2015 College Football Playoff Futures Released

The 2013 NCAA football season has come to close for another year after an incredible final BCS Championship Game was won by Florida State 34-31 on a last second touchdown pass by Heisman Trophy holder Jameis Winston.

Within 24 hours of the crystal bowl trophy being handed to the Florida State players and coaches, sportsbooks such as Bovada, betonline, sportsbook.com and topbet had already released their opening odds for the winner of the first College Football Playoff.

It is not surprising that the team at the top of the list is the new national champion the Florida State Seminoles. With Winston returning to play another season, the Seminoles are at the head of the class with just less than 8 months before the opening kickoff.

The Seminoles have been listed as the odds on favorite for another national title with futures sitting on 5 to 2. The new system to determine the national champion is known as the College Football Playoff and consists of four teams. The new format replaces the BCS that was in place for 16 years.

The final game of the four-team tournament will determine the national champion with the title game being played in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium home of the Dallas Cowboys on January 12, 2015.

Auburn, who was just 79 seconds from a national title on Monday night, is tied for sixth in the odds at 20 to 1 to win the national title. Tre Mason, the team’s talented running back who ran for 195 yards in the title game on Monday, has not announced if he will return for another season at Auburn.

However, most insiders believe the rest of Auburn’s offense will return. On defense, some players are graduating, but with their depth, they should find sound replacements.

Alabama sat atop the futures boards for college football most of this past season trailed closely by Oregon. Those two schools are tied for second in the new futures for next season at 5 to 1.

The Crimson Tide has not been used to a longer price like 5 to 1, but head coach Nick Saban will have to work hard to find a quarterback to replace four-year starter A.J. McCarron. Rounding out the top 5 on the new futures board for college football are the Oklahoma Sooners and Ohio State Buckeyes both at 12 to 1.

Top Ten Odds for 2015 National Champion

Florida State 5-2

Alabama 5-1

Oregon 5-1

Ohio State 12-1

Oklahoma 12-1

Auburn 20-1

LSU 20-1

UCLA 20-1

Baylor 20-1

Michigan State 25-1

Public Heavy on Auburn, Look for Sharps to Take Florida State

The NCAA football season will be capped off with the final BCS Championship Game on January 6 when the Auburn Tigers face the Florida State Seminoles at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Auburn represents the SEC and that conference will be seeking its eighth consecutive national title. This will be the last of the BCS championships, as next season the NCAA switches to a four-team playoff format to determine the champion.

Online wagering sites such as Bovada are seeing a repeat when it comes to the BCS Championship Game, as the public continues to love Auburn. Representatives from topbet, sportsbook.com and betonline all have said how much the public is taking Auburn and the points.

Auburn has created a mystic and intrigue from public bettors due to their two miraculous wins over Georgia and Alabama, followed by their smash mouth football against Missouri.

In the public’s mind, the SEC will never lose and now comes along a line that is giving them huge points. Depending on the book you look at, Florida State is -8 to -9, with a -270/+230 money line.

Some books have stayed with the opening line of 8.5 for Florida State believing that the late money from the public will be for the Seminoles.

By the time the kickoff arrives, most books believe, including Bovada, that sharp money will be firmly behind Florida State.

One insider in the industry said that if sharp money had been interested in the Auburn Tigers they would already have taken them by this time. Sharps know the public will play strongly on Auburn and hope to see the line drop late to 7.5 or even 7 so they can jump on it.

The handle, said staff at topbet should be very significant for Monday’s national championship game. Both schools have very large followings and the matchup looks to be entertaining and a tight battle.

The public also appears to be betting the OVER regardless what the number is. The sharps will at some point take the UNDER, as they do annually said one bookmaker.

Many believe at 65 or 66 that the total number is too high, due to Florida State allowing only an average of 10.7 points per game.

The Seminoles are 8-0-1 ATS over their past nine appearances in bowl games, 12-2-1 ATS over their past 16 games played on neutral sites and 4-1 ATS over their past 5 games versus teams from the SEC.

The Tigers are 7-0 ATS over their past 7 games against teams with a winning record, 11-1 ATS over their past 12 games overall and 8-0 ATS over their past 8 games played on natural grass. The Tigers are just 2-7 ATS versus opponents from the ACC.

