College Football Power Rankings: The Ferringo 15
by Robert Ferringo - 08/31/2007
Polls. Our culture is permeated by swarm of focus-group happy vagrants who value style over substance. And in the sports world there is no area where this plague is more rampant than college football.
My former sports editor back in New York used to say that college football is nothing more than a glorified beauty pageant. He was right. Public Perception is valued more than performance in many instances and as a result the watered-down and sterilized sport is ruled by a cesspool of back-alley conspirators, imbeciles, and Beano Cook. The Polls are King, and they have as much of an impact on what happens on the field as popular intangibles like the fans or the weather.
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Polls are evil. At least in the mind of a bleeding heart liberal they are. But when it comes to wagering on the enraged amateurs that assemble each week on the gridiron, polls and rankings can be your best friend. They set the general consensus on how strong a certain team is, regardless of Truth, and that makes a poll or power ranking a tool for exploiting a misinformed betting public. That's now what I'm going after here. We have enough rampant speculation across the nation so I set out to provide my faithful readers with some info that will enrich their gambling lives. The result: the Ferringo 15.
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 Ohio State moving up or down the polls on the basis of how badly they blew out Northwestern the previous Saturday, I'm going to rank each team based on past, present, and projected future achievement against the spread.
This initial ranking was definitely the hardest. Below I've listed a random group of teams that I think will function particularly well for bettors this season. In a way, I suppose you could consider this a glorified "sleeper" list since it is more of a prediction at the moment. That means that unlike the Top 25 polls I could have an entirely new list of 15 teams next week, or the week after. But soon enough, after we've had a few weeks to get the lay of the land, these rankings will be buttressed by actual, visceral performance. For now it is merely conjecture. Anyway, here goes:
1) South Carolina (0-0) - In the SEC, where sacred cows like Alabama and Auburn wrestle with neo-fascists like Florida and Arkansas, South Carolina is still treated with kid gloves by the oddsmakers. Yet, this season they are one of the powerhouses of the conference and I wouldn't be shocked if The Ol' Ball Coach could weasel his way into the SEC Title Game in Atlanta this December. The best part (for us, not them) is that their toughest tests are on the road this season. They are at Georgia, at LSU, and at Tennessee. They should be a dog in all three games and, because of USC's narrow Q-rating, they should be fetching more points than they deserve. I think the Cocks will be explosive this year (pun-tastic) and I think that they could match last year's 9-3 ATS mark.
2) New Mexico State (0-0) - The Aggies are exactly what Boise State was about five years ago - that team out West that no one but you and your buddies know about that hangs 40+ points up every other week. They brought back 17 starters from a team that covered five of its last seven last year. They have their top 10 offensive players back, including quarterback Chase Holbrook and four of five linemen. This team is soft enough to get hit with double-digit cushions and explosive enough to sneak in a lot of backdoors. If the defense can improve just a little bit they have enough firepower to roll with some of the big boys.
3) South Florida (0-0) - The Bulls are Everyone's Sleeper right now and I think that the cat is out of the proverbial bag. Regardless, most of the general (see: dumb) betting public won't recognize the name so they likely won't give much love at the window. Big mistake. The Bulls almost freight-trained The Rutgers Happy Parade with an upset win in Fla. and this year they get West Virginia and Louisville at home. We're going to learn a lot about this team in Week 2 at Auburn, but regardless, this is a team that can earn all season long.
4) Purdue (0-0) - Right now everyone is drinking the Juice - as in Illinois Juice Williams - and a lot of prognosticators have tabbed the Illini as this year's Big 10 sleeper. Sign me up for Purdue. The Boilermakers brought back 18 starters and the most experience of any Big 10 program. They get Notre Dame and Ohio State at home in back-to-back weeks and I think they win one of those games outright. Curtis Painter and Co. is lethal and I think this could end up as a double-digit ATS team.
5) Virginia (0-0) - I know, I'm shocked too. The Cavaliers were two completely different teams last year. Version 1.0 got piss-pounded by Pitt and East Carolina while starting 1-5 ATS. Version 2.0 closed out the year on a 4-1-1 ATS run capped by an upset win over Miami and a tough push at Va. Tech. They return 19 starters and if they get competent play from Jameel Sewell (which may be a lot to ask) these guys could be an ATM machine. They may have the top combination of offensive and defensive line strength in the league - and that includes Miami, Florida Stat and VT.
