2021-22 College Football: Preseason predictions from the College Gameday crew!

Week 0 is already in the books, but I wanted to take a minute and post the preseason predictions from the College Gameday crew from Saturday morning. I don’t track these picks in any meaningful way, but its always fun to look back in January to see who was right, who was wrong, and who made the most absurd predictions of all.

Desmond Howard:
Oregon as sleeper team
Clemson to win ACC
Ohio State to win Big 10
Oklahoma to win Big 12
Oregon to win Pac 12
Alabama to win SEC
Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Notre Dame in playoff
Oklahoma over Alabama in championship

David Pollack:
Utah as sleeper team
Clemson to win ACC
Ohio State to win Big 10
Oklahoma to win Big 12
Oregon to win Pac 12
Alabama to win SEC
Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State in playoff
Georgia over Alabama in championship

Lee Corso:
Southern Cal as sleeper team
Clemson to win ACC
Ohio State to win Big 10
Oklahoma to win Big 12
Southern Cal to win Pac 12
Georgia to win SEC
Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia in playoff
Georgia over Oklahoma in championship

Kirk Herbstreit:
Notre Dame as sleeper team (but UCLA also a sleeper)
Clemson to win ACC
Ohio State to win Big 10
Oklahoma to win Big 12
Oregon to win Pac 12
Alabama to win SEC
Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma in playoff
Oklahoma over Alabama in championship

Wisconsin as sleeper team
Clemson to win ACC
Ohio State to win Big 10
Oklahoma to win Big 12
Utah to win Pac 12
Alabama to win SEC
Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Clemson in playoff
Clemson over Alabama in championship

The Bear:
North Carolina to win ACC
Iowa State to win Big 12

2021-22 Season: Stanford Steve & The Bear preseason win totals!

Stanford Steve and the Bear are back and they are kicking off the 2021-22 season with a podcast featuring preseason win totals. They each gave out their best FIVE preseason win totals for entertainment purposes only of course. Be sure to check out the full podcast because they talk a little Heisman odds, conference odds and week 1 early leans. I’m sure odds have changed and totals have moved but these are their bets.

Stanford Steve:
Boston College over 7
Toledo over 8.5
Penn State under 9
UConn over 2.5
Kansas State over 5.5

Chris Fallica:
Oregon over 9
Indiana under 8
Old Dominion under 3.5
UL Monroe under 1.5
Louisville under 7 (but still likes it at 6.5)

College Gameday: Preseason predictions vs. preseason futures bets

Over the years since I started this blog, I’ve tracked a lot of picks.  I track straight up picks, picks against the spread, and most recently started grading money line picks since the last couple of years the “money line sprinkle” is all the craze.  Most years I post a writeup up preseason predictions but don’t track it in any meaningful way.  It is mostly for fun so we can go back after the season and see how absurd some people’s predictions were.  

As I patiently await the season preview for 2021, I looked over the odds.  Alabama’s odds have already shortened from +325 to +300. Two other top-five teams including Georgia and Oklahoma, saw their odds fade slightly.  Clemson and Ohio State are steady as a rock at the moment.  I’m not a futures bettor so I couldn’t tell you who I like.  But I compiled a list of the College Gameday analysts’ preseason predictions to do a little analysis.

I know TV analysts are in the business of generating buzz.  Let’s face it: it is boring if they all choose Alabama or Clemson to win in the preseason.  However, sometimes they can get a little too cute with their preseason picks, so I wondered what it would look like if we took the College Gameday crew’s preseason predictions and used them as futures bets.  Would anybody show a profit?

For our experiment, we took the preseason playoff predictions from Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard for examination.  First, each preseason championship prediction for the playoff era is treated as a $100 futures bet and we calculate losses and profits.  Second, we also took all four playoff picks and treated them each as a $100 futures bet since most people bet more than one team in the futures.  Let’s see how things compare.  Historical futures odds are courtesy of sportsoddshistory.com.

