NCAA Football Betting Odds: Week 11 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
I personally believe that the ideal College Football Playoff format is for six teams: the champion of each Power 5 conference and then the highest-ranked non-champion. The top two teams get a bye into the national semifinals. Some want eight teams, but that seems like too many.
If you agree with me that the playoff should expand, then you will want to root for No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami Fla. on Saturday night. That's because if the Irish do emerge victorious in the biggest game of that rivalry since the Catholics vs. Convicts days, then they should win out and get a spot in the playoff. That's even though one of the CFP selection committee's duties is to place an "emphasis on conference championships." Of course, Notre Dame is a football independent, although it plays five ACC games a year.
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The reason I say that to root for Notre Dame is because obviously at least one Power 5 conference is going to be left out of the playoff annually. Should the Irish get in, that means two are left out. Heads will explode in the offices of the Big Ten and Pac-12 (the two leagues most likely to miss out as it is this year) should both Georgia and Alabama make it from the SEC, and potential unbeaten Big Ten champion Wisconsin and one-loss Pac-12 winner Washington do not. Frankly, you have to anger some of these Power 5 conference brokers to institute change. The SEC was a big proponent of the playoff because it thought it had a great chance of getting two teams in most years. Of course, no conference has done so yet and only the SEC has a realistic chance this year.
As for the Hurricanes, they probably have a beef being ranked seventh and behind one-loss teams Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma and TCU. But it won't matter in the long run for the Canes because if they win this game as 3-point underdogs , don't get upset the next two weeks vs. Virginia and at Pitt (that cold-weather game should scare Miami fans) and then beat Clemson in the ACC title game, UM will be in.
One big question for Saturday night is whom the celebrity guest picker will be in Miami for ESPN GameDay. There's some scuttlebutt it could be The Rock, a former UM backup defensive tackle. Alex Rodriguez is a big Miami booster and was at last week's game vs. Virginia Tech, but he never did attend the school if that matters. But he could bring Jennifer Lopez with him on set. That ESPN's Lee Corso picks Notre Dame is -3250 and Miami +1350 at 5Dimes.
Here are some notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order. Rankings from the new College Football Playoff Top 25.
No. 20 Iowa at No. 8 Wisconsin (-12): This opened with Wisconsin at -13.5. I have no problem with the Badgers being ranked so low despite a zero in the loss column considering the best team they have played thus far is Northwestern. The Big Ten really needs to realign because the East is way, way better than the West. A win here gives UW at least a share of the West title, but that's a formality. Wisconsin will be short-handed with injuries to a pair of key players in receiver Quintez Cephus and linebacker Chris Orr. Cephus injured his leg in last week's win over Indiana. It wasn't thought at first to be really serious, but his season is indeed over. Cephus' 501 receiving yards and six touchdowns lead the Badgers, and his 30 catches match tight end Troy Fumagalli for the team lead. Orr, who has started the past eight games, has 35 tackles and two sacks. He's also dealing with a leg injury but it's not season ending (as of now). Also, safety and leading tackler D'Cota Dixon is in question. What will Iowa have left emotionally after thrashing Ohio State last week? I assure you that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is rooting huge for the Badgers to win. The home team has taken six straight games in this series, with three games by four points or fewer.
Michigan at Maryland (+16.5): The Terps opened at +13.5. It's Jim Harbaugh against his former defensive coordinator in D.J. Durkin, now in his second year as Maryland head coach. Durkin said that sophomore QB Max Bortenschlager will be a game-time decision for Michigan with an undisclosed injury. Few teams have had worse luck at QB than Maryland this year as it already lost first- and second-stringers Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill to season-ending injuries. Sophomore Ryan Brand, a walk-on, would go if Bortenschlager can't. Brand was 8-for-12 for 68 yards in relief during last week's loss at Rutgers. The Terps need two wins in their final three games to get bowl eligible (some 5-7 teams might make it if not enough eligible teams, but for these purposes I'm using six wins as a guide), but that's not likely with a trip to Michigan State and home game vs. Penn State remaining. Michigan is simply looking to improve its bowl stock and could be caught looking ahead to next week's trip to Wisconsin.
No. 2 Alabama at No. 16 Mississippi State (+14): This opened at 14.5. Everyone is just assuming the Tide will be unbeaten when they face Auburn in the Iron Bowl to close the regular season, but I wouldn't overlook the Bulldogs here. They have a terrific mobile quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald, and mobile quarterbacks have historically given Alabama trouble (Tim Tebow and Deshaun Watson to name two). Also, the Tide are really banged up defensively. They lost linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton and Mack Wilson for at least the rest of the regular season due to injuries suffered in last week's loss to LSU (always an incredibly physical game). That's on top of two season-ending injuries at linebacker in Week 1 vs. Florida State. In addition, defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, maybe the best all-around defensive player in the country, didn't play much last week due to a left hamstring injury. He will start Saturday but could be a tweak from sitting. If MSU wins this game, Florida should hire Dan Mullen as its next coach on Sunday.
Arizona State at UCLA (-3): Bruins opened at -1, and my guess is the line has risen because UCLA star quarterback Josh Rosen will play. The potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft suffered a concussion two weeks ago in a loss to Washington (although he played awhile after the actual hit) and then missed last week's defeat against Utah. Rosen has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,713 yards and 20 touchdowns to eight interceptions this season. Rosen won't have his leading receiver in Darren Andrews. He tore his ACL against the Utes. Andrews had a team-leading 60 catches, 774 yards and 10 touchdowns. At 4-5, UCLA is in jeopardy of missing a bowl game again - it's pretty much a formality at this point that Coach Jim Mora Jr. will be fired. ASU technically is still alive in the Pac-12 South race, but that can be clinched by USC (and should be) on Saturday at Colorado.
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