Are you all revved up and ready to go for the 2013 college football season? Week 15 is here, and that means it’s time to break down all of the NCAA football odds that you have in front of you to sink your teeth into!
And then there were three… There are just three undefeated teams left in the nation, and all three will be putting their perfect records on the line in this, the last week of college football’s regular season.
The biggest winner of the bunch over the course of the last several weeks has been the Florida State Seminoles, who have gone from the team that no one figured had a shot of beating the Clemson Tigers three months ago to the team which is #1 in the country with the best chance of winning the National Championship. The Seminoles have only had one game this entire season that they didn’t win by at least four touchdowns, but that’s the margin which they are favored by in the ACC Championship Game over the Duke Blue Devils. This is the best season the Dookies have had in years, and they were proud to celebrate the ACC Coastal Division championship after beating the North Carolina Tar Heels last week. Still, they are the biggest underdogs on the board in Week 15, and they are surely in a heck of a lot of trouble, as they go in search of their first BCS bowl game in school history.
In fact, there isn’t another game on the docket which features a point spread of more than 13.5 points. The team favored by 13.5 is the Baylor Bears, who are favored over the Texas Longhorns in the last game ever played in Waco. Baylor will move into a stadium on its campus next season, and it would love nothing more than to win a share of the Big XII title this year in the last game played at Floyd Casey Stadium. Texas still has its sights set on the BCS as well, and a win in this game would at least keep the door open for that to happen.
The bottom line for both of these teams though, is that they both need the Oklahoma State Cowboys to lose on Saturday as well. The Pokes are 10.5-point favorites over the Oklahoma Sooners, and winning this game would give them the Big XII title and the trip to the Fiesta Bowl, at absolute minimum. There is still an outside chance to get into the National Championship Game, but it would take a whole heck of a lot for that to happen, and even all of those things happening still doesn’t guarantee a thing. Bedlam is a weird series though, and the pressure is going to be squarely on the backs of the Pokes in this one. They have everything on the line. A loss, and the team can’t win the Big XII and will probably end up in the Cotton Bowl at best. A win, and it’s off to the BCS. Oklahoma knows that it will have a case to be in the BCS with a win as an at large, though it can’t win the conference crown due to the fact that Baylor and Texas are playing against each other on Saturday as well.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are involved in what might be the most intriguing of the conference title games this week, as they have a date with the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes have won 24 games in a row, the longest winning streak in the nation by 11 games over Florida State’s 13. They only have one win against a team ranked in the Top 25 right now, that being a seven-point escape from the Wisconsin Badgers. That’s going to have to change in this one. The debate will rage forever and ever as to who would deserve to be in the National Championship Game if the Buckeyes were to win this one by a close margin, and that’s what the oddsmakers are thinking will happen. OSU is -6 in the Big Ten Championship Game over the Michigan State Spartans, who have quietly been amongst the best teams in the country. MSU has a very slight chance to play for all of the marbles as well, and it knows that winning this game is very possibly the only way to get into the BCS. However, if the Buckeyes go to the title game and the Spartans end up staying in the Top 14 of the BCS, there is a good chance that this game will literally have no bearing whatsoever on the bowl game which they will go to. Sparty would be off to Pasadena either way for the Rose Bowl.
Then there is the SEC, where both the Auburn Tigers and the Missouri Tigers are going to be vying for a potential trip to the National Championship Game as well. The winner will have at least a little bit of a gripe to be in the National Championship Game, though Missouri’s case is really going to be shattered if it can’t hop over the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are idle. Auburn, of course, is coming off of that miracle of a victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl, one which shifted the whole national landscape tremendously. Missouri is only a narrow loss against South Carolina away from being the clear cut #2 team in America right now though, and it should not be underestimated. It’s sad that the winner of this game will go to the Sugar Bowl in all likelihood, and the loser will be forced all the way out of the BCS in spite of a miraculous season. Auburn was voted fifth in the SEC West by the media at the start of the year. Missouri was voted sixth in the SEC East. Auburn is giving a point and a half in what should be the best game of the day.
There are plenty of other games out there this week that will have a bearing on what happens the rest of the way, especially in the BCS. The Louisville Cardinals are -3 on the road against the Cincinnati Bearcats in a game which the winner could still earn a share of the first ever AAC title. The UCF Knights already have their share, but they can win it outright and lock down a place in a BCS bowl game, most likely against the SEC winner, if they can beat the SMU Mustangs. That game starts the week off the board, but it should be an interesting one, knowing that SMU is fighting for a spot in a bowl game. We already saw last week what happened when the Fresno State Bulldogs had a BCS bowl bid on the line on the road against a team which was playing for its bowl eligibility…
Speaking of BCS bowl eligibility, what about the Northern Illinois Huskies? They continue to fend off every challenger necessary to get back to the BCS for the second straight season, but they could have a tough one coming against the Bowling Green Falcons on Friday in the MAC Championship Game. These MAC title games tend to be close affairs, and Friday isn’t expected to be an exception. NIU is laying three at Ford Field, and a win would almost certainly put the Huskies back in the BCS for the second straight season, most likely this time to play against the Big XII winners in the Fiesta Bowl.
Finally, we’ll talk about the Rose Bowl, where either the Stanford Cardinal or the Arizona State Sun Devils are going to take on most likely Michigan State in Pasadena. This is the first time that a team from the Pac-12 South has hosted the Pac-12 Championship Game, and Sun Devil Stadium is going to be rocking for sure for this one. The Sun Devils are laying 3.5 in this one at home against Stanford in a game with huge implications. The loser will be holding its breath about getting an at large bid to a BCS bowl game, but in all likelihood, if there is a second team from the Pac-12 that gets in, it is going to be the Oregon Ducks, not the loser of this game, a team which would then have three losses. There’s a heck of a lot of money and prestige on the line on Saturday night in the desert.
Fresno State is favored by a field goal over the Utah State Aggies in the first ever Mountain West Championship Game, though that game completely lost its luster when the Bulldogs were beaten last week by the San Jose State Spartans in the regular season finale.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.