Do the ODDSMAKERS Know More about Oregon Football than WE DO?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 38 Comments

I don’t get it. My predictions for the season, heck your predictions that I see often in articles published and in the comments are far different than what Oddsmakers are saying. My mind goes a ton of places with this, as now gambling and betting of college football has exploded in recent years. How much do they impact the sport, and what do we make of their win-loss projection for Our Beloved Ducks in 2021?

Do they know something we don’t?

Oddsmakers in 2020 rated the Oregon Ducks’ over/under win total as 9.5, after they won 12 games in 2019, thanks to Mario Cristobal‘s leadership. (That was the second consecutive year that the Ducks managed to win more than 10 games.) People are now speculating whether this positive momentum will carry through into the 2021 regular season, and then Athlon Sports came out with an Over/Under of just nine wins?

Do the Oddsmakers know more about Oregon football than you or I? They don’t see 10, 11, 12, 13 wins for 2021 as something plausible? Now I understand that it is a betting line meant to generate interest for both the optimists and the pessimists, but setting it up lower than 2020 is quite a surprise to me.

Tom Corno

Oddsmakers don’t see CJ Verdell in this bowl again?

With such a low line, it might be fun to make a sporting wager; how many of you have indulged in a little fun this way? Oregon, with only one legal betting site operating, isn’t necessarily the biggest state of gamblers – but this recreational activity has certainly gained traction in recent years, much like our Ducks. Therefore, it’ll be interesting to see if this season will improve Oregon’s odds, and perhaps generate more buzz from the sports betting industry.

Outcomes of Betting Odds

After the 2021 college football season schedule was announced, sportsbooks released their betting odds based on statistics from the player’s previous performance in games. Three players from the Oregon Ducks 2021 football roster were listed by the sportsbooks. First, we have Jay Butterfield, a freshman quarterback whose betting odds have been described as 10000+. Moving on, we have CJ Verdell, a running back with 15000+ while fellow running back Sean Dollars has been listed with 20000+.

My friends, I do not pretend to know how all that works, but I am reminded that the usual great players at Oregon are expected to perform well, thus there is not much to wager concerning them. But the players listed above could be wild-cards for the season in terms of if they play much, if they surprise with a big year, (Verdell) or whether they even see the field. Heck I think a great bet for fun is … who will end up being the No. 2 quarterback at Oregon in 2021?

John Giustina

Robby Ashford looked as good as this quarterback as a freshman?

For the future–I cannot wait for the battles (which would make a great bet) between Ty Thompson and Robby Ashford. I know everyone is high on the 5-Star and rightfully so, but Ashford looked better as a rookie freshman than Dennis Dixon did years ago as a newbie freshman. Yep, a ton of these items we discuss would make interesting bets. What do you think about the over/under established for 2021, and my additional bets suggested and if the Oddsmakers know more than us savvy fans?

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
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Just more opportunities to win wagers! I love betting against Fhuskie fans and I had a great time at the Pac-12 championship game against Utah with their fans before the game!


I predicted nine wins earlier…..hope I’m wrong…..worried about the QB situation….sure hope Ashford is really really good because there’s no way Butterfield and Thompson are gonna sit…..both are more than likely NFL talents, they know they’re NFL talents and if Oregon’s gonna run a heavy QB run offense not only will both go but top flight receivers aren’t gonna stand around and watch the QB play keep away from them either…..hope I’m wrong and this offense is heavy on the down field throwing and light on the QB run…..we’ll soon see.

Duck Phan Phil

You mean Anthony Brown and not Ashford, AB being the projected starter? In any event, Moorhead ran his offense effectively through Trace McSorley, whose athleticism all of our QB’s match or exceed, with possible exception of J Butter. McSorley ran often enough to keep defenses honest, but it wasn’t a QB run heavy offense. So I don’t see Ty Thompson or The Butter Man bolting, at least not for that reason.

I also am not ruling out J 🧈 or Thompson getting the starting gig, either before the season starts or during. Crazier things have happened. I love TT’s upside, but J Butter has the name we editors love, and I can see him “churning” out some serious yards.


McSorley rushed for almost 800 yards as a senior. You might be understating his athleticism. I don’t think any QB on this roster can run for 800 yards except for Ashford.


No, I meant Ashford as I was thinking about next year and the possibility of a QB run heavy offense…..if QB goes 15-20 times a game, the RB’s another 20 that’s a lot of running plays….take it to the bank: top flight receivers aren’t gonna stay if their getting 1,2,3 targets a game….they’ll leave…..How’s McSorley do’n in the NFL?….Thompson and Butterfield are down the field throwers and it just so happens that’s what gets guys to the next level and I still believe J Butter will transfer – Cal or Stanford would be my guess.

Santa Rosa Duck

I am truly a homer DUCK fan but our schedule does not look easy to me. AT Washington, At Utah and of course At Ohio State. I dream that we could have a 10 win season.

