Overpriced and Undervalued in BCS Conferences
by Matt Severance - 08/20/2008
Here's a look at an overpriced and undervalued team in each of the six major college football conferences this season. All odds to win the conference are from Bodog.
Overpriced: Virginia Tech - 3/1: The Hokies have plenty of young talent, but they may be a year from realizing their potential. Virginia Tech returns only 10 starters, and last year's leading rusher (Brandon Ore) and receiver (Brandon Dillard) won't be returning to the field this year. In fact, the Hokies' leading returning receiver is Ike Whitaker, a former quarterback who has all of three career catches. Road games at North Carolina, Boston College, Florida State and Miami make another ACC title a long shot.
Undervalued: North Carolina - 9/1: The Tar Heels could be the main beneficiaries if Virginia Tech takes a step back. Butch Davis' recruiting magic should finally start to show dividends in Chapel Hill. The Heels return 17 starters from a team that had six losses by a touchdown or less in 2007. If QB Tyler Yates is healthy and can improve just a bit in his sophomore season, and with nearly every tough conference game at home, the Heels could very easily find themselves in Tampa for the ACC Championship Game.
Overpriced: Pittsburgh - 3/1: Oddsmakers seem to be overvaluing the Panthers on the heels of their upset of West Virginia to close last season. This team still went 5-7 and hasn't sniffed a bowl in Dave Wannstedt's three seasons. Pitt does have superstar running back LeSean McCoy, but teams will load up to make the Panthers beat them through the air. Expect Pitt to fall, at a minimum, on Oct. 2 at South Florida and for West Virginia to exact revenge as well, so a Big East title won't be in the cards.
Undervalued: UConn - 12/1: Remember, this team actually shared the Big East title last year with West Virginia. Of course, the Huskies also lost to the Mountaineers by 45 points. If UConn, which has two very good running backs and an experienced QB in Tyler Lorenzen among 17 returning starters, can figure out a way to beat WVU for the first time since joining the Big East, then there's no doubt the Huskies can win the Big East solo this season, especially with WVU and Pitt both visiting.
Overpriced: Michigan - 11/2: The fact that the Wolverines are ranked in the coaches' poll and get odds this short are because of name factor and not the talent on the field. There will be growing pains in Rich Rodriguez's first season, especially because he doesn't have a quarterback suited to run his spread offense. The defense should be OK with seven starters back, but QB Chad Henne, star tackle Jake Long and starting WRs Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham are all in the NFL. The Wolverines could start 0-3 in the Big Ten.
Undervalued: Wisconsin - 7/2: Seventeen starters return, and the Badgers could have one of the best running back tandems in the country with P.J. Hill and Zach Brown. The offensive line also will be a strength. But it's the schedule that gives the Badgers a chance to knock off Ohio State in the Big Ten. The key game is Sept. 27 at Michigan, because a win at the Big House could propel the Badgers to great things because they get the presumed top three teams in the Big Ten (OSU, Penn State and Illinois) at home. The Badgers have won 14 games in a row at Camp Randall Stadium, so if they can take care of business in Ann Arbor, watch out.
Overpriced: Texas - 3/1: The Longhorns haven't been the same since Vince Young and Co. beat USC in the national title game a few seasons back. Oh sure, they'll win their 10 games, but they haven't been to a BCS bowl since that memorable 2006 Rose Bowl. The main problem last year was a defense that allowed 4,825 yards, including a school-record 3,611 passing yards, and 25.3 points per game. And then there's the schedule, which this year replaces three non-bowl teams from the Big 12 North - Nebraska, K-State and Iowa State - with three bowl teams - Kansas, Missouri and Colorado.
Undervalued: Texas Tech - 5/1: The Red Raiders are one of the chic picks in the Big 12 and the nation this season. The offense is as high-powered as it gets with Heisman hopefuls Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree and has 10 starters back. But Tech hasn't won a conference title outright since 1955. That could change this year as the defense returns eight starters from a unit that led the Big 12 in total defense in the last eight games of the season. TTU should be 6-0 when it has back-to-back road games at Kansas and Nebraska before Texas comes calling to Lubbock. The Nov. 22 game against Oklahoma in Norman should decide the Big 12 South.
Overpriced: Southern Cal - 2/7: Really, any team that is at 2/7 is overvalued, because what's the point? But is USC that much of a lock to win a seventh straight Pac-10 title? I say no. The Trojans showed a few cracks in losing two conference games last year, and while the defense should be outstanding, the offense has some big holes to fill with only four starters back. If QB Mark Sanchez's injury lasts into conference play, that also could be a big factor.
Undervalued: Oregon - 7/1: The Ducks upset USC last year, but that was when potential Heisman winner Dennis Dixon was healthy. When he went down, Oregon's season went into a tailspin. But if any Pac-10 team is going to pull the upset and win the conference, it's likely Mike Bellotti's. Oregon still has a QB battle to replace Dixon, but there's talent everywhere on this team. It should be 5-0 overall when it goes to L.A. to face USC on Oct. 4.
Overpriced: Florida - 1/1: Yes, the Gators are scary talented, especially at the skill positions. But star tight end Cornelius Ingram has been lost for the year, and there's concern that Percy Harvin's nagging injury will linger into the regular season. And a defense that finished last season ranked last in the SEC in pass defense - 98th in the nation - must improve. Add to that a typically brutal SEC schedule, and there are way too many questions to make UF even money in the nation's premier conference.
Undervalued: Auburn - 7/2: It's hard to believe that an old-school offense such as Auburn is switching to a spread-type look. The Tigers think they can play off the momentum of a season-high 423-yard performance in a win against Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin had been on the job for less than two weeks. This year's squad must choose a quarterback between Kodi Burns and Chris Todd, but if the offense begins to catch up to the defense, this club is a national title competitor. Plus, look at Auburn's SEC road schedule: at Mississippi State, at Vanderbilt, at Mississippi, at Alabama. The Tigers have owned the Tide and all of their toughest SEC foes come to Jordan-Hare Stadium.