Bowl Season Begins With Six Games On Dec. 16
Going into the college football championship games, it was a foregone conclusion that the winner of the Pac-12 Championship Game would take one of the four slots in the College Football Playoff. As it turned out, the same scenario was in place for the SEC title contest.
Despite Florida State winning the ACC title to remain undefeated, the Seminoles were not among the four teams receiving spots in the CFB playoffs. It will be Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama vying for the national championship with the college football odds favoring Michigan and Texas in the national semifinals.
While the Oregon-Washington and Georgia-Alabama games lived up to the hype, it was easy for people to wonder how Iowa, Louisville, and Oklahoma State got into Power-5 conference title games as the Hawkeyes, Cardinals, and Cowboys looked overmatched.
The bowl matchups were announced on Sunday and Minnesota was the only 5-7 team to earn a bowl bid. There are also six bowl games between 6-6 teams and that is hardly something to get excited about.
Things get started on Dec. 16 with the college football spreads favoring Ohio to top Georgia Southern in the Myrtle Beach Bowl, Jacksonville State favored against Louisiana in the New Orleans Bowl, and Appalachian State a four-point favorite against Miami (Ohio) in the Mexico Cure Bowl. New Mexico State (New Mexico Bowl), UCLA (LA Bowl), and Texas Tech (Independence Bowl) are also favored on the first day of the bowl season.
The biggest upset in the conference championship games came when Miami (Ohio), a 7-point underdog, topped Toledo 23-14 in the Mid-American title contest. Alabama went off as a 5-point underdog against Georgia, according to our sportsbook.
Michigan received 102 of the 121 first-place votes in the two national polls and also earned the top seed in the College Football Playoff field. Washington and Texas finished second and third in the CFP rankings and in both the Associated Press and American Football Coaches Association poll.
The No. 4 spot is where the drama starts, with Florida State remaining fourth in the AP poll. In the coaches’ poll, FSU was third, Alabama fourth, and Texas fifth, even though Texas went to Alabama and won by 10 points.
Is There an SEC Bias?
The question is whether the best team or the most deserving team should get the edge when things are as close as they were in selecting the College Football Playoff field.
Without starting quarterback Jordan Travis, would Florida State be favored to beat Alabama right now? No. If Travis were healthy, the Seminoles would likely still be considered the underdog.
However, there is something to be said for rewarding a team for winning all of its games. Alabama did not do that as Texas came into Tuscaloosa and handed the Crimson Tide a 10-point loss.
It could be argued that FSU did not look too impressive in beating Louisville in the ACC title game. However, how good did Alabama look in narrowly avoiding an upset loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl?
SEC teams won the last four national title games and there is little doubt that the conference is better than the ACC in football. Does that mean an SEC team has to be in the CFP field when those watching know that the Georgia and Alabama teams are not as good as the ones who won recent national titles?
Still, it is hard not to feel sympathy for Florida State since there is nothing the Seminoles could have done to secure a CFP spot.
If Georgia won the SEC title, the Bulldogs would have been the top seed followed by Michigan, Washington, and Texas.
There is no question that the Florida State players and coaches were the ones who suffered the biggest loss on Sunday. However, a close second had to be the ESPN announcing team.
When fans scream about announcers having it out for their team, it is normally just idle chatter. That was not the case this time.
Host Rece Davis showing disgust when panelist Booger McFarland, who played his college football in the SEC, said it was a travesty that Florida State is not in the field was not a good look. The coverage of the ACC title game wasn’t much better with it being portrayed that FSU would be receiving a “thanks for playing” pat on the back.
The one thing that can not be debated is that the betting action on the Alabama-Michigan national semifinal will only increase due to this drama. Will it be the game that draws the most online betting interest? That is very possible.
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The Big Winner: Michigan
While drawing Alabama in the national semifinals will be no easy task, with all the chatter about whether Florida State received a raw deal and if Alabama deserved to be in the CFP field, there was almost no mention of the fact that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended twice for not being forthcoming with NCAA investigators, who are looking into potential wrongdoing in the Michigan program.
It remains to be seen if sanctions will be coming for the accusations that Michigan set up a sign-stealing operation. However, the Wolverines look to have a clean bill of health going into the College Football Playoff. Michigan fell short in the CFP semifinals a season ago, but that might not have been the worst thing considering the way that Georgia rolled past Texas Christian. More people remember the humbling loss by TCU more than Michigan losing in the semifinals.
Being the top seed, it is win or else time for the Wolverines.
When looking at the college football betting odds, the top two teams in the championship odds are Michigan and Alabama.
So what about an undefeated Washington and a one-loss Texas team that handed Nick Saban a rare double-digit home loss?
Will it be portrayed that the Alabama-Michigan game is the de facto national championship game? That could be a dangerous way to proceed with both Washington and Texas more than capable of winning it all.
Liberty Gets the Call
Another interesting part of the bowl selection show is that Southern Methodist was penalized for playing – and losing – to a pair of teams from the Power-5 conferences while Liberty didn’t play a team from the Power-5 conferences.
Take a look at the full and final #CFBPlayoff selection committee rankings upon completion of the 2023 college football regular season!
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) December 3, 2023
Liberty earned the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six bowl games and will face Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. The Ducks, who fell to Washington in the Pac-12 title game, are listed by the Las Vegas college football odds as a 15-point favorite. SMU faces Boston College in the Fenway Bowl.
A Look at the Numbers: Arizona ATS Kings
Those who bet online have to love the Arizona Wildcats.
Arizona covered against the college football odds 83.3% of the time and that is the best mark among Football Bowl Subdivision teams. UNLV and Miami (Ohio) are next with 10-3 marks against the spread while Penn State, Oregon, and Alabama are other top-performing teams out of the Power-5 conferences.
Vanderbilt was just 2-10 against the spread while Minnesota, Illinois, and Southern California were just 3-9 ATS. Georgia’s 4-8-1 mark was an eye-opener as well.
LSU led the way with 11 of its games finishing over the total while UCLA, Iowa, and Tulane had just two games finished over the total.
Questions Of The Day
Which four teams made it to the NCAAF playoffs this season?
Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama are the four teams selected to play in the College Football Playoff field.
Which teams are favored in the Crystal Ball predictions for the College Football Playoff?
Michigan is favored by one point against Alabama and Texas is a four-point favorite versus Washington in the national semifinals.