Alabama, Oregon and Florida State are all involved in Championship Games this week and any of those teams losing would surely see them drop out of the top four... Two of those teams losing would really put the cat amongst the pigeons, but I personally don't see that happening at all.
That means the Baylor Bears and the Ohio State Buckeyes are looking in at the moment, although the latter could get a really big boost by winning the Big Ten Championship. In fact, I would argue that Ohio State would be more likely to be promoted into the top four if they win this week and one of those teams in those positions were to lose, while Baylor likely need two teams to lose, or TCU to be beaten, for them to make it into the first Play Off.
The interesting thing for me is how far the Seminoles have dropped despite being unbeaten and I do contemplate whether Florida State would have been in the top two if the BCS system from last season was still in play. I don't think they would have been dropped as an unbeaten team of two years from playing in the National Championship Game, but the Committee seems to be using the room they have with the four team Play Off to make a point of where they see Florida State.
Are they really going to be so unimpressed by an unbeaten team, the only one in the nation, to drop them out of the top four without losing a game? I would say there is almost no chance of that happening, and I still think it is a little unfair for Florida State to have been dropped again despite the poor performance from Jameis Winston against the Florida Gators.
One aspect that could be one to see is how much the Committee take Conference Champions into consideration- at the start of the season, many felt the lack of a Championship Game for the Big 12 would make it difficult for that Conference to send a team into the Play Off. The injury to JT Barrett of Ohio State perhaps has made than an easier decision, but will the SEC, Pac-12 and ACC Champion, assuming three of the top four win those games this weekend, really be seeded below TCU as a Big 12 joint Champion?
That decision could make it easier for people to predict how the Rankings will go in twelve months time and is definitely going to produce one of the talking points next Tuesday. Of course a TCU loss this weekend would make that a moot point.
It was another shallow winning week for the picks last week, but I haven't really had the big win to cover some of the issues the picks have had during the season which is a disappointment. However, that is three weeks in a row with a positive outcome and I am hoping the last six weeks of the season can be very productive as Bowl Games begin after this week.
Oregon Ducks v Arizona Wildcats Pick: There is no doubt that this looks a very big number to cover for the Oregon Ducks considering their last two losses to the Arizona Wildcats and the public are very much on the side of the underdog in this one.
However, you can't talk about those two losses without mentioning some of the extenuating circumstances that could have affected Oregon in both. The first saw an injured Marcos Mariota barely able to move, while the second saw him running for his life behind a patchwork Offensive Line.
In this Pac-12 Championship Game, Oregon can't ask to come in any healthier as a returning Keonon Lowe gives Mariota a full complement of Receivers to throw too. On the other hand, Arizona will miss their second most effective Receiver in Samajie Grant and Anu Solomon hasn't been playing to the high level he displayed earlier this season.
I still think Solomon will have success as long as Nick Wilson continues to run the ball hard, but Oregon are a team on a mission and have been dominating opponents since the loss to Arizona. The Ducks will be playing in the College Play Off as long as they win this game, but I think they might have a chip on their shoulder and want to prove the two losses to the Wildcats were down to the circumstances mentioned.
Oregon have been effective as a neutral field team as they have gone 3-1 against the spread in that spot over the last three seasons. The Ducks are also a team that is 8-2 against the spread as a favourite of between 10.5 and 21 points, including going 4-0 this season, so covering the big number isn't something that will intimidate them.
Booking a place in the College Play Off with a dominating win over a team that has got the better of them in the last couple of seasons will be what Oregon look to sign off on. Going against the public is just an extra boost in this game, the big one on Friday night.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs @ Marshall Thundering Herd Pick: The Marshall Thundering Herd saw their unbeaten season go up in smoke last week, but they can bounce back by winning the Conference-USA Championship Game on homefield.
However, falling off from the unbeaten path means Marshall have lost the chance to play in a big Bowl Game and Louisiana Tech could take advantage in a game where both Offenses should be able to score points. The absence of Devon Johnson would be another problem for Marshall to deal with and I think it could be tough for the team to pick themselves up even if this is a Championship Game.
