The first BCS standings have been announced. The Blog Poll has been updated. The college football pecking order has been determined, right? Not so fast my friends! You dont even know the half of it. Let the JCB clue you in on the real powers so far of 2009 season with the blog’s own ballot for top-10 teams in the county. Only high earners need apply.
First some disclaimers. Of course, there are oversights. There were only 10 spots in poll. Until the suits (read: maize4blue) allow expansion, we’re stuck on this number and some folks will just have to deal with being left out. Save the complaints then. I am looking at you Temple, Ohio and Boston College fans. Oh, and dont worry Ohio State, I see you in the corner over there with that 5-2 ATS mark. But, come on, you really thought I would list you after that effort against Purdue. Especially since I told the worldwide MGo Podcast audience how brilliant you all were on the road. And, yes, I hear the noise coming out of the Sooner state where both Oklahoma and Tulsa have gone Under the total everytime out. There’s a reason you’re not on this list. I hate Unders. I am pretty Anti-Underite in that regard. And, its pretty bad, so dont expect love here.
Alright, with that on the way, the JCB Top-10 as it stands as Week 8 of the season begins, with ATS records listed first:
1. (tie) Idaho 7-0 (6-1) Next: at Nevada. Line, Nevada -15.5. Connecticut, 6-0 (4-2) Next: at West Virginia. Line, WVA -7.
We dropped the scoop on these guys earlier in the week. They are the only two unbeaten teams against the odds left standing. Idaho is 7-0 ATS, while the Huskies are 6-0. More than half their covers have come when catching points, yet both have good SU records (a combined 10-3) and are steaming towards bowl bids. Can they keep their undefeated seasons alive this weekend?
We all know the story in Stoors. Tragedy. Who knows how they will respond? West Virginia has been a terrible matchup for them. I dont know if seven points would be enough even in optimal settings. But, I’m cheering for them either way. No team in the country deserves the happiness that winning brings than UConn right now. And that’s an understatement.
As for Idaho, its a huge turnaround that’s vaulted them to this top spot. I am not ready to get off this bandwagon. They’re big dogs against Nevada this weekend, but frankly they’ve played better all season, against relatively comparable schedules. Two touchdowns dont separate these teams. They beat a Colorado State team by two points that Nevada lost to by 15. Does that matter? I dont know, but it seems relevant. When, I mean, If these rankings get updated next week, the Vandals will still be in the top spot. Book It.
3. Central Michigan, 5-1 (6-1). Next: at Bowling Green. Line -8
CHIPS!!! It should not be a surprise to see Central Michigan anchoring a spot in this poll. They took a step backwards last season, but they had been covering at a better than two out of every three rate for three plus seasons before then. Dont look now, but they are back. They’re 3-1 ATS in league play. That’s important to note since the Chips are now 24-12-1 ATS against MAC foes. They slid to 3-5 last season as they struggled against the weight of heavier chalk odds. Their 3-1 start this year has been as, on average, a 14-point favorite. Ladies and gentlemen, The Leap. I have to think that playing them in the rest of their league games–including the inevitable MAC Title Game, IMO–will net a winning record. But, dont sleep on them when they step out of conference to take on Boston College next week. They covered twice to open the season against upper division BCS teams, including an outright win over Michigan State. In a way, we should pull for a BC win over Notre Dame this week because the public and media slurping in the aftermath might be worth an extra point or two at the window. If its wrong to think like that, then I dont want to be right.
4. Miami, 5-1 (5-1) Next: vs Clemson. Line, Miami -5
The Canes passed a big test in my eyes over the weekend. Yes, they have been money from the get go this season. But, keep in mind, that first month of play they were the scrappy, disrespected, nobody gives us a chance underdog. They passed with flying colors. The nation, not to mention the betting public, took notice and the Canes blossomed into darkhorse BCS contenders. They’re also going to become heavy chalk, especially as the slate lightens up compared to what was thrown their way during the first half. Last week, they covered a double digit spread over UCF by more than a touchdown. I like seeing teams excell when their role in the odds changes like that.
