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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM

We recently talked about how the chase for the 2014 College Football Championship resembled a pay-per-view pro wrestling show. There was going to be a Battle Royal in the SEC West. Oregon was going to endure a gauntlet match (that didn’t last long!). And so on, and so on.

Even though this past weekend featured a slew of upsets, it’s possible that entry into the brackets still hasn’t changed that much. A quick review:

*The winner of Florida State/Notre Dame is still well-positioned, particularly if FSU wins that game as a favorite. The ACC is so soft this year (deep, but deep in teams who don’t measure up to Florida State), that the Seminoles can continue to play at least a TD below last year’s Power Ratings standards and still make it into the Final Four. Notre Dame has the tougher remaining slate, but visiting USC isn’t as scary as it first looked (the Trojans have lost to both Boston College and Arizona State in recent weeks). And, visiting Arizona State will now catch the Sun Devils in a potential flat spot because the Pac 12 South race means so much to ASU. This “quarterfinal” matchup is still in play for now.

*Baylor is still undefeated, even if Oklahoma isn’t. And, that means that the Big 12 champion will get in with ease if Baylor runs the table. And, given all the upsets in other places, a one-loss Big 12 champion is now likely to get a bid too! Had Oklahoma lost to TCU, then defeated Baylor, resume’s might look unappealing amindst a bunch of other powers. Other powers lost too! This entryway is still in play unless the Big 12 champion is ultimately a 2-loss team.

*The SEC West champion will very likely get in because that division now seems even tougher than it did before. It’s not just Alabama and Auburn looking challenge-worthy. Now the two Mississippi schools are tied for #3 in the national polls! Sure, Texas A&M now seems to be in trouble (one loss, with more on the way), and LSU is toast (two losses already). Wins over those teams will still boost the eventual champs resume. Unless everybody splits out the challenge matches, we’re going to have one…and possibly TWO teams from this division in the Final Four.

*Oregon’s loss to Arizona has opened up a spot that may not go to the eventual Pac 12 champion. Oregon has seemed so mortal vs. Washington State and Arizona the past two weeks that you can’t picture them as a true Final Four team. Yes, they are capable of greatness. This coaching regime keeps laying eggs, and egg-layers don’t play for trophies! Stanford’s loss to Notre Dame was already their second of the season. We already mentioned that USC has two losses. UCLA has one loss, and near losses to Memphis and Texas that didn’t impress anybody.

In other words, the upsets of this past weekend may have only cleared away one pathway to the Final Four even though three of the top four teams in the polls lost! We’re still probably looking at Florida State, the SEC West champ, the Big 12 champ, joined by an at-large guest.

Best shots for that now opened spot:

*As we said above, a second team from the SEC West…particularly if two among Auburn, Alabama, and the Mississippi schools finish with only one loss (possible, but quite a task).

*The winner of the SEC East if Georgia storms home, then plays a good game in the SEC Championship. A win in the SEC Championship game would probably put one-loss Georgia in the mix.

*The loser of Notre Dame/Florida State if that’s a fantastic game and that loser runs the rest of its table while getting help elsewhere.

*The winner of the Big Ten, though Michigan State’s resume took a hit with a blown lead vs. Nebraska and Oregon’s bad result vs. Arizona. Can Ohio State make people forget the loss to Virginia Tech? They’re trying by running up the points every time they take the field.

From the handicapping and Las Vegas betting perspective, you will be tempted to invest in all of these “must-win” teams who know that a shot at a championship awaits. Hopefully you learned a valuable lesson about that this past weekend! DON’T DO IT! Oregon didn’t play like a champion. Oklahoma didn’t play like a champion. Alabama is still a power program, but they’re in the NFL of college football given the strength of that division. Right now, EVERY team in consideration is in danger of losing at least once. Most will be consistently overpriced because the public loves betting on ranked teams who need to win.

As has been true for years, the value is in FADING teams in the championship discussion. And, when NEW teams join the discussion because of upsets, you need to start thinking about fading them too. Ultimately, one or two teams will post decent records vs. Las Vegas lines. And, maybe those two “underrated” market teams will face off for the title. Trying to guess who those two will be is a lot more difficult than just systematically the large set that will be overpriced in composite.

Did you have buddies that thought Alabama and Oklahoma seemed really cheap last Saturday? Did those guys also load up on Oregon in the second half vs. Arizona after the first half didn’t impress them?

JIM HURLEY’S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach is perfect for this kind of handicapping challenge.

*SCOUTS and SOURCES all over the country follow every conference and every betting team very closely. We know the talent. We know the personnel matchups. And, we know which issues have historically caused flat performances in the past for head coaches.

*STATHEADS crunch every number with cutting edge algorithms that are miles ahead of the market. Analytics is a buzzword in modern media. It’s been a buzzword at NETWORK since its inception!

*COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS run simulations around the clock to account for every variable. We were doing this before laptops and ipads were even conceived let alone invented. Tech is trying to catch up with us!

*WISE GUY CONNECTIONS in Las Vegas and offshore let us know what the smart money is doing early in the week, and how it’s likely to bet on game day. That allows us to always get you the best teams at the best prices.

You can put the power of NETWORK to work for you every day of the week right here at this website. BEST BETS always go up several hours before game time (and that’s true in baseball during the playoffs as well). If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. We’re still early in this year’s OCTOBERFEST with so much still ahead in football and the baseball playoffs!

Back with you Thursday to preview Indianapolis at Houston in the NFL. Can the Texans get in the way of another run toward the AFC South title for the Colts?  Friday will once again feature an expanded NFL preview that will feature JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats for every game on the board.

Thanks for visiting the NOTEBOOK. Now…hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

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