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LVSC ignores polls

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Editor's Note: Brian Gabrielle is currently the #1 ranked college football handicapper at VegasInsider.com, as the top money winner (+1,910) and top percentage winner (64%) in college football this season. Click to win!

Las Vegas oddsmaker Ken White doesn't know whether to laugh or cry when he looks at poll rankings each week.

He simply believes some people marking ballots "don't know what they're doing" -- like many on Election Day.

"All they do is look at wins and losses," he said of the coaches, writers and others who cast ballots.

"They don't care who a team has played."

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Ratings fashioned for the purpose of pointspreads, such as LVSC's power ratings and the BGS Power Ratings often differ significantly from opinion poll rankings like the AP and Coaches polls.

White and Professional Handicappers League Commissioner Brian Gabrielle, who fashions the BGS Power Rankings, concur on some clubs, but part company on others, such as Kansas.

White agrees with the AP, USA Today, BCS rankings and BGS Power Ratings on Ohio State as No. 1, if only by default, but Boston College at No. 2 is another matter.

LVSC has the Eagles ninth -- the same spot they were a week ago -- while the BGS Power Ratings puts BC fifth behind the Buckeyes, LSU, Kansas and Arizona.

White also has the Tigers No. 2, followed by Oklahoma, West Virginia and Oregon.

AP sportswriters, participants in the USA Today's Coaches Poll and the BCS folks are unanimous on the Top 3: Ohio State, Boston College and LSU.

The first two put Oregon No. 4, while the BCS lineup lists Arizona State.

BCS rankings have the Ducks fifth and Oklahoma sixth; the media polls both have the Sooners fifth and Sun Devils sixth.

White feels he was left with little choice but to move the Buckeyes from second to first.

Ohio State cruised past Penn State at Happy Valley, while LSU was idle.

"What could you do?" White asked.

"We base our power ratings on numbers.

"Last week, two-tenths of a point separated the Tigers from both Ohio State and Southern Cal.

"But Ohio State won impressively on the road, so they moved up a half-point to No. 1."

Rounding out White's Top 5 were Oklahoma, West Virginia and Oregon.

LVSC NCAAFB Power Rankings
Rank Team Rating Previous Rank
1 LSU 111.6 1
1 Ohio State 111.9 2
2 LSU 111.6 1
3 Oklahoma 111.0 4
4 West Virginia 109.2 5
5 Oregon 108.8 7
6 Missouri 105.9 8
7 Southern Cal 105.8 2
8 Florida 105.7 6
9 Boston College 105.5 9
10 Arizona State 105.2 10
11 Michigan 105.0 12
12 Texas 104.0 14
13 Kansas 103.9 16
14 California 102.8 10
15 Auburn 102.6 17
16 South Carolina 102.5 18
17 Georgia 102.4 23
18 Clemson 102.3 26
19 Virginia Tech 102.0 15
20 Hawaii 101.7 24
21 South Florida 101.6 13
22 Brigham Young 101.3 21
23 Penn State 101.2 18
24 Tennessee 100.3 27
25 Boise State 100.2 30
26 Arkansas 100.0 NR
27 Wisconsin 99.9 NR
27 Alabama 99.9 NR
29 Georgia Tech 99.7 NR
30 Oklahoma State 99.6 28

Despite a romp, White says he's still not sold on the Buckeyes, though he considers an Ohio State-LSU BCS title game the one that sounds most appealing now.

"I'm not a believer yet," he observed. "There's just something about that team ... I expect the Michigan game (Nov. 17) to be a wild one."

Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook supervisor Jeff Sherman concurs with White on his No. 1 and 2 picks.

"I'm still not a believer, but I'll accept it," Sherman said of the Buckeyes, echoing the oddsmaker.

"But I don't buy Boston College No. 2.

Sherman has the Eagles pegged closer to the conclusion of the BGS Power Ratings

"Fifth or sixth maybe, but not second.

"I'd have Oklahoma up there, but I don't pay much attention to that stuff."

The Eagles being ranked No. 2 kind of rankles White because he thinks other teams are more worthy.

He's seen so many surprise endings that BC's late comeback to win and cover against Virginia Tech on the road didn't faze him.

He raised the Hokies went from 15th to 19th.

"Both teams are overrated," White said.

"They have a very nice quarterback (Matt Ryan) and the way he motivated them those last few minutes was outstanding.

"But you have to remember Boston College wasn't winning for more than 57 minutes.

"They also were lucky.

"They got the onside kick and scored both touchdowns in the last couple minutes of the game."

He's impressed with Ryan, conceding he can do "amazing things," but White doesn't see any current standout in the Heisman Trophy race.

"Some who vote are the same people who voted South Florida No. 2, so I'm not even going to try to guess," White said, noting a negativity facing some Heisman contenders is they've had teammates who help carry the load while keeping them from piling up personal stats.

Nevada Gaming Board regulations prohibit books from posting Heisman odds because the process involves balloting; boxing remains the only sport on which odds are hung that involves judging.

Sherman also displays skepticism about Heisman voters.

"They had people running all over betting South Florida at 12/1," he said.

"I'm like, 'People, people,' this school isn't at the national championship level.

"That's an entirely different level.

"South Florida's at the next one."

Two teams White steadfastly has stood by are Southern Cal and Florida.

"All the writers have been saying Mark Sanchez is a better quarterback than John David Booty, but you won't convince me," he said.

"I heard he could've played, but didn't get put in.