The OVER has cashed in 10 of the 13 games FSU has played this season. However, the UNDER has gone 5-1 over the past 6 Florida State games versus teams from the SEC. For Auburn the OVER has cashed in all of their past four games overall, but the UNDER has cashed in 6 of the past 8 bowl games the Tigers have played in.

Pick: I like the Tigers to be close and win ATS, but Florida State SU.

Bowl Season Is Go

With the exclusion of this weekend’s Army-Navy game, College Football’s regular season came to a close this past weekend.

Division champions – and co-champions – were crowned. Coaches were fired. Seniors made their final bow. And the Bowl Season officially began with the announcement of the 34 Bowl Games to be played and, of course, the BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama’s 32-28 win over Georgia in Atlanta confirmed what most have believed all season; the Crimson Tide will play in the National Championship Game, taking on an undefeated Notre Dame team that surprised everybody.

The weekend’s major talking point wasn’t Nick Saban’s side though. With a 44-37 double-overtime victory over Kent State on Friday night, Northern Illinois took the Mid-American Conference championship and a #15 berth in the BCS Rankings. Significantly, that #15 ranking was enough to see the Huskies into the Orange Bowl where they will meet Florida State, champions of the ACC. Cue massive uproar and BCS bashing.

Elsewhere in the BCS portion of Bowl Season, Stanford’s Pac-12 championship sets up a Rose Bowl clash with the unexpected Big Ten champion, Wisconsin.

Oregon and Kansas State, two sides disappointed to have faded away from the national title picture in the twilight of the season, will collide in the Fiesta Bowl.

Florida, runners up to Georgia in the SEC’s Eastern Division, will head to the Sugar Bowl to take on Louisville, who took a one quarter share in this year’s Big East.

Outside of the BCS games, the Capital One Bowl sees Georgia, runners up in the SEC, take on Nebraska, runners up in the Big Ten, in one of the more intriguing games on the schedule, and one that many think will be more interesting than at least three of the BCS games.

In the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Clemson, runners up in the ACC, face an LSU side that finished second in the SEC’s Western Division and played some solid football down the stretch.

In the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, to be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Oklahoma, runners up in the Big 12, will face a Texas A&M side that surprised many in its first season in the SEC, and not just because of that win over Alabama.

Across the 35 games there are plenty of talking points to be discussed, and over the next month and change CasinoReview will tackle as many of these as possible. Meanwhile, below we’ve provided you with a comprehensive list of the games including the opening favorites, point spreads and totals, all of which could see some serious action before it all ends on January 7.

 

Bowl Season Schedule

 

Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 15, 1 PM ET)

University Stadium, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Nevada (8-5, 4-4 MWC) vs. Arizona (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12)

Favorite: Arizona Spread: 8 Total: 73

 

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 15, 4:30 PM ET)

Bronco Stadium, Boise State University, Boise, ID

Toledo (9-3, 6-2 MAC) vs. #22 Utah State (10-2, 6-0 WAC)

Favorite: Utah State Spread: 9 Total: 59

 

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 20, 8 PM ET)

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA

San Diego State (9-3, 7-1 MWC) vs. BYU (7-5)

Favorite: BYU Spread: 3 Total: 52

 

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg (Dec. 21, 7:30 PM ET)

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL

Ball State (9-3, 6-2 MAC) vs. Central Florida (9-4, 7-1 CUSA)

Favorite:  Central Florida Spread: Total: 60

 

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 22, 12 PM ET)

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA

East Carolina (8-4, 7-1 CUSA) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)

Favorite: Louisiana-Lafayette Spread: 4 Total: 67

 

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas (Dec. 22, 3:30 PM ET)

Sam Boyd Stadium, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV

#19 Boise State (10-2, 7-1 MWC) vs. Washington (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12)

Favorite: Boise State Spread: 6 Total: 46

 

Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Dec. 24, 8 PM ET)

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI

Southern Methodist (6-6, 5-3 CUSA) vs. Fresno State (9-3, 7-1 MWC)

Favorite: Fresno State Spread: 12 Total: 62

 

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Dec. 26, 7:30 PM ET)

