Overrated College Teams
by Trevor Whenham - 10/04/2007
With the season suddenly turning into a circus last weekend, a lot of teams took a freefall down the college football rankings. It must have been a very difficult week for those who had poll ballots to fill out, because it would be hard to find enough teams to move up so that the teams that deserve to drop can drop as far as they deserve. That means that there are going to be teams that are overrated. The public pays a great deal of attention to the rankings, and will give a team much more respect if it has been voted somewhere into the top 25. That means that there can be value on the opponents of ranked teams if the team is ranked higher than they deserve to be and if they may not be able to play up to the standard of their ranking. Here's a look at five ranked teams that are, in my opinion, overrated and over-ranked right now.
No. 5 - Wisconsin. Sure, they're unbeaten, but the Badgers have done little to impress this year. After a decent season opening win over Washington State, they struggled to beat UNLV, let the Citadel score 31 points, barely snuck by an Iowa team that had lost to Iowa State the week before, and held off Michigan State by a field goal. That puts them at 1-3 ATS, and they haven't covered since the opening weeks. The way they are playing they could be challenged by the upstart Illini this week, or several other games down the road. This is certainly a Top 25 team, but they really don't look like they belong in the Top 10. The public seems to share that opinion - Illinois is favored by three at home.
No. 8 Kentucky. This is a great story, and Andre Woodson has been exceptional, but No. 8 is way higher than they should be at this point in their development. They are 5-0, and 4-0 ATS, but you have to look deeper. Three of their wins, against Eastern Kentucky, Kent State and Florida Atlantic, were to be expected. The win against Arkansas was solid, but they are certainly not the team they were last year. The victory over Louisville looked better at the time than it did after that terribly flawed team went out and lost to Syracuse the next week. They have done what they have done, and they deserve the respect they have received, but now they have South Carolina, LSU and Florida in three straight weeks, and I suspect that they are not ready to perform over that stretch like the eighth best team in the country should.
No. 15 - Virginia Tech. I watched the Hokies beat North Carolina on Saturday. That's three hours of my life I wish I could get back. Their defense looked good, though not nearly as good as it should given the talent they have, and the hype they came into the season with. Offensively they are just painfully inept. They don't have a solid quarterback, and their latest choice, Tyrod Taylor, is nursing a groin injury. If he misses time it's not much of a loss, though - he managed only 66 yards passing against North Carolina. The team is 0-4 ATS, and their absolute destruction by LSU is testament to the depth of their problems. So is the attitude of coach Frank Beamer. When he was interviewed walking off the field after the win last weekend he looked like he wished he had retired last offseason. Virginia Tech looks like one of those teams that is only as high as they are because they started high. If they had started unranked they would probably still be there.
No. 20 - Cincinnati. I think that the Bearcats are a great story, and coach Brian Kelly is certainly deserving of a major program in the near future, but this is a hollow ranking. They are 5-0, and 4-0 ATS. People are making all sorts of noise about what a surprise this is, but one look at their schedule tells you that it was probably expected, and certainly not that much of a stretch. A big win over Oregon State was impressive, but the Beavers aren't exactly a powerhouse. The other four wins are over S.E. Missouri State, Miami of Ohio, Marshall and San Diego State. They were favored by at least seven in all of those games with a line. At the very least they should be 4-1 over that stretch given their talent, so 5-0 should not be a shock, and it shouldn't really have them in the Top 20. Over the next four weeks they face Rutgers, Louisville and South Florida, so we will see how they measure up in the Big East. The team hasn't been ranked since 1976. They had better enjoy it, because I don't think that it will last for long.
No. 23 - Purdue. I'm a Big Ten guy, so I hate picking on my conference, but this is the second team from that group that deserves a spot on this list. They are 5-0, and more than 44 points scored per game is a sure way to grab the attention of the public and the poll voters. It's also a pretty good way to hide the flaws of a team. Their offense is potent, but their defense is completely useless. They let Minnesota gain 469 yards and score 31 points. The Gophers had 277 yards and seven points the next week against Ohio State. Notre Dame looked almost competent, with 252 passing yards and three touchdowns. The team has shown very little ability to stop anyone through the air, and this could be a real problem the next couple of weeks against Ohio State and Michigan. Heck, Anthony Morelli could even look good against the Purdue secondary.