The official College Football Playoff rankings are out, and we have finally gotten our first look into the mind of this year’s committee.
The initial rankings lack a bit of controversy. However, their arrival is very timely. This is perhaps the biggest weekend of the year. We have 4 top-25 matchups, including the possible game of the year – LSU vs Alabama – in what is essentially the SEC West title game.
What is surprising though, is not actually what the committee thinks, but rather what the oddsmakers in Vegas think about the committee. Vegas is more often right than wrong, and by diving deep into their new odds, it shows how many of the teams in the top-15 of the CFP rankings have a shot at the title.
Here’s what Vegas says about it:
This is Bama’s Title to lose.
We’ve been saying all year that the Crimson Tide are on another level, and Vegas does nothing but confirm that.
They currently sit as the overall favorite at -200, with the second closest contender – Clemson – still back at a whopping +550.
Vegas has plenty of reasons to have them favored the way that they are. When you break it down, they have more depth and talent at every position, as literally every team in the country. The real difference, between this year and years past, is simply that Nick Saban has Tua.
Tua’s numbers this season have been other-worldly. 25 Touchdowns compared to ZERO interceptions. A 70.4% completion percentage. And, get this, a 97.3 total QBR. It is madness, and borderline unfair.
If there is one thing that explains their dominance, it would be this:
Alabama is on the road. Against the #4 team in the country. And they are STILL, favored by 14.5.
Vegas loves the tide, and they show no signs of stopping.
The winner of the Ohio State/Michigan game will be in the playoff.
This November 24th showdown will have everything. THE Game. Harbaugh vs Meyer. Haskins vs Shea. Big Ten east title on the line. And, a spot in the playoff on the line.
Currently, Vegas has both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines at +1200 to win the title, good enough for the 4th spot in the playoff.
About the only thing that could de-bunk Michigan would be a surging Oklahoma team. It seems it would be a difficult choice between a One-loss B1G champ and a one-loss Big 12 champ. But, considering Vegas has Oklahoma as the 7th favorite at +2200, I don’t think Michigan fans have too much to worry about. The Wolverines just need to focus on a big matchup this week against #14 Penn State, and then wait until their Nov. 24th date with the buckeyes.
On the flip side, Buckeye fans have to be feeling good with their odds as of now. Coming off an abysmal performance against Purdue 2 weeks ago, it would be easy for them to slide a ton. But Vegas recognizes that a 1-loss B1G champ is getting in regardless. Barring another Ohio State blunder against an unranked opponent, they essentially have 2 games left on their schedule, against Michigan State and Michigan. The key for them will be solving some major problems defensively, not only to win those games, but to find themselves in the playoff.
A Group of 5 team will never make the playoff.
The UCF Knights have no hope.
For the playoff that is.
They currently own the nation’s longest winning streak, at 20 games. They are on a stretch we haven’t seen from a group of 5 since Chris Peterson’s Boise State teams.
But even at that, the Knights sit only at #12 in the rankings. And Vegas has them at #10 on the odds-list for the National Title, Back at a whopping +6600.
Now would they beat Alabama? Of course not.
Would they beat anyone in the top 4? Arguably no.
But unfortunately, the world will never know. Even if the Knights run the table this year, they will not get in the playoff. This, not having a chance to prove themselves.
The group of 5 is in trouble, and they will be for a long time.
Kentucky and Washington State are both feel good stories with no substance.
The Cougs and the Cats are both in the top-10. They are both in a position their respective programs have not been in for decades.
Benny snell has lit the SEC on fire, and Kentucky is in a spot to win the SEC East. All they would have to do is come up with a win against Georgia this week, and they should punch their ticket to Atlanta and the SEC title game.
The sad thing is, that will not happen. And even if it does, there is no way on earth Kentucky can beat Bama, or LSU for that matter.
Vegas knows that too, as they give this 1-loss, SEC, top-10 team, just +15000 odds to win the title. That tells us everything we need to know, the cats are fun, but they aren’t there yet.
Now for Wazzu, the narrative is different but has a similar ending. The Cougs have played phenomenal as of late, and may very well be able to compete with the top 4 teams in the country.
But it is simply too little too late. They have already dropped a game this season to a very average USC team. And unfortunately, the lack of Depth in the Pac-12 will come back to haunt them. Even if they run the table, State only has +10000 odds to take the title.
When push comes to shove, their resume will not be strong enough to compete with the likes of Notre Dame, or a One-Loss B1G/Big Ten Champ.
For the foreseeable future, the Pac-12 will only have 2 routes to the playoff. Either run the table, or schedule a better non-conference schedule.
* Disclaimer *
I do not actually bet money on these games. I simply enjoy paying attention to spreads and O/U’s because they make every game more interesting. So if you ever come after me @NCAA, I have done nothing wrong.