If you know your college football, feel free to skip the first few sections.
If you don’t know anything, or you’re just discovering the sport via ESPN on a Sunday morning or afternoon, here are a few important things to know.
-The major colleges play in what’s called the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision). It used to be called Division I-A.
-There are 130 FBS schools and all but a few (eg: Notre Dame, Army, BYU) play in conferences.
-Conferences were traditionally geographically based and include: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC and Sun Belt.
-Not all conferences are equal. The so-called ‘Power Five’ conferences hold the traditional college football powers and get more teams into the playoffs. The Power Five is: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC.
-There are no full-fledged playoffs. Only four teams can contend for the national championship.
-That’s not as bad as it might sound when you consider not that long ago the national champion was crowned by a poll vote following the results of a number of post-season bowl games.
-The four playoff teams are selected via a 13-member committee which ranks the teams starting in late November.
-The semi-finals and the national championship game are rotated between traditional bowl sites (Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California) and big venues like AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Current Playoff Rankings (released this week)
1 Ohio State (8-0)
2 LSU (8-0)
3 Alabama (8-0)
4 Penn State (8-0)
5 Clemson (9-0)
6 Georgia (7-1)
7 Oregon (8-1)
8 Utah (8-1)
9 Oklahoma (7-1)
10 Florida (7-2)
Games This Week
#2 LSU @ #3 Alabama: It’s rare that two undefeated teams meet this late in the college football season. It’s even rarer when they’re two of the best teams in the country. But that’s what we’ve got on Sunday morning at 7:30am AEDT when Alabama (8-0) plays host to LSU (8-0).
Alabama is arguably the nation’s best college football program, led by head coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide have won 31 straight home games and are 39-1 in SEC conference games since 2015. Their star quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is still recovering from a high ankle sprain and is a game time decision.
LSU is a legitimate threat to upset the Tide. The Tigers are ranked higher than Bama in the playoff poll, but the Tide are still favoured by 6.5 points.
LSU is led by quarterback Joe Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State, and are coached by Louisiana native Ed Orgeron, who like Saban, had a role in the film The Blind Side.
Match Betting: Alabama ($1.40), LSU ($2.97)
Handicap: Alabama -6.5 ($1.96), LSU +6.5 ($1.85)
#4 Penn State @ #17 Minnesota: Minnesota might be the biggest surprise packet in all of college football, with an 8-0 record for the first time since 1941. They have had a favourable schedule and will be severely tested by a powerful Penn State team, with one of the nation’s best defenses.
Match Betting: Penn State ($1.40), Minnesota ($2.99)
Handicap: Penn State -6.5 ($1.91), Minnesota +6.5 ($1.89)
#1 Ohio State @ Maryland: The only question here is how big a score Ohio State puts up against a weak Maryland team. The #1 ranking should be safe.
Match Betting: Ohio State (SUS), Maryland ($151)
Handicap: Maryland +42 ($1.93), Ohio State -42 ($1.87)
#5 Clemson @ NC State: Clemson will be out for blood after feeling disrespected by coming in at #5 in the first poll of the year. Look for the defending national champs to put up a big score.
Match Betting: Clemson (SUS), NC State ($81)
Handicap: Clemson -33 ($1.84), NC State +33 ($1.97)