Here are some college football notes and observations that bettors can use going forward.
Turnover in the Top 25
Week 7 proved to have serious College Football Playoff implications, as No. 2 Georgia, No. 6 West Virginia, No. 7 Washington and No. 8 Penn State all fell on Saturday.
Georgia still controls their fate if they win out, but it’s easier said than done considering they’d likely need to beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game in order to reach the playoff.
Over in the Big 12, West Virginia can still make their conference championship game, but are they really deserving of a top ranking? A team that could only muster 152 yards against Iowa State doesn’t deserve to be in the playoff conversation. And with a tough remaining schedule, they’ll probably be an afterthought come November.
Playoff dreams crushed
Heading into last week, Washington and Penn State were two Top-10 teams that already had a loss on their schedule. Despite the ‘L,’ both squads were still alive in the playoff race as long as they won every remaining game on their schedule. But after suffering disappointing Week 7 losses, both programs are now destined to be on the outside looking in — no two-loss team has ever made the playoff — when the College Football Playoff selection committee finalizes the field.
Washington and Penn State’s losses are textbook examples of “dream-crushers.” In sports handicapping, a “dream-crusher” is a game in which a team suffers a loss that results in the death of their season-long goal. It’s believed that these teams will lose their focus for the remainder of the season because everything they worked for during the offseason was lost with their devastating defeat.
Keeping that in mind, a reeling Penn State now hits the road to face Indiana, a hungry team that would love to knock off one of the Big Ten’s best programs. The Hoosiers are catching the Nittany Lions at the right time and there could be serious value on Indiana +14.
As for Washington, the Huskies opened as a 17-point favorite at home against Colorado in Week 8, but that line is already down to -15 in light of of Week 7’s “dream-crusher.” I would stay away from betting against Washington in this game because I’m not high on Colorado, but look to fade them in other matchups throughout the season.
Another team with playoff hopes that lost in Week 7 was No. 16 Miami. Despite averaging 5.8 yards per play and holding Virginia to 3.7 yards per play, they somehow lost 16-13. Miami was a program that I wanted to soon sell on, especially after they had to overcome a 20-point deficit to barely beat Florida State as 14-point favorites.
Virginia’s fans rushed the field after the game to celebrate the huge win for their football program. Coming off that exciting victory, this would be a great time to fade the Cavaliers in their Week 8 showdown with Duke (-7.5).
Down the road, North Carolina let a perfect opportunity slip away in a last-second loss to Virginia Tech in Week 7. UNC’s 1-4 on the year, but they fight hard and could be a team to bet on late in the season – especially if they’re underdogs. That being said, I’d avoid betting on the Tar Heels against Syracuse (-9.5) for Week 8 since you’ll be able to find more favorable odds for UNC later in the season.
How will Oklahoma respond?
One of this week’s most intriguing storylines is how the Oklahoma defense will play after re-tooling their staff in response to their eye-opening loss to Texas.
*Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was fired and defensive line coach Ruffin McNeill, who previously worked with Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley at East Carolina, was promoted to the position.
*Former UConn head coach Bob Diaco was promoted from defensive analyst to outside linebackers coach. Diaco is best known for his time as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator from 2010-13.
With all of those changes, I’m interested to see how Oklahoma’s defensive players respond during their Week 8 game against TCU. Regardless of which coach is in charge, sophomore cornerback Tre Norwood believes that the players need to play better.
Tre Norwood accurately describes the current defensive situation in Norman:
“The coach can make the calls but it comes down to the players … we know that we play a big role in it as well.”
— Eddie Radosevich (@Eddie_Rado) October 15, 2018
If Oklahoma does show signs of life on defense against TCU, I’d love their chances of winning out and beating Texas in a must-see Big 12 Championship Game. Assuming that this happens, the Sooners would instantly be in the conversation for a playoff spot. Especially if a favorite like Clemson or Notre Dame suffers a loss between now and the end of November.
Do you agree with my train of thought? If so, Oklahoma’s national championship odds are currently 40/1, which means you could place your money on them today, hedge that bet once they reached the playoff and still come out in the green in this intriguing scenario.