Ford Field, Detroit, MI

Western Kentucky (7-5, 4-4 Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (6-6, 4-4 MAC)

Favorite: Western Kentucky Spread: 7 Total: 57

 

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (Dec. 27, 3 PM ET)

RFK Stadium, Washington, DC

#24 San Jose State (10-2, 5-1 WAC) vs. Bowling Green (8-4, 6-2 MAC)

Favorite: San Jose State Spread: Total: 49½

 

Belk Bowl (Dec. 27 6:30 PM ET)

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

Duke (6-6, 3-5 ACC) vs. Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2 Big East)

Favorite: Cincinnati Spread: 10 Total: 56½

 

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27, 9:45 PM ET)

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA

Baylor (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) vs. #17 UCLA (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12)

Favorite: N/A Spread: EVEN Total: 74½

 

Advocare V100 Independence Bowl (Dec. 28, 2 PM ET)

Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA

Ohio (8-4, 4-4 MAC) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)

Favorite: Louisiana-Monroe Spread: 6 Total: 59

 

Russell Athletic Bowl (Dec. 28, 5:30 PM ET)

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL

Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC) vs. Rutgers (9-3, 5-2 Big East)

Favorite: Virginia Tech Spread: Total: 43

 

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Dec. 28, 9 PM ET)

Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX

Minnesota (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) vs. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

Favorite: Texas Tech Spread: 12½ Total: 57

 

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 29, 11:45 PM ET)

Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX

Rice (6-6, 4-4 CUSA) vs. Air Force (6-6, 5-3 MWC)

Favorite: Air Force Spread: Total: 61

 

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (Dec. 29, 3:15 PM ET)

AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA

Arizona State (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) vs. Navy (7-4)

Favorite: TBC Spread: TBC Total: TBC

 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 29, 3:15 PM ET)

Yankee Stadium, New York, NY

Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East) vs. West Virginia (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

Favorite: West Virginia Spread: Total: 67

 

Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29, 6:45 PM ET)

Alamodome, San Antonio, TX

#23 Texas (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) vs. # 13 Oregon State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)

Favorite: Oregon State Spread: 1 Total: 60

 

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 29, 10:15 PM ET)

Sun Devil Stadium, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Michigan State (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) vs. TCU (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

Favorite: N/A Spread: EVEN Total: 42½

 

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Dec. 31, 12:05 PM ET)

LP Field, Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt (8-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. North Carolina State (7-5, 4-4 ACC)

Favorite: Vanderbilt Spread: Total: 52

 

Hyundai Sun Bowl (Dec. 31, 2 PM ET)

Sun Bowl Stadium, University of Texas El Paso, El Paso, TX

Georgia Tech (6-7, 5-3 ACC) vs. USC (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12)

Favorite: USC Spread: Total: 66

 

Autozone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, 3:30 PM ET)

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Iowa State (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) vs. Tulsa (10-3, 7-1 CUSA)

Favorite: Tulsa Spread: 2 Total: 52½

 

Chick-fil-A Bowl (Dec. 31, 7:30 PM ET)

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

#14 Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC) vs. #8 LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC)

Favorite: LSU Spread: 3 Total: 57

 

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (Jan. 1, 12 PM ET)

EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL

Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) vs. #20 Northwestern (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten)

Favorite: Mississippi State Spread: Total: 52

 

Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1, 12 PM ET)

Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX

Purdue (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12)

Favorite: Oklahoma State Spread: 18 Total: 69

 

Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 PM ET)

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
#7 Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) vs. #16 Nebraska (10-3, 7-1 Big Ten)

Favorite: Georgia Spread: Total: 57

 

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 PM ET)

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

#10 South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC) vs. #18 Michigan (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten)

Favorite: South Carolina Spread: 4 Total: 48

 

Rose Bowl presented by Vizio (Jan. 1, 5 PM ET)

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

#6 Stanford (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) vs. Wisconsin (8-5, 4-4 Big Ten)

Favorite: Stanford Spread: Total: 48½

 

Discover Orange Bowl (Jan. 1, 8:30 PM ET)

Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

#15 Northern Illinois (12-1, 8-0 MAC) vs. #12 Florida State (11-2, 7-1 ACC)

Favorite: Florida State Spread: 13½ Total: 59½

 

