Week 10 is the last one to make an impression on the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season. Covers checks in on opening odds and early action for a quartet of key games, with insights from Matt Chaprales, head of content for PointsBet USA in New Jersey.
No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs vs. No. 6 Florida Gators (+3.5)
Georgia put itself in a must-win position for this game by severely stubbing its toe in Week 7, losing outright at South Carolina as 20.5-point chalk. The Bulldogs (6-1 SU, 3-4 ATS) rebounded by blanking Kentucky 21-0 as 23.5-point Week 8 favorites, then had a bye in Week 9.
Florida’s lone loss also came in Week 7, though in much more respectable fashion at Louisiana State, where it stuck around throughout before succumbing late, 42-28. The Gators (7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS) then did what Georgia couldn’t, winning at South Carolina 38-27 as 3.5-point Week 8 faves. Florida also had a bye in Week 9.
Per usual, Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field hosts this neutral-site game, long dubbed the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
“This is obviously the biggest game of the week and a de facto play-in for the SEC title game,” Chaprales said, before noting the line uptick to Bulldogs -4. “The first move was toward Georgia, but we’re expecting smart money to take the points with Florida. It should be good two-way action, regardless.”
No. 8 Oregon Ducks at Southern California Trojans (+4.5)
Oregon is the Pac-12’s best hope for a CFP bid, with its lone loss a quality one in a neutral-site Week 1 setback against Auburn. But the Ducks (7-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) barely stayed in that playoff conversation in Week 9, needing a final-seconds field goal to beat Washington State 37-35 laying 14 points at home.
Likewise, Southern Cal was a double-digit Week 9 favorite and barely got the job done. The Trojans (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) were giving 10.5 points at Colorado on Friday night and trailed much of the game, but nabbed the 35-31 win on a late touchdown.
“A potential preview of the Pac-12 championship game, neither of these teams impressed in victory as double-digit chalk this past weekend,” Chaprales said. “That said, we’ve seen more Oregon interest this year, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this number grow.”
No. 14 Southern Methodist Mustangs at No. 23 Memphis Tigers (-3.5)
Southern Methodist is in the rare air of perfection, sitting at 8-0 SU and a solid 6-2 ATS through nine weeks. The Mustangs got all they could handle at Houston last Thursday, hanging on for a 34-31 victory as 12-point road favorites.
Memphis is also having a solid year in the American Athletic Conference, at 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS). Much like SMU, though, the Tigers got a tough Week 9 road test, scoring a touchdown with 4:26 remaining to snare a 42-41 victory over Tulsa as 10-point faves.
“All quiet so far, but given that both teams have overachieved relative to market expectations, and this is a nationally televised prime-time game, it will be interesting to see how the public gets involved,” Chaprales said.
By Monday afternoon, someone got involved, as the line jumped to Memphis -4.5.
No. 10 Utah Utes at Washington Huskies (+2)
Utah is a longer shot to make the CFP, but a win this week would certainly help keep it in the conversation. The Utes (7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS) won and cashed their last four outings, including a 35-0 bashing of California as 21-point home favorites in Week 9.
Washington was thought to be a preseason CFP contender, but already has three losses. In Week 8, the Huskies (5-3 SU and ATS) held a 28-14 lead over Oregon early in the third quarter, but gave it back in a 35-31 loss catching 3 points at home. Washington had a bye in Week 9.
“We opened Utah -2 and took a few bets at that number, and then a bit more following an initial move to 2.5, pushing it up to 3. That figures to be the resistance point,” Chaprales said.
As it turned out, 3 wasn’t quite the resistance point. PointsBet USA moved Utah to -3.5 by Monday afternoon.
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.