Oregon is unbeaten at 10-0. They have the highest scoring offense in college football, averaging just over 50 points per game. They’ve blown out nearly all their opponents, with the exception being a 15-13 win at Cal last weekend. The Ducks are first in the AP Poll, first in the USA Today Poll, and first in the BCS standings. That makes them by far the best team in the country, right? Maybe not, despite what other people have said.
A story last weekend at FanHouse had point spreads listed by USA Today analyst Danny Sheridan. Sheridan had Oregon favored over Auburn by six points if the teams were to meet last weekend (which doesn’t make much sense because the teams wouldn’t meet until January). He also had Boise State and TCU favored over Auburn if the teams were to hypothetically meet last weekend. Based on his lines, Oregon was the best of the four unbeaten teams and Auburn the worst. That didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but lines listed on ESPN’s College Football Live corroborated Sheridan’s picks.
In projected lines shown on College Football Live Monday, Oregon would be favored over all three unbeaten teams if they were to meet. The Ducks were said to be a 9 point favorite over Auburn, a 4.5 point favorite over Boise State, and a 2.5 favorite over TCU, making them the best team in college football. In the odds they showed, TCU was also the second best team in the country. What really didn’t make sense was how Oregon would be favored by nine points over Auburn. Do you think they’re that much better than Auburn? Neither do I. In fact, a veteran oddsmaker says that was a mistake.
Mike Seba is a Senior Oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a group whose clients include many of the Nevada licensed sportsbooks. Seba told LBS that he has Oregon, Auburn, and Boise State ranked about the same and that the way people bet would determine which way a hypothetical line would lean.
When asked to project lines if Oregon were to play any of the unbeaten teams in the National Championship Game, Seba said Auburn would be favored by at least 1.5 points over the Ducks, while Oregon would maybe be a slight favorite over Boise State, and a 3-4 point favorite over TCU. Seba added that as long as Cam Newton is on the team and they win out (which means a win at Alabama and in the SEC Championship Game), they would definitely be favored over Oregon which just has Arizona and Oregon State left on its schedule.
Lastly, I asked Mike whether there were any one or two loss teams that would stack up favorably against the Ducks. He said Alabama might be a slight favorite over Oregon if they were to play, though that matchup would not happen. He also said the line between Oregon and Ohio State, which would be a rematch of last year’s Rose Bowl, would be very close.
Obviously we’ll know exactly what the bowl matchups are as the season progresses and we’ll find out whether these discussions were moot if any of the unbeaten teams lose. However, it’s important to set things straight for the time being: Oregon would not be favored over Auburn in the National Championship Game if the teams were to meet.
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