I understand people have to talk about the first College Football Rankings, which were released for the first time on Tuesday night, but let's all settle down people. We have a long way to go.
In my Opening Line Report story on Monday, I said that Clemson, LSU and Ohio State were locks to be in the Top 4, with one of the Tigers expected to be the No .1 team. And the committee chose Clemson, no doubt because it has a better win against Notre Dame (No. 5 in rankings) than LSU does over Florida (No. 10 in rankings). You can't quibble with Clemson and LSU as the top two teams or Ohio State at No. 3, although the Buckeyes haven't played anyone of note. They get the benefit of the doubt as an unbeaten national champion like Florida State did in 2014 even though the Noles nearly lost a handful of games.
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The No. 4 team was a surprise: one-loss Alabama. The Tide did beat a good-but-not-great Wisconsin team in the season opener but also faced two non-conference cupcakes in Middle Tennessee and UL Monroe. And they have another on Nov. 21 against Charleston Southern. The Tide also beat two teams were ranked at the time in Georgia and Texas A&M (both clearly overrated, though). And their loss was close at home to ranked Ole Miss. So I see both sides. I do think it's a bad precedent, however, to reward a one-loss team with two lower-level wins over unbeaten teams. Either the Tide or LSU is going to fall out of the Top 4 in the next rankings as they play Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.
The Big 12 was the big loser with unbeatens Baylor (No. 6), TCU (No. 8) and Oklahoma State (No. 14) all outside the Top 4. But the Bears, who nearly blew Thursday's game at Kansas State, and Frogs haven't played anyone yet. That changes for TCU on Saturday at Oklahoma State. The Pac-12 also was the big loser with no Top-10 teams. One-loss Stanford and Utah were Nos. 11 & 12.
Remember this: in last year's opening rankings the top four were Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss. Only the Seminoles made the playoff. Ohio State was No. 16. So plenty will change. Some sportsbooks opened odds on potential semifinal games and Alabama was favored over Clemson as was OSU over LSU. The Buckeyes remain +250 title favorites at BetOnline.
Here are some news, notes and any line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
Illinois at Purdue (+5): This line has moved the most of any with it opening as a pick'em. I have no real explanation since the Boilers are taking the majority lean. The Illini are putting their bowl hopes in jeopardy with a three-game losing streak, and I don't think they make a postseason game with a loss here. Purdue stunned Nebraska last week 55-45 for only the program's second Big Ten win under embattled coach Darrell Hazell, who has been in West Lafayette since 2013. Redshirt freshman quarterback David Blough had 274 passing yards, 82 rushing yards and five total TDs against the Huskers to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors. At just 6-26 since arriving from Kent State, Hazell holds the worst winning percentage of any Purdue head coach to last longer than one season. Yet now reports are the school will bring him back for 2016. By the way, Hazell's only other Big Ten win? A 38-27 upset at Illinois last year. Purdue actually has won eight of the past 10 meetings. The Illini are likely to get back top running back Josh Ferguson for this one. Ferguson injured his shoulder in Week 5 against Nebraska and has not suited up for action since.
Kentucky at Georgia (-14.5): UK is taking a slight lean here and this could be a huge trap game for the Dawgs. Their chances to win the SEC East and play in a major bowl game ended with last week's 27-3 loss to Florida in Jacksonville. Now the sharks are circling the program. Mark Richt's seat is red hot. Reports are the Georgia athletic director wanted to replace him after last season but was overruled by the school president. And now you hear of major tension between Richt and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Richt has been given "a directive to fix" the issues within the program. Can you imagine what happens in Athens if the Dawgs lose to Kentucky? It's still not clear which QB will start for UGA after third-stringer Fauton Bauta did so last week against the Gators and had four interceptions. He's not an option this week. It will either be former starter Greyson Lambert or Brice Ramsey. Kentucky has lost three straight but would be in good position to get six wins and bowl bid with an upset here.
Hawaii at UNLV (-9.5): This line hasn't shifted yet, which surprises me because Hawaii not only is playing its first game since firing head coach Norm Chow but will also have a new starter at quarterback. Chow was fired Sunday, a day after the Rainbow Warriors dropped to 2-7 with a 58-7 home loss to Air Force. Interim coach Chris Naeole, on his first day of practice, then decided to demote starting QB Max Wittek, a former top recruit and transfer from USC, in favor of Ikaika Woolsey. In eight starts, Wittek was completing just 47.9 percent for 1,389 yards, seven TDs and 13 picks. UH scored seven points or fewer in four of Wittek's starts and was shutout in three of them. Woolsey started the only game Wittek didn't, a 28-27 loss at New Mexico. Woolsey was 13-for-25 for 195 yards, a TD and two picks in that one. Last year, Woolsey started 12 games and passed for 229 yards and the game-winning touchdown against UNLV. Many teams play better right after a coach is fired, but UNLV is taking one of the biggest leans of the week.
No. 11 Stanford at Colorado (+16): This spread hasn't changed but the total has dropped from 60.5 to 56. This shapes up as potentially the ultimate trap game for the Cardinal, although they could also be motivated by that low No. 11 ranking by the College Football Playoff committee. Stanford was lucky to escape Washington State last week and might get caught looking ahead to next week's game with rival Oregon. Plus this is the Cardinal's final road game and that can be a factor with players letting their guard down. Lastly, it's played at elevation and that certainly benefits the home side. How did Colorado let Stanford star running back Christian McCaffrey leave that state? McCaffrey, the son of former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey, set the Colorado high school record for all-purpose yards and did take a visit to CU but apparently never gave it much thought of going there. McCaffrey is averaging 244.3 all-purpose yards per game while leading his team in rushing yards per game (132.5), receiving yards per game (38.9) and kickoff yardage per return (29.4). He deserves to be a Heisman finalist. The Buffs have lost 20 straight games overall against ranked teams, their last win coming at Folsom Field on Oct. 17, 2009 against Kansas. But CU nearly upset UCLA last week in Pasadena. I'm jumping all over this for the Buffs if I can get 17 and it is 16.5 at a few books.
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