Do I think there's a bit of a West Coast bias in the college football media? I do. That's because most media types don't even watch most of those games that start at 9 p.m. ET time or later out West. I do this for a living, and I find it hard at times to keep up with all those late games after a full day of college football (and perhaps adult beverages at times). So basically, the media and coaches who vote in polls generally just go by the eye test (i.e. final scores) instead of doing actual homework.
I mention this because in a big surprise, unbeaten Washington, the heavy Pac-12 favorite, was ranked fifth in the release of the first College Football Playoff Top 25 on Tuesday. Already Huskies fans are howling about the process, but calm down. It's actually fine.
That Alabama, Clemson and Michigan were the first three teams was expected. I totally disagree with one-loss Texas A&M at No. 4. The committee said that was the case over Washington because of the Aggies' schedule to date. Yes, A&M has wins over UCLA, Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee. But the Bruins and Vols have proven very overrated and the Razorbacks are now struggling. The Auburn win does look excellent now, especially on the road. But A&M also lost by 19 at Alabama.
Washington is being penalized -- rightly so -- for an incredibly weak nonconference schedule that featured Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State. UW's huge wins over Stanford and Oregon carry little weight now as both those programs are way down. Last week's 31-24 win at No. 17 Utah thus is Washington's only quality win. However, as long as the Huskies win out they are going to pass A&M because the schedule toughens up with games vs. USC and Washington State as well as the potential Pac-12 title game. A&M won't be playing in the SEC title game because of that Alabama loss.
Also keep in mind that the first CFP Top 25 hasn't been a great indicator of what the national semifinals will look like. In 2014, just one team in the first Top 4 made it: No. 2 Florida State. Eventual national champion Ohio State was 16th. Last year, two of the first Top 4 got in: Alabama and Clemson. Oklahoma started 15th and made it.
Here are some news, notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
No. 7 Louisville at Boston College (+25, 56.5): The Eagles are the biggest home dogs on the board. They ended a 12-game ACC losing streak last week with a 21-14 upset win at NC State. That might have saved Coach Steve Addazio's job, and if not a huge win here surely would. Interesting side note here in that BC's quarterback is Kentucky-born Patrick Towles, a graduate transfer from UK. Towles played in two games, with one start, against Louisville while with the Wildcats. He completed 14 of 28 passes for 176 yards in a 44-40 loss in 2014. Towles' grandfather is Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, who later was a U.S. senator for Kentucky. Louisville was big loser in the first CFP rankings at No. 7 and behind one-loss A&M and Ohio State. I don't honestly see a way for the Cardinals to get into the Top 4 barring major chaos because their remaining schedule is so weak and they aren't playing in the ACC title game. UofL was fortunate to win last week at Virginia. The Cards beat Boston College only 17-14 last year. Current Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson threw two picks and rushed for 15 yards on 14 carries but did have a TD.
TCU at No. 17 Baylor (-7.5, 69): This line has dropped from an open of 10. I think we are seeing the last of the Baylor program being nationally relevant for a while in the wake of all those sexual assault problems going on at the school that cost Coach Art Briles his job. Recent reports from the Wall Street Journal and 60 Minutes Sports painted an even worse picture than was known publicly. No chance Briles gets another head coaching job now. But while last week's final-minute loss at Texas cost the Bears a playoff shot, they can still take the Big 12 title by winning out. QB Seth Russell complained of concussion-like symptoms following the Longhorns game but has been cleared and will start. He has thrown for 18 TDs and rushed for six. This will be Russell's first career outing vs. TCU as he missed last year's 28-21 double-overtime loss due to injury and wasn't the No. 1 guy the previous two seasons. It appears the struggling Frogs will start Kenny Hill at QB after he was pulled from last week's loss to Texas Tech, but backup Foster Sawyer will see some time.
Texas at Texas Tech (+3.5, 81): No surprise this total is the highest on the board, and it has actually risen two points. Important game for both 4-4 teams in terms of reaching a bowl game. After this, Texas still has potential losses vs. No. 20 West Virginia and TCU. Texas Tech still has to play Oklahoma State and Baylor. Some interesting bulletin-board material this week when Texas linebacker Breckyn Hager said the Horns planned to "injure that quarterback," as in Patrick Mahomes. That hostility might have been born last season when Texas Tech won in Austin 48-45 and Mahomes could be seen flexing after a touchdown. Hager later apologized, but the damage was done. Mahomes leads the nation with 3,519 passing yards but likely won't have receiver Devin Lauderdale, who is third on the team in catches (31) and sixth in yards (307). Texas is 95th in the country in passing yards allowed.
No. 11 Florida at Arkansas (+4, 47): Opened at 5.5. At No. 11, the Gators aren't out of the playoff chase with the one loss and two quality opponents remaining in LSU and Florida State, although both are on the road, and then potentially the SEC title game against most likely Alabama. The Gators agreeing to move that LSU game to Baton Rouge on Nov. 19 instead of playing in Gainesville could prove to be huge. UF is all but in the SEC title game with a win here and Kentucky loss to Georgia. This will be Gators QB Luke Del Rio's first true road start. Arkansas comes off its bye, which was needed after being destroyed 56-3 at Auburn on Oct. 22. Hogs QB Austin Allen injured his knee in that game and might not have been able to play last week had there been a game but has been upgraded to probable for this one. He has completed 62.2 percent of his passes this season for 2,048 yards and 18 touchdowns.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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