Welcome to August, the month in which the hype that builds for an onrushing football season reaches a crescendo. Optimism abounds and reality is but a myth that will be confirmed or busted at a later date.
But why wait when the key to making money betting football is knowing reality before it sets in? No we don’t have a crystal ball, but let’s just say that we’ve got the nose of a bloodhound when it comes to spotting teams that are being vastly overrated.
With the turning of the calendar came the release of the first Coaches Poll of the season. It confirmed what we suspected. The three teams that we’ve identified as extremely vulnerable when compared to the perception surrounding them are ripe for the taking in a number of ways.
Before you read about these would-be disappointments, please understand the parameters of what we’re dealing with. First, we’re not here to waste anybody’s time, so in order to be considered for the three most overrated means you have to be highly rated to begin with. We are only choosing from the generally accepted top 10 teams in the country as they stand now.
Second, our calling a team overrated simply means that said teams are overrated in comparison to their projections and hype levels. So while these teams may have nice straight-up records this season, our contention first and foremost is they’ll be losers against the spread and in markets like yes/no to make the playoff. And where warranted we will also be betting under on their season win totals.
Here are the three most overrated teams of 2019:
The Dawgs are generally the first team you hear out of people’s mouths after Alabama and Clemson. Yes, the same team that lost its last two games of last season. But that’s not what people remember. Instead, they view Georgia favorably as the team that had near-misses in postseason games against Alabama the past two seasons.
So the argument goes: Georgia is a few breaks from being on that Alabama/Clemson level. That’s true if we’re talking about the ’17 and ’18 season. But this is 2019 and we don’t view this team as talented as the previous two, especially on defense, and we also think the rest of the SEC has done some catching up to the upper echelon.
And that second part is the key here. We think that Tennessee, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M – all of whom Georgia plays – will be better than they were last season. Conversely, we think Georgia will be down a notch compared to the past two seasons. Combine the two and that could lead to big problems for a team that’s lined at 10 1/2 wins in the season totals department.
As for Xs and Os, Georgia has a veteran quarterback with an inexperienced receiving corps. The running backs lost half of their two-headed monster. The defense lost its two best play makers. There’s still considerable talent all over the roster, but to automatically pencil this team as the unquestioned No. 3 in the country is suspicious. But hey, we get it, the lazy media wants no piece of researching to use someone else in that spot.
How to play it: UNDER 10.5 wins, NO to make the playoff.
Also: Bet against as a single-digit favorite.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Like Georgia being nearly everyone’s No. 3, the Buckeyes are in most pundits’ top five. The notion is that Ohio St. will simply replace a coach like Urban Meyer with a guy who’s never been a head coach and a first-round draft pick quarterback like Dwayne Haskins with a guy who’s totally unproven at this level save for some scripted plays and mop-up duty vs. bad teams while at Georgia.
Has anyone seen Justin Fields throw from behind on the road yet? Or do you just want to assume he’ll be able to handle that?
Coach and quarterback are two huge questions for the Buckeyes and everyone is seemingly in a rush to be believers. What’s not being talked about is a defense that was statistically one of the worst of the Buckeyes’ recent past. Does that just auto-correct, too?
Like Georgia, the problem for Ohio St. is many of the teams in their conference either got better or are equal to last season. The close call at home last year vs. Nebraska is now a road game in Lincoln. The gutty win as a home underdog vs. Michigan will now likely have to be a road underdog win in Ann Arbor. If the tables are turned in both of those games, which they easily could be, then every single Ohio St. futures bet is ruined. And that says nothing about games against Michigan St., Northwestern, Wisconsin and Penn St.
How to play it: UNDER 10 wins, NO to make the playoff.
Also: Bet against as a road favorite.
Let’s see if we’re understanding this right, a program has had its last two quarterbacks get taken No. 1 in the past two NFL Drafts somehow won’t miss a beat? Yeah right.
Fact is, Oklahoma was downright lucky to have had a talent like Kyler Murray waiting in the wings behind Baker Mayfield. That kind of continuity almost never happens. And yet the projections surrounding Oklahoma this season are that the Sooner won’t miss a beat with Jalen Hurts inheriting college football’s glamour position. One problem, though, Hurts can’t throw.
Don’t believe us? Just use the actions of Nick Saban to convince yourself. Why do think Hurts was ousted from his starting role not once but twice at Alabama? The answer is because Nick Saban knew he couldn’t throw them back into the national title game against Clemson and when the job was there again for the taking, Hurts lost an offseason battle to Tua Tagovailoa despite having considerably more starting experience than him.
Hurts is a runner. He is a run-pass option runner, not a run-pass option thrower. He is not the same passing threat the past two Oklahoma quarterbacks were. So now the question is whether Oklahoma head coach and savant Lincoln Riley will make the offense fit Hurts or hope Hurts fits the offense. It looks like it will be the latter, and a hint at potential problems came earlier this summer when Riley said Hurts had not yet won the job.
Here’s the problem for Oklahoma. If it’s offense isn’t high-octane and applying pressure via the scoreboard on opponents to keep up, then the Sooners are in big trouble because there’s no defense to rely on. Oklahoma was downright awful on defense last season, allowing 33 points per game. How bad is that group going to look if the offense can’t apply constant pressure to opponents by scoring at will? Get it now? Any slippage on offense gets magnified for the Sooners because the defense is so bad.
The only saving grace for Oklahoma is that unlike Georgia and Ohio St., it doesn’t appear the rest of the Sooners’ conference has closed the gap on them. So outside of Texas, it’s hard to see where the potential losses come.
We think playing at UCLA in early September will be tricky. And maybe Bedlam in Stillwater will be a landmine. Nonetheless, we’re going to trust that our read is right and let the schedule take care of itself and allow the losses to find themselves. Like the others, the Sooners are priced to near-perfection. It won’t take much.
How to play it: UNDER 10.5 wins.
Also: Play against as a favorite of 1-14 points.