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 #23 team on the BangTheBook.com Preseason Top 25 is the Boise State Broncos.
It’s officially Grant Hedrick’s team in Boise as the senior signal caller takes over for Joe Southwick. Southwick broke his ankle against Nevada and Hedrick took over from that point on. Hedrick completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and posted a very solid 16/5 TD/INT ratio. He also chipped in 277 rushing yards and six touchdowns there. The Broncos are in very good hands if he stays healthy, but there’s not a lot of experience behind him.
Running Backs (9/10)
Jay Ajayi ran for over 1,400 yards and racked up 18 touchdowns. He added 222 more yards in the receiving game and one more touchdown. Depth behind Ajayi is a concern, but the Broncos don’t seem to have a hard time producing quality skill position players in the Mountain West Conference.
Wide Receivers (9.5/10)
This is a tremendous group with two extremely reliable sets of hands at the forefront. Future Sunday player Matt Miller had 88 catches for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and Shane Williams-Rhodes added 77 catches for more than 700 yards and six touchdowns himself. Some of the depth graduated or transferred from the program, but these two starters are unrivaled in the Mountain West Conference.
Offensive Line (11/15)
Entering the season, the Broncos don’t appear as strong in the trenches as they have in past seasons. The offensive line returns just two starters and there are some injury concerns with projected starter at left tackle Rees Odhiambo. The Broncos allowed as many sacks in 2013 as they had in their three previous seasons combined. There’s a lot of shuffling going on with the offensive line and they’ll have to learn a new scheme yet again with just 26 career starts of experience.
Defensive Line (10.5/15)
The Boise State defensive line lost two first-team Mountain West players, including a second-round draft pick. They out-recruit all of the other MWC teams in this area and will probably put together another fine front four, but a new defensive coordinator and no star players means that this group is down a bit from last season. Demarcus Lawrence had 10.5 of the team’s 30 sacks and no other player had more than four.
The second level will be big for the Broncos this season as the team moves into a 4-2-5 scheme. There’s a ton of depth at this position and that’s important because players will be rotating in and out with just two linebacker spots. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see some of the linebackers also play some snaps at defensive end to spell those guys. Most of the experience in the front six is at linebacker and this group is in good shape.
Defensive Backs (8/10)
This may be a high rating for a group that allowed opponents to complete 64.6 percent of their passes and rack up 249 yards, but there’s a lot of experience here and #19 defensive back recruit Dylan Sumner-Gardner could be an impact player right away. Covering should be a bit easier for the Broncos this season in the 4-2-5 and everybody who played a big part last season returns.
This may be a negative take on Bryan Harsin, who returns to Boise State after five seasons as the offensive coordinator from 2006-10. He was the OC at Texas before spending one year as the head coach at Arkansas State. The Red Wolves went just 7-5 under Harsin and he took over at Boise State after Chris Petersen took the job at Washington. The coaching staff is comprised completely of alumni with Mike Sanford as the OC and Marcel Yates as the DC. Harsin and Yates played together at Boise State in the late ‘90s. Harsin isn’t very experienced as a head coach and his staff needs time to gel.
The Boise State Broncos are tied with five other teams in this set of power ratings, but they have the lowest coaching rating, and thus their team ability places them at #23 in the Top 25. The Broncos have plenty of talent and will be favored in most of their games. The offense should be on par with last season’s team that scored 37.5 points per game, while the defense could be better than last season’s edition. A shift to a 4-2-5 is a major scheme change and might actually help in the offense-first, defense-second Mountain West Conference. It should contain big plays.
Last season’s 8-5 record was the worst for the Broncos since 2005 when they were 9-4. Every season in between saw the Broncos win at least 10 games, including a perfect 14-0 season in 2009. This is still a very good team that may be an afterthought on the national level without Petersen and given last season’s results.
The Broncos don’t get much love because of the conference they play in, but they don’t shy away from playing power conference teams that are willing to face them. They’re a quality group and good enough to be in the Top 25 at #23.
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.