"I'll tell you this: If John David Booty had played, USC would've won.

"I have Booty four points better than Sanchez.

Gabrielle cites that type of "wishful-thinking" as one reason for the disparity between linemakers view of public teams like the Trojans, Wolverines and Gators as opposed to their ranking in the BGS Power Ratings.

"Don't kid yourself, Las Vegas has a vested interest in teams like the Trojans and Gators.

The action on a National Championship game involving USC would get Sin City buzzing and create a ton of action. Not the same public interest in a Kansas vs Boston College matchup."

"Just because it's good for action, or good for Vegas, doesn't, or at least shouldn't influence an unbiased power rating though," said Gabrielle. "You have to live and die with the numbers when you are seeking an acurate power rating on a team.

It's important to stay objective and resist the urge to quantify teams based on any agenda, be it financial or emotional. Let the teams quantify themselves by who they played and how they did."

Says White, "these poll people don't take a lot of things into consideration, like who's played who.

"They only see W's and L's."

Gabrielle doesn't buy that argument as one that cuts slack for Southern Cal.

"In the case of the Trojans, who have they beat? Hell, who have they played?" Asks Gabrielle.

They beat Idaho, Wasington State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Washington and Arizona. Not one of those teams has a winning record and combined they are a woeful 13-37! What's shocking is that the Trojans 'barel' beat 2 of those teams, winning by a single score on the road to Washington and at home to Arizona. Don't even get me started on the loss to Stanford."

The reality is USC has only played one team with a winning record and got beat 24-17 at Oregon."

You take that performance and put any other uniform on these guys and these guys are lucky to be in the top 50, but put the Trojan jerseys on and people want to look past all their flaws and tout them as high as top 5. It's ridiculous, and Vegas Linesmakers are the worst culprits in this instance.

For astute handicappers using accurate power ratings, however, it's a dream come true as we grab easy money betting against USC every week."

Sherman concurs with Gabrielle's finding and declared the Trojans done.

"We have them 100/1 now," he said.

Jack Schneider, bet shop manager at the California and Fremont casino-hotels in Glitter Gulch says he's at a loss explaining preseason favorite USC's pedastal fall.

"I still think they're Top 5 stuff," he observed.

"Last year this coach (Pete Carroll) was a toast of the town.

"Now they're saying he's done, that he should be fired because he's having a bad year."

White only dropped the Trojans to seventh and maintains they probably still are the Pac 10's second-best team behind Oregon.

Arizona State gets a say about that on Saturday.

"After this weekend we'll know for sure who's No. 1 (in the Pac 10)," White observed.

"I'd make make the Gators pick'em against Boston College on a neutral field," he said

"Their schedule is so demanding."

Statement's like that bring a smile to Gabrielle's face.

"Nobody was balking at the Gators top 3 ranking when they they piled up a 4-0 record beating creme puffs like Western Kentucky, Troy and Ole Miss. All of the sudden they lose 3 of last 4 games and their schedule becomes demanding? Come on."

"If you are a top 5 team you don't have a demanding schedule because you play weeker teams than you are on a weekly basis. The only excusable loss on the Gators schedule is the road loss at LSU".

"Losses to 6-3 teams like Auburn and Kentucky doesn't tell me you have a demanding schedule," said Gabrielle, "what it tells me is you aren't an elite football team on the National scene. Florida is good but not great."

Gabrielle currently ranks the Gators 12th.

White points out that only seven-tenths of a point separate Kansas and Missouri in his power rankings.

The two clubs play this weekend.

This is one of those times when White doesn't know whether to chuckle or scoff at suggestions Kansas could play in a national championship.

He has the Jayhawks 13th, while the BGS Power Ratings have them 3rd.

"I make them a touchdown underdog to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship," White said.

"They're 2-point dogs in the Missouri state championsip.

"I have to give Kansas credit as the program has lept up.

"But they're not even a Top 10 team yet."

Gabrielle shares White's skepticism on a personal level but insists that creating accurate power ratings have nothing to do with personal opinions.

"This is aother situation where we must remain objective and resist the urge to inject personal opinions into the numbers. The numbers are what the numbers are and the numbers reflect that Kansas has faced every challenge in top 10 fashion. They have blown out the teams they were supposed to blow out and when they were challenged with difficult teams on the road, they won those games (against Colorado and Texas A&M).

"That's more than can be said for Oklahoma and Missouri," added Gabrielle, "both of those teams failed in the same challenge, with the Sooners losing on the road to Colorado and Missouri losing on the road to Oklahoma."

"The nice thing about the Jayhawks is that they will have the opportunity to prove or dis-prove if they are for real, as they have the road date at Missouri on November 24th and a possible matchup with Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship.

"The only way Kansas gets to the National Championship is by winning both of those games and if they do that there will be no room to question wether or not they deserve to be there."

One poll puts UConn 13th and USC 19th.

"That's crazy," Schneider said.

The Huskies may win a few more national championships in basketball, but White doesn't anticipate them adding one in football during his lifetime.

"Nope," White said. "I have them 35th and looking to get in the next five.

Gabrielle has the teams dead even.

"The only difference between UCONN and USC is one of perception" says Gabrielle.

"A lot of people consider UCONN a basketball school and USC a football powerhouse. Those engrained bias' are hard to shake, even for involved professional Linesmakers and Bookmakers. That's the #1 reason that astute handicappers with accurate power ratings will continue to thrive."

  
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