By Todd Fuhrman
Changes aplenty in the bottom half of our Vegas Top 10 as we begin to separate pretenders from contenders inching towards October. Wisconsin jumped from 11th to 7th after dismantling the paper tiger Wolverines validating Clay’s claim that maybe Coach Harbaugh is in over his skiis in Ann Arbor. Utah gets bounced out after their diminutive corners couldn’t keep up with the USC wide outs, and Oregon, following a large point spread movement (-8.5 to -13.5), covered every number in their road victory on the Farm at Stanford.
Our overrated team this week hails from the Mountain West while our underrated team looks to continue their bounce back following a tough loss two weeks ago. Finally we’ll head to Friday Night Lights of the college football variety to identify our best bet for the weekend.
Bet the Board Top 10 Week 5:
6.) Ohio State
Overrated: Boise State
The Boise State Broncos are 4-0 and despite playing in a group of 5 league they’re a team garnering lots of attention from the public due to past success and name recognition. The Coaches poll has Boise ranked 15th in the country but we don’t power rate the Broncos inside our top 30! Need more explanation why that’s the case? Boise opened with FSU, who, for all intents and purposes, seems to be a side playing to their potential early in games before crumbling in the 2nd half. Low and behold Boise was down 31-13 early in that game before “2H FSU” showed up with a very impressive meltdown. The Broncos have amassed a staggering (insert sarcasm) +0.1 net yards per play against a middle tier strength of schedule (50th-55th depending on how you measure SOS). The schedule doesn’t provide too many challenges until a road game at BYU on October 19th and after that there’s not much resistance (11/23 at Utah State?). Don’t buy the Boise hype, even as they continue to rack up wins in the near future against lackluster competition.
Underrated: Michigan State
Michigan State was in prime position to shoot up the rankings two weeks ago before their debacle at home against Arizona State; surrendering a TD in the final minute to fall 10-7 (the referee’s in this game admitted a wrong call costing State a chance to prevail in OT). Digging deeper into the Spartans strengths and weaknesses one is immediately drawn to this defense, which is absolutely suffocating (holding opponents to 3.4 yards per play – 3rd best in the country). We expected that kind of effort from the stop unit coming into the season. However it wasn’t until last week (potentially) that the offense started to show signs of life with 4 plunges across the goal line against Northwestern. It’s quite possible that Sparty now finds themselves flying below the national radar. QB Brian Lewerke and this veteran group have reiterated staying humble and focused no matter how they perform the previous week. Under Coach D’Antoni this thought process fits perfectly for their blue collar approach. If Michigan State’s offense can continue to grow and move forward (net +2.2 yards per play against 41st toughest SOS), this team may pull off an upset or two against some of the BIG 10 powerhouse’s before the year ends.
Best Bet:  Maryland +7 (-115):
Both teams enter Friday night rested for their conference opener; Penn State fresh off a win against Pittsburgh heading into the bye while Maryland was upset on the road by a pesky Temple Owls side. There’s something to these Friday night games, where the home field advantage seems to tick up a level as it gets the national spotlight on FS1. With a Top 15 program coming to College Park that’s owned the Terrapins in recent meetings Maryland is calling for a home “black out” in addition to cancelling Friday classes as mentioned on Bet the Board podcast! Both offenses are primed for success but we see one match-up where the Terrapins have a major advantage. They have been surprisingly stingy once opponents enter the Red Zone, allowing only a 60% scoring success rate for opposing offenses (9th in country) whereas Penn State is allowing 83.3% scoring success (64th). This is a big time stage for Sophomore QB Sean Clifford making his first career road start and we’ll see who makes fewer mistakes between him and savvy veteran QB Josh Jackson. With the number hovering right around a touchdown there’s too much value on the home dog here