Alabama needs help to make College Football Playoff

Updated December 1, 2017 - 3:09 pm

Tumultuous times for the Southeastern Conference.

Mississippi, hammered by the NCAA, loses 25 scholarships over the next four years, and the Rebels won’t play in a bowl game the next two years.

Tennessee makes a mockery out of its coaching search, and the athletic director is fired before a new coach is even hired.

Texas A&M, Arkansas and Florida also fired their coaches.

And Alabama, the powerhouse most responsible for the coaching bloodletting, needs help to make the College Football Playoff. Tide coach Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer don’t exchange Christmas cards, but Saban is Meyer’s biggest booster this weekend.

If the Buckeyes defeat unbeaten Wisconsin for the Big Ten title and Auburn beats Georgia for the second time this season in the SEC championship game, there is no way the committee can deny Alabama a spot in the final four. But the Bulldogs and Badgers have a big say in this matter.

SEC championship

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

Georgia vs. Auburn

Auburn -1; total 47½

Auburn (10-2 straight up, 5-4-3 against the spread) defeated Georgia (11-1 SU, 8-4 ATS) 40-17 three weeks ago. Auburn is hoping that Kerryon Johnson’s shoulder will be 100 percent, as it was for three quarters of last week’s win over Alabama and when he ran for 167 yards in the first game against the Bulldogs. Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said on his radio show that Johnson would be a game-time decision. Georgia counters with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who have combined for 2,001 rushing yards this season. But they had only 48 yards on 20 carries at Auburn. The Tigers are scoring 36.7 points per game; the Bulldogs are giving up 13.8. I am not picking a side, but I love the over.

Big Ten championship

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Ohio State -6; total 51

Wisconsin (12-0 SU, 8-4 ATS) remains the only Power 5 team without a loss, and it might be the least-respected unbeaten team we have seen in recent memory. There’s no question that this will be the toughest test of the season for the Badgers. Ohio State (10-2 SU, 5-7 ATS) has blue-chip prospects all over the field, including at quarterback. If J.T. Barrett’s knee does not respond well after arthroscopic surgery, redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins appears capable of taking charge for the Buckeyes. But beware of the underdog. It is 4-2 SU and 5-0-1 ATS in the first six Big Ten title games, and the over has gone 5-1.

Atlantic Coast Conference championship

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

Miami, Fla. vs. Clemson

Clemson -9½; total 46½

Defending champion Clemson (11-1 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) is everybody’s pick after the line opened at 7. Two recent images — Miami losing at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame falling at Stanford — have convinced everyone that Clemson will roll. But should this number hit 10, I would recommend buying back on the Hurricanes. Miami (10-1 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) has been an underdog only once this season and hasn’t been a 9-point ’dog in more than two years. Mobile Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant could have a big day against a Hurricanes defense that allows 152 rushing yards per game. But because that same defense might play like it did against Notre Dame and not like it did against Pitt, you will want to shade to the under.

Big 12 championship

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Texas Christian vs. Oklahoma

Oklahoma -7; total 63½

Baker Mayfield comes in for Oklahoma (11-1 SU, 7-5 ATS) with 4,097 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and only five interceptions. TCU (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) has won only once in its past seven tries against the Sooners, including a 38-20 loss in Norman this season. I don’t think the Horned Frogs can trade scores with Mayfield. It would be nice to catch this game at 6½, but I’m willing to lay 7.

Mountain West championship

Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho

Fresno State vs. Boise State

Boise State -9; total 50½

The winner is likely to come to the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 16. This is a rematch of last week’s game at Fresno State, which the Bulldogs (9-3 SU, 9-2-1 ATS) won 28-17 over Boise State (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS). Fresno covered the spread in back-to-back games against Alabama and Washington, but also lost outright at home to UNLV 26-16 five weeks ago. That’s the last time they were beaten. You have to take the Bulldogs.

Brent Musburger’s betting column appears Saturday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His show on the Vegas Stats & Information Network can be heard on SiriusXM 204 and livestreamed at reviewjournal.com/vegas-stats-information-network.

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