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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 7:00 PM

As I was listening yesterday to all the media jabber about the college football championship race…it occurred to me that we really don’t know much about most of the top contenders. It’s such a down year in college football that teams can post great records without really playing anybody. Once they finally do play somebody, who knows what’s going to happen?

I was talking to somebody about Clemson. Who have they played? What strikes me as a weak schedule (FSU isn’t all that great this year, Notre Dame was played in the rain) actually grades out as a decent schedule nationally because so many teams have gone unchallenged!

Clemson has wins over the likes of Wofford, Appalachian State, Boston College, and a few other ACC mediocrities, yet they’ve played a top 30 schedule according to the computer ratings at USA Today! If that schedule is “tough,” we need to change our vocabulary!

Here are the schedule rankings of the top teams in the selection committee poll.

#1 Clemson has played the #27 ranked schedule

#2 Alabama has played the #5 ranked schedule (a true challenge)

#3 Ohio State has played the #68 ranked schedule

#4 Notre Dame has played the #16 ranked schedule

#5 Iowa has played the #56 ranked schedule

#6 Baylor has played the #89 ranked schedule

#7 Stanford has played the #31 ranked schedule

#8 Oklahoma State has played the #61 ranked schedule

(rankings from Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings at USA Today)

Ohio State’s schedule has frankly been pretty pathetic. But, it’s tough to separate them from teams like Iowa or Oklahoma State. Baylor’s absolute joke of a schedule has been a disgrace. At least they finally start playing some teams here in the final month (starting with Oklahoma on Saturday). If Iowa is one of the five best teams in the country I’m Justin Bieber.

I think I can say this with confidence now. The eventual Final Four isn’t going to consist of the best four teams in the country. It’s going to consist of teams who caught a couple of breaks in the handful of games they played vs. real opposition. Well, ALABAMA will be a deserving entry if they win out. I don’t want to suggest they’re any sort of pretender. The Crimson Tide would be favored over any team in the nation accept Ohio State according to oddsmakers who have been quoted in media. I think they’re wrong…and Alabama should be a favorite over Ohio State too. Has nobody in Vegas watched the Buckeyes play?!

You can know who the PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS are…and you can evaluate THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. But, ultimately, you can’t be certain about whether PLAYMAKERS can get the job done vs. tough competition until they’ve faced quality opponents! How optimistic can you be about Ohio State considering how sluggish they’ve looked against a soft schedule? Can Baylor crash the party with a backup quarterback who hasn’t really impressed in limited action? Does Clemson surviving Florida State at home suggest anything positive about facing Alabama on a neutral field in the tournament?

Students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping have to take every opportunity to study the playoff contenders in something approximating playoff conditions. Your homework through the rest of the month is to watch as many big games as you can, and to study the boxscore stats. Football doesn’t test character, it reveals it. So much is about to be revealed between now and the end of the month.

What to look at:

*Can the offense drive the ball and score without miscues vs. quality defenses?

*Are the PLAYMAKERS you isolated neutralized by top defenses?

*Can the defense get stops and earn takeaways against quality offenses?

*Is this head coach in over his head in high pressure games?

Much of November is going to look like a football version of March Madness. There will be “elimination” games played every week in terms of surviving for a Final Four berth. Handicap this month like it’s the Big Dance, and you’ll make smart choices as the cream is rising.

If you’d like some help making smart choices every day in football and basketball, KELSO STURGEON’S top plays in all sports can always be purchased here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will return at the end of the week for another football discussion. I’m still deciding whether that’s going to be about college football or the NFL. I always try to keep the coursework fresh and connected to real-world developments so our efforts have a meaningful impact on your bankroll. See you by the weekend.  


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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