By backing the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, I am not saying that Marshall won't rally to win, but I am suggesting it is far more competitive than the layers believe. The Bulldogs are 6-1 against the spread on the road this season and they are 4-0 against the spread as the underdog, while they have enough scoring power to keep this very close.
Marshall's last two games have been very competitive and the underdog is 5-2 against the spread in the Conference-USA Championship Game.
Iowa State Cyclones @ TCU Horned Frogs Pick: Style points don't matter to TCU any more as they moved up to Number 3 in the College Play Off Rankings, but being able to relax a little more may allow them to beat the Iowa State Cyclones and cover the large number.
TCU have a very under-rated Defense and they can shut down what Iowa State are able to do on the ground, although the Cyclones should have some success throwing the ball. The problem will be evading the heavy pass rush the Horned Frogs can get if the Cyclones are kept in third and long and that can lead to turnovers and giving this TCU Offense extra possessions to move clear.
Trevone Boykin and the Offense should be able to have their way with Iowa State and it is going to be difficult to stop TCU moving the ball up and down the field in this one. The Horned Frogs have been dominant at home and they have also shown capability of winning games by very large margins.
Alabama Crimson Tide v Missouri Tigers Pick: On first glance, getting more than two Touchdowns start against Alabama looks a big number for Missouri and I am unsurprised the public are favouring them in this game.
However, I want to go against the majority again in this game and I like the Crimson Tide to remind the fans why there is such a difference between the SEC West and SEC East this season.
When the line opened at under two Touchdowns, I loved Alabama, but now I only like Alabama because I do think the Missouri Defense has the potential to bamboozle Blake Sims a little and the Quarter Back hasn't played as well outside of Tuscaloosa. On the other hand, I am not sure how Maty Mauk is going to help his Offense move the chains against an Alabama Defense that will want to show they are a lot better than what they did in the Iron Bowl.
The line of scrimmage is so important in these SEC games and I do give Alabama the edge on that front and expect TJ Yeldon/Derrick Henry to be the Running Back tandem to have the bigger games ahead of Russell Hansbrough/Marcus Murphy. That should open things up a little more for Blake Sims, who has been well protected for the most part by the Offensive Line of Alabama, and I expect he has a strong outing connecting with Amari Cooper.
Alabama haven't been a great favourite to back and Missouri have thrived as the underdog for much of this season. The underdog has also covered the last two years in the SEC Championship Game, but I can't get the Georgia performance out of my head from Missouri, nor the way the Offense struggled against Florida.
Nick Saban won't let those mistakes creep into the Alabama team and I like the Crimson Tide to roll into the Play Offs with the Number 1 Seed well and truly wrapped up.
Kansas State Wildcats @ Baylor Bears Pick: It is hard to gauge how the fans will react in this game with it unlikely to be possible for the Baylor Bears to make it into the Play Offs barring some help from elsewhere. Style points are unlikely to make a difference for them at this late stage of the season, but a defeat for one of the top four teams and Baylor may want to remember to impress the Committee more than Ohio State possibly do.
The Kansas State Wildcats are one of the more effective teams in College Football because they don't make many mistakes and Bill Snyder will have them fully prepared as he does in every game. They are one of the best road underdogs to back with considerable success in causing upsets and this is also a revenge game for them having had their own National Championship ambitions upset by Baylor in 2012.
However, this is a Baylor team that are much more effective at home than on the road and the return of Bryce Petty would be huge for them. The TCU Horned Frogs showed a powerful Offense can give Kansas State plenty of issues, although TCU have the better Defense compared with Baylor too in my opinion.
The Bears are 14-4 against the spread at home over the last three seasons and the Wildcats were beaten by 21 points against a TCU team that are considered a little better than Baylor. While this is likely to be closer, I also think a little over a Touchdown start won't be enough for Kansas State and I like Baylor to win by at least ten points.
