There are so many ways to define overrated or underrated in the world of college football.
The preseason AP Top 25 was released last week, giving a glimpse into how the most respected journalists rank the nation’s best teams. Offshore and Las Vegas oddsmakers, on the other hand, have a different top 25 based on a mathematical approach.
Discrepancies between the AP and Vegas rankings can create a bear or bull market for teams, thus rendering plenty as overrated or underrated.
With The Action Network’s Power Ratings in mind, lets take a look at some of the market’s biggest disparities.
Overrated College Football Teams
No fan base wants to hear the “overrated” chant, but with the Huskies, we have a small case of AP voters placing more value on their team than oddsmakers have. We have Washington at No. 6 in our power ratings and Auburn at No. 4.
The AP poll has Washington ranked No. 6 also, but Auburn ranked No. 9, which will lead to some poor color commentator labeling a Tigers victory as an “upset” in Week 1. As of this writing, SportsInsights has Auburn favored at -1.5 at multiple shops.
But Washington’s Vegas power rating would increase, putting it just behind Ohio State, with a decisive victory over Auburn. The Huskies would surely shed the “overrated” tag.
Ranked No. 13 in the AP poll, the Trees come in at No. 24 in our power ratings. And the latest version of the S&P+ ratings have Stanford at 20th.
While the health of K.J. Costello and Bryce Love is important, the first-half schedule is one of the toughest in the country. Stanford’s 2017 defense ranked 101st in efficiency, and improvement is paramount to a better season.
Early victories over USC, Oregon, Notre Dame and Utah would take the “overrated” narrative off the Cardinal, but don’t count on it.
Central Florida Knights
Josh Heupel takes the program’s reigns from Scott Frost, but expectations are still high for the team with the longest winning streak in FBS. Our ratings have UCF at No. 28, though — that’s still highest in the AAC, but nowhere near College Football Playoff contender-level.
Plenty of offensive weapons remain, but the loss of linebacker Shaquem Griffin is a key reason that oddsmakers are down on the Knights. Griffin accounted for 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks last season, leading to a linebacker havoc ranking of 14th in the nation.
With North Carolina waiting in Week 3 and Florida Atlantic in Week 4, it might be a few weeks before the Knights shake the “overrated” tag.
Underrated College Football Teams
The Utes came up short of making the AP Top 25, but are No. 17 in our power ratings.
The Pac-12 South is wide open, and Utah made major offensive strides in 2017 with coordinator Troy Taylor. The Utes were one of the most efficient teams in the nation at running the ball, ranking seventh in Rushing Success Rate. That’s a monster weapon in a conference that’s filled with soft defensive front sevens.
Utah doesn’t have the explosiveness of Arizona or Oregon, but defensive efficiency in pass coverage will be a difference-maker for the Utes in 2018. Plus, they’ve got the best special teams in the country.
Look for Utah to challenge for the Pac-12 South, and pull a few AP Top 25 upsets.
The Gators land just outside the AP Top 25. Dan Mullen will lose the underrated tag if he can beat ranked LSU and Mississippi State teams.
A culture change has been the narrative during fall camp, and Mullen is expected to work his offensive magic on a program that has struggled to score points. The talent is there in Gainesville, and our power ratings reflect that in Florida’s No. 21 ranking. It won’t be a surprise when the Gators contend for the SEC Championship in the next few years.
Did most AP voters look at the 7-6 record and Las Vegas Bowl loss when filling out their ballots?
Our rankings place the Ducks at No. 16, while S&P+ lists Oregon at 21. The margin is small with an AP ranking of 24, but this team can win any given Saturday if Justin Herbert is under center.
The retention of Jim Leavitt was the most important move for the Ducks this offseason, as the coordinator turned Oregon into the 26th-most efficient defense in the country.
Oregon has a bye before hosting Washington in Week 7 — a matchup that could have implications on the national level.