Who is this new guy Jon Joseph burning up the computer?

Jon Joseph

A prodigal son who found his way home and a golfer who gives new meaning to the word ‘hacker.’

Duck Phan Phil

Oddsmaker Phil has the Ducks at 9 wins, with losses to tOSU, a road loss, and a headscratcher loss.

UNABASHADLY OPTIMISTIC HOMER PHIL, however, has us upsetting the Buckeyes in a Shocker at The Shoe, losing one road game (there are limits to my homerism), and finishing at 11 wins.

UOHP has learned (the hard way) not to put his money where his mouth is…

Duck Phan Phil

UOHP looks forward to your Sept 12 article “Shocker At The Shoe!” 😆


We didn’t look very good in the bowl game against Iowa St. on both sides of the ball, so that’s casting a long shadow on 2021. Teams should get better as the season goes along, that’s a hallmark of good coaching, but our team got worse last year. We’ve got question marks at QB and the D couldn’t stop the run. I like the talent on the roster and the DeRuyter hire but 9.5 wins seems about right.


People forget that the Ducks were down to a low of 50-some players eligible during a couple of the games last year. Let’s all just bury 2021, shall we. There is little that is valid to take away from the 2020 season and apply it to the coming one.


I suppose I would describe myself as cautiously optimistic. To get to 10+ wins the defense will probably need to be the catalyst. They need to be stingy and create turnovers. That always makes the job of the offense much easier. The QB will also need to make solid decisions, and remain poised under pressure.

A difficult road schedule and a new starting QB makes a 9.5 over/under bet seem about right. If we get both a stingy defense, and solid play at QB, then 10+ wins happens. I am remaining optimistic that we will see both. So I would bet on the over this year.

However, it would be a small bet for me this year.


I personally think to many people are putting to much emphasis on the 2020 season as a whole. Especially the Pac12 season.

First things to note, Oregon did win the conference and the media team and staff should celebrate but as fans we should really remember the big asterisk for 2020.

It isn’t fair to claim UW went .75 for the season when they didn’t play a single away game. just like I don’t think Col is as good as their record showed either. Oregon state and UCLA were the only teams to play 7 games and subsequently the only teams with 4 or more losses.

At this point we need to view 2020 as a glorified scrimmage(something I think the oddsmakers are missing), and oftentimes scrimmages are 1. a time for players to improve and refine skills/show value to the coaches, 2. coaches evaluate the playbook/experiment and 3. roster analysis and scheme for players.

While I won’t say as to how much this affected other teams, because i really don’t know but I do think the sheer amount of turnover for oregon coupled with roster depletion due to covid protocols hampered this team more than most would let on.

Back to my point I think the Oddsmakers are putting to much credence into a poor season. at 9.5 I would take the over all day long.


Definitely a concern. also not the most infuriating loss from the cristobal era. I’d argue the Auburn loss was worse. because that loss deserves sole credit to the coaches. Poor adjustments, and bad play calling. the ASU game sucked but in some sets herbert also threw that game a bit with some bad throw decisions. these were throws even with arroyo’s coaching he never should have attempted.

even once a year for oregon’s schedule next year gives them a 10-2 record for 2021.

The road no-shows are definitely troubling. Big ask for the team to go 4-0 at Ohio State, UCLA, UW and Utah. I think 10 wins for this team in 2021 would be excellent but over 9.5, if I bet on the Ducks, is not a # I would place a bet on.


I don’t know maybe I am drinking to much kool-aid. I already chalked the tOSU as a L. I just don’t see Oregon losing two games against the teams listed. I actually think oregon may sweep those teams. My biggest concern is a friday night off a bye game against CAL. the CAL games have been too close in the cristobal era and the game after a bye seems like a trap.

again could be the kool-aid talking. With all that said I am also expecting above average play at the QB level, if we get poor qb play the odds could change quickly.


I know what you mean Hayward, I am unable to separate emotions from making picks, hard on the wallet.

Jon, the nugget on Noyer’s transfer to the Beavers you embedded in your comment seems big to me. Smith has been using transfers to patch together what could be a scary monster in Corvallis.

Off topic, but something that irks me is the lazy logic behind the causal fan assumption in which the “PAC 12 is a bad so all PAC 12 teams are bad” to explain the lack of a quality team and the resulting competitive nature of the league. I agree no dominate Super Team exists in the league, however there are several really good teams in each division and others with potential.

Maybe Wilner and Vegas are seeing this as well. I am still good with whatever win total gets the Ducks to the Rose Bowl.

At the QB position I think Oregon State and Utah, with soon to be 5 year starter Charlie Brewer from Baylor, won the 2021, QB transfer lottery.

Charles, et al, considering the difficulty of this season’s schedule and looking at the opener ‘at’ UGA in 2022, do you think it would be better to start one of the younger players at QB this season and let him take his lumps?

