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The SEC West occupies four of the top-five spots in the rankings heading into Week 9 of the 2014 college football season. Simply put, the division is daunting, and is setting up for a fantastic back half of the year.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Rebels are two of only four remaining unbeaten teams in FBS. The other two are the Florida State Seminoles, who escaped with a 31-27 win over Notre Dame on Saturday thanks to a controversial pass interference call that took a touchdown off the board for the Fighting Irish with just seconds left. And then finally we have the Marshall Thundering Herd, who while unbeaten, do not pose much of a threat to the College Football Playoff in all likelihood.
The one thing about the SEC West is that they will eventually all play each other, so it will sort itself out. Only one team will reach the SEC Championship, which could potentially be a disadvantage if they lose that game to the East opponent, leaving the door open for the team that finished second in the division to reach the playoff.
And while the East might be the weaker division, all of a sudden the country is paying attention to the Georgia Bulldogs less Todd Gurley. That’s right, two weeks without the star running back and arguably the best player in the country and Georgia looks better than they did with him. Back-to-back convincing wins in the conference has the Bulldogs ranked No.9 in the country and in control of the East division. Oddsmakers are actually quite high on Georgia as well. Bovada Sportsbook’s 2014-15 College Football FBS Championship betting lines have the Bulldogs sitting at 8/1, which puts them sixth on the list.
Leading the pack is Alabama, who after a narrow escape over Arkansas, absolutely dominated Texas A&M this past week 59-0. The Crimson Tide shot back up to the top of the betting odds despite the fact that they are ranked behind two division opponents.
Alabama sits at 6/1 to win the national title, with Mississippi State installed at 13/2, and Florida State at 7/1 just behind. Oregon and Ole Miss have been set with identical payouts of 15/2.
And don’t look now, but two Big Ten teams have worked their way back into the conversation. Michigan State’s only loss this season was on the road to Oregon. The Spartans are the Big Ten’s best chance, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are back on the map as well. Like Michigan State, Ohio State does not have a conference loss. The two will meet later in the season in November, where the division and who has a shot at the playoff could be decided.
For now, the rankings and odds are dominated by the SEC, which is nothing new. That will probably be the case for the majority of the season, with the winners in the upcoming mega West showdowns continue to be high on the odds.
The big question for the playoff committee will be whether or not to include two SEC teams in the four-team playoff come the end of the season. There is still a long way to go until that is decided, but the committee will release their first rankings in a week next Tuesday, October 28th.
Below, LatestBettingOdds.com has the complete list of Bovada payouts as they are adjusted and reformed.
2014-15 College Football Playoff Odds – Found at Bovada Sportsbook 10/21/2014