With CFP spots at stake, Notre Dame among interesting betting lines

Multiple spots in the College Football Playoff are on the line Saturday in conference championship games.

No. 1 Alabama could be a lock win or lose in the SEC title game.

Florida remains in play for a spot in the top four if it can beat Alabama despite the Gators’ shocking loss to LSU last week. Ohio State, currently No. 4, remains in the CFP mix as well, but in-state counterpart Cincinnati continues to get overlooked because of its Group of Five membership.

And the committee could be confounded by the scenarios involving No. 2 Notre Dame if the Irish, already holding a win over current No. 3 Clemson (Nov. 7), can’t pull the repeat in the ACC championship rematch Saturday.

Ian Book
Notre Dame QB Ian Book. (Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)

Those riddles are best left to the committee.

In the meantime, let’s hunt for value in this week’s analysis of college football’s top moneyline plays:

Northwestern +650 vs. Ohio State

The Buckeyes are climbing and were all the way up to -20 at 888 Sport on Friday afternoon.

Justin Fields
Ohio State QB Justin Fields. (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)

Ohio State will draw a lot of eyeballs in Indianapolis this weekend as they try to make their best case yet for a CFP berth. A lot has been made of Ryan Day’s squad being so high in the rankings despite playing only five games, but there is also no denying the talent on the Buckeyes’ roster.

OSU handled Northwestern 52-3 last season, and it beat Michigan State 52-12 in its most recent matchup.
Remember, the Wildcats’ only loss this year is to Sparty.

But the transitive theory doesn’t often apply in college football, and Pat Fitzgerald’s squad is 4-1-1 against the spread this season. This Northwestern defense is legit.

The Wildcats are allowing just 14.6 points per game (second nationally), so it will be a test for the Buckeyes’ offense. One worry for bettors is where Northwestern can find points. As the No. 100 ranked offense in the FBS, that’s legitimate.

In a pressure cooker and prove-it moment for Ohio State, Northwestern is the team being dismissed. Take the ‘Cats +650 and see what happens.

Iowa State +165 vs. Oklahoma

The line has come down a touch this week, with Iowa State’s moneyline value as high as +175. On Friday afternoon it was at +165 at 888 Sport.

The No. 6 Cyclones beat Oklahoma 37-30 with a last-second interception of Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler and are 8-1 in the Big 12.

Breece Hall
Iowa State RB Breece Hall. (Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports)

But the Cyclones have a very tough task in front of them: beating Lincoln Riley and OU twice in the same season. But stranger things have happened. Remember that the Cyclones had not defeated the Sooners in Ames since 1960 before doing so earlier this season.

OU has not lost since that setback against the Cyclones and ISU’s only blemish since its opening defeat against Louisiana came at the hands of Oklahoma State on October 24.

Matt Campbell’s crew destroyed West Virginia in its last contest, and the balance on both sides of the ball is what makes this team so dangerous. The ‘Clones are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games.

If you haven’t seen much of the Cyclones, running back Breece Hall should be getting more recognition in Heisman Trophy discussions.

Already on the Iowa State moneyline? Consider 888 Sport game parlay of Iowa State and over the 58 total points. Iowa State has averaged 40 points per game during a current five-game winning streak and OU is even better since slapping a 50 burger on Texas.

Notre Dame +275 vs. Clemson

Favored by 10.5 points with quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the fold for this rematch points to how difficult it could be to beating the Tigers twice in the same season.

Lawrence didn’t play in the first meeting because of his positive COVID-19 test.

Trevor Lawrence
Clemson Tigers QB Trevor Lawrence. (Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports)

Brian Kelly’s squad is legit on both sides of the ball, and the Tigers’ offense wasn’t the reason the team fell in South Bend. Dabo Swinney will have his team motivated, but don’t overlook Ian Book and the Irish.

Grabbing the No. 2-ranked team in the country +275 via 888 Sport in a league championship game is very rare.

Big-game failings can’t entirely be ignored here, and using the alternate line play at 888 Sport is worth consideration. For example, Notre Dame plus 10 is still +100 odds.

The Irish are a different breed than past Tigers opponents in this game, and running back Kyren Williams (140 rushing yards and three scores in the first meeting) makes this Irish offense explosive.

San Jose State +190 vs. Boise State

This is a matchup that the Broncos have dominated. They’re a perfect 14-0 against the Spartans all time, which isn’t so surprising given the rise to prominence of the Boise program through several different head coaches along with the longtime struggles of SJSU.

Khalil Shakir
Boise State WR Khalil Shakir. (Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports)

But Brent Brennan has this Spartans program trending upward, as it is one of eight remaining unbeaten teams in this weird season, and it hasn’t been 6-0 since 1939.

The Spartans’ defense is allowing only 17.5 points per game, and the passing offense is led by veteran quarterback Nick Starkel. This feels like the year the Spartans get on the board against Boise as this matchup has all the makings of a close Mountain West title game.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)