Let's examine some of the college football odds for the upcoming weekend, so we can check how's worth of our early leans, and who should we keep a close eye on for our college football picks.
Kentucky vs. Georgia
This SEC game means essentially nothing in the grand scheme of things. So why am I including it? I am very curious to see how much the Georgia players care at all following Saturday's blowout loss to Florida in Jacksonville that ended UGA's chances of winning the SEC East Division. Coach Mark Richt is on shaky ground right now and an upset home loss here would really increase the calls by the Georgia fans to finally dump him -- Miami (Fla.) would love that as UM would jump at the chance to hire Richt for its opening; Richt is a former Hurricanes quarterback. It's not clear who will start at quarterback in this one for Georgia. Third-stringer Faton Bauta oddly got the call against Florida and struggled. Bauta completed 15-for-33 -- the most attempts any Georgia quarterback has thrown in a game this season -- for 154 yards and four interceptions. It was the second consecutive game the Bulldogs were unable to reach the end zone. Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert started Georgia's first seven games before being benched for Bauta. Brice Ramsey also will be in the mix potentially this week. Kentucky enters on a three-game losing streak. UK has lost five straight in this series. I'd probably take the points on this one, hoping it does get above two touchdowns. It opened as high as 17 on college football odds at some books.
Duke vs. #21 North Carolina
Duke-UNC basketball games always matter and so does the football game this season. If the Tar Heels win (7-1, 4-0), they are nearly locks to take the ACC Coastal Division and play in the conference championship game against either Clemson or Florida State. The Heels have won seven in a row for the first time since 1997. Duke (6-2, 3-1) still controls its ACC destiny. The Blue Devils were totally jobbed in Saturday's shocking home loss to Miami in which the Hurricanes used an eight-lateral kickoff return with no time left for the upset. Clearly one Miami player's knee was down before he threw a lateral and there was also a blatant block in the back. If there was ever a time for a conference to strip an on-field victory it was that game. The officials from that were suspended for the next two games. In a news release, the ACC detailed four mistakes missed by the on-field crew and replay officials. Unfortunately, Duke fell out of the Top 25 with that loss. That prevents us from seeing the first Duke-UNC matchup with both teams ranked since 1939.
#4 LSU vs. #7 Alabama
Clearly the game of the week and it will be in Tuscaloosa (the game is in prime time). Alabama is -230 on 5Dimes and LSU at +170. I expect LSU to be in the Top 4 of the first College Football Playoff rankings and the Tigers might be No. 1 -- it should be either them or fellow unbeaten Clemson. Alabama probably will be just on the outside looking in for the Top 4. LSU running back Leonard Fournette remains the heavy Heisman Trophy betting favorite but this will be easily the best defense he has seen. LSU obviously would control its destiny to win the SEC West with a victory, but the Tigers still have three very tough regular-season games after this: vs. Arkansas, at No. 19 Ole Miss and vs. No. 25 Texas A&M. A loss all but eliminates Alabama from the West race and a shot at the playoff. The Tide have won four straight in this series. LSU has just two members left of the last team to beat the Tide: defensive tackle Quentin Thomas and walk-on linebacker Grant Leger, both on the 2011 team that won 9-6 in the regular season. LSU hasn’t lost five straight to any SEC opponent since dropping nine in a row to Florida from 1988-96. Both these schools are off a bye week.