With shocking losses last week, the Oklahoma Sooners and Wisconsin Badgers didn't just lose their chance at an undefeated season -- they instantly became afterthoughts in the race for the national championship. This, despite the fact that both teams have consistently been in the top 10 of the BALLS Index, a chart which shows which college teams have been the biggest favorites on average each week using data provided by Sal Selvaggio of MadduxSports.com.
While the issue for Wisconsin and Oklahoma is the missed opportunity to compete for the ultimate prize, the issue for bettors is to consider how such teams will react to their bitter disappointment. According to Selvaggio, teams that have started 5-0 or better since 1980 and then have suffered a loss are 115-149 ATS (43.9 percent) in their next game. The potential for a letdown this Saturday not only applies to Wisconsin and Oklahoma, but also to Michigan. Though it's not a top 10 BALLS team, the Wolverines are coming off a loss to archrival Michigan State that spoiled their perfect season, although it should be noted that they have had a week off to recover from the disappointment.
As for Oklahoma and Wisconsin, a look at their respective recent past histories indicates that they have responded very differently to losing the chance to play for the national championship.
Last season, Oklahoma (4-3 ATS, 1.29 margin of cover) was a top-10 team that started 6-0. After losing to Missouri, the Sooners responded the next week with a resounding 43-10 win over Colorado. In 2008, an undefeated Oklahoma fell to Texas. The Sooners responded by winning seven straight before falling to Florida in the BCS title game.
Considering the Kansas State Wildcats (6-0 ATS, 14.92 MOC) have been one of the most impressive teams in the country, and are actually ranked one spot ahead of Oklahoma in both the BCS and AP polls, a letdown seems unlikely.
Wisconsin (4-2 ATS, 10.42 MOC), on the other hand, could be more susceptible in its game at Ohio State. Consider this: Last year, Wisconsin was rolling through its first four games before losing at Michigan State (sound familiar?). In its next game, Wisconsin was a 22-point favorite against a lousy Minnesota team. The Badgers only led 14-9 at half, and though they ultimately won 41-23, they didn't cover. Add to that the fact their opponent this week is Ohio State (4-3 ATS, -0.29 MOC), which was No. 1 in the country until it was upset by Wisconsin. In other words, look for the Buckeyes to be the more motivated team this weekend.
With that, let's turn to this week's BALLS Index.