Can it get any more difficult than to ask a QB to make his 1st start in 2022 on the road against Georgia?

If the playoff field does not expand prior to the 2026/27 as is the current agreement, I’m looking at 2023 as the Ducks best shot at the final 4 when the team plays on the road at Texas Tech, instead of playing at Ohio State and ‘at’ Georgia.


Cristobal needs to take a lesson from Mr. FishDuck and start Scoring SCADS of points!
Thats been my favorite FishDuck phrase.


Welcome back Jon J,
Great question about the qb.
I am a total believer in needing to play either Jay B or Robbie A a whole LOT!
And not just in a back up role, and not in and out like the bowl game.

I rewatched the spring game and both those young guns have the tools. And they both played with confidence, something I think AB lacks, but would probably gain the more he played. He did seem to improve as the game progressed.

Before I saw any line for the season, I thought 10 – 2 would be doable. I don’t think anyone in college football, other than us homers, gives us any chance at tOSU. And winning all 9 in the Pac 12 is tough any year. I see losses at UCLA and at Utah as real possibilities.

To me the secondary looked a little suspect in the spring game. I know we weren’t tackling hard, and a lot of guys played, but to have a good season we are going to need a defense like 2019 at the minimum.

One last thought about the 2020 season. Seems to me that a lot of normally good teams had horrendous seasons last year, perhaps playing through covid rules was more difficult than we realize.
I would like to discount the whole thing, but the game planning for the bowl game seems to stand out as abysmal coaching.
A game or two every year with current staff seems to be the norm. Let’s hope for improvement there too.

Jon Joseph

Thanks DanL. It did have much to do with the talent around him at BC but Brown has yet to post a W against a team ranked in the top 25.

Jon Joseph

I was surprised that Noyer left CU but not surprised that he returned home to Oregon.

Jon Joseph

Ah, the oddsmakers. Great ponder point Charles.

Have to remember that the odds are in place to balance the book. To try and have equal money bet to cover and not to cover the given spread. This equals no risk to the books and assured income from retaining the vig, usually 10% of the wager, on the loser’s side of the spread.

Ducks at 9? Pac-12 guru Jon Wilner sees this as a push. He is not optimistic the Ducks can win in Columbus and notes the tough road schedule: at UCLA, Utah and UW. He also notes that while Brown has experience he has never defeated a top 25 ranked team. Hate to say it but I think Wilner’s take could well be spot on. Under Mario the road has not been that kind to the Ducks. Kicking off at ‘9 AM’ in Columbus also does not help the cause.

The best odds I have seen. Utah with Baylor transfer Brewer at QB and many the starter back at +1500 to win the conference. Utah’s OOC schedule, with BYU losing many the starter, is not in the least daunting. Utah does have to play at USC where it has never won. Utah in turn gets ASU at home; the Sun Devils have a bad record playing in Salt Lake.

With so many questions at QB across the conference (how about CU transfer Noyer signing with the Beavers) I think there a half dozen teams that could take the conference in 2021.

Should be another very interesting season but with the parity in the conference and the 9 game conference schedule I will be surprised if Oregon or any other Pac-12 team makes the final four.

We need to move to a dozen in the playoff field sooner rather than later. If a 12 team field had been in place since the playoff’s inception in 2014, Pac-12 teams would have been in the field on 11 occasions. (B1G – 20; SEC – 19). Arizona, CU, Oregon, Stanford, USC, Utah and UW would all have made at least 1 appearance.

Interesting that in the Rose Bowl season when the Ducks destroyed Utah in the champ game, the Ducks would have re-matched with Utah in the 1st round playoff game with the Utes tripping to Autzen.

Thank you Charles. Great to be back.


Good to see you back! I have bet money exactly zero times on college football in my life, so I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the odds makers, but I do feel like they have a good overall competence. If they did not, they would be out of business.

I think the difficulty of the PAC 12 is sometimes underrated, even by the FishDuck contributors. It tends to have a lot of “tweener” teams who may not be good enough to beat the best consistently, but on a given day are good enough to rise up and beat teams that are much better on paper.

I think we’ve seen that often enough as longtime Duck fans.

I will consider it an excellent season this year if the Ducks hold serve at home and lose no more than two on the road, for a 10-2 regular season. And then make some positive noise in the post season, whatever that might be.

Anything less than 9 wins would be troubling, IMO.


We may know more, but my emotional attachment makes betting a losing proposition. I have a hard enough time investing without emotion, gambling on the Ducks is no bueno!

I also understand some enjoy the emotional roller coaster gambling adds to a game, not me. I just love to see the competition and the growth of the programs.

Jon Joseph

Gambling does increase the angst factor, no doubt. Like you Hayward I do not wager on the Ducks.

I do play 3 to 4 college games a week. I have found early in the season before a team’s true merits and weaknesses are known that you can find some great odds.