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Shelton: Odds are against USF
By GARY SHELTON, Times Columnist
Published October 18, 2007
They are fresh. They are fun. In the Year of the Upset, they have become college football's ultimate underdogs.
As you fall in love with the USF Bulls, however, know this:
The odds are still against them.
Oh, if you believe in a good story, the Bulls are the team for you. They have come so far, and arrived so fast, it seems as if they have been ripped from the pages of a Hollywood script. When it comes to college football, the Bulls are a better story than the Gipper, a better story than Wrong-Way Riegels, a better story than Hail Flutie.
But are they as good as their No. 2 ranking in the BCS poll would indicate?
Don't bet it, say the experts.
According to two nationally known oddsmakers, the Bulls would an underdog in at least half of their games against the other teams ranked in the BCS top 15. In college football, there are goal lines and there are betting lines, and so far, the money isn't buying into USF's success.
This week, the Times asked both Danny Sheridan and the bookmakers of the Bodog internet site (Bodoglife.com) to set lines for hypothetical neutral site games against other ranked teams. Sheridan had the Bulls going 7-7 in those games. Bodog had them going 4-9 (Bodog did not pick a winner in a USF-West Virginia matchup).
Move over, Jimmy Johnson, and slide down, Nick Saban.
Another week, and another set of doubters.
If you are a USF fan, this should amuse more than anger you. The best part of the Bulls' success is how unexpected it has been. The Bulls are in their 11th season, and they're competing for the national title. Do you know who the last team was to win a national title at the age of 11? It was Yale ... in 1886. (No word on what Saban thought of Yale's grades.)
This isn't done, not in college football. Other sports may welcome the ambitious newcomer, but not college football. To be someone in this sport, you have to have been someone last year. And 20 years ago. And 50 years ago. The sport of the Four Horsemen does not welcome stray riders.
And if USF should falter, Sheridan has a warning. Look out.
"If USF loses, it's going to fall a lot further than LSU did," Sheridan said. "The guys who run the BCS are praying daily that USF loses. Do you think they want USF in a national championship game? There is not a chance in hell.
"USF is a great story, and I'm pulling for it. But the BCS is a party for the big bowls in the big leagues. They don't care about good stories. They didn't want BYU, and they didn't want Boise State, and they don't want South Florida."
Deep down, you probably know that. There are bigger names than USF. NFL scouts will tell you there are more talented teams, too. More than any other team, however, USF is ranked where it is because of what it has done, not because of who it was expected to be.