College Football Power Rankings - The Ferringo 15
by Robert Ferringo - 09/04/2008
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 editor used to say that college football is nothing more than a "glorified beauty pageant." He is right. Public Perception is valued more than Performance in this realm of amateurs 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 still evil. At least in the mind of this liberal they are. But when it comes to wagering on the angry amateurs that assemble each week on the gridiron, polls and rankings can be your friend. They set the general consensus on how strong a certain team is, regardless of Reality, and that makes a poll or power ranking a tool for exploiting a misinformed betting public. (See: Clemson.) 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 is not a ranking of the 15 top teams to bet in any given week. This is an overall overview and ranking of the teams that have been the most profitable throughout the season. That said, last year the teams that were listed in my Ferringo 15 every Wednesday covered the spread that weekend at a 56-percent success rate, making the F-15 a pretty solid system in and of itself. Also, in 2007 the teams that ended the season in the Ferringo 15 finished an astonishing 121-46 ATS, good for a 73-percent success rate and nearly $70,000 for dime bettors.
The first ranking is always the hardest. But once we get this one nailed down it should be smooth sailing from here on out. So without further ado, here is our initial Ferringo 15:
1) Mississippi - There is just something about this Ole Miss team that is very appealing to me. I think that Houston Nutt is a major upgrade in terms of an in-game tactician than his predecessor, and the cupboard here is pretty healthy. Jevan Snead was a solid game manager against Memphis, and pretty much anything that he can give the Rebels will be an upgrade over the mess they've received at quarterback since Eli Manning left years ago. Stud defensive end Greg Hardy is out at least another month with an injury, but I still think they will cause some teams some trouble without him. Call me crazy, but I think that Ole Miss goes bowling this year and that they can earn us a nice profit on their way there.
2) Oklahoma State - Oklahoma State is not going to win the loaded Big 12 Conference but they are certainly going to have a say in who does. This Cowboys club underachieved in 2007, and that has helped increase their value for this season. They demolished Washington State over the weekend and their experience with the spread offense is invaluable. They can score, and their defense has improved by leaps and bounds from the horrendous group they fielded last season. Also, road games at Missouri, Texas, and Texas Tech are going to be enticing, because if you look at the schedule of those schools they all seem to get OSU in either a look ahead or a let down spot.
3) North Carolina - I was one of the few cappers in the country to proclaim loudly and proudly that Virginia Tech was going to stink this year. Of course, their division in the ACC is among the worst in the entire sport, so they will have a decent record. But the true ACC sleeper is UNC. They have a host of young talent and they lost a ton of close games last year. I don't even mind that they struggled to beat McNeese State. And I hope they lose to Rutgers. All of this is just going to increase the value on a team I have high profit hopes for.
4) TCU - Everyone is showering praise on Utah and BYU in the Mountain West, but my money might be on the Horned Frogs. TCU returns the most starters in the league and absolutely dominated conference play in 2005 and 2006 before a letdown last season. They still boast the best defense in the conference and I think they will remain a nice mid-major earner.
5) Temple - I have to give the Owls a little love after cashing in as my top play in Week 1! This team has a lot of athletes and has a real nasty streak about it. They brought back 11 starters from a rock-solid defense in a conference (the MAC) that possesses some respectable units, and matched that with 11 starters from 2007's first-team offense. I love everything about the MAC this year, and Temple will be one of my favorites once conference play starts because of the physical style that they bring to the field each weekend.
6) Ball State - The Cardinals finished at No. 15 in last year's F-15 and are now cracking the Top 10. The main reason: senior triggerman Nate Davis. Nasty Nate ("No, Nasty Nate. No!") guides an offense that brings back 11 starters and averaged 32 points per game in 2007. The Cardinals also welcome back eight of their top 11 tacklers and have been a great underdog over the last few years. They are 7-3 as a home dog over the last four years and 7-2 as a road dog over the last two seasons.
7) South Carolina - We saw how rugged and thuggish this defense is last Thursday night. And I love it. South Carolina was 6-1 and rolling early last year before injuries and attitude issues doomed them to a 0-5 finish. But the core of the 2007 squad - the same one that beat Georgia in Athens - is back. They have 18 returning starters, including a ridiculous seven three-year starters on defense. They are a dark horse SEC championship contender.
9) Iowa - Yup, I'm just as shocked as you are. The Hawkeyes have been pathetic over the last two years and a lot of the shine has come off the Kirk Ferentz penny. After a 31-7 run from 2002-2004, Iowa is just 19-18 over its last three years. However, I think that a soft schedule and some upperclassmen leaders will be able to guide Iowa back to a bowl game.
10) Marshall - Yeah. I know. Random. But hear me out. First, no one expects anything from The Herd. No. 2, they brought back 17 starters from a club that actually led West Virginia, 16-13, in the third quarter. C) They are solid in the trenches and have a trio of three-year starters in the secondary. And finally, 2006 Conference Defensive POY Albert McClellan gives them a game-changer along the line. Mark Snyder is now coaching his system with his players, and a 3-2 finish to 2007 gives them momentum rolling into this year.
11) Rice - The Owls couldn't stop my grandmother from gaining 150 yards rushing or receiving. But they can score. A lot. Chase Clement-to-Jarrett Dillard is one of the most prolific QB-WR combos in NCAA history and they lead an offense that can score on anyone at any time. Rice is actually 14-5-1 ATS as a home dog over the last eight years, 12-4 ATS in conference play the last two years, and 14-5 ATS as a dog over the last two seasons. Bet the 'over' and take the points with this group.
12) New Mexico State - The Aggies debuted in last year's opening F-15 - and went on to be one of the bigger disappointments in the country. Granted, no one nationally expected much from this crew. But I figured that their offense would be potent enough to keep them close and cover some of the enormous cushions they were getting as a dog. Not so much. But like Rice, NMSU has a lethal QB-WR combo in Chase Holbrook to Mike Williams. With seven returning defensive starters they can't be any worse than they were (I hope) and I think that last year's failure ATS will be this year's success.
13) Northern Illinois - No team in the country was decimated more by injuries last year than NIU. But last year's misfortune is this year's value. They returned a whopping 21 starters from last year and have experience all over the roster because so many youngsters were forced to play last year. This team already showed some of its mettle, coming three yards and 30 seconds away from upsetting Minnesota on the road last week.
14) Kansas State - K-State is another team that is lying in the weeds of the Big 12. They will not win the conference either, but I think that they are going to be a very tough out this time around. They finished 2007 on a 2-6 slide, but each of those losses came on the road or against Top 5 teams in Kansas and Missouri. This year they still have a back loaded road schedule in conference play but I think they will be a bit better equipped. I also think that they will be trouble for Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Nebraska, all of which have to come to Manhattan.
15) Notre Dame - This one was close, but I'm going to throw the Irish in on this list because last year they hit rock bottom. It's nearly impossible to find value on THE public team in college football. But right now I think the Irish are a little better than people think and it's the lack of buzz (or interest) in them that's giving me some hope. Their schedule still does them no favors. But I believe they will be much better than they were last year, while teams that embarrassed them - schools like Michigan, Boston College, Navy, and Purdue - are significantly weaker. I smell some revenge.
Others Receiving Votes: Penn State, Colorado, Wake Forest, Boston College, Arizona, California, South Florida, Cincinnati, Louisiana-Monroe.