College Football Handicapping: Overrated Teams
by Robert Ferringo - 7/25/2009
While it is tough to be overrated before you are even rated, I am going to make a preemptive strike at some of the squads that will be among the favorites to win their conference and/or make it to a significant bowl game. With some of the schools on my Most Overrated List it may seem like splitting hairs (USC, for example, makes this list). But the idea is that these teams below are going to be overrated not just by fans and media, but also by the books. Which means they will likely be money burners this season.
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Below is a quick look at some of the teams that I feel are overrated heading into the 2009-10 college football season:
Oregon - The Ducks have been among the nation's elite programs over the course of the last several years and are a perennial Pac-10 contender. This team went 10-3 last year including a bowl upset win over Oklahoma State in a game that really served as the coming out party for quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Now, I believe that Masoli is the real deal. However, the kid was a third stringer heading into last season. Also, the Ducks have an absolutely brutal schedule this season and have to deal with the loss of Mike Bellotti, who was definitely one of the elite coaches in the country. This team only has nine starters back from a very experienced club last year, yet I'm sure they will be a Top 20 team when the first preseason poll is announced next month.
Penn State - Hey, even I am a little guilty of this one here. Penn State was devastating on offense in the Big Ten last year and they were really a much better team and had a much better season than their Rose Bowl embarrassment let on. But heading into this season I have a feeling that the Nittany Lions will be in a lot of Top 10 and Top 15 lists this year. Trouble is, they aren't nearly that good. They too lost a load of experience and only have nine starters back this year. The thing is, Penn State has an embarrassingly easy schedule. They only have four road games all year, the get Ohio State at home, and they play six of their first seven in Happy Valley so I can see them working their way into the Top 5. Don't buy it. This team is nowhere near last year's squad.
Nebraska - The Cornhuskers really responded to Bo Pelini last season and had one of the quieter nine-wins-and-a-bowl-win season in the country. But I think some of the rhetoric stating that they are going to roll through the Big 12 North and talking about whether or not they can stand up to Texas and Oklahoma is a bit premature. This team has strength up front, an easy schedule, and does play in the debacle that is the North. But they are not a great team and aren't a threat to the top three teams in the South. This team lost 13 fifth-year seniors, one of their better quarterbacks that they've had in the last decade, nine starters and 23 lettermen. That's a lot to make up for.
Florida State - I don't think that Florida State is a bad team this year. I just don't think that they are the dark horse that I have seen a lot of people pegging them as. That team was absolutely loaded with seniors and experienced players, particularly on defense, and now they are playing with primarily sophomores and juniors. Their defense has some holes to fill and I'm not 100 percent sold an any of the skill position players past quarterback. Also, this team has what is, in my opinion, the most difficult schedule in the country. Could be another seven- or eight-win season at FSU.
USC - I know, I know: this is blasphemy. But I just think that the idea of USC as a national title contender is a bit ridiculous. I understand that they are a football factory and they just crank out 10-win seasons and Pac-10 Titles like Fox cranks out crappy TV shows but let's slow down on the Trojans this year. They lost eight starters and all but one (Taylor Mays) of the key playmakers off of one of the school's best ever defenses. They lost a first round pick at quarterback and a slew of experience at wide receiver. Add in a tougher schedule and some potential spoilers in the Pac-10 and I don't think USC will finish as a Top 5 team.
West Virginia - Believe me when I say this: it's all going to go horribly wrong in Morgantown this year. Bill Stewart reminds me of the gas station owner in "No Country For Old Men" and will spend the next six months playing the part. But without Pat White and that amazing offensive line this year's offense is going to be a wreck. That's going to put a ton of pressure on a defense that wasn't exactly up to snuff last year. And if anything happens to Noel Devine this team is screwed. WVU went from having 12 senior starters last year to just five this season, including a new QB. Their toughest games are at home, but I don't see Top 25 talent here.
Notre Dame - You can't have an overrated list in college football without the Irish. Notre Dame is going to be better this season. But they still aren't a Top 20 team. If they played in the ACC or Big 12 - not even the best conferences - they would be a No. 4 of No. 5 team. Yet, you're going to see the Irish in the Top 15 before Sept. 11. The offense is experienced but it's also the same group that was No. 101 in rushing last year and No. 65 in yards overall. Charlie Weis is not a good coach and this is not a Top 20 squad.
Alabama - I wouldn't say for one second that the Crimson Tide don't have one of the best defenses in the country. I mean, these guys are awesome and there are going to be a lot of 14-10 games that they are involved in this season. But the bottom line is that everything came together for the Tide last year. Now this season they have a much tougher schedule and much less experience on offense. Say what you want about John Parker Wilson but the kid was a gamer. Alabama was 3-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less and this year they have a list of teams lined up looking for revenge (Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi, etc.). Again, this is a Top 25 team but not a Top 10 club. The distinction may seem small, but I think Alabama will be an ATS buster this year.
Robert Ferringo is a professional handicapper and you can purchase a full season's package of his football selections for just $25 per week! Click here for details.
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