Friday, July 2, 2010

What tho' the odds

We're heading into the long July 4th holiday weekend, and I can just detect the distinct whiff of college football in the air. Basketball season is finally over, with the Lakers bringing home yet another championship (yawn!). Hockey is finally over with the ... heck I don't even know who won the freakin' Stanley Cup. Shouldn't basketball and hockey be done well before June? The baseball All-Star break is almost upon us, after which it will be all systems "Go!" for NCAA football mania, and probably even a little college football betting.

So now is a very good time to take just a little peek at what might be in store for the Fighting Irish in 2010 under new head coach Brian Kelly. Heaven knows that when the time comes I'll pick the Irish to win 'em all. But what do the experts think? To get an idea I checked out the current college football odds, in this case the odds to win this year's BCS championship. A couple of interesting tidbits there. First of all, the USC Trojans are nowhere to be found on the list. (Insert creepy evil-scientist laugh laughter here). This makes perfect sense, of course, given that USC is not eligible to play in the BCS Championship (or any other bowl game) this season.

The other notable tidbit, from a Notre Dame fan's perspective, is how the Irish fit into the mix. Listed at 40/1 to win the championship, Notre Dame is tied with Wisconsin as being ranked #17 on a list of teams most likely to win the BCS title. Here's that list, with the odds:

1. 'Bama (9/2)
2. Ohio State (6/1)
3. Oklahoma (13/2)
4. Florida (8/1)
5. Boise State (10/1)
6. Nebraska (14/1)
7. Texas (15/1)
8. Virginia Tech (16/1)
9. TCU (18/1)
10. (Tie) Iowa & Miami (20/1)
12. (Tie) Oregon, Penn State & LSU (30/1)
15. (Tie) Georgia & Arkansas (35/1)
17. (Tie) Notre Dame & Wisconsin (40/1)
19. Auburn (45/1)
20. (Tie) Oregon State, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Florida State & Washington (50/1)

Certainly this list is different than a typical poll or power ranking, as the odds of winning the title will depend a lot on how tough one's schedule is and how likely one is to get through conference play unscathed. Boise State may not be the 5th best team, but they have a pretty good chance of getting through the regular season undefeated and thus of staking a claim to a spot in the Championship game. Likewise, Ohio State has the benefit of a Big-10 (11? 12?) conference that shouldn't pose much of a problem for them.

The differences in the lists being duly noted, I do find it interesting to compare Notre Dame's standing with the odds makers with the respect they are getting (or not) in the various pre-season rankings. A really good resource for those rankings are found at Wikipedia, and here is how the Irish are perceived:
With one notable exception, and with many more pre-season predictions yet to be published, the Fighting Irish aren't getting a lot of love. Interesting how closely Phil Steele's predictions line up against the bookmakers. Die-hard college football fans know that Phil Steele's pre-season ranking are the most accurate in the industry, historically.

Maybe I'll put $10 on the Irish to win it all. Certainly it would make the games even more compelling. Not that I need any more excitement. But the real value in this exercise is to help me try to get a handle on my expectations for the Fighting Irish in 2010. Because when I look at the schedule, I look at each game and say to myself, as I always do, "We should win that one."

[Note: Welcome ND Nation readers! I hope you'll add OC Domer to your bookmarks and check back often throughout the 2010 football season.]