College Football: Handicapping the Leaders Print
Tuesday, 16 October 2007 07:00
Sports Betting Top Stories

Poll Shakeup

Wild scores like Boise State's 69-67 triumph over Nevada and constant shuffling of the Top 5 sometimes combine to make Professional Handicappers League member Steve Zukiel momentarily forget what sports season it is.

"Don't the football polls have a college basketball flavor this year?" Zukiel asked.

"I mean, every single week it seems we have a new No. 1 through 5.

"I absolutely love it."

Every week it seems Sunday newspaper sports pages are full of headlines about upsets and upheavals.

Colorado stuns Sooners! Stanford nips USC! Kentucky KOs LSU!

The Tigers, top-ranked entering the week, yielded to Ohio State in the AP, USA Today and BGS Power Ratings, as well as the first BCS Ratings. The BGS Power Ratings had LSU second, while Las Vegas Sports Consultants left LSU No. 1.

PHL members Zukiel, Jerry Johnson and Jimmy Boyd, along with Commissioner Brian Gabrielle, all have the Buckeyes ruling the roost, the latter three give OSU the benefit of the doubt mainly because it's still undefeated.

"Ohio State has a great coach in Jim Tressel, but I don't think they could beat Oklahoma or LSU right now," Johnson said.

Boyd observed that realistically, LSU is probably still the best team in the country.

"Ohio State gets the votes now because the Buckeyes are undefeated, but they haven't played anybody yet and the Big Ten is a much weaker conference than the SEC this year," he said.

"LSU has played four teams that are currently ranked, beating Virginia Tech, Florida and South Carolina.

"Ohio State has played one ranked team, Purdue.

"This is as good an argument for a playoff system as I have.

"The best team just might not be playing the title game this season."

Gabrielle, who was most surprised at the Trojans' loss, gave Ohio State only a slight nod over the Tigers, while Las Vegas oddsmaker Ken White pointed out his Top 4 -- LSU, OU, OSU and USC -- are separated by a cat's whisker.

"Ohio State has earned the No. 1 ranking, but considering the LSU loss to Kentucky came on the road in triple OT to a 6-1 SEC football team, I still have the Tigers as a very close No. 2," Gabrielle said.

Added White of LVSC:

"LSU is No. 1, but barely.

"Our Top 4 actually are so close you could put any of them first.

"Only one point separates them.

"You could throw them all together and what a tournament that would be -- except I don't think No. 5 (West Virginia) would like it! They'd get a little upset."

Gabrielle notes the emphasis on highly-rated teams getting knocked off may be overdone and suggests college football fans could have short, selective memories.

"I don't think there has been a rash of college upsets," Gabrielle said.

"Maybe college football fans just have a short memory, as it is very rare for a college football team to go through the season undefeated.

"Right now there are 6 undefeated '1A' teams and no less than 11 one-loss teams.

"In fact, the Top 10 teams on the BGS Power Ratings right now boast a combined record of 60-5, which hardly qualifies as a 'rash' of upsets.

"One could conclude that certain teams were over-rated in the pre-season polls, creating an illusion of upsets, but those teams (Michigan, Notre Dame etc.) just weren't as good as expected."

by: Staci Richards - - Email Us

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