Four Biggest College Disappointments
by Trevor Whenham - 09/28/2007
If you like to bet on college football at all then you probably spent some time before the season began deciding how good certain teams were going to be. You may not have compiled formal rankings or a list of good teams, but at the very least you probably thought about the teams that were going to be good enough for you to seriously look at early on. I did that is a lot of different ways - some formal and others more by feel. In many cases I was pretty accurate - I'm pretty happy with my preseason love of Kansas and Cincinnati, for example. In other cases, though, there are teams that are just plain pissing me off. I'm certainly not the only one that is frustrated by how some teams have started. Disappointments and rough starts are a part of sports betting, and if you can't handle them then you need to find a new obsession, but that doesn't mean that I can't vent. Here, then, are the four teams that are the most frustratingly disappointing a month into the college football season.
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1. Louisville. I don't think that it would be possible to be more disappointing than the Cardinals have been. They came in with a potent offense, a new but highly-touted coach, and looked like a real contender for a national championship. Instead, they are 2-2 and have been embarrassed in consecutive weeks by Kentucky and Syracuse. It would be tempting to compare Louisville's debacle to Michigan, but at least the Wolverines are covering the spread when they win. Louisville is 0-3 ATS, and it hasn't even been close. They beat Murray State by 16, but they were favored by 41. They lost by six to Kentucky as 4.5-point favorites. Most incredibly, they were favored by 37 against Syracuse, and they found a way to lose outright.
The hardest part about watching Louisville is just how bad their defense is. They have the best offense in the country for total yards, yet they can't cover. They are 94th is total yards allowed and 106th in passing defense. Totally pitiful. Louisville was 41st last year, and Tulsa, coach Steve Kragthorpe's former squad, was in the top 20, so there is no way that they should have fallen this far or been this incompetent. I wasn't naive enough to not expect a few growing pains, but this has just been ridiculous.
2. Virginia Tech. I really wanted to believe in Virginia Tech. They had a potent roster and a reason to play for that I thought they could rally around. Not so much. They have looked lackluster and underwhelming in their wins, and terrible in their blowout loss. That has led them to an 0-3 ATS mark. They were heavily favored against both East Carolina and Ohio. They did enough to win both games, but little else. Each game should have been a very easy cover if they were at their best, or even if they were playing anywhere near their potential. The LSU game was just a disaster. They absolutely looked like they did not belong on the field, and they blew the heck out of my theory that the 11-point spread had a bit of value in it.
The disappointment is everywhere for this team. The quarterback questions had me braced for passing problems, but their running game is so bad that it's making their passing game look brilliant. The defense was expected to make up for the offense, but they have lacked crispness and have been mostly just acceptable, and at times much less than that.
3. TCU. Cinderella has apparently left the building. The Horned Frogs started the season well - a 27-0 win over Baylor that showed that both sides of the ball were working fine. Then the bottom fell out. Everyone knew they were in for a tough game against Texas, but at least they could have shown up. As bad as the misfire against the Longhorns was, the dismal no-show loss against Air Force was even worse. They at least won against SMU, but were nine points away from covering the spread. The defense, an expected strength, has struggled, and certainly hasn't been helped by the bizarre behavior of stud defensive end Tommy Blake. The offense would have needed to pick up their game to fill the gap left by the defense, and they have not done that at all. They are in the bottom 10 in the country in total yards, passing yards and points scored. With Blake out and morale low this could get much, much uglier before it gets better.
4. Arizona. My frustration with Arizona comes from a different place than the other three teams on this list. Unlike the others, no one at all thought that Arizona was actually going to be good. I thought, though, that coach Mike Stoops would finally bring us a team that delivered value on the field. He recognized that his offense has been terrible for years, so he brought in a new coordinator and a new system that was tailor-made for his quarterback. The experiment has been something of a success - QB Willie Tuitama has shown bright spots and is clearly developing, but it hasn't been enough. Or at least it hasn't been enough because the defense has taken a major step backwards. Four games in, Arizona is allowing 50 more passing yards per game than they did last year, and they were far from good then. This team is not good, but more defensive discipline could put the value back into these lines. Stoops has been there long enough, and has enough experience, that I feel right about expecting that defensive progress from him.