6) Anyone Playing Notre Dame (0-0) - The Irish are still a big draw at the window. As if a wager on the Golden Dome is an offering of alms or a tithe to the Almighty. The Irish play one of the roughest and rangiest schedules in the country and will be living off Brady Quinn's dreaminess for at least the first month of the season. Or at least until USC comes in to South Bend and hangs 60 on them.
7) Memphis (0-0) - The Tigers are one of the most experienced teams in the country this year with 39 of the 44 players on their two-deep back in uniform. They have a steady senior quarterback and some potentially explosive wideouts to bolster an up-and-coming defense. The Tigers have a significantly easier schedule this season and also lost FIVE games by a total of 17 points last year! Revenge, experience, and some better luck could lead to a lot of paydays for Memphis backers.
8) Iowa (0-0) - After two down years at the window and on the field I think that the Hawkeyes are a sleeper to win the Big 10. Much like Wisconsin last year, Iowa is blessed with a candy ass conference schedule. They avoid Ohio State and Michigan and have only three games in which they could actually lose. Their front four is as good as any in the nation and Albert Young is on the list of The 10 Best Running Backs You Don't Know About.
9) Hawaii (0-0) - I know that they are on the national radar because of Colt Brennan but these guys are that good. I am interested to see how the loss of Jerry Glanville affects the improving defense but I think they made enough strides last year (eight returning starters) to keep them legit. They will be shackled with some gargantuan numbers, but I still think that they'll be able to cover just about anything on the island. They know that in order to crash the BCS party like Boise State did last year they not only have to win, but win big.
10) New Mexico (0-0) - Ten defensive starters, a strong running game, two All-MWC offensive skill players, and a cagey veteran coach could all add up to cash. The Lobos were 8-3-1 ATS last year and have a chance to match that this time around. Against UTEP, Arizona, Wyoming, San Diego State, TCU, Colorado State and Utah the Lobos have trends that add up to a combined 31-6 ATS. Cha-ching!
11) Illinois (0-0) - This is an all-or-nothing squad. If they play up to their billing this team could be outstanding. Or the walls of increasing expectations could come crumbling down on them. The talent is there, but you have to remember that Ron Zook is a poor game coach. They get Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan at home and this season will be defined by the stretch of those games sandwiched around a trip to Iowa.
12) Oklahoma (0-0) - The Sooners are the only Top 10 team on this list for one reason: Bob Stoops. The Sooners faced six lines of -14 or more last year - and covered all six of them. Oklahoma finished 10-4 ATS last season and may be even better this year. I think they have a chip on their shoulder after some of the beats they took last year and that could lead to some serious maimings this time around.
13) UCLA (0-0) - Let me get this straight: the Bruins brought back 20 starters (compared to USC's 16), have the better pure quarterback, and have an easier schedule (USC plays at Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon and Cal) yet they are ranked 14 slots lower and are much more of a longshot to win the Pac-10 or the national title than the Trojans? Wait, this is the UCLA that beat USC last year, right? I thought so.
14) Georgia Tech (0-0) - The Sports Guy refers to this as the Ewing Theory. It states that some teams actually perform better the year after a leader and marquee player, a guy that was suspect in the clutch, leaves the team. Reggie Ball had a checkered past at Tech, and steadier play from the quarterback coupled with Tashard Choice and a rock solid defense could lead to a surprising repeat by the defending Coastal champion.
15) Kansas State (0-0) - Coach Ron Prince wisely decided to mail it in last year after getting shellacked by Louisville. They'll reap the benefits this year as most of the young players gained valuable experience. K-State has gone just 16-19 SU over the past three years, which has depressed their value. But with 53 lettermen back and a coach that's got this program pointed in the right direction I think that the Wildcats could be a diamond in the rough.
Others receiving votes: Vanderbilt, Oregon, Boston College, TCU, Central Florida, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Arizona, Toledo.