The 2016 college football regular season already is 25 percent over as we are through three weeks and teams play just 12 regular-season games. What have we learned from a betting perspective thus far? Here are two conference trends.
Bet Against Big 12 As Often As Possible
A handful of SBR's best sportsbooks offered a prop entering the season on which conference the national champion would come from. Here's hoping you didn't bet on the Big 12 -- my recommendation, just so you know, was the ACC and I'm feeling pretty good about that. In this week's AP poll for the first time since its formation two decades ago, the Big 12 failed to have a single team ranked in the Top 15.
Oklahoma was the Big 12 preseason favorite but fell to 1-2 overall and 0-3 against the spread on Saturday night when the Sooners, as home underdogs for the first time in 16 years on college football odds, were dominated by Ohio State 45-24. There's not a ton of shame in losing to the Buckeyes, but by 21 at home to one of the youngest, most inexperienced teams in the nation? OSU brought back just six starters from last year's team and was playing its first road game of the season. But it was veteran Oklahoma that looked like it wasn't ready for prime time. The Sooners are now out of the College Football Playoff race, whether they still win the Big 12 or not.
It was just the latest bad loss for the Big 12, which is in major jeopardy of not having a playoff team for the second time in three years. Texas was ranked 11th in the country but lost at unranked California 50-43 on Saturday night. The 50 points matched the most Charlie Strong's defense had allowed in his 28 games at Texas. UT's defense also gave up 43 points in a double-overtime win over Notre Dame to open the season. Strong has vowed to make changes on that side of the ball this week with UT on the bye. That Notre Dame win also no longer looks so good with how the Irish fared in Week 3.
The Big 12 also has disappointing losses by Oklahoma State to Central Michigan, TCU at home to Arkansas and Texas Tech at Arizona State (ASU put up 68 points). Realistically, the conference's only shot at a playoff team is No. 16 Baylor (0-3 ATS), which is unbeaten and opens conference play at home against Oklahoma State on Saturday night. Don't you have to root for the Bears if you are Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby? West Virginia is the only other Big 12 unbeaten team but has played no one yet and is on upset alert Saturday at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, against BYU. The way the conference has looked thus far out of conference, the Cougars might be a smart underdog bet there.
The Big Ten East Is The Best Division
The SEC West has long been called the best division in all of college football, and with good reason considering it houses the likes of Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn, etc. And while the Crimson Tide might again be the nation's best team and are the betting favorites on college football picks to win another national title, the Big Ten East looks like the country's best division this year.
We haven't had a College Football Playoff with two teams from the same conference yet, but could we see the Big Ten East get two into the national semifinals? Ohio State rose to No. 2 in the polls with that beatdown of Oklahoma. OSU has outscored its first three opponents 170-37, covering all three easily, and the Buckeyes have scored four defensive touchdowns. That team should only get better and won't even break a sweat again until Oct. 15 at Wisconsin. The Buckeyes have yet to lose a true road game under Urban Meyer and have won five straight away from Columbus vs. ranked teams.
Michigan remains No. 4 in the polls and has beaten Hawaii, Central Florida and Colorado by a combined count of 159-45. True, those three schools only won seven combined games last year but you can only play the teams on your schedule. Jim Harbaugh's club shouldn't be threatened until Oct. 29 at Michigan State.
And speaking of those Spartans, they are No. 8 in the AP Top 25 after winning at No. 18 Notre Dame 36-28 on Saturday. MSU scored 36 straight points after trailing 7-0 and then held on. Mark Dantonio's team has a big game at home vs. No. 11 Wisconsin this Saturday and is an opening 6-point favorite on college football odds. If Michigan State wins that, it shouldn't be challenged until Oct. 29 vs. Michigan.
Of course the one problem with the Big Ten East is that obviously Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan all play each other. The Spartans have the scheduling edge as they host both schools. Michigan is away for both.
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