5. Wyoming, 5-1 (4-3) Next: At Utah, October 31
The Cowboys have shot out of nowhere to become the story of the Mountain West Conference. Well, maybe after Michael Locksley’s sexual harassment escapades in New Mexico. Or three teams in BCS contention. But after that, the Cowboys are right there. Their 5-1 ATS record includes four covers as an underdog, three covers in as many starts in Laramie and nothing but winning tickets since the calendar turned to fall. How clutch has Wyoming been? They didn’t even need to score any points last week against Air Force and they still cashed the winning ticket. Can they stay profitable as underdogs? They’ll likely be that in all their remaining games as they still catch TCU, BYU and Utah in addition to two other road contests.
6. Conference USA
All this debate over the best leagues in the country and everyone overlooks this powerhouse. But can any other conference match the lineup that includes Marshall, UCF, SMU, Tulsa and Houston? I dont think so. Those programs are a combined 21-5-1 ATS and each has at least twice as many covers as losses. The problem is I dont which of these teams are the real deal and worthy just yet. They’ll be tons of head to heads in the next few weeks, so this will get sorted out with the wash of upcoming games. Until then, we’ll just reserve this ranking spot for the league in general. We really need to get a SEC/CUSA Challenge off the ground. For now, we’ll have to settle for the Liberty Bowl.
7. ULM, 5-1 (4-2) Next: at Kentucky. Line, UK -14.5
After splitting covers as heavy dogs against bigtime BCS competition, the Warhawks have been on fire. They have won and covered all three Sun Belt games and appear destined for a killer showdown with Troy (no ATS slouch in their own right with a 4-2 record) later this season for all the New Orleans Bowl marbles. They step back out of league play and into ‘on paper’ mismatches with BCS foes this weekend. They’re catching 14.5 points when they travel to Lexington to play Kentucky this weekend. I think they could be a solid play here. But, part of me wants to see them get rolled in hopes of keeping their future lines down a bit when they resume SBC play. Only Troy will beat them this year and even then I’m willing to take a few points with them against the Trojans and take my chances. This is a good rushing team, with a good kicker who is 16-6 ATS in league play since 2005. After Saturday, they play SBC foes five straight Saturdays. Interesting.
8. South Carolina, 5-2 (5-1) Next: vs Vandy Line, South Carolina -12.5
By all accounts, we should carve out a spot for Alabama who sports the nifty 5-2 ATS mark. But the team out of the SEC right now is South Carolina. Why? Well, their 5-1 ATS mark is a half game better than the Tide’s. Oh, and there is that little something about last Saturday where the teams went head to head and the Cocks came out with the bag of cash. This is a results-based poll, after all and fer gawd’s sake. To be sure, we know Bama is an amazing team and Saturday’s results not withstanding, do not fear laying the wood with them from here on out. But do not lose sight of the Gamecocks. I’m not so sure they aren’t the third best team in the league right now. They’ve covered as dogs at NC State, Georgia and Alabama and still have interesting road trips to go at Tennessee and Arkansas. They also host Florida and Clemson in November. We will probably have at a few more investment opportunities for Spurrier’s bunch before its all said and done.
9. Nebraska, 5-1 (4-2). Next: vs Iowa State. Line, Nebraska -17.5
No team took a bigger tumble in the rankings than the Cornhuskers did after last week’s embarassing effort in losing outright as double digit favorites at home to Texas Tech. Nebraska was never in this game once the Raiders scored thier first touchdown. But, I cant push them out of the rankings on just one result. They were 5-0 ATS headed into the game after all. Until last week, it was like betting on 1980s Nebraska again. They covered three big numbers by running it up on tomato cans in Lincoln. They cashed twice in huge road showdowns, when everyone expected failure, on account of a nasty defense. Can they capture that Osborne heyday mojo and cover the big 17.5 line agains Iowa State this weekend? I dont know, but their grip in this top 10 may be lost if they dont.
10. Duke Over, 5-0. Next vs Maryland. Lines, O/U 56.5
Duke is also favored by six points this week over Maryland. And, its not basketball season. Whoa. The Devils have been solid ATS this season, but the Over in their games has been unbeatable. I misled everyone yesterday when I announced no team has hit the Over in every game this year. I had overlooked Duke and their 5-0 mark going above and beyond the totals. Thanks to an offense in the top third in scoring and a defense in the bottom third of scoring, the Blue Devils have soared over the total on average by 11 points per outing. This week’s 56.5-point hurdle is the highest they’ve had to clear all season. But, Duke games have averaged 59 points per game this season and have exceeded the 60-point mark in four straight weeks. Did you know the Over has hit at a 21-602 clip this decade in Duke home games? Now you do.