NCAA Football Betting Odds: Week 13 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
Sometimes a player has enough personality, style, talent, whatever you want to call it, to be the biggest star in college football in a season. Two names that immediately come to mind would be Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow.
Otherwise, though, the coaches are the stars of this sport (just like NCAA basketball). Don't believe me? It's the last full weekend of the regular season, and if you go to any major college football news site the main headlines are about coaching changes instead of games.
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Chip Kelly hangs over the coaching searches at UCLA and Florida - he apparently turned down overtures from Tennessee and Nebraska. Early reports are that he will head to Los Angeles considering he knows the Pac-12 and might not want to be in the fishbowl of the SEC. Kelly's a laid-back guy and UCLA football isn't the be-all, end-all in L.A. It's not even the No. 1 program in the city. Expect some news on Sunday as Kelly doesn't want to overshadow the Bruins' and Gators' final games this weekend.
There are the Scott Frost rumors - he could be Florida's second choice or could go back to his alma mater Nebraska. Frost likes Orlando, but UCF simply can't compete for national titles or pay him what a Power 5 school can.
Saturday's Florida State-Florida game is the worst matchup between those two in decades with both under .500. It's the last game of the season for UF, but it could prevent FSU from extending its national-best streak of bowl appearances with an upset (Noles play a rescheduled game next week vs. UL Monroe in hopes of getting bowl eligible but it won't matter with a loss vs. the Gators). Yet you hear little about the actual game - FSU is a 5-point favorite - and more about the coaching situations at both schools.
I mentioned Florida above, while Florida State could be in the market for its own coach if Jimbo Fisher leaves for Texas A&M. That school is firing Kevin Sumlin after Saturday's game at No. 18 LSU (-10) no matter what happens. A&M wants Fisher, has the money to get him and the school's AD, Scott Woodward, apparently is tight with Fisher. Woodward arrived as an administrator at LSU in 2000, the same year Fisher was hired there as offensive coordinator under Nick Saban. Frost could be in play at FSU if Fisher leaves. Florida State is so desperate to keep Fisher that it's exploring options to give the football program its own sport-specific facility on campus. Fisher has publicly stated the need for one and how it puts him at a recruiting disadvantage.
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. This will be my final Friday news update story of the season unless there's enough news next week ahead of the conference title games to justify another; I'll cover those games on Monday in the Opening Line Report.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Auburn (-4.5, 47.5): This line has risen 1.5 points but the total has dropped 2.5. It's one of the biggest Iron Bowls ever as the winner will face No. 7 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The last time these schools played with the West Division on the line was maybe the greatest ending in NCAA history: on Nov. 30, 2015, No. 4 Auburn upset No. 1 Alabama, 34-28, on that infamous Kick Six missed field goal return for a touchdown by Chris Davis. I'm still baffled that Saban let his freshman kicker try a 57-yard field goal. Auburn went on to lose the final BCS National Championship Game in the waning seconds to Jameis Winston and Florida State. These Tigers absolutely can become the first team in the playoff with two losses if they win here and next week against the Dawgs. It's also quite possible the Tide make the playoff even with a loss here as long as it's not a blowout. And when does Alabama, which has won the past three Iron Bowls, get blown out?
West Virginia at No. 4 Oklahoma (-23, 68): This opened at 21/66.5. It won't matter in terms of OU winning, but Heisman Trophy favorite Baker Mayfield will not start and will not be a captain on Senior Day in Norman because of his antics last week at Kansas. Might what Mayfield did cause a few Heisman voters to look elsewhere? Maybe a few, but the guy is a -1500 favorite at Bovada and has been the best player in college this season. He'll win it regardless. Any shot WVU had of an upset went out the window last week when starting QB Will Grier broke his finger against Texas. He's very iffy to make it back for a bowl game. Backup Chris Chugunov gets the call. The redshirt sophomore was 14 of 26 for 189 yards in relief of Grier in the loss to the Longhorns. OU is in the Big 12 title game no matter what, almost surely against TCU.
No. 9 Ohio State at Michigan (+12, 50): Buckeyes opened at -10.5 with a total of 52. Can the overrated Jim Harbaugh finally win a rivalry game? He has yet to win against Ohio State and has just one victory over Michigan State. Yet there are rumors that Michigan is considering a lifetime contract for Harbaugh. What has he done again? Harbaugh apparently will not have starting quarterback Brandon Peters as he remains in the concussion protocol. Peters had started the past three games and was knocked out at Wisconsin in the third quarter last week.Original starting QB Wilton Speight hasn't played since late September due to three fractured vertebrae and isn't ready. So it should be John O'Korn, who is 66 of 124 for 761 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions in eight appearances this season. Ohio State knows it will play Wisconsin in next week's Big Ten title game but still has an outside shot at the playoff if it wins out.
No. 13 Washington State at No. 17 Washington (-10.5, 48): The Apple Cup will determine which school from the North Division plays Southern Cal in next Friday's Pac-12 title game. If the Cougars win their first Apple Cup since 2012 and first in Seattle since 2007, they will go. If Washington wins, Stanford gets the call thanks to a head-to-head victory over the Huskies. In the last 20 years, WSU has won six Apple Cups by a total margin of 26 points. UW, meanwhile, has exceeded that total margin in the past two victories in this series alone. It's the final regular-season game for Cougars QB Luke Falk, who should pass former Hawaii star Colt Brennan for the seventh-most passing yards in NCAA history. Falk also could move up the TD list - he's 10th with 118. You are going to continue to hear coaching rumors involving Wazzu's Mike Leach (Arkansas? Tennessee?) considering he might have reached his ceiling in Pullman.
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