The Ferringo 15 is my Profit-Power Rankings, a ladder or hierarchy based on which teams are the most profitable on the field. I'm not trying to give you some other nonsensical, random, speculative power rankings based on my own biases and conjecture. So instead of Alabama moving up or down the polls on the basis of how badly they blew out Vanderbilt the previous Saturday, I'm going to rank each team based on past, present, and projected future achievement against the college football point spread.
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And over the past two years they have been on point. In 2007 the teams that finished in the Ferringo 15 had a collective 121-46-1 mark against the spread. In 2008 they came back and went 81-63-3 in the week that they were in the Ferringo 15. In 2009 the teams that were in the F-15 only managed to win 53 percent of their games that Saturday. But, all in all, these college football power rankings have been exactly what any good gambler hopes to be: profitable in the long term.
Unlike the other more traditional, more mainstream college football power rankings, I decided to actually wait until I saw some teams play before I released my NCAA football rankings. The teams I have listed below were not the 15 most impressive teams that I saw last week. Not at all. Instead, I took my list of teams that I felt going into the season had the best value, waited to see how they came out of the shoot, and then placed them in this week’s profit-power rankings.
So without further ado, here is my Ferringo 15 (all records are ATS against the closing line):
1. Mississippi State (1-0) – I can’t say enough good things about the direction this team is headed. And their 49-7 mauling of Memphis is just the tip of the iceberg for a club that is going to be a thorn in the side of SEC teams all year. This group reminds me very much of Ole Miss in 2008, and Stanford and Arkansas last year. The filth of Sylvester Croom is gone and Dan Mullen has got these Bulldogs ready to bite. This team went 4-2 ATS down the stretch last year and went blow-for-blow with both Florida and Alabama. They have a huge game with Trendy Team Auburn this week and it could be a season changer. If there is a problem, it’s that they are rotating quarterbacks. That’s never good. Also, their schedule is brutal, but the more losses there are in the standings the more value we could actually find at the window.
2. San Diego State (1-0) – Make way for the forgotten team in the Mountain West. All of the talk is about BCS-bound TCU and the 30-year-old weirdo Mormons playing for BYU and Utah. But San Diego State could be a surprise No. 2 or No. 3 team in this conference. They have one of the best coaching staffs west of the Mississippi and they have the best quarterback not named “Dalton” in the conference. Just three of their starters are underclassmen and this team could be in the right place at the right time.
3. Syracuse (1-0) – In the past decade the Orange have suffered as precipitous of a fall as we’ve seen in college football over the last 20 years. And they aren’t back yet. Not even close. But coach Doug Marrone has them headed in the right direction and there is more talent here than people think. Their defense plays fast, they can run the ball, and they have some young, potentially explosive talent in the passing game. Inexperience, especially at QB, is going to be their downfall. They have lost 12 of 14 conference games over the last two years by an average of 18 points. That should lead to some fat numbers this year for a team that will compete for 60 minutes, something they didn’t do under the previous regime. The Orange are two-touchdown underdogs this week on a tough road trip to Washington. But SU is 6-0 ATS in its last six nonconference games.
4. Ball State (0-1) – As quickly as the Cardinals came out of nowhere in 2008 to win 12 games and threaten the BCS system they fell off the map last year en route to a 2-10 season. But this year they have 19 starters back, including stud runner Miquale Lewis. They have seven three-year starters and seven senior starters on the roster. They just caught a lot of tough breaks last year – karmic balance for their miracle ’08 – but I think that they could really surprise some people in what is a wide-open MAC.
5. Rice (1-0) – It wasn't a fluke that they put up a fight against Texas. They were atrocious last year as they tried to find their way without Chase Clement and Jarrett Dillard. But just two seasons ago they won 10 games and there are five defensive starters on this club that saw significant time on that team. Experience is their key. And because all the other teams in this conference get love for their video game offenses I think that Rice is a team that can hang around and cause some problems. Consider them the Ball State of C-USA. Rice is just 6-16 ATS in nonconference games and will have to avoid a letdown against the next team on our list.
6. North Texas (1-0) – This team has gone 5-31 in the last three years and lost their opener. But I love the upside here. With Dwight Dasher on the shelf (what an ass clown) the Sun Belt only has three of nine starting quarterbacks returning, so UNT’s inexperience there might not be a killer. Especially because 17 of 21 other starters are back from hard-luck team that lost a stunning six games by a touchdown or less last year. They are just 8-20 ATS in their last 28 nonconference games and the last time they faced Rice they lost 77-20 back in 2008. Yeah: 77-20.
