Let me tell you about the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. They are, by my account, the worst team in NCAA-FBS college football. And it's not even close. Last season they actually managed to finish strong, losing their last 3 games by less than a touchdown, but that's about the best thing one might say about this program to date. Not only did they lose every game, but it was following a 2008 season in which they won 2 games against non-FBS schools and only managed to stay within a touchdown against one opponent in the division of which they, at least attempt to, compete. Is this excusable? Well sure it is, the truth is that Western Kentucky only qualified for top division status a couple years back and should probably not be overly criticized for demanding some time to adjust and get better. They have recently made a coaching change and play in a weak conference, by FBS standards, one that they should be able to maintain at least a hint of competitiveness within the not too distant future. But they are not there yet.
So what's the problem then? Nebraska, actually. It's not that the Huskers won't get their opportunity to validate their hype, they do after all play in a conference that affords them that chance, well at least for now they do. But when I saw that their opponent is FCS South Dakota State this coming Saturday , I thought oh come on man. When I say that Nebraska carries with it a lot of hype, it's an understatement. For the last few seasons, fans of Big 12 North teams have kind of justified their inadequacies with the thought that should they just win the North, then one never knows what could happen in one game for the conference championship. And last year, Nebraska nearly pulled off just that. But they didn't. And they lost 3 other games as well, including one ugly one at home against Iowa St that gave us this wonderful scene. What's more is that their best player from a year ago, not to mention maybe the best player in college football, moved on and with him a handful of other starting players, including the quarterback. Yet here we stand, 3 weeks into the season, and the Husker hype is boiling over.
And what do they have to show for it? Blow out city, no question, but against Western Kentucky, Idaho and Washington. The Washington game is their only real test so far, as it was a road game against a BCS conference team. Washington though has been awful in recent past, even losing every single game 2 years ago (Incidentally, Idaho 2 seasons ago. Hmmm, noticing a trend here? In 2008, Western Kentucky, Idaho and Washington combined to beat 1 FBS foe...New Mexico State). Last season, Washington's production spiked a little with a new coach and a couple of huge conference upsets, but they still topped out with a 5-7 season. Better, but not good enough for their opponents to stake claim to any consideration the likes of which most Nebraska fans are posturing for, particularly since Washington opened the season with a loss to BYU, who has had a bit of a rough go at it since. It's not that blowing out Washington on the road is without merit, but to truly justify recognition of accomplishment heading into conference play, backing it up with a second notable opponent this coming weekend would be appreciated, particularly given the lack of substance in weeks one and two. Instead, we get South Dakota State in Lincoln. Oh come on man.
This all leads us to my rankings this week. As promised, everything has been completely reshuffled to be more representative of this year's achievements, as opposed to last year's as my previous polls to date had demonstrated. Like my little point spread forecasting attempts, I will provide explanation as to the specifics of my methods as we go along, but I'd really like to cover this in parts, so let's unveil it first and work on the explanation later. Some things might stand out to you, one being Nebraska's falling a bit, but somehow I don't think that will offer the most vivid reaction. Here they are and then I'll discuss a couple of them:
1 TCU (3-0)
2 Florida (3-0)
3 Alabama (3-0)
4 USC (3-0)
5 Oklahoma (3-0)
6 Auburn (3-0)
7 Stanford (3-0)
8 Arizona (3-0)
9 Missouri (3-0)
10 Texas (3-0)
11 Ohio State (3-0)
12 Wisconsin (3-0)
13 Utah (3-0)
14 West Virginia (3-0)
15 Nevada (3-0)
16 California (2-1)
17 LSU (3-0)
18 Michigan State (3-0)
19 Nebraska (3-0)
20 Temple (3-0)
21 South Carolina (3-0)
22 Kansas State (3-0)
23 Michigan (3-0)
24 North Carolina State (3-0)
25 Oklahoma State (3-0)
So Nebraska has been much discussed and yeah, they have dropped to 19 accordingly. But have you noticed yet who is missing entirely? Yes, Boise State is not ranked at all. As much as I've criticized Nebraska for their schedule, at least they will play in a very challenging conference, second only to the SEC and will have every opportunity to make up for a lack-luster first 4 games of competition. Boise State though is in the WAC, a conference which a team of Boise State's caliber should and usually does annihilate. Nevada looks pretty good so far and might be able to provide some problems, but really nobody else will likely offer any challenge at all. This isn't completely condemning, for now it is their conference, and they cannot do much of anything about that. But what's shocking to me about Boise State, which has so few match-ups of any significance in conference play, I wonder why a team such as this would then go ahead and schedule Wyoming and Toledo to supplement their 2 challenging non-conference games against Virginia Tech and Oregon State. Shouldn't they load up with 4 big games to put on their resume? Or at least 3? I mean, it's pretty clear to everyone what kind of status they have prepared themselves for and therefore should be competing at this level more than 2, maybe 3 times in a season. I don't get it and now that Virginia Tech seems to be less than advertised, and Oregon State has dropped a game already, Boise State might have very little to fall back on as they did last season, when they beat Oregon, who went undefeated the rest of the way. For now, I reward achievment, and never losing will help, but a lot of teams have not lost yet and they have more impressive wins to date.
The team that has achieved thus far is TCU. Now, many teams have also played well, but TCU is the only team in the country that has defeated 2 otherwise undefeated BCS conference teams. So for now they are one. Should they lose, or the teams they are being credited for beating lose, then my ranking system will adjust accordingly. But for now they are the team, and given the level of play we have become accustomed to seeing TCU play at, this is not too far of a stretch anyway.
So last week, I suggested some discomfort with some of the teams my betting system was recommending, and sure enough it suffered cataclysmic defeat, losing to the tune of a whopping -$428.50. Unfortunately, while it did project some of the results, the betting amounts would have completely sunk me.
Winners: Temple, Arizona State, Air Force and Northwestern.
Losers: Ohio, Kent State, Tulsa, Troy, Wake Forest and Iowa.
A good amount of money would have been saved by the 2 alternative systems. Betting only on spreads of 20 or less would have resulted with -$228.50 and betting an even $100 per game would have given me -$240. That leaves the totals as such:
My system as is: -$238
The flat $100 per game rate: -$140
Betting only on spreads of 20 or less: -$17.50
Hopefully I can rebound from this week. Here are the picks:
Florida International +11 vs Maryland $20
Rutgers +1 vs North Carolina $80
Pittsburgh +3.5 vs Miami (FL) $65
Temple +14 vs Penn State $20
BYU +4 vs Nevada $130
Oregon State +17 vs Boise State $60
California +6.5 vs Arizona $85
Arkansas State +11 vs Troy $10
Middle Tennessee -2.5 vs Louisiana-Lafayette $25
FAU -9.5 vs North Texas $65
Thanks for reading and have a fantastic weekend!