NCAA Football Betting Odds: Championship Week Line Movements & Last-Minute News
The Top 3 of the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings were unchanged on Tuesday, to little surprise with all three of those schools - Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame - being unbeaten.
All eyes, though, were on spots 4-6 following big wins last week for Ohio State over Michigan and Oklahoma at West Virginia. Georgia has moved into the playoff field at No. 4, but that's largely irrelevant because the Dawgs face the No. 1 Tide on Saturday in Atlanta for the SEC title.
The bigger news was Oklahoma at No. 5 and Ohio State at No. 6. That's likely where the big decision will come this Sunday for the final playoff spot when the last rankings are announced at noon ET on ESPN. I can see both sides of this argument. Ohio State has by far the best win of those two schools in just destroying Michigan, which had been No. 4, and the nation's No. 1 defense. There may not have been a more impressive win by any school this season. Then again, OSU has a terrible blowout loss at a .500 Purdue team and probably should have lost a couple of weeks ago at Maryland - a game the Buckeyes never led until winning in overtime.
Oklahoma's best win was last Friday's entertaining 59-56 victory at then-No. 13 West Virginia. The Sooners' loss is much better than OSU's, though: Against Texas, Oklahoma's opponent in Saturday's Big 12 title game. So OU would not only get a boost from beating the team it lost to, but also a better schedule bump by knocking off the No. 14 Horns than Ohio State will in beating No. 21 Northwestern.
Thus, I'd be laying the points on both Oklahoma and Ohio State this weekend (and probably "over" the totals) because they HAVE to run up the score if possible. Remember in 2014, the first College Football Playoff season, when Ohio State was No. 6 entering the Big Ten title game? It crushed No. 13 Wisconsin 59-0, and that was enough for the committee to jump the Buckeyes to No. 4 over Baylor and TCU (there was no Big 12 title game then).
There's really no point in looking beyond the Top 6 in the rankings because the playoff participants will not come from outside those schools. Once again, No. 8 UCF (11-0) is getting screwed and is somehow behind two-loss Michigan. On Bovada's updated national title odds , Bama is -260, Clemson +350, Notre Dame +900, Georgia +1200, Ohio State +1500 and Oklahoma +1800.
Here are notes for some of Saturday's title games around the country, in no particular order. It's our last story of this kind for the season, although Doc's will obviously have you covered through all the bowls.
No. 14 Texas vs. No. 5 Oklahoma (-8, 77.5): Easily the highest total of the day is from the Big 12 title game in Dallas. It's the first Power 5 game of the day, so the Sooners can make an early statement. It would be a shame if this is the final Big 12 game for OU quarterback Kyler Murray, who in many cases has better numbers than the guy he will finish second to in the Heisman voting, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa. The NCAA single-season passer efficiency rating of 198.9 was set last year by OU's Baker Mayfield. Tua is at 212.5 and Murray 206.8. Murray has more passing yards more TDs, better completion percentage and way better rushing stats than Tua. You are starting to hear noise that Murray might reconsider his MLB career and perhaps return to Norman in 2019. As a fan, I hope he does. The smart move, though, is to take all that money and play the safer sport. Texas seems bound for the Sugar Bowl with a loss here but did beat the Sooners 48-45 on Oct. 6 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Horns have covered six straight in the series.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Georgia (+13, 63.5): Not much movement on either number for the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. What would be ideal for the SEC is for the Dawgs to win this game close. That way, Georgia and Alabama will both be in the playoff again, probably slotted No. 3 and No. 4 (assuming Clemson wins). The only way the Tide are out is if they lose by like 60. Pretty sure that's not happening. What is even more interesting is what might happen if Georgia loses on, say, a walk-off overtime touchdown like it did in last year's national title game against Alabama. Does a two-loss Dawgs team get in over Oklahoma/Ohio State? Probably depends on how the Sooners and Buckeyes show on Saturday. Bama will play the first half without junior Jared Mayden due to a targeting penalty last week in the Iron Bowl. Not a massive loss as Mayden plays safety in Alabama's dime package. LB Terrell Lewis tore his ACL in July but has been practicing and actually might be out there. That's crazy. The Dawgs list a handful of defenders questionable, but I'm pretty sure most if not all play.
No. 21 Northwestern vs. No. 6 Ohio State (-14, 60.5): Could this be the last Big Ten game for Urban Meyer? I keep hearing it might be with his health problems - could be perfect to go out on top and after completely embarrassing rival Michigan. It surely will be the final conference game for QB Dwayne Haskins, who is a lock first-round pick in next year's draft and could go No. 1 overall after a record-breaking season. The biggest power broker in college football is probably Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. Thus, if you want the playoff to expand, root hard for Georgia to lose close on Saturday and still get in over the Buckeyes. If Delany's conference were to miss the playoff again, especially with a one-loss champion (OSU) missing out against a two-loss conference runner-up (UGA), I promise you that wheels will start to turn to expand the field to six. It has already been a fine season for Northwestern, which would head to the Rose Bowl with an upset. Even though the Cats would be Big Ten runners-up with a loss, they won't go to Pasadena - Michigan will. Bigger profile and better team.
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