Finding value in team’s win totals

Aug 12, 2003 3:49 AM

In the writer’s version of college football, the season begins in July when the Imperial Palace releases its Games of the Year and Over/Under win totals.

There’s no denying it’s fun to scan the selections and decide who is over and who is underrated. The team that jumped out at me was Virginia. The Cavaliers seem a steal at just 6½ wins coming off their two best recruiting classes in school history and returning one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Matt Schaub.

Naturally, it’s early and basically a crapshoot since there are no preseason games. However, usually a team returning a solid, experience QB figures to be a good play. My favorite example from last year was Iowa State and its Seneca Wallace. Just ask Nebraska how good Wallace was.

This year’s candidate could be Ryan Dinwiddie at Boise State, the team that can score 30 in a quarter.

But enough from me. I sought out Mike Seba, the college football guru at Las Vegas Sports Consultants and Arkansas Razorback alum.

Seba sees an interesting national championship clash this year between Big 12 rivals Kansas State and Oklahoma. That match-up would be quite a coup, since both teams are in the same division in the Big 12 and unable to meet in the league title game.

"Bob Stoops at Oklahoma is the best coach in college football," Seba said. "I think it’s absolutely possible for the Sooners and Kansas State to wind up in the national title game."

Seba goes into more depth with some of the other teams thrown his way off the Imperial Palace list. For my part, I’ll settle for my South Carolina Gamecocks beating the Pigs on Nov. 8 in Fayetteville.

But, don’t bet on it. Now, on to the ones that may be worth a buck or two.

Ohio State (10): Value’s in the under. Everyone’s gunning for them as champs. Won many close games last year. Lots of starters back. Have to go unbeaten or 11-1 to lose bet. They face Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State on road. Academic fraud case with Maurice Clarett may cause loss in focus.

Georgia (8): What it should be.

Wisconsin (9): Look at the over, maybe 10-2 or 11-1. Favorable schedule.

Doesn’t play Michigan. Hosts Buckeyes. Best team Barry Alvarez has had. Most key players back, including injured WR Lee Evans. Lost several games by less than a TD (Michigan, Ohio St).

Michigan (9½): About right.

LSU (8½): Very favorable schedule. Talent level higher than any team in the difficult SEC. Top 10 recruiting classes the past three years. Two good QBs. Should win at least 10.

Virginia (6½): I made them 8 over. Similar to LSU in talent level. Young, only eight Âí­seniors, but vets started last year. Finished strong last year including blowout of W. Virginia. Like the defense. Al Groh has done great job recruiting. Schaub solid QB.

Kansas St (11): I came out with 11 wins, but can’t recommend the over. Talent level’s the class of Big 12 along with Oklahoma. Very favorable schedule, though it is 13 games. Can only lose one to cover.

Texas (10): World of talent, but replacing QB Simms. Can’t play over. If anything, the under. Have WR Roy Williams and RB Cedric Benson, but not as strong defensively. Schedule pretty good. Hosts K-State, Nebraska. Oklahoma neutral site.

Florida St (9): Where it should be. Under, if anything. Most difficult schedule in college football plus offseason problems with McPherson and uncertainty of QB Rix academically. Talented, but unlike past teams, don’t have market on recruiting. Others have caught up.

Miami (9½): I like Miami. Always lose several in NFL draft. Will go with two QBs, but should be OK. With its schedule, if anything play under. At FSU, Pitt, Virginia Tech. Host Tennessee and Florida.

Virginia Tech (10): May be too high. Schedule not difficult, but asking a lot to win 10. At Pitt, Virginia. Host Miami and Texas A&M.

Notre Dame (8): Schedule difficult. Like their talent and Coach Willingham; total of 8 is about right. No value.

USC (8): Like over slightly. Best defensive and offensive lines in a decade. One of best WR in Mike Williams. Lost Heisman QB Carson Palmer. A lower scoring, more defensive team. In every game. Looking at 9 wins. At Auburn, Washington, Notre Dame.

Maryland (8½): Not high on Terps. Over, if anything. Sked not too difficult, but don’t care for skill position players. Will be in most games. Not flashy.

NC State (8½): No value. Expectations high.

UNLV (6): May be worth the over, can’t play under. Might pass on it. Will be more of team concept without QB Thomas. Team chemistry’s better. With Robinson no longer AD, he’ll have more time to focus on football.

Auburn (8½): Not much value. Overrated. Not good at QB. Great RBs and defense. Similar to USC. Will be in games, but won’t score a lot.

Arkansas (7½): Best team in Houston Nutt era. Favorable schedule. If this team doesn’t win 8 games, will quit being a hog rooter.