BY TODD FUHRMAN
There goes the chance to see Jim Harbaugh embarrassed by the mastermind Nick Saban in the college football playoffs; Urban Meyer was intent on stealing that honor. The Wolverines were dismantled in Columbus and subsequently leapfrogged by the Buckeyes in our Bet the Board Top Ten. Notre Dame held on against a plucky USC Trojan team but couldn’t stop the Sooners from jumping them in our top 10. We waited all season to finally peg this team as overrated whereas a familiar program remains underrated in our eyes. As far as the best is concerned there’s no big game hunting here; it’s Group of 5 time!
Bet the Board Top 10 Week 14:
4.) Ohio State
7.) Notre Dame
9.) Penn State
10.) Mississippi State
This is the first time Central Florida has been in our “overrated” portion of this article but to be honest, they’ve been slightly overrated all year. Now at #8 in the CFB Playoff Rankings, especially with Heisman candidate QB Mackenzie Milton out for the season (hopefully not career ending) with a devastating knee injury, the Knights are way out of range in terms of actual power ratings. Central Florida has faced the easiest schedule of any team currently rated in the Top 25 (around 70thin SOS) with their signature win coming against the same opponent they’ll face this Saturday (sorry Pitt fans). UCF has struggled to stop the run, surrendering 4.6 yards per carry (82nd in the antion), and the task doesn’t get any easier this week with Memphis cranking out 6.4 yards per carry (3rd nationally). Freshman QB Darriel Mack Jr. has a chance to prove his worth this Saturday in the AAC Championship, a game in which UCF opened as a -5.5/-5 point favorite but a number the market couldn’t hold with professional support on the underdog.
Underrated: Texas A&M
Texas A&M has faced arguably the toughest schedule in the country with losses coming against Clemson (by 2), at Alabama (22, the closest game for the Crimson Tide), at Mississippi State (horrible spot), and at Auburn (by 4, had 10 point lead with 6 minutes to go). We discussed this last week but the Aggies excel at stopping the run and getting to the quarterback (Top 10 in both Opponents yards per carry and sack percentage) although you wouldn’t know that watching their 7 OT thriller. That stat is incredible considering the quality of opposing offenses. Though they failed to cover the -2.5 this past week vs. LSU (hopefully some of you dabbled on the ML), they withstood poor luck with a late 4th quarter turnover that turned that game on its head. A&M is #19, but we have them closer to the #10 than we do #20 and finish the regular season as our most underrated side.
Best Bet: 317 Fresno State +3.0 (-120):
When looking at the majority of these conference title games it is especially pertinent to check what the line was when/if these teams had played a regular season game. Three weeks ago, Fresno State went into Boise State as a 2.5-point favorite, a game in which they drew the overwhelming majority of betting tickets (on two-game Friday night slate, this is relevant), held a 17-3 lead mid-way through the 3rd quarter, but ultimately ended up throwing the game away (there were some costly flags that went against the Bulldogs). This week, the tables have turned and Boise is receiving the majority of the tickets at BetOnline.AG on a line that is quite inflated. Fresno was in control for much of game #1 and with a better head coach expect them to finish a job they couldn’t during the regular season. If you trust the betting market as being an accurate measure of a team’s power profile these two teams haven’t changed nearly 5 points in just a few short weeks. Grab the value with the road dog; Fresno wins this game outright.