College Football's "Fave Five"
by Lenny Del Genio
With my claim that I would not be surprised at all to see the West Virginia Mountaineers go 12-0 during this regular season, it got me to thinking who else might join them in the race for the BCS Title Game. Currently, five teams are pegged as national title contenders, with all holding 6/1 or less odds at most online and Vegas sportsbooks. Personally, I believe that WVU, at 25/1, is a potentially much sounder investment, but still lets take a look at this Fave Five.
USC (3/1) and Ohio State (6/1)
I am grouping this pair together for two simple reasons. One, I believe both will run the table in their respective conferences, with relative ease. Two, they play one another, in Los Angeles on September 13th in what is in effect, a de facto National Semifinal Game.
Really, Im not sure why Pete Carrolls team is the consensus favorite at the books. Granted, it looked as if the Trojans could have beaten anyone in the country following their dismantling of Illinois in the Rose Bowl, but they have just 11 returning starters from that team and lose a Pac-10 worst 26 letterman. Also, this matchup with Ohio State, at least to this former linesmaker, seems to set up in eerily reminiscent fashion to the home and home series played between Ohio State and Texas a couple of seasons ago, where experience, particularly at the QB position, won out.
Ohio State, who lost at home to Texas (were without a suspended Troy Smith), then beat the Longhorns the next year in Austin (just Colt McCoys 2nd start), will definitely have experience. They return 19 starters from a team that finished #1 in the polls at the end of last years regular season. I find it inconceivable that they will drop a Big 10 game this season, as the conference is (once again) weak. All the Buckeyes need to hope for now is that they dont face another SEC team in a potential championship game situation.
The bloom is definitely OFF the Bob Stoops rose in Norman following another BCS Bowl loss. Next to the SEC, the Big XII is the toughest conference in America (4 Top 10 teams last year), but the Sooners do have the schedule and talent necessary to run the table and make it through unscathed. They get both Texas Tech (a trendy pick this year) and Kansas at home. Missouri isnt on the regular season schedule, at least until a possible meeting in the Conference Title Game. As always, they face Texas at a neutral site, but theyve dominated this series with the exception of 05 and 06, plus the Longhorns arent as good as theyve been in previous years.
Florida and Georgia (Both 6/1)
These teams are grouped together for obvious reasons. Clearly, any team that runs the table in the SEC is virtually guaranteed automatic entry into the BCS Title Game. The problem is no team can ever do it. Coming off a very strong conclusion to last season, many pundits (including ESPN) are calling for UGA make it to the championship game. Those folks may want to consult a schedule. In addition to the artist formerly known as The Worlds Largest Cocktail Party, the Bulldogs must make visits to the campuses of Arizona State (1st non-conf road game since 1995 with the exception of Georgia Tech), LSU and Auburn. If they run the table, Georgia is the best team in the country.
Florida has a more conducive schedule to running the table. They avoid Auburn and get LSU at home. 16 returning starters, most notably Tim Tebow, and just three true road games in conference play have me thinking it could be two national titles in three years for Urban Meyer. The Georgia game will likely be their toughest test, but this is a series that has seen UF win 15 of the last 18 meetings. Under Meyer, the Gators are 8-1 vs. UGA, Tennessee and Florida State.
Bottom line is that you need to keep an eye on the College Football odds throughout the summer and start your own handicapping sooner than later.
Good luck, Lenny.