The college football odds makers are busy setting lines for conference championship games. Let's analyze the schools that are in contention in preparation of making our college football picks.
1. Alabama (11-1 SU, 7-5 ATS) - It was a reversal of fortune in this year's Iron Bowl if you included either Alabama or Auburn in your College Football Picks. With less than a minute remaining Alabama's designated bulldozer Derrick Henry turned the agony of a certain blown ATS cover into the thrill of victory for all those who backed Bama when he powered his way 25 yards into the endzone to seal the deal on a 29-13 win over Auburn and deliver a divine ATS cover. Bama takes on SEC East champ Florida next week in their conference title matchup.
2. Iowa (12-0 SU, 7-5 ATS) - The Hawkeyes maintained their perfect record with a win over the Cornhuskers in Nebraska. It was not the thorough domination one might expect from one of the top ranked teams in the nation versus a sub .500 squad. However the results mattered and Iowa's 28-20 victory even covered the number that the College Football Odds makers were hanging by installing the visitors as only a 2 ½ point favorite. Iowa meets Big Ten East champ Michigan State next week at Lucas Oil Stadium in the most hotly anticipated conference championship of them all.
3. Michigan State (11-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) - When a school is vying for consideration into the rarified air of college football's playoff tournament, which allows only the top four programs in the country to compete, it is not how you start but how you finish. And yes, margin of victory is certainly a key component. That being said it would be ludicrous not to include the Spartans in the playoff conversation at this point particularly after their 55-16 destruction of Penn State. The matter will be settled next week when Michigan State takes on the Big Ten West champion Iowa Hawkeyes for the conference title with the victor most likely getting a berth into the playoff tournament.
4. Oklahoma (11-1 SU, 9-3 ATS) - The Sooners did exactly what they needed to do and then some by leaving no doubts about which team is king in the Big 12 when they annihilated their archrivals Oklahoma State, and in Stillwater no less, by the score of 58-23. With no conference championship game to play (shame on you Big 12) the Sooners must keep their fingers crossed that the Committee has a slot reserved for them in the playoff tournament.
5. Ohio State (11-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) - All the Buckeyes did was march into Michigan and destroy the 10th ranked Wolverines in the Big House 42-13. If that's not demanding forgiveness for their lone loss to Michigan State (who it turns out is one of the very best in the nation) then I'm not sure what they can possibly do at this point. The bottom line is that the Buckeyes can only hope that North Carolina spoils Clemson's undefeated season in the ACC title game to make room for them as a top four team.
6. Clemson (12-0 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) - Tigers' fans have every right to throw tomatoes at me for not including their school in the top four particularly after preserving their undefeated season with a 37-32 win over South Carolina. Ironically that is exactly why I have bounced them off of the big stage because when you are ranked first in the nation and you can only salvage a five-point victory over a 3-8 opponent that the oddsmakers have made 20-point underdogs then it is time to see - you - later. The Tigers will have a chance to prove to the world that they deserve to be invited to the postseason party with a win over 11th ranked North Carolina in their ACC title tilt next week.
7. North Carolina (11-1 SU, 8-4 ATS) - Goodness gracious, if the Tar Heels could have only known that their opening season loss to the Gamecocks would have spoiled their chances for consideration into the playoff tournament then that defeat would have stung even more at the time. As of right now they are fresh off the heels of a convincing win over NC State where they put 35 points up in the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way to a 45-34 victory. If they can beat their ACC neighbors the Clemson Tigers in the conference championship game then they might - just might - get a look from the playoff committee...but don't count on it.