SBR contributor Ross Benjamin discusses his updated college football playoff predictions and scenarios. Ross breaks down the chances of 8 teams he deems to be in serious consideration for the 4-team college football showcase taking place on New Year's Eve.
College Football Playoff Update
I'm going to be discussing 8 teams that I, and many others, believe are top contenders to make it to the college football playoff on December 31st. Some of these teams upcoming games align itself perfectly with rivalry week, and in doing so adds, even more, intrigue to those contests. The current (11/22) college football futures odds courtesy of TheGreek.com will be listed in parenthesis next to each team.
Alabama (-200): The Crimson Tide (11-0) being one of four teams playing for the national championship on New Year's Eve is near a mortal lock as they come. Alabama just needs to win one of their 2 remaining games against Auburn or Florida. The likelihood of that occurring is excessively high considering they'll be a sizable favorite in both contests. At this juncture, you can do a lot worse than 2:1 odds on a team that's this good.
Ohio State (+250): Here's the oddity to the Buckeyes (10-1/7-1) situation. In my professional opinion, win over Michigan on Saturday, and they'll be a cinch to be in the top 4. However, even if that occurs, and if Penn State defeats Michigan State on Saturday, it will be Penn State (9-2/7-1), not Ohio State playing in the Big 10 Championship Game. That would be a result of Penn State's regular season win over Ohio State, and thus holding the Big 10 East Division tiebreaker. On a negative note, if Ohio State loses on Saturday, they'll need a lot of help from other teams to remain in serious consideration.
Clemson (+800): The Tigers (10-1/7-1) rebounded nicely last Saturday after stubbing their toe the week before against Pittsburgh. They defeated Wake Forest on the road in a relatively easy manner. The equation is a no brainer for Clemson, a win on Saturday at home against 24.0-point underdog South Carolina, and in the ACC Title Game against either Virginia Tech or North Carolina, and they'll be playing for all the marbles. Personally, I love their chances, and at odds of 8:1 to win the national championship, they'd be a terrific betting value for one of your college football picks.
Michigan (+1500): The Wolverines need a win at Ohio State and in the Big 10 Championship Game to lock up one of the 4 spots with absolute certainty. If a loss transpires in either game, they'll be at the mercy of the playoff committee, and most likely would conclude in an unhappy ending.
Wisconsin (+1500): I like the Badgers chances the best, compared to other 2 loss teams heading into this week. Wisconsin's only setbacks were 14-7 at Michigan, and in overtime to Ohio State. A win against Minnesota on Saturday puts them in the Big 10 Championship Game. Their best chance at that point would be to play Michigan, not Penn State, and of course, win. Even with all that good fortune, they'll likely need a loss from either Clemson, Washington, or both to receive an invitation.
Washington (+1500): Earlier this season, I couldn't envision a 1 loss team from the PAC-12 getting into the college football playoff. I just didn't feel the conference was strong enough from top to bottom. However, with the likes of Washington State, USC, Utah, and the emergence of Colorado, I've since shifted course. Nevertheless, going to Pullman on Saturday, and taking on Washington State (8-3/7-1) will be no easy chore. All you need to do is look at betting odds on this game from each of the best sportsbooks for further proof. My top choice for one of these 8 teams being upset on Saturday is the Huskies. If they win, I'll tip my cap, and Washington would be very much alive. Of course, they'll still need to win the conference championship game against probably Colorado, and once again that will be no easy undertaking.
Oklahoma (+2000): If the Sooners (9-2) get in it will be a shame in my opinion. This has been far from a banner year for the Big 12 Conference. Besides, they still need to defeat a very good Oklahoma State team at home on the first Saturday of December be under serious considered. Remember, this is the same Oklahoma team that lost to Houston in their season opener and were blown out at home against Ohio State. The Buckeyes beating Michigan would strengthen their case, but they'll still need help, and that's if they're lucky enough to win its upcoming bitter rivalry game.
Penn State (+4000): If you told me heading into October that Penn State would be in this discussion, I would've seriously questioned your sanity. However, lo and behold, the Nittany Lions still have a pulse as weak is it may be. Here's the deal, beat Minnesota on Saturday, and then hope Ohio State wins over Michigan. Then, as strange is it may seem, Penn State would be playing probably Wisconsin for the conference championship. Unfortunately, the plight doesn't end there. They'll need plenty of other results to go their way and then hope for a little love from the committee. It's an extreme long shot, but sure fun to talk about in any event.