2020Championship PickRunner UpSemifinalSemifinal
Lee CorsoAlabama+300Clemson+200Oklahoma+1200Notre Dame+1600
Kirk HerbstreitClemson+200Alabama+300Texas+1600Florida
Desmond HowardAlabama+300Clemson+200Cincinnati+100000Oklahoma+1200
Lee CorsoAlabama+250Utah+4000Clemson+250Ohio State+1600
Kirk HerbstreitAlabama+250Clemson+250Texas+2500Ohio State+1600
Desmond HowardClemson+250Georgia+250Wisconsin+30000Oregon+4000
Lee CorsoWisconsin+2000Clemson+400Washington+1500Georgia+600
Kirk HerbstreitAlabama+175Clemson+400Washington+1500Penn State+2500
Desmond HowardMichigan+1000Alabama+175West Virginia+6000Clemson+400
Lee CorsoSouthern Cal+700Alabama+250Ohio State+300Florida State+800
Kirk HerbstreitOhio State+300Alabama+250Southern Cal+700Florida State+800
Desmond HowardStanford+5000Alabama+250Wisconsin+2000Miami (FL)+6000
Lee CorsoLSU+800Michigan+800Florida State+700Oklahoma+1200
Kirk HerbstreitClemson+700Alabama+600Ohio State+800TCU+3000
Desmond HowardClemson+700LSU+800Stanford+2500Michigan+800
Lee CorsoLSU+2000Ohio State+250Oregon+2000Baylor+800
Kirk HerbstreitOhio State+250LSU+2000Oklahoma+3000Arizona State+20000
Desmond HowardStanford+3000TCU+600Michigan State+2000Texas A&M+10000
Lee CorsoUCLA+1000Florida State+300Michigan State+2500Alabama+450
Kirk HerbstreitFlorida State+300Alabama+450Michigan State+2500UCLA+1000
Desmond HowardUCLA+1000Georgia+1800Florida State+300Wisconsin+3000

As we look at each analysts’ year by year championship picks, we see some people going out on a limb with their picks on occasion.  Does this show a better profit than sticking to chalk?  The “cutest” championship predictions in the playoff era are:  

Lee Corso picking Wisconsin+2000 and Desmond Howard picking Michigan+1000 in 2018

Desmond Howard picking Stanford+5000 in 2017

Desmond Howard picking Stanford+3000 in 2015

Lee Corso and Desmond Howard both picking UCLA+1000 in 2014

Kirk pretty much picks chalk every year.  Clemson, Alabama, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida State. That’s the preseason favorite 5 out 7 years.  He went out on a limb the other two years and picked the 2nd favorite.

If you bet $100 on the preseason odds-on favorite every year at close, you’d be down $50 over 7 seasons. 

2020:  200 (Clemson+200)

2019: -100 (take your pick, Bama or Clemson+250)

2018: -100 (Alabama+175)

2017: 250 (Alabama+250)

2016: -100 (Alabama+600)

2015: -100 (Ohio State+250)

2014: -100 (Florida State+300)

 If you bet $100 on each Gameday analyst’s preseason pick the results would be the following:

Lee CorsoKirk HerbstreitDesmond Howard

If we took the second approach and used each analysts’ final four predictions as a $100 futures bet, the results are below:


Lee CorsoKirk HerbstreitDesmond Howard

So what does this all mean?  Betting straight favorites results in a small loss.  It appears betting the Gameday analysts’ final four is disastrous.  Don’t do it.  They took a handful of crazy long shots (Cincinnati+100000?  Texas A&M+10000?) which seem much more likely to generate buzz than value.  Desmond Howard profited the most betting ONLY championship picks at $500 while Kirk Herbstreit profited $100.  Lee Corso lost $300 betting his pick each season.  The profit for Desmond and Kirk comes entirely from Clemson+700 in 2016.  In hindsight, it seems obvious that picking anyone outside of the playoff blue bloods is suicidal.  LSU+2500 in 2019 is the lone exception, and it is hard to call them a true dark horse.  I guess all I could say is, pay attention to Desmond Howard if he sticks to chalk in his 2021 prediction.  Kirk Herbstreit will definitely stick to chalk, but that won’t profit you much.  Don’t go out on a limb and bet a bunch on Texas, or throw your money away on Michigan, or pick Arizona State as a dark horse.  And as much as I hate to say it, don’t bet on Lee Corso’s preseason prediction.