7. Kent State (1-0) – With Eugene Jarvis back for a sixth season these guys have the game-changer that they need. They started the year with 15 returning starters, including seven of the three-year variety, and they could be sneaky-good this season. Doug Marin has proven that he’s a pretty bad coach at a pretty week program. But if we parse through the schedule there are some excellent cash spots for the Flashes. They’ve been a drain on the books for years now, and that means that an overcorrection is due. They lost by 27 against Boston College last year and by 21 in 2008. They are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 overall.
8. Ohio State (1-0) – The last six BCS national champions have gone a combined 50-27-3 ATS the year they won the title. The last two seasons Alabama and Florida have gone 20-7 ATS. Am I already crowning Ohio State? No, but the point is that there is always one or two titans that end up among the game’s biggest moneymakers. Ohio State is 40-22 ATS in the last five years and is one of the best bets in the business. Why fight it?
9. South Carolina (1-0) – Bad luck and bad decisions have just killed this team the last four years. And if I went back and looked (no way I have the time) I would be that South Carolina has been one of the most recurring teams on this list. This is a put-up-or-shut-up season for Steve Spurrier. And he has no excuses. The defense slams people, the offense has experience in key places and skill in others, and they have an excellent schedule. I smell 9-10 wins with a win in a decent bowl game. As long as Spurrier doesn’t mess with Garcia’s head too much (the kid can play, just let him be) this group is tough. USC is favored this week against Georgia, but the dog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
10. West Virginia (0-1) – Everything but the quarterback; that’s what the Mountaineers have this year. They are the best team in a Big East Conference that is down this year and they are my choice to win the league and make a BCS bowl. Their defense is outstanding, they have two of the more skilled offensive players on the East Coast (Noel Devine and Jock Sanders) and they have four of five offensive line starters back. Mix in some interesting nonconference situations and WVU is a going to be an intriguing bunch. WVU has a tricky rivalry game with Marshall this week. They are just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games but they’ve beaten the Herd by an average of 24.5 points per game over the last four years.
11. Maryland (1-0) – Maryland was one of my favorite fades last year as injuries and inexperience just ravaged this team. But Skinny Friedgen always seems to pull a turkey leg out of the hat in a make-or-break season. They have followed up each of their last two losing seasons with nine- and eight-win years and got off to a great start with an upset win over highly touted Navy. Maryland was very lucky in that game, taking advantage of turnovers and red zone ineffectiveness from the Mids. They have a cupcake this week in Morgan State and then catch WVU after a rivalry game. After that is FIU and Duke at home, so look for the Terps to hit 4-1 by early October.
12. Michigan (1-0) – As a gambler, when everyone is running out of a burning building you want to be running in. I think that regardless of who was quarterbacking this team they were going to be feisty this year. They are in Year 3 of Rich-Rod’s system, and when making such a seismic shift in philosophy you need at least that much time to make the personnel fit the scheme. They are still young in spots. But you can see the talent. Denard Robinson is a perfect example. The Wolverines have a tough trek to South Bend this weekend. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings and is 8-2 SU in the L10.
13. Colorado (1-0) – Here is a team that wouldn’t mind peeing in the punch bowl on its way out of town. The Buffaloes have been a mess for the last four years. But this is the most experienced team that they’ve had in some time and 17 of 22 starters either juniors or seniors. They finally have confidence in their quarterback and they have a very manageable home schedule. They are in a tough spot at California this week and the line has shot from +4 to +8.5. But the Buffs have covered seven of 10 dating back to last year and they are 8-2 ATS against a team with a winning record.
14. Nevada (0-1) – This team is on the way out of this ranking. The expectations are really starting to get too high. By that I mean that they are suffering from Hawaii Syndrome: everyone expects them to score in the 60’s each week. It’s not going to happen. They didn’t cover against Eastern Washington last week but they were up 35-10 before pulling off the gas. Their schedule stays interesting, with games against Colorado State and Cal before a trip to BYU. The Wolfpack were leveled, 35-20, on the road at Colorado State last year so this is a revenge spot for them. Nevada is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games.
15. North Carolina (1-0) – If I had produced a Ferringo 15 prior to last week North Carolina would have been in the Top 5. I had them penciled in as a proven moneymaker and a dark horse national title contender. But the cat is out of the bag. I know that they covered in a game effort against LSU. But there has been so much talk about this team and its talent, on a national level, that everyone knows what caliber of players they are sporting. That decreases value. The good news, in a way, is that not too many people will want to touch this team because of the suspensions, investigations, and all manner of distractions. But that could work in our favor. If they ever field a full squad this year they will be wrecking people.
Others Receiving Votes: Tulsa, Michigan State, Auburn, Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Army, Miami, OH, Northern Illinois
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional college football and NFL handicapper for Doc’s Sports. Last year he brought home +62.5 Units for his clients for NFL picks and he is regarded as one of the top totals players in the sport. He has turned a profit in 4 of 5 football weeks and has a 6-Unit NFL Total of the Month on the board this Week! You can sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.