The Big 12 almost surely is going to miss the College Football Playoff for the second time in three years. The Pac-12 is going to miss the playoff for the second straight season should No. 4 Washington lose at home to No. 20 USC on Saturday night in the most important game of Week 11. A UW loss opens the door for the ACC or Big Ten to potentially get two teams into the playoff.
As expected, the Huskies moved up one spot in this week's College Football Playoff Top 25 to No. 4, with Texas A&M sliding down from that spot to No. 8. It doesn't matter what No. 5 Ohio State or No. 6 Louisville does now, as if Washington wins out it's going to play in the national semifinals. Really the only drama would be if UW could move up from No. 4 and potentially avoid No.1 Alabama in the Final Four. The Huskies have won 12 straight games, the second-longest streak in the nation behind Alabama's 21.
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The irony here is that if USC hadn't lured away Coach Steve Sarkisian from Washington in 2013, then Chris Petersen still might be at Boise State because he was happy there. In fact, most believe the only job he would have left for is Washington because Petersen too had interviewed for the USC job, but he's not really a big-city guy and wasn't offered it regardless. Three days after Southern Cal hired Sarkisian, a monumental mistake in hindsight, UW hired Petersen, a genius move. Now that Oregon is way down, Washington appears poised to be the conference's marquee team for foreseeable future. This is likely Huskies QB Jake Browning's last chance to push Louisville's Lamar Jackson for the Heisman. Jackson is currently -2000 at BetOnline and Browning +1000.
USC head coach Clay Helton, Sarkisian's replacement, was squarely on the hot seat earlier in the season, but the Trojans took off when Helton inserted freshman Sam Darnold into the lineup as his starting quarterback. Darnold has 18 TDs passes to only three picks during USC's five-game winning streak, and the running game also has exploded, averaging 267 yards per game. USC hasn't seen a defense anything close to Washington's, however.
This matchup could be replayed next month in the Pac-12 Championship Game but only if USC wins. It's a game back of Colorado in the loss column but beat the Buffs. Washington would still win the Pac-12 North by winning out even with a loss here. The Huskies opened at -8.5 and are now -9.5 at many sportsbooks.
Here are some news, notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
Baylor at No. 11 Oklahoma (-18, 80): This has the biggest line move on the board among Power 5 games as the Sooners opened at -14.5. I think the Baylor program is now swirling in the toilet bowl with all the off-field issues and so few players on scholarship with all the defections and barely any recruits in this year's class as they all bailed. Hard to blame them. The Bears were totally exposed as frauds last week in a 62-22 home loss to TCU. What will be interesting is if any bowl touches this toxic program right now. This line might have ticked up because Baylor star running back Shock Linwood has been suspended for the game after he got into an altercation with a graduate assistant on the sideline during last week's loss. Linwood, the school's all-time leading rusher, has 594 yards and two TDs on 100 carries this season. He was a non-factor while dealing with a hamstring issue last week. OU has won six straight since the home loss to Ohio State but was perhaps looking ahead last Thursday as it escaped Iowa State 34-24.
Texas Tech at No. 13 Oklahoma State (12.5, 90): If this total closes at this number, I believe it's the highest in history. Last year, a game between Baylor and Texas Tech did get to 90.5 during the week but closed at 88. That tied what is believed to be the previous record high of 88 in the 2012 Oklahoma State-Baylor game. Oklahoma State won 43-31. Could you have imagined five years ago that we would have seen a total reach 90? The Big 12 used to be the league of the wishbone! Amazing. There's no possible way I could recommend betting the "over" here even though TTU averages 46.2 points and OSU 40.9. The Cowboys are at least decent on defense (27.7 ppg) while the Red Raiders allow 41.8 points per game. Last year this matchup in Waco shattered the over as OSU won 70-53. So what do I know? Oklahoma State finished with 662 total yards to 642 for the Red Raiders.
No. 9 Auburn at Georgia (+10, 48): No line movement here, but keep an eye on the status of Tigers running back Kamryn Pettway, the SEC's leading rusher. He injured his leg in last week's close call to Vanderbilt but did return to practice late this week and is being called day-to-day so that's a good sign of him playing in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Pettway is averaging 138.25 yards per game, which ranks fourth nationally. He's the first Auburn player with four straight 150-yard games since Bo Jackson. QB Sean White was also banged up last week but will start. His 69.1 percent completion percentage and 159.85 efficiency rating both lead the SEC. Georgia has won eight of the past 10 games in this series, including in 2014 when the Tigers were ranked No. 9. The SEC West race is over should Auburn be upset. But should the Tigers win, we will have a winner-take-all Iron Bowl in two weeks at Alabama.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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