All the Tennessee Volunteers had to do was root for a little bit of chaos and their ticket to the College Football Playoff would be punched. They went into Saturday’s game against South Carolina as a 22.5-point favorite and were going to be an even bigger favorite against Vanderbilt in Week 13. Instead, the Volunteers took themselves out of playoff contention with an ugly 63-38 loss on a day when the Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, USC Trojans and TCU Horned Frogs all barely survived their games.
Michigan and TCU needed last-second field goals over Illinois and Baylor, respectively, to stay undefeated. Ohio State beat Maryland by 13, but the game was hanging in the balance throughout and a last-second scoop-and-score for the Buckeyes made the final score look better than it was. USC won a back-and-forth game over UCLA by a 48-45 count to claim the Victory Bell.
Tennessee went into Week 12 around a -350 favorite to make the College Football Playoff. The loser of next week’s Ohio State vs. Michigan game would be out, freeing up a clear path for the Vols. USC had to beat UCLA, Notre Dame and win in the Pac-12 Championship Game against a to-be-determined opponent. TCU had to beat Baylor, Iowa State and then also take care of business in Arlington for the Big 12 Championship. Tennessee simply had to hold up as a heavy favorite and failed.
With the Volunteers now firmly out, the path is much clearer for a team like the Clemson Tigers, who need to beat South Carolina and the North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC Championship Game to have a strong Playoff case at 12-1. A Tar Heels team that just lost at home to Georgia Tech on a day of carnage around college football. Now Clemson is the team that just needs to not screw up and hope for somebody else’s bubble to burst.
College Football Playoff National Championship Odds (DraftKings)
Ohio State +240
Even if Georgia does the unthinkable and loses to Georgia Tech next week (my line is Georgia -41), they’ll be in, unless they lost to LSU as well. As such, they are the rightful favorites to win it all. The rest of the hopefuls start with Ohio State at +240, followed by Michigan at +1000, TCU at +1600 and Clemson at +2200. Even though USC passed the test against UCLA, the Trojans are still +3000 to win it all with a tough remaining schedule just to be in the Final Four and then a tough draw regardless of opponent in the semifinals.
LSU would have to beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game to get in as an underdog of around 16 or 17 points. Then they’d have to beat Georgia again to win it all, so +3500 isn’t nearly valuable enough, as a rolling moneyline (bet LSU outright every game) is a much more valuable bet. Oregon would still need help to get in, even with wins over Oregon State and USC, as would Washington.
We’ll see what the Yes/No odds to make the College Football Playoff look like, but TCU has the inside track as a favorite in both remaining games and USC controls its own destiny as well. Clemson still needs some help, but could very well get it with a loss from either TCU or USC. The Tigers will be double-digit favorites against South Carolina this week and probably somewhere around a six-point favorite or so against North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game.
Also, Caleb Williams (USC) shot up the Heisman Trophy odds board with Hendon Hooker getting hurt and Tennessee going down. CJ Stroud remains the -120 favorite per DraftKings, but Williams is +130 in what now appears to be a two-man race.
With a lot left to be decided, there are a lot of handicapping considerations and we’ll talk about all the scenarios and best bets here at VSiN.com and on our VSiN airwaves.