All State Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2, 8:30 PM ET)

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA

#21 Louisville (10-2, 5-2 Big East) vs. #3 Florida (11-1, 7-1 SEC)

Favorite: Florida Spread: 14½ Total: 47

 

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3, 8:30 PM ET)

University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

#5 Kansas State (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) vs. #4 Oregon (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12)

Favorite: Oregon Spread: 8 Total: 79

 

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (Jan. 4)

Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX

#9 Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC) vs. #11 Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1 Big 12)

Favorite: Texas A&M Spread: Total: 72

 

BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 5, 1 PM ET)

Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-4 Big East) vs. Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5 SEC)

Favorite: Ole Miss Spread: 2 Total: 51½

 

GoDaddy.com Bowl (Jan. 6, 9 PM ET)

Ladd Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL

#25 Kent State (11-2, 8-0 MAC) vs. Arkansas State (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt)

Favorite: Arkansas State Spread: 2 Total: 62

 

Discover BCS National Championship (Jan. 7, 8:30 PM ET)

Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

#1 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. #2 Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC)

Favorite: Alabama Spread: Total: 43

BCS Championship Rematch as Alabama Visits LSU

No. 1 Alabama will look to repeat January's National Championship win over LSU as it visits Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

Saturday night sees the eagerly-anticipated showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 LSU, a rematch of last season’s BCS National Championship Game.

It’s true that the Tigers’ loss to Florida in Week 6 has rubbed some of the shine from this one – it’s not being billed as the ‘Game of the Century’ this year – but make no qualms about it, this is still one huge game, and one that we’ll see in primetime.

 

A Rematch for the Ages?

Saturday’s game will be the third meeting between these sides in (just) under a year. We don’t need to spend hours rehashing last year’s regular season win for LSU or Alabama’s national time win in January. We all remember what happened then. The question is what will happen now?

Alabama makes the trip to Baton Rouge, La., with an unbeaten record and nine straight weeks at the top of the rankings. LSU awaits hoping a victory will catapult the team to the SEC Championship Game in Miami at the very least, and even return the team to the national championship conversation. A slipup by Notre Dame or Kansas State before the season is out could make that a very real possibility, providing the Tigers win this weekend.

Alabama has the number one defense in the country, conceding just 8.1 points per game, which will put scoring at a premium for the Tigers, who average 31.0 PPG. The Tigers’ defense is no slouch either, conceding just 14.6 PPG (9th). It looks unlikely that Alabama will reach the 40-points it averages this season.

Both teams are likely to build their game around these tough defenses and their exceptional running games. The Tide is 22nd in the country when it comes to rushing the ball (214.4 YPG) while LSU is nipping at those crimson heels at 24th (208.4 YPG). If you’re not one for a war of attrition, don’t tune in Saturday night.

 

At Home On the Road

LSU enters Saturday night’s big-time clash with a 22-game home winning streak, the longest current streak in the FBS. Tigers Stadium has become a fortress, a smelting pot of noise, intensity and terror. Few visitors that pass onto the field emerge with anything but a big fat loss. That gives the Tigers a huge advantage, right?

Wrong. The Alabama-LSU rivalry is somewhat unique in College Football in that the road team has emerged victorious more times than not. The current road record in this rivalry stands at 28-13-1. LSU has posted a 12-9 record when traveling to the Cotton State. Alabama has posted an even more impressive 16-4-1 record when visiting Baton Rouge. So home field advantage could well be tossed out of the window come Saturday night.

 

Looking for an Edge

Alabama has dominated the all-time head-to-head, compiling a 45-24-5 record against its SEC West rival. The Crimson Tide won 21-0 last time out in a small affair known as the BCS National Championship Game.

LSU however has ruled the roost in recent history, winning two straight before last January’s loss. Those two wins came as the Tigers won seven from nine, and nine from 12, dating back to 2000. Make no mistake; LSU is not scared of the Tide.

As Alabama dispatched of the previously unbeaten Mississippi State last weekend, LSU took a week off to prepare for this weekend’s epic showdown. We all know a bye week ahead of a big game can be the biggest advantage a team takes into a game, and it’s something LSU has made good use of over recent seasons.

