The Preseason AP Top 25 poll won’t come out until later this month, but here at BangTheBook.com, we’re giving you a Top 25 from a betting perspective. Using power ratings to determine the top 25 teams in college football, readers will have the opportunity to look at what the preseason Top 25 might look like if designed by a bettor. Each article will feature a preview of that team with a write-up for each position and an explanation of why the position group was rated that way and some further insight into the methodology of creating power ratings.
The Methodology: Each team is rated up to 100 with eight different position groups considered. Quarterbacks, offensive and defensive lines, and coaching are graded on a scale of 4 to 15, while running backs, wide receivers, linebackers, and defensive backs are graded on a scale of 4 to 10 in half-point increments.
Groups are rated on returning production, potential, previous performance, and a handful of other variables. Information was gathered from all corners of the college football world, including preseason magazines, websites dedicated to specific teams, national college football websites, and more.
The #22 team on the BangTheBook.com Preseason Top 25 is the Texas A&M Aggies.
Reports from camp have been good on both Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen as the Aggies attempt to replace one of the most dynamic players in college football. With Johnny Manziel gone, the Aggies are going to be very inexperienced at the quarterback position. Hill, a redshirt sophomore, and Allen, a true freshman, are the front-runners and that means a total of 22 combined attempts from the starter and backup. Allen, the top quarterback recruit in the country, could be the future, but Hill may be the present. This is a rating that could go up very quickly.
Running Backs (8/10)
Normally a group that loses it’s top two rushers from the previous season would get downgraded, but that’s not the case with Texas A&M. Manziel led the team and leading running back Ben Malena moved on, but two transfers from power schools – Oregon and Oklahoma – join Trey Williams, once upon a time the #4 running back in his class, to form an interesting trio of backs. The transfers, Tra Carson and Brandon Williams, are in year two of Kevin Sumlin’s scheme, which should lead to improvement.
Wide Receivers (8.5/10)
Along with Manziel, top wide receiver Mike Evans went to the NFL. Second-leading receiver in yardage, Derel Walker, is also gone. Nevertheless, wide receivers get opportunities in this offense and the biggest benefactor should be Ricky Seals-Jones, the top recruit at WR in the 2014 class that missed the season because of an injury. He took a medical redshirt, so the redshirt freshman joins a talented group of wideouts that includes true freshman Speedy Noil, whose name says it all, as his 5’11”, 190 lbs frame is built for taking off the down the sideline.
Offensive Line (14/15)
The offensive line also lost a first-round draft pick as left tackle Jake Matthews added to the Matthews family legacy in the NFL. The other four starters return and shift around a little bit to fill the holes. Some quality recruits and some JUCO transfers fill depth roles and the Aggies should be in good hands in the event of an injury. Sophomore guard Germain Ifedi was a freshman All-American and there are 89 career starts worth of experience on the depth chart.
Defensive Line (11/15)
The weakness of the Aggies looks to be their defensive line and their run defense as a whole. Opponents ripped off 5.4 yards per carry on the Aggies and the defense produced just 21 sacks. There wasn’t a lot of production from the defensive line. All four starters return, but there needs to be a lot of improvement before this group can be considered formidable. The Aggies gave up five yards per carry in 10 of their 13 games and allowed more than six yards per carry in six of those 10.
Without penetration from the defensive line, the linebackers were constantly running all over the field to try and make tackles. There’s more talent here than what showed up in the statistics. Darian Claiborne was a second-team freshman All-American and the addition of transfer AJ Hilliard from TCU, who redshirted last season, improves the depth.
Defensive Backs (7.5/10)
Teams ran at will on the Aggies, but the secondary played pretty well when teams did decide to throw. Opponents completed 57 percent of their passes, which is admirable given the secondary’s responsibilities to aid the front seven in the run game. Deshazor Everett will play on Sundays and he’s the anchor of this group that also includes two other returning starters. The hope would be that healthy seasons from some of the young guys at wide receiver could allow Sumlin and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder to bring some wide receivers back to add depth.
Make no mistake, Kevin Sumlin walked into a pretty good situation at Texas A&M. This will be his first season without Johnny Manziel, so bettors will get a clearer understanding of what Sumlin can do. He also walked into a decent situation with Houston because Kevin Kolb was just leaving and Case Keenum was taking over. That being said, Sumlin was an integral part of the development of both Keenum and Manziel, so there should be a lot of optimism about what he and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital can do with the young QBs. Spavital was a big part of Geno Smith’s development at West Virginia.
The Aggies tied with the Mississippi Rebels with 80 points, but better balance from the Rebels gave them the #21 spot. The Aggies have a lot to be excited about and this is a team that could fly under the radar early on. The thought from novice bettors will be that the Aggies lost their QB, WR, and LT and should be on auto-fade because of that. That’s a major mistake.
The defense is still a problem and may not have the luxury of 44 points per game to cover up their shortcomings, but there’s a recruiting edge to being the only SEC team in the state of Texas and the Aggies should start to reap more of the benefits of that. They’ll recruit better defensive players and keep bringing in quality offensive talent.
The losses are big, but they’re likely to be overblown and the Aggies should still be a dangerous team to face. They’re a Top 25 team in this set of power ratings.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.