The University of Alabama is the unquestioned college football dynasty of this century. Under coach Nick Saban, the Tide have won four national championships since 2009 and were just a couple of seconds from adding a fifth last January. They are the only school to reach the College Football Playoff in each of its first three years.
That could end this Sunday when all the bowl matchups are announced. That’s because Alabama isn’t in the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2013. It was upset in the Iron Bowl by Auburn, which claimed the SEC West and has a rematch with No. 6 Georgia in Saturday’s conference title game in Atlanta. The second-ranked Tigers are 2.5-point favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
There seems to be universal consensus that the Auburn-Georgia winner heads to the playoff even though Auburn has two losses. No team has made the playoff with two defeats. Then again, the Tigers also have beaten the No. 1 team in the CFP Top 25 twice. First it was Georgia, 40-17 on Nov. 11 in Auburn. The it was Bama this past Saturday, 26-14. Now the No. 5 Tide will need some help this Saturday to reach the playoff.
The Big 12 title game returns for the first time since 2010 and will be played at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas between No. 3 and regular-season champion Oklahoma and No. 11 TCU. One unique thing about the Big 12 is that it’s the only major conference without divisions and only 10 teams – who all play each other in the regular season.
OU easily handled the Frogs 38-20 in Norman on Nov. 11 behind 333 yards passing and three scores from likely Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. OU’s in the playoff with a victory and is a 7-point favorite on the betting lines. TCU likely has no shot at the national semifinals even with a lopsided victory. Alabama will certainly be rooting for TCU.
And in the American Athletic Conference, No. 14 Central Florida is one of just two unbeaten teams in the country along with Wisconsin. The Knights host No. 20 Memphis in Saturday’s title game in Orlando, with UCF listed as a 7-point favorite.
The rumors continue to surround UCF coach Scott Frost that he will be leaving to become the head coach at Nebraska, his alma mater. The UCF-Memphis winner should get the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bowl bid. They played in Orlando during the regular season, with UCF winning 40-13. That’s the Tigers’ only loss.
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