Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame are locks to make the four-team College Football Playoff, regardless of what happens on conference championship week.
If Georgia upsets Alabama in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference title game, the Bulldogs, 13½-point underdogs, will clinch the fourth spot.
If not, barring an upset, Oklahoma or Ohio State will claim the final berth.
Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons gives the edge to the Sooners.
“If Georgia loses, it has to be Oklahoma, which has one loss this year to Texas by three points,” he said. “Ohio State had that ridiculously bad (49-20) loss to Purdue.”
The Sooners lost 48-45 to the Longhorns on Oct. 6 at the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma is an 8-point favorite over Texas in Saturday’s 9 a.m. rematch in the Big 12 title game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“The Texas quarterback is really beat up. Oklahoma shouldn’t have any problems winning this game,” Salmons said. “It’s not the best situation for Texas. Everything points to Oklahoma. It’s a revenge game, they’re playing for a playoff spot and they play first (Saturday morning).
“The way Oklahoma puts points on the board, it’s like a tennis match. You can’t lose your serve. I don’t see how Texas can keep up. I can see Texas hanging around for a while, but eventually Oklahoma will pull ahead and probably cover.”
Texas-Oklahoma (Over 77½)
Handicapper Paul Stone, in second place in the Golden Nugget’s Ultimate Football Challenge with a 55-25-1 ATS record (68.8 percent), likes the game to go over the total of 77½ points.
Oklahoma, which leads the nation in scoring (50.3 ppg), has gone over in its last four games — which averaged a total of 100½ points — and is on a 9-1-1 over streak.
Stone noted that the Sooners allowed at least 40 points to their four November opponents (Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas, West Virginia) that went a combined 13-23 in the Big 12.
“The Jayhawks rushed for 348 yards against Oklahoma and averaged 9.7 yards per carry. That says a lot about Oklahoma’s defense,” said Stone (@Paulstonesports). “On the flip side, they’re probably the second-best offense in all of college football, outside of Alabama.
“It was 48-45 the first time, and I think it’ll be something similar this time.”
Sharps on Ohio State, Georgia
With a possible playoff spot on the line, the Buckeyes, 14½-point favorites over Northwestern in the Big Ten title game, are expected to try to run up the score Saturday night, especially if Oklahoma wins big. Westgate sports book director John Murray said that’s why sharp money showed up on Ohio State, pushing the line from 14 to 14½.
“If Oklahoma loses to Texas, Ohio State won’t need to win by as much,” Murray said. “But if Oklahoma wins by 30, Ohio State is going to have to put on a show.”
Murray said the sharps also are on Georgia, which lost 26-23 in overtime to Alabama in last season’s national title game.
“This game will tell you a lot about how good Alabama is,” Salmons said. “If Alabama is good enough to destroy Georgia, I don’t think Clemson will have a chance (in the CFP title game). But if Georgia keeps it somewhere reasonable, I think Clemson will have a chance against them.”
The Tide are 7½-point favorites over Clemson at the Westgate in a possible national title game after the line opened at 8½.
The Tigers are 27½-point favorites over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
“Pittsburgh tries to run the ball and wear teams down. That will never work in this game,” Salmons said. “I can see this game going like 52-0 or one of those kind of games.”
Murray said the sharps also are on Northern Illinois (+3½) over Buffalo on Friday and South Carolina (-30) over Akron on Saturday.
Central Florida (-3) over Memphis
Central Florida has the nation’s longest win streak at 24 games and has won the past 12 meetings with Memphis. The Knights will be without quarterback McKenzie Milton, who suffered a dislocated knee in Saturday’s 38-10 win over South Florida. But Stone still likes UCF to cover the small number at home behind redshirt freshman QB Darriel Mack.
“UCF was a 6-point road favorite at Memphis earlier this season. If Milton was healthy for this game, the Knights would be favored by 12 or 13 points on their home field,” Stone said. “Milton’s worth a lot, but nine or 10 points is simply too many.”
Home team in CAPS
— Washington (-5½) over Utah
— CENTRAL FLORIDA (-3) over Memphis
— Texas-Oklahoma (Over 77½)
— BOISE STATE (-2½) over Fresno State
— Clemson (-27½) over Pittsburgh
Last week: 3-2 against the spread