If you’re one of those folks who has a vested interest in seeing the SEC get two teams into this year’s CFP, yesterday brought you some good news and some not-so-good news. The good news is that Texas’ upset of Oklahoma put the Big 12’s chances on life support. With the Pac-12’s shot already being measured for a casket, that likely puts two P5 conferences on the outside looking in.
The bad news?
An undefeated Notre Dame team is in.
Would you like her to spell out the consequences?
Assume No. 1 Alabama wins the SEC, No. 3 Ohio State wins the Big Ten and No. 4 Clemson wins the ACC. There could be a debate whether a one-loss Georgia team, whose only loss would be to Alabama in the conference championship, is simply better than undefeated Notre Dame. Or the committee could consider Georgia and Notre Dame at the expense of Clemson.
I have a feeling I know which way the committee goes.
Massey-Peabody ranks Georgia second overall, but third on odds to reach the CFP. Still, the Dawgs are in with the in crowd.
The separation continues. This year’s “Big 5” college football teams — Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma — all scored solid wins to advance their playoff chances, while multiple contenders in the next tier of contenders took losses. Four of the Big 5 are more likely to make the playoff than not, and even the least likely of them (Oklahoma) is a more than twice as likely to make it as the next team (Penn State).
It’s not that these five teams are that much better than the rest. Well, some of them are — we currently make Alabama an absurd two-touchdown favorite when hosting Auburn (which we rank as the sixth-best team) at the end of the season. No, the playoff lead for the Big 5 is because of how good they are and whom they have to play. The weakest of the elite, Clemson and Oklahoma, have the least conference competition — they should both be favored by at least 6.5 points in every remaining regular season game. Meantime, the next-best teams in our rankings — Auburn, Michigan and Penn State — still have multiple games against Top 10 teams.
That would seem to indicate there’s little margin for error among those five. Unfortunately for Georgia, Alabama is in that margin.
The Tide are back on top of our rankings and, for the second time in three weeks, have jumped a full field goal ahead of the pack. We give them a 56 percent chance to run the regular-season table, an 80 percent chance to win the toughest division in college football, a 72 percent chance to make the playoff and a 33 percent chance to win their third title in four years. Forget the Big 5 teams: If Alabama continues on this pace, we’ll soon be writing about the Big 1.
By the way, we’ve all taken note of Tennessee’s rugged mid-season five-game stretch, but LSU’s got a shorter run that’s brutal in its own right: “In a fascinating midseason stretch, LSU will host Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama in consecutive games.” At least they’re all home games, but, still…
Saturday was a banner day for the Big Ten.
The Big Ten had a historically bad day. Outside of Ohio State, which asserted control in the second half to beat TCU 40-28, the league’s performance has been ordinary at best through three weeks of the season. Akron’s 39-34 win at Northwestern won’t have any impact on the playoff race, but it continues the well-established narrative that the middle of this league is exceptionally mediocre. This week, it was BYU coming into Madison and punking Wisconsin, 24-21. It was Troy upsetting Nebraska, 24-19. It was 0-2 Temple going to Maryland and dominating for a 35-14 victory. And it was Missouri coming away with a last-second field goal to beat Purdue, 40-37. Obviously, the Buckeyes are very good and are well-positioned to make the College Football Playoff. But this isn’t a one-week trend. Michigan State melted in the desert last Saturday night. Michigan’s loss to Notre Dame in Week 1 erased the Wolverines’ margin for error. Obviously the Buckeyes can carry the banner for the Big Ten all the way to the semifinals, but it would be hard to draw up a worse start for the league than what it has experienced.
From a CFP perspective, as bad as that was, the Pac-12’s playoff picture already appears to be reduced to a heap of smoking rubble.
Which leads me to this question for those of you who advocate that the playoff field should be populated by conference winners only: should Alabama and Georgia live up to early expectations and run the regular season table (if you check out their FPI projections, you’ll find that the Dawgs have only one game with a win projection under 80% and Alabama has none), what team keeps the loser out of the semi-finals field?
The Big Ten has two contenders in Ohio State and Penn State, but as they’re both in the same division, one of those two won’t even make it to their conference title game. Oklahoma looks to be the class of the Big 12; if it turns out that Oklahoma State is a legitimate threat, those two will play each other twice, which will eliminate one or possibly both. The ACC is Clemson.
If you’re an advocate of the best teams playing for the national title — which is supposed to be the selection committee’s guiding principle — essentially all of those teams would have to run the table to avoid being ousted from the semis by the loser of the SECCG. If that doesn’t happen, but any or all of those teams win their conferences, which would you put in ahead of what looks like right now to be one of the country’s two best teams losing to the other?
Man, two weeks in and Messrs. Massey and Peabody ain’t foolin’ around about the likely CFP field:
There is a clear Big Five right now — Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma — that have separated themselves from the pack, and all have between a 61 percent chance (Georgia) and 44 percent chance (Oklahoma) of making the playoff. The next best: Penn State at 15 percent.
And to think there are people worried about what player compensation would do to competition.
Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle, Mickey, couldn’t you at least wait until the first weekend was completely in the books before hammering that nail?
Sure, Mickey, there may be 14 teams with a chance to make the CFP, but that’s not what the betting public believes.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide enter the season as the consensus favorites for a third consecutive year. Alabama is +175 to win the national championship at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. According to Sportsoddshistory.com, those are the best odds for a preseason favorite since USC was listed at +160 before the the 2005 season.
Alabama has won two of the past three national championships and has been favored in 110 of its past 111 games.
Yeah, Clemson’s getting its share of early love.
No. 2 Clemson, at 4-1, is the clear-cut second favorite and has attracted significant interest from bettors in Las Vegas and New Jersey. More money has been bet on the Tigers to win the national title than has been wagered on any other team, including Alabama, at several sportsbooks.
At William Hill’s books in Nevada and New Jersey, 22 percent of the money bet on the national championship odds is on Clemson, substantially more than how much has been wagered on Alabama (14 percent) and three times more than has been bet on any other team.
More than half of the money bet on the national championship odds at DraftKings’ new sportsbook in New Jersey is on the Tigers and Tide, with 30 percent of it on Clemson, the company said.
Just think what one regular season upset would do for the talking heads at the WWL.
Kirk Herbstreit has bracket fever. As we all know, there’s only one way to cure that malady.
“If you asked collectively around the nation to people who follow the sport and told them to put their biases aside, then almost everybody is going to have Alabama and Clemson in the championship game,” Herbstreit said. “It’s a done deal, and I don’t know if that’s healthy for the sport. I just think it would be great to get a couple teams that would be a little bit different each year. I think with six, you could create that.”
And when you get tired of six (which, eventually, you will), you can always add more!
It would be a real shame to have jaded talking heads on GameDay. That should be reason enough to load up the postseason, amirite?