Following a bye week, LSU is 5-1 over the last six seasons. Those five wins include three victories over Alabama. Looking back further, LSU’s résumé includes a fourth post-bye week victory over Alabama back in 2004. You have to go all the way back to 1996 to find an Alabama win over the Tigers following an off week. That is surely advantage LSU. Alabama fans will be relieved to hear that the one loss LSU has faced in those six games was to another No. 1 ranked side, Florida.

Tigers coach Les Miles has guided his team in three games against No. 1 ranked opposition. In 2007 LSU defeated Ohio State, before losing to Alabama in 2008 and Florida in 2009. A win in Baton Rouge would round that record out to a neat .500, whilst a loss would lend itself to questioning whether he has what it takes to beat the best of the best.

One final consideration to mull over; the two sides have met on November 3 just twice before (2001, 2007) with LSU winning both encounters on the road.

 

Odds

Despite hitting the road this weekend, Alabama opened as 8-point favorites to defeat the Tigers. That number has already risen to 10 with some bookmakers, and is likely to see more movement in the 72 hours or so we have left until kickoff.

Alabama is 5-3 against the spread this season while LSU is 3-5, including 1-4 over the last five. The Tigers are 2-4 ATS in their last six home games. 61 percent of bettors are currently backing the Crimson Tide to cover the spread.

The over/under is 42, with 64 percent of bettors opting for the under at this time. The total has gone under in three Alabama games and four LSU games this season. More tellingly, in the 74 meetings between these two sides, the final score has totaled more than 42 points just 13 times (.176), suggesting the under is the smart choice here.

Who Has The Toughest Path to the BCS Championship Game?

The quest for the crystal football heats up this week as the top five unbeaten sides look to book their spot in the BCS championship game. But who faces the toughest challenge?

With the bulk of the schedule behind us, unbeaten schools now look forward to their remaining schedule with hopes of a place in the BCS Championship Game firmly resting on how each fare over the next five weeks.

With five teams still unbeaten at the top of the BCS rankings, a perilous battle remains ahead. Just one defeat could throw a spanner in the works for any team – including Alabama. This is especially true with the likes of Mississippi State, Louisville, Rutgers and Ohio looking to go unbeaten also. Add to this those teams with one solitary loss (LSU, USC, Oklahoma, Florida State, Georgia, etc.) and we could be looking at one hell of a race to the finish.

Here then is a look at the paths the top five teams face on their journey to remain unbeaten, starting with the easiest* schedule.

*Don’t be fooled: the easiest schedule is by no means easy

 

#3 Kansas State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)

Ranked Wins: 2 (Oklahoma, West Virginia)

Remaining Schedule

Oct 27: Vs. #14 Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1 Big 12)

Nov 3: Vs. Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1 Big 12)

Nov 10: @ TCU (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)

Nov 17: @ Baylor (3-3, 0-3 Big 12)

Dec 1: Vs. #23 Texas (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)

Strength of Opposition: 23-10 (.699)

Ranked Opponents: 2

Toughest Game: Vs. Texas – The Longhorns might not have had the best of seasons, but they’re still a tough out.

Potential Slip Up: Vs. Texas Tech – The Wildcats’ defense should be enough to beat the Red Raiders, but then again, this is a team that put an unthinkable hurting on West Virginia.

Verdict: On paper, Kansas State faces a tough challenge, with its remaining opponents tallying a 23-10 winning record this season. This is testament more to the depth of the Big 12 as a whole than anything else. In reality, the Wildcats have already done the hard work (beating Oklahoma) and look more than capable of knocking off the two remaining ranked opponents. Simply taking care of business will see the side finish 12-0.

 

#2 Florida (7-0, 6-0 SEC)

Ranked Wins: 3 (Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina)

Remaining Schedule

Oct 27: Vs. #10 Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC)

Nov 3: Vs. Missouri (3-4, 0-4 SEC)

Nov 10: Vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (4-3, 2-2 Sun Belt)

Nov 17: Vs. Jacksonville State (4-3, 3-2 OVC)

Nov 24: @ #12 Florida State (7-1, 4-1 ACC)

Strength of Opposition: 24-12 (.667)

Ranked Opponents: 2

Toughest Game: @ Florida State – The rivalry is a bigger factor than the Seminoles’ ability. Arguably Georgia is a tougher game on paper, but this one will be heated. Plus it has the pressure of being the last game of the season.

