Every year, polls start coming out in January trying to determine which NCAA football teams are going to have the best season when the fall comes around. While some picks are likely to be on the money, such as those who think that Ohio State will return to the playoff, there are some other teams who seem to be much more highly rated than the analytic numbers indicate is appropriate. Of course, there’s also the random factor, which takes the form of injuries, off-the-field issues and such unpredictable events as that field-goal return by Auburn a couple years ago to stun Alabama. So let’s take a look at some of the teams that are ranked more highly in college football betting polls than they probably should be.
Which Are The Most Overrated Teams in NCAA Football Odds
The coaches’ poll has the Tigers ranked #7, but the analytic numbers have them at #25. The thinking among the coaches is that head coach Gus Malzahn, known as an offensive mind, will figure out how to handle new signal caller Jeremy Johnson. The Auburn defense was shaky last year, and so they gave Will Muschamp a seven-figure deal to come in as the defensive coordinator. Before Muschamp fell out of favor as the head coach at Florida, he was known as a strong defensive coordinator at the University of Texas.
Now, let’s look at some other facts. Auburn lost wide receiver Sammie Coates, their top two running backs, and Nick Marshall, a quarterback who could run and throw well. Malzahn hasn’t really gotten much out of the Auburn offense since Cam Newton went to the NFL, so his reputation as a genius may be wavering a bit.
Plus, even with a terrific coordinator, the defense may not improve that much. In 2014, Auburn ranked #41 in yards per play adjusted for schedule, and they ranked #50 in 2013, thanks to the formula used by Football Study Hall. Muschamp does have a lot of starters coming back and has talented graduate transfer Blake Countess coming in from Michigan to play cornerback, but zone coverage could still be a real challenge. Expect Auburn to win 8 games this season.
Even though the Trojans mustered nine wins in 2014, they lost at Boston College and got drubbed by UCLA – and this was with defensive end Leonard Willis clogging up the middle. Now that Willis is in the NFL, the defense may struggle a little more. This is going to be a crucial season for Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian. Another 9-4 campaign, given the talent on the squad, could start the clock ticking toward his firing. However, if the Trojans can take the Pac-12 South and play like the #10 ranked team that the Coaches Poll has them as being, Sarkisian could have some job security for a while. Given that quarterback Cody Kessler and five other blue-chip recruits are on the roster, this is possible.
However, the Trojans have tough games with Oregon and Notre Dame out of the conference, along with Arizona, Stanford and UCLA in the conference. I see the Trojans winning 9 games but finishing out of the top 10.
Florida State Seminoles
While the Seminoles offense was strong in 2014 thanks to the tremendous play of quarterback Jameis Winston, they struggled mightily on defense – as Oregon showed in the playoff and several teams showed during the regular season. Even though the unit ranked in the Top 5 nationally, it crumbled at the wrong times. The defense should improve, but dealing with a new quarterback should keep the Seminoles around 9 wins – well below the #8 ranking that FSU has in the coaches’ poll.