Vegas's National Championship Game Picks
Last week was the season's best test of the Vegas pollsters, whom we need now more than ever with at least three valid claimants on national championship game berths. Let me briefly state my original intentions here: since judging multiple one- or two-loss teams is extremely difficult, and since the real pollsters who actually decide these things occasionally make questionable judgments, I decided the best deciders would be the people who make their livings comparing teams: the Vegas oddsmakers. Thus, the Oddsmakers Poll, featuring 30 teams and the not-to-be-contested wisdom of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which tells you which college teams are the best, scoreboard and polls be damned.
Now, I'm not judging the Oddsmakers to be successful merely when favorites win; these ratings don't take into account bettors moving the line, nor do they take into account home-field issues or late-breaking injuries or the like. Rather, my general theory is that if two teams play each other, and if Vegas believes Team A is better and the BCS believes Team B is better, Vegas is more likely to be proven correct. Thus, our most important week ever.....
* The BCS ranked Arizona State ahead of Southern Cal, and Vegas disagreed. Southern Cal won by 20, on the road.
* The BCS ranked Kansas ahead of Missouri, and Vegas disagreed. Missouri won by eight.
* The BCS included both U-Conn and West Virginia in its Top 20; Vegas didn't even have U-Conn in its Top 30. West Virginia won by 45. (A bigger indictment of the BCS rankings you'll never find.)
* The BCS had UVA and Virginia Tech just eight spots apart in the Top 20, but Virginia couldn't crack Vegas's Top 30. Virginia Tech won by 12.
* The BCS didn't rank Kentucky and loved Tennessee, while Vegas had the two schools rated virtually even. It took four overtimes to settle that one.
There was one hiccup; the BCS preferred Hawaii to Boise State, and Vegas disagreed, but Hawaii won by 12, although its massive home-field edge caused Hawaii to actually be favored in Vegas. Still, with six perfect test cases, Vegas went 5-1 in being an accurate judge of team strength, and the BCS went 1-5. Which is why, when trying to figure out which two teams are best suited to meet for the national championship, you might want to ask Vegas. The answer after the jump.
The answer? West Virginia and Ohio State. Missouri is a mere sixth. If the Tigers lose this week, all will be well. If they win, an injustice will be perpetrated against the true second-best team in the land. Here are the rankings, with BCS rankings in parentheses.
1. West Virginia (2)
2. Ohio State (3)
3. Oklahoma (9)
4. Southern Cal (8)
5. LSU (7)
6. Missouri (1)
7. Florida (10)
8. Virginia Tech (6)
9. Georgia (4)
10. Boston College (11)
11. Brigham Young (19)
12. Kansas (5)
12t. South Florida (21)
14. Arizona State (13)
15. Clemson (16)
16. Texas (20)
17. Illinois (15)
18. Michigan (NR)
19t. Texas Tech (NR)
19t. Hawaii (12)
19t. Boise State (25)
22. Wisconsin (18)
23. Oregon (17)
24. Arizona (NR)
25t. Arkansas (NR)
25t. California (NR)
27. Cincinnati (23)
28. Auburn (24)
29. Tennessee (14)
30. Kentucky (NR)
Not ranked by Vegas: Virginia (22nd in the BCS).
Biggest Frauds: Tennessee is ranked 15 spots too high by the BCS. Hawaii and Kansas are ranked seven spots too high. Oregon is ranked six spots too high, since the BCS refuses to take into account obvious things like injuries. Missouri and Georgia are ranked five spots too high.
Biggest Sleepers:South Florida is ranked nine spots too low by the BCS. BYU is ranked eight spots too low. Oklahoma and Boise State are ranked six spots too low. Teams like Michigan and Texas Tech are also severely underrated.
(Also, my LVSC contact sent me 23 reasons Hawaii should NOT be in a BCS bowl, in the form of 23 teams that would have gone undefeated had they played Hawaii's exact schedule, which includes Boise State [since they would have been at home against Hawaii in this imaginary scenario], Oregon [assuming a healthy Dixon, which isn't hard to assume against that schedule] and Cal [whose injury concerns also would have been less severe had they been facing, say, Idaho].)
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