Potential Slip Up: Vs. Georgia – Getting past the Bulldogs with a win this weekend is possible and probable, but peeking forward would be a mistake.

Verdict: Like Kansas State, the Gators have a tough run-in on paper in terms of opponent’s winning percentages. But two FBS games rip that theory to shreds. Florida’s schedule certainly works in its favor. Most of the conference games – and the tough games in general – are history. After Georgia, it’s a clear run until Florida State.

 

#1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC)

Ranked Wins: 1 (Michigan)

Remaining Schedule

Oct 27: Vs. #11 Mississippi State (7-0, 3-0 SEC)

Nov 3: @ #6 LSU (7-1, 3-1 SEC)

Nov 10: Vs. #20 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC)

Nov 17: Vs. Western Carolina (1-7, 0-6 Southern)

Nov 24: Vs. Auburn (1-6, 0-5 SEC)

Strength of Opposition: 21-16 (.568)

Ranked Opponents: 3

Toughest Game: @ LSU – It might not be a battle of the unbeaten, but this National Championship rematch has been circled on both schools’ calendars since January.

Potential Slip Up: Vs. Auburn – On paper it’s a whitewash but Auburn’s terrible season would be made by an upset victory.

Verdict: Unlike Florida, Alabama still has to play all of its tough games, with the three toughest coming back-to-back. Add to that a fierce rivalry game with Auburn and you have the ingredients for an upset somewhere along the road. The strength of opposition (.568) might seem enticing but take out Western Carolina and things look a little less simplistic. Yes, Alabama can win out, but the potential pitfalls come thick and fast.

 

#5 Notre Dame (7-0)

Ranked Wins: 3 (Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford)

Remaining Schedule

Oct 27: @ #8 Oklahoma (5-1, 3-1 Big 12)

Nov 3: Vs. Pittsburgh (3-4, 0-3 Big East)

Nov 10: @ Boston College (1-6, 0-4 ACC)

Nov 17: Vs. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4 ACC)

Nov 24: @ #9 USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12)

Strength of Opposition: 19-16 (.543)

Ranked Opponents: 2

Toughest Game: @ USC – A visit to the Coliseum on the last day of the season will be a tough ask for the Irish, but must-see TV if Notre Dame gets past Oklahoma this week.

Potential Slip Up: @ Oklahoma – This is Notre Dame’s toughest game of the season so far, and one that will determine whether the Irish have a shot at the championship. Slipping up here puts all that hard work to waste.

Verdict: Visits to Oklahoma and USC would be tough for any side, and with both potentially still in the hunt for the BCS title, it’s not going to be easy for a Notre Dame side that has already knocked off tough opposition this year. One thing’s for sure: with the Irish’s schedule this year, unbeaten pretty much guarantees a spot in the big game.

 

#4 Oregon (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12)

Ranked Wins: 2 (Arizona, Washington)

Remaining Schedule

Oct 27: Vs. Colorado (1-6, 1-3 Pac-12)

Nov 3: @ #9 USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12)

Nov 10: @ California (3-5, 2-3 Pac-12)

Nov 17: Vs. #17 Stanford (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12)

Nov 24: @ #7 Oregon State (6-0, 4-0 Pac-12)

Strength of Opposition: 21-14 (.600)

Ranked Opponents: 3

Toughest Game: @ USC – This one’s been earmarked as a potential Pac-12 Championship Game preview since the preseason.

Potential Slip Up: @ Oregon State – The Beavers have surprised all this season and come the last day of the season, an upset win over the Ducks could be on the agenda.

Verdict: The two biggest knocks against Oregon this season have been its defense and its schedule. Up to this point it’s been plain sailing for the Ducks but with USC, Stanford and Oregon State still on the schedule, it’s going to be tough for Chip Kelly’s side to navigate the Pac-12 waters. That triumvirate of encounters makes this the toughest schedule of the five.

 

Whilst we can find enjoyment in looking ahead, the teams themselves cannot. Each has to remain clearly focused on the job at hand, and that’s winning this week. A loss at any point in the next five weeks could seriously affect the National Championship landscape, and that is exactly why we’ll be watching with baited breath.

