By Todd Fuhrman
It’s time to separate the pretenders from the contenders this coming Saturday after the first college football playoff rankings were revealed., Whether your spending the weekend watching Penn State/Michigan, Georgia/Kentucky, Notre Dame/Northwestern, or LSU/Alabama the national landscape will continue to take shape.
There was minimal movement in our Bet the Board Top 10 week over week with 1-8 remaining stagnant, while LSU (WELCOME TO THE PARTY TIGERS!!!) and (surprise, surprise) Mississippi State jumped back into the mix. We take a peak at a surprising ACC team in our overrated section and explain why the Cyclones of Iowa State are still underrated. Our Best Bet goes to the Big 10 West where Iowa’s defense is faced with some major questions in West Lafayette.
Vegas Top 10 Week 10:
5.) Notre Dame
7.) Ohio State
8.) Penn State
10.) Mississippi State
Who would have thought the Cavaliers would be at all relevant at this point in the College football season? Virginia’s season win total was 5.5/5 before the season started and at 6-1 they’ve far exceeded preseason expectations. With the first College Football Playoff ranking released Tuesday, Virginia sits at #25. Now that praise is being heaped on Virginia, let’s explain why they’re in our “Overrated” section. Virginia hasn’t exactly faced the toughest slate of opponents, with their best win coming against Miami Florida as a 7-point underdog. Despite the easy schedule the Cavaliers are only +0.2 net yards per play, including the 70th ranked offensive in terms of yards per play (5.4). While it’s been a nice story for those Charlottesville faithful, we have them power rated much lower than their current CFB playoff ranking behind an underwhelming offense that struggles to move the ball consistently.
Underrated: Iowa State
We can’t pound the table enough on this topic but when evaluating teams, records mean very little in determining the true strength and power rating assigned to a unit. Iowa State is the perfect example of that principle. Just one game above .500, the Cyclones have impressed, winning and covering 4 of their last 5, including a road victory over Oklahoma State and back to back home wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech. Iowa State has played arguably the toughest schedule in the nation with the first two losses this season coming at the hands of Iowa and Oklahoma. Despite that gauntlet the Cyclones are +0.8 net yards per play. Matt Campbell continues to show why he’s one of the best coaches in the country and his coaching prowess was on full display in his undressing of the Mountaineers. On top of all that, the Cyclones have a rare combination of an above average passing attack (8.1 yards per pass, 30th in the country) and a stingy defense (5th in opponents yards per carry, Top 15 defensive efficiency). This team is much stronger than their record indicates.
Best Bet: Purdue -2.5
Purdue enters off a road loss at Michigan State, where they closed a 2.5-point favorite at BetOnline.AG before kickoff, while Iowa fell on the road at Penn State by 6. Purdue owns a very efficient offense led by standout wide receiver Rondale Moore. The Boilermakers currently average 8.1 yards per pass attempt, leading to a net +1.3 net yards per play. This will be put to test against a very tough Iowa defense, whose defense has surrendered 4.3 yards per play, but that number does tick up 4.6 when on the road. Outside of an inexplicable final result vs Eastern Michigan (Lost 20-19, averaged 8.1 yards per carry and gained 476 yards), Purdue has scored 27 or more at home in every game this year. Purdue will do enough get into the 20’s here, putting Iowa’s limited offense, averaging 5.1 yards per play (93rd in country), in a tough spot. Look for the Hawkeyes to struggle keeping pace, especially when we see that Purdue is 6th in the country in opponent Red Zone scoring % at 69.57% (includes FG’s). Purdue laying a less than a field goal here is quite the bargain especially if Iowa’s starting QB Nathan Stanley is still dealing with lingering effects of a thumb injury suffered last weekend.