The second-to-last College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday night and the Top 5 hasn't changed, meaning there could be little drama in Sunday.
Sooners Are In, So Are Trio With Wins
No surprise that the Top 5 remained unchanged because there were no upsets in Week 13 among that group.
Top-ranked Clemson got a bit of a scare from South Carolina but escaped 37-32 in Columbia behind four total touchdowns from Deshaun Watson. He passed for 279 yards and ran for 114 to keep his slight Heisman Trophy chances alive -- Watson surely will be a finalist in New York City next week. You could somewhat see that result coming as it was essentially South Carolina's bowl game and Clemson might have been looking past the Gamecocks a bit and toward red-hot North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. At 5Dimes, however, Clemson has slipped to the third-favorite to win the College Football Playoff at +500. Part of that could be because the Tar Heels are playing so well and would appear to have a legitimate upset chance on Saturday. Clemson is only a 5-point favorite on college football odds.
No. 2 Alabama only led unranked Auburn 12-6 at halftime in the Iron Bowl but wore the Tigers down with bruising running back Derrick Henry in a 29-13 victory. Henry carried a school-record 46 times for 271 yards and a touchdown and you can start engraving his name on the Heisman Trophy. He's the -410 favorite at 5Dimes. The Tide have it much easier than Clemson this week as Alabama faces in the SEC Championship Game a Florida team that was just destroyed 27-2 at home by Florida State. The Gators can't score right now and have struggled offensively since losing starting QB Will Grier to suspension. Bama is a 17-point favorite in that game and is the +130 favorite in the playoff.
No. 3 Oklahoma was very impressive last Saturday in a 58-23 blowout of a good Oklahoma State team in the Bedlam game. That gave the Sooners the Big 12 outright title and assures that conference won't be left out of the playoff for a second straight season. While the Big 12 was penalized for not having a conference title game in 2014, it catches a break in that regard now as the Sooners can just sit back and watch other teams play and not worry about a potential serious injury. OU is now a +290 second-favorite to win the playoff.
Should Clemson and Alabama win, the final playoff spot will go to the Big Ten Championship Game winner between No. 4 Iowa and No. 5 Michigan State. The Hawkeyes are 3.5-point underdogs in that game in Indianapolis. Iowa, which has played a really weak schedule, is +1600 to win the playoff while Michigan State is +1000. Really the only question for the Big Ten winner is whether it finishes No. 4 or No. 3 in the final rankings. I expect MSU to beat Iowa on college football picks
Still Have A Shot
Ohio State's chances of repeating as national champion are not over as the Buckeyes are No. 6 in the playoff rankings and could get in if either Clemson or Alabama loses, especially in a rout. The playoff committee clearly was impressed by OSU's domination of Michigan in the regular-season finale. Ohio State is +3200 to win the playoff.
No. 7 Stanford might have a better case to get in the playoff over Ohio State despite two losses if the Cardinal destroy No. 20 USC in the Pac-12 title game. That would be Stanford's second win over USC this season and the Cardinal also beat ranked UCLA and Notre Dame. Plus the Cardinal would be a conference champion and obviously OSU would not. Stanford is +6000 to win the playoff.
The most interesting case belongs to No. 10 North Carolina. Interesting that the 11-1 Heels are behind two-loss teams Stanford, Notre Dame and Florida State. How will the committee treat North Carolina if it beats Clemson? The Tigers are the only ranked team UNC will have played and the Heels also beat two FCS teams. North Carolina is +2500 to win the playoff -- surprisingly better odds than Ohio State.