Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Nobody Knows Anything About College Football..(Except Me and Maybe Vegas, Sometimes)

If I have to listen to one more college football analyst or expert talk about where any given team is ranked nationally in an offensive or defensive category, I may jump off a cliff. I do not understand how these people do not realize that it is not an accurate statement in college football to say that any team has the #8 ranked defense in the country. Or the 3rd highest scoring offense in the nation. Unless teams play the same schedule, no fair comparisons can be made. Let's use rushing offense as the prime example. Guess who has the #1 rushing offense in the country. Is it Arkansas, with Heisman-Trophy runner-up Derek McFadden at running back? Is it one of the country's historic programs like Michigan, Ohio State, USC, or Notre Dame? No...it's Navy. And who is 3rd...Air Force. Anyone think that is a relevant statistic now? I heard during the Capital One Bowl that the great Wisconsin defense was ranked in the top 5 nationally in every defensive category possible. But then I watched as Arkansas shredded that defense for 400 total yards of offense. Why is Wisconsin in the top 5 of every defensive category? Because they play offensive juggernauts like Bowling Green, Northwestern, Buffalo, Illinois, Western Illinois and the rest of the more defensive-oriented Big Ten teams. You think Wisconsin would be ranked that high defensively if they played west coast teams like USC, CAL, Oregon, Boise State or Hawaii? Teams play different schedules and have different philosophies. For example, the SEC and Big Ten schools tend to play more defense and win games 21-17. The Pac-10 and Big 12 schools play more offense and win games 37-27. If the college football "experts" want to say that a school is the best in their conference where they have similar schedules to everyone else within it, that is fine. But please stop comparing them to the rest of the nation.

That Boise State-Oklahoma game sure was exciting wasn't it? And I am glad to see a smaller school slay the big, bad BCS conference school and feed fuel to the college football playoff fire. Now I hear about how people want to see them in the National Championship game against Ohio State. Sounds nice doesn't it? But let's come back to reality for a second. Do you know what would happen if a school goes undefeated in a conference where San Jose State is the biggest obstacle every year and is allowed to play for the national championship? We will see major defections across the country. Why wouldn't a middle of the road Pac-10 team, like Oregon State, try to join the WAC? They have a better chance of winning the WAC every year, than they do the Pac-10. It is very simple for Boise State. Join a BCS conference and play the big boys almost every week, not once or twice a year. Or become independent, like Notre Dame, and choose to play the BCS schools. It took an almost perfect game and play-calling from Boise State to defeat Oklahoma. Do we really think they could do that for 10 weeks a season against big schools? I don't think so.

Was I the only one who noticed that Vegas basically came out and told everyone that USC would defeat Michigan? How did they do that you ask? Here's how....it is called the opposite-theory. Vegas line-makers are obviously extremely intelligent, and great money-makers. For most games, they try to make the betting line as close to what they believe it will be, in order to make it hard for gamblers to decide which way to go. But then there are games where they make it obvious which way they want the money to flow. The Michigan-USC game was a prime example. Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl after barely losing to #1 Ohio State in Columbus by 3 points, then has Florida jump them in the polls to play in the championship game. So Michigan has one loss to the #1 team on the road, was not challenged in most games this season and has a supposed outside chance of an AP Championship Title if Florida beats Ohio State and Michigan can win the Rose Bowl. Talk about motivation. Then you have USC. Two losses to unranked teams, including the final game before the Rose Bowl, which was actually played in the Rose Bowl against UCLA. Sounds like a no-brainer. Michigan should win this game, right? Then why would the betting line be basically even. Why wouldn't Michigan be a favorite in this game? USC was actually the favorite in most lines before the game started. Vegas wanted you to think that Michigan was a sure bet, knowing that USC would win. That's how they make money. And their gamble was correct. I read that 73% of gamblers on Sportsbook.com took Michigan. And I saw a poll on espn.com that 71% of the over 150,000 people that voted thought Michigan would win as well. And that is how the opposite-theory works. When you see a game where the betting line seems like a sure thing, it is usually the opposite that is true.