Who will survive the semifinals of the inaugural College Football Playoff? SBR is taking a close look at the College Football odds with previews of the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.
Memo to Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles: Quit telling us you're not going to moan and groan about your team not making the gridiron version of the Final Four all while you're moaning and groaning about being left out of the College Football Playoff.
Not that those of us with at least one ounce of common sense weren't expecting someone to cry and rant about the new system. An argument could be made for both Baylor and the TCU Horned Frogs, but in the end, their own conference made the decision easy for the CFP selection committee. With no declared Big 12 champion submitted to the group, it was a slam-dunk decision for them to go with the four winners of the other Big 5 conferences, each of which has a league title determined on the field.
One group we haven't heard complain at all is ESPN. The network got the exact four teams it wanted in Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State, all with much larger national followings and brands than either Baylor or TCU. No matter how you slice it, all signs point to three great matchups, counting the National Championship Jan. 12, and it's time to get this party started with a look at the College Football odds for the two semifinal contests.
Rose Bowl - (3) Florida State vs. (2) Oregon
Are we going to see a very rare matchup of Heisman Trophy winners when the Florida State Seminoles and Oregon Ducks collide at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day? It has only happened in bowl games three times before, and the 101st Grandaddy Classic has all the looks of being the fourth such occurrence.
Kickoff in Pasadena is set for a little past 5 PM (ET), and Oregon can be found at -9½ right now after opening two points lower. SBR's live college football odds show a unanimous 71 for the total.
We know the game will include one Heisman Trophy winner, Florida State quarterback Jamesis Winston who picked up the hardware a year ago. The biggest hype for this season's top honor on the collegiate front surrounds Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. Both are expected to be in the NFL Draft next April.
Neither will be able to win this game alone, however, and it is the defenses on both sides that those placing College Football picks should be focusing on. Mariota and Winston will be going against a couple of stop units that are among the best in the country and include several players that will also be playing on Sundays eventually. The Seminoles allowed just over 218 yards per game through the air, a big part of the secondary being PJ Williams who is going to give Oregon receivers a hard time. The Ducks have a fine secondary of their own led by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Erick Dargan who will be looking to add to Winston's 17 interceptions on the year.
With the game practically in Oregon's backyard, the Ducks will definitely have a home-field feel in the stands. I still like the points and FSU despite the 'Noles sitting 3-10 against the spread in 2014.
Free College Football Pick: FSU +9.5
Sugar Bowl - (4) Ohio State vs. (1) Alabama
Wrecking the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship helped push the Ohio State Buckeyes into the playoff mix, so congrats go out to Urban Meyer's squad. I'm afraid that will be the end of it for the Buckeyes, though, as their reward is to face top-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
The first prime-time sports telecast of 2015 is set for an 8:35 PM (ET) boot down in the Big Easy, and the Crimson Tide are 10 point favorites at BetOnline listing 58 for the scoreboard tally.
Kudos also go out to Ohio State sophomore Cardale Jones, the third name down the Buckeyes' QB depth chart who was pressed into action this past Saturday following injuries to first Braxton Miller back in August and JT Barrett a couple of weeks back in the win over Michigan.
Jones is now going to be facing a 'Bama defense that will force him and the Buckeyes to the air early, and we've seen how that has spelled trouble for OSU in several bowl meetings with SEC teams. Tide Nation is going to roll into New Orleans for this game to turn the city into Tuscaloosa West. Count me among the Alabama backers in this one.
Free College Football Pick: Alabama -10
Willie Bee's NCAAF Handicapping Record for the Season: 61-43-1 (+13.70)