Florida State Seminoles v Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick: This is yet another game where the public is actually on the side of the underdog, but I like the favourite to come through. Florida State have made a habit of surprising people when many have thought they are ripe for the upset, for example in road games at Louisville and Miami, and the Seminoles covered in both of those games despite the public fading them.
I won't disagree with one sentiment that seems to be flying around- Florida State have not really played like a team that is unbeaten and it isn't hard to see why the Committee have dropped them down to Number 4 and a potential huge Semi Final against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the New Year.
Playing against the 'triple option' Offense is very difficult, especially when facing it for the first time, and that is another reason the public, and a lot of 'experts', are feeling an upset brewing.
However, I think Florida State will be able to run the ball against this Defense and should release the pressure on Jameis Winston who has to be better than he was against Florida last week. Winston has some big Receivers too and I think the Quarter Back has the potential to have his most complete game as long as Dalvin Cook takes advantage of what looks a favourable match up running the ball.
The ACC Championship Game has seen the favourite go 5-2 against the spread over the last seven years, but Georgia Tech have thrived as the underdog this season. However, this Florida State team has shown too much heart to be discounted with so much on the line and I like how they proved the doubters wrong in the two games they have been favoured by 4 or fewer points this season by winning and covering in both.
Ohio State Buckeyes v Wisconsin Badgers Pick: It is one of those strange weeks where I seem to be going against the public a fair bit and this is a game where I like the to go against the public favourite and look for the Ohio State Buckeyes to at least cover.
Cardale Jones takes over at Quarter Back from an injured JT Barrett and that is a big loss for the Buckeyes, but also means every player on that field for Ohio State is likely to empty the tank to help the inexperienced player taking over. There are so many occasions where teams raise their level when a star player is lost through injury and Ohio State believe Jones can be effective enough to couple with Ezekiel Elliot to move the chains for the Buckeyes.
My one big concern is that the Wisconsin Defense is one of the best that Ohio State will face, especially as I would have been more comfortable with Barrett at Quarter Back who had such a strong game against Michigan State.
Melvin Gordon has a slight ankle injury, but the Running Back should take part and have a fair bit of success against this Ohio State Defense. The big question is whether or not Joel Stave can make enough plays at Quarter Back to keep the Buckeyes off balance and I think the athleticism that Ohio State have is going to keep them in the game.
The underdog has covered in all three Big Ten Championship Games over the last three seasons and Ohio State have thrived as the underdog with Urban Meyer as Head Coach, going 3-0 against the spread in that spot.
Wisconsin are just 1-3 against the spread over the last three seasons on a neutral field and I think this could end up being a game decided by a Field Goal which makes the points given to Ohio State look appealing enough to back.
Fresno State Bulldogs @ Boise State Broncos Pick: Boise State will host Fresno State for the second time this season and will look to beat them again and I will be on the same side as the public by backing the Broncos to do that in impressive fashion.
The first game should have been an easier win for the Boise State Broncos who dominated the clock and also the yards totals and they should be able to build on their confidence to take home the Mountain West Championship.
Both teams should have success running the ball, but the Broncos should have considerably more success throwing it than Fresno State and that may end up proving to be the reason the Boise State pull away and win big.
Boise State have been 7-4 against the spread as the favourite this season and they are 4-2 against the spread at home and I think they will be able to defend a little better and make sure this isn't as close as when they first met.
MY PICKS: Oregon Ducks - 14.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs + 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
TCU Horned Frogs - 34.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 14.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Baylor Bears - 7 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Florida State Seminoles - 4 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes + 4.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
Boise State Broncos - 22.5 Points @ 1.92 Stan James (1 Unit)
Week 13: 7-6, + 0.37 Units (13 Units Staked, + 2.85% Yield)
Week 12: 7-5, + 1.40 Units (12 Units Staked, + 11.67% Yield)
Week 11: 9-4, + 4.34 Units (13 Units Staked, + 33.38% Yield)
Week 10: 6-7, - 1.51 Units (13 Units Staked, - 11.62% Yield)
Season 2014: 69-80-2, - 17.08 Units (164 Units Staked, - 10.41% Yield)