The new College Football Rankings on Tuesday night -- delayed two hours by ESPN so it didn't suck away viewers from a Michigan State vs. Kentucky basketball game -- were interesting but really didn't change things all that much.
Alabama remained No. 1, and that is not a shock whatsoever. I think the Tide are in the playoff even if they lose next week in the Iron Bowl to Auburn or in the SEC Championship Game to either Florida or Tennessee. Obviously not if the Tide lose both, but that's not happening.
Ohio State jumped up to No. 2, and I suppose that's fair because the Buckeyes' only loss was on a blocked fourth-quarter field goal at a very good Penn State team. I'm not sure I agree with Michigan staying at No. 3 despite losing at a mediocre Iowa team. But I suppose the committee is rewarding UM's big wins over Colorado and Penn State. Those schools were unranked then but now both Top-10 teams.
Clemson dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 following its last-second home loss to Pittsburgh. I absolutely agree that the Tigers should have stayed ahead of No. 5 Louisville because Clemson won the head-to-head matchup. I would have dropped Michigan to No. 5 and had Clemson at 3 and Louisville at 4. But now the Cardinals' slot is moot after they were dominated in Houston on Thursday night. That kills any chances of the ACC getting two teams into the playoff. If that type of loss had been earlier in the season, Lamar Jackson's Heisman hopes would be in trouble. I don't think they are even after he struggled vs. the Cougars.
Finally, Washington dropped from No. 4 to No. 6 -- the Huskies' Baylor-like nonconference schedule is starting penalize them. Other than Utah, name a good team UW has beaten.
All that said, if we have a one-loss champion in the ACC (Clemson), Big Ten (Ohio State or Michigan) and Pac-12 (Washington), the playoff field will be chalk with the Tide. I don't see any big upsets coming this week -- I really don't consider Houston's to be a big upset -- as it's largely cupcake Saturday with many powerhouses facing weak opponents ahead of rivalry games next week. It is a good Saturday, however, to bet those big underdogs with many teams simply wanting to survive Week 12 healthy and focused on the regular-season finale.
Here are some news, notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
No. 8 Penn State at Rutgers (+28, 57): Biggest line move on the board as of this writing as Rutgers opened at +22.5. The original total was 62. I still believe the Big Ten is kicking itself for inviting Rutgers as the program offers less than nothing on the gridiron or basketball court. The Scarlet Knights are the only Big Ten team without a conference win. Many gave them a puncher's chance last week at struggling Michigan State, which also entered winless in the conference. But Sparty won 49-0. That means Rutgers has been outscored by Ohio State, Michigan and MSU a combined 185-0. The Nittany Lions could get into the playoff. They certainly should win this game and the next week at home vs. Michigan State. All PSU would need to win the East Division then is help from OSU next week. Penn State did get some bad news this week as offensive lineman Paris Palmer is done for the season. The left tackle started the last four games following Andrew Nelson's season-ending injury. Right tackle Brendan Mahon is also hurt and out indefinitely. I'd give you some Rutgers injury news, but would it really matter?
No. 17 Florida State at Syracuse (+21, 63.5): This is one of many potential look-ahead games for a ranked team on Saturday as the Noles host blood-rival Florida next week. It's been a disappointing season for FSU, so beating the Gators -- especially if they are SEC East champions -- would be a nice conclusion to the regular season. That exact scenario played out last year. I would have worried about FSU even on upset alert here, but Syracuse starting QB Eric Dungey apparently is going to miss a second straight game with some kind of mystery injury that the school isn't releasing. FSU quarterback Deondre Francois banged up his shoulder in last week's win over NC State but is probable. Could this be the final ACC game for Noles coach Jimbo Fisher? You keep hearing he is headed to LSU.
Alabama A&M at No. 15 Auburn (-51.5, 72): Many SEC teams are embarrassingly facing FCS schools this week. I know about as much about Alabama A&M as you probably do. OK, I went and looked at their site and read up a bit. Yet I love the Bulldogs here. Auburn won't care in the least about this game and will be pointing toward the Iron Bowl and the chance to end Alabama's perfect season and potentially earn the Tigers a New Year's Six bowl spot. Auburn starting QB Sean White is out with a shoulder injury and SEC leading rusher Kamryn Pettway is out a second straight game with a leg injury. I'm fairly certain both could play if it mattered. A few other Tigers are also out, including defensive end Byron Cowart, the former No. 1 overall recruit in the nation. He had emergency appendectomy this week and might be back for a bowl game. Cowart hasn't lived up to expectations quite yet but was a solid contributor on the line.
Buffalo at No. 21 Western Michigan (-35, 58.5): This might be the biggest trap game on the board if not the season. Buffalo is terrible and last in the MAC East. And the Bulls might be missing starting quarterback Tyree Jackson as he's questionable with a leg injury. Jackson has started the past nine games and thrown for 1,772 yards, a school record for a freshman. He also has rushed for 400 yards and five scores. ESPN GameDay is in Kalamazoo for this game, which is quite an event for Western Michigan. If that's not distraction enough, the Broncos have their biggest game of the season next week at home vs. a very good Toledo team for a spot in the MAC title game. WMU was a big loser in this week's CFP Top 25 as it slipped one spot behind Boise State. The highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion will go to the Cotton Bowl this year. Otherwise, it's some minor bowl game. We are talking millions of dollars difference here. So Western needs to try and win its next three games (assuming it does reach the MAC title game) by as big a margin as possible. Sometimes trying to crush an opponent take a team out of its rhythm.
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