the team’s mindset throughout 2018. But even if it doesn’t, Ohio State’s schedule is brutal. “Neutral” site game in Dallas against TCU, at Penn State, at Michigan State, and at home against Michigan would be tough for any team, but one with an uncertain coaching situation and a first-year starter at quarterback makes me pretty confident that this team won’t hit 11 wins in the regular season.
Northwestern over 6.5 wins (+110)
I never thought I’d say this, but the Thursday night season opener between Northwestern and Purdue is appointment viewing in my opinion. If the Wildcats are going to hit the over here, they’ll need to win toss-up games like the one against the Boilermakers. Four likely top-15 teams loom large -- Michigan, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame come to Evanston, with a road trip to Michigan State thrown in there for good measure -- and 1-3 in that stretch seems generous. But the Big Ten West won’t be stellar this season, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the Wildcats to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat and hit seven wins. The +110 odds make it completely worth the risk.
Penn State over 9.5 wins (-120)
The Nittany Lions’ schedule is tough, but Trace McSorely doesn’t lose at home. I don’t think Penn State drops more than one at home, and while the Friday night game at Illinois might be tricky, I think the only real potential loss on the road is in the Big House in November. Dropping a maximum of one game both on the road and at home = ten wins, minimum. I’ve already booked my hotel in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
Rutgers under 4 wins (-190)
Dark horses: Florida State under 8 wins (-105), Tennessee under 5.5 wins (+105)