Pac-12 Not Doing Itself Any Favors

The Huskies' win over Stanford has cast some serious shadows over the Pac-12's National Championship hopes.

Thursday night’s 17-13 loss to Washington has cast a cloud over not only #8 Stanford and its chances of being selected to play in the BCS National Championship Game, but also the Pac-12’s chances as a conference.

For a conference that was considered the only viable competition to the dominant SEC ahead of the season, things are looking less than clear now.

Decoding the Pac-12

Just two weeks ago, the Cardinal upset USC, denting the Trojans’ own chances of going to the Championship Game. In the process, Stanford staked a claim to be the team that would head to Miami Gardens in January. Admittedly, it was a loose claim. Stanford after all struggled to beat San Jose State in Week 1.

Ahead of Week 4, UCLA looked to be putting their names forward for consideration, but a loss to Oregon State suggested that it’s a little too early to consider the Bruins as serious contenders.

Oregon State meanwhile has gone 2-0 with two wins over ranked opposition. Not a bad start. But can the Beavers keep that pace up? Probably not, although oddsmakers have slashed odds of a BCS championship from 500/1 in the preseason to 75/1 this week.

So that leaves Oregon. Having been considered second fiddle to USC during all of the preseason, the Ducks are now considered the Pac-12’s best chance for a national title. Preseason odds of 10/1 have steadily shortened to 13/2 heading into this week’s action.

The Ducks have looked solid so far this season, averaging close to 53 points per game. But critics could argue that Oregon has yet to play anybody of merit. Sure, they defeated Arizona 49-0 last week, but Arizona’s inclusion on the AP poll was less than solidified. Had the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska played better this season, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats appearing on that list.

For Oregon, the big challenge comes on November 3, with a visit to USC. That is of course if the Ducks can get by Washington next week. A loss to the Cougars would effectively write off National Championship hopes this year.

Week 5 Pac-12 Schedule

After Washington’s upset win over Stanford, here’s what else is on tap this Saturday. Both USC and Utah are on a bye week.

Arizona State (3-1, 0-1 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ California (1-3, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

4:00 PM ET / 1:00 PM PT

The Sun Devils will be looking to continue their strong start to the season with a win over a struggling Golden Bears team. Arizona State currently leads the South division by way of USC’s loss to Stanford and Arizona’s loss to Oregon. Still, the team opened as underdogs in this one, before odds flipped in their favor. The Sun Devils are currently narrow favorites (-1) with the over/under set at 58. There’s certainly money to be made on this game.

UCLA (3-1, 1-0 road, 0-1 Pac-12) @ Colorado (1-3, 0-2 home, 1-0 Pac-12)

6:00 PM ET / 3:00 PM PT

A loss to Oregon State last week saw UCLA’s two week tenure in the AP Polls come to an end. A win against Colorado this week could, but probably won’t, see the Bruins return to the rankings. UCLA enters the game as favorites (-21) and are expected to make easy work of a Colorado team that has looked poor this season. Only a 35-34 win over Washington State last week prevented the Buffaloes from starting the season 0-4. The over/under is 60, with UCLA expecting to accumulate most of those points.

#18 Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Arizona (3-1, 3-0 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT

Arizona enjoyed two weeks in the AP Poll before losing big to Oregon last week. Oregon State may have only played two, but the Beavers have knocked off two ranked teams (Wisconsin, UCLA) and is sitting pretty heading into this game.

Oddsmakers have the Wildcats as favorites (-3) heading into this one, so they’ve yet to be bowled over by the Beavers’ performances. This games figures to be a close one. The over/under is 61. A win for Arizona will see the Wildcats flirting with the AP poll once again. A win for Oregon State will cement the team’s AP approved credentials.

#2 Oregon (4-0, 0-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Washington State (2-2, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT

Whether Oregon remains the Pac-12’s last remaining hope against the dominance of the SEC remains to be seen. This week the Ducks head out on the road for the first time. Despite the travel north, Oregon are big favorites (-32) over the Cougars. The over/under is 74. Oddsmakers are expecting this to be a high-scoring one-sided affair, just like Oregon’s previous four.