Teams trying to make final statement

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This past week was the first card of games following the release of the 2020 College Football Playoff rankings. Sixteen teams from those rankings took the field throughout the week. Some bettered their situation while others were downgraded.

Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson, the CFP’s top-three teams, all played and won easily. Ranked fourth in the poll, Ohio State was sidelined for the second straight week with COVID-19 issues. Believe it or not, even though the Buckeyes are perfect at 4-0 (only Big Ten undefeated team), another cancellation and they won’t be eligible for the conference championship.

No. 5 and No. 6, Texas A&M and Florida (both have one loss) both played and won.

The Pac-12 doesn’t have a representative ranked better then 15th and at the moment is not looking too optimistic as Oregon, the conferences preseason favorite, suffered a loss. USC, Washington and Colorado are all undefeated but the season is really just beginning for them.

Here’s where the conversation turns controversial. Both undefeated Cincinnati (7th) and BYU (14th) did not play this past week and only have one game remaining. If they both stay undefeated, which they should, what happens?

There are several teams ahead of them both in the polls with multiple losses. Looking at the schedule, I wouldn’t count on any of the top teams losing their remaining games, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen in 2020. One thing for sure, it’s going to be very exciting.

Here are this week’s Best Bets (Lines are as of Tuesday and can change. If a line is around a Hot Number or moves against us, be smart):

Saturday

Clemson -22 at Virginia Tech: In his first game back following a five-week hiatus, Trevor Lawrence put up 403 yards passing and two touchdowns against a highly-regarded Pitt defense. This is the final outing of the regular season for the quarterback and his third-ranked team. It is the last opportunity for both Lawrence to make a push for the Heisman Trophy and his team to solidify their place in the CFP.

As much as the future No.1 draft pick shined, it was Brent Venables’ defense that stole the show, with four INT’s. The Tigers “D” will go thru the Hokies’ offensive line (allowed eight sacks last two games) and put pressure on Hendon Hooker. The quarterback has only accounted for 190.2 yards per game in 2020.

Virginia Tech, which is riding a three-game loss and no cover streak is in real trouble on both sides of the ball here. Dabo Swinney took no mercy on Pitt in last week’s 52-17 rout and won’t show any this week. CLEMSON

Liberty +7 at Coastal Carolina: If Liberty and Coastal Carolina were under the radar prior to the season, they certainly aren’t now. They have combined for an 18-1 SU record, and an astounding 15-3-1 ATS mark. Both teams on both sides of the ball possess top-20 squads.

However, there are two major matchup issues and both benefit the Flames. Offensively, their 8th-ranked running attack has four monster ball-carriers in QB Malik Willis, and running backs Joshua Mack, Peytton Pickett and Shedro Louis (2,435 yards rushing, 23 touchdowns combined). This exceptional backfield will dominate the clock, control the tempo, and keep the Chanticleers 44th-ranked run defense on the field.

Defensively, Liberty will completely shut down the Coastal Carolina passing game with one of the stingiest secondaries in the nation (8th). The Flames are 5-1 ATS the last six vs. the Sun Belt, 21-7 ATS the last 28 as an underdog, 22-8 ATS the last 30 on the road, and 7-0 ATS the last seven overall. Getting a touchdown here is a gift. LIBERTY

Florida -17.5 at Tennessee: Want to make money? Keep going against Tennessee. The Volunteers are on a five-game slide both SU and ATS, never coming within double-digits. And they won’t here. Dan Mullen enjoys crushing Jeremy Pruitt. Since arriving in Gainesville, he has won and covered both meetings by a combined 81-24.

Florida has just two games remaining on their schedule in which to make a case for a CFP spot — this matchup and their regular season finale in The Swamp against LSU. Add into the mix Kyle Trask and the nation’s No. 2 passing attack face one of the worst secondaries in the SEC, giving the star quarterback an ideal opportunity to boost his Heisman Trophy chances. FLORIDA

Colorado -7 at Arizona: There’s a new sheriff in the Pac-12 and its name is Colorado. Along with USC and Washington, they are the only other undefeated team. They are also getting bettors paid at 3-0 ATS.

Just to show you how good the Buffaloes are this season, they decisively bested San Diego State last week in a last-minute matchup.

Arizona (0-3 SU, 1-2 ATS) was last victories mid-October, riding an 11-game SU skid. The Wildcats defense, or lack thereof, is getting burned for 35.0 PPG. Things will go from bad to worse here as the very confident and talented Buffaloes offense will shred them both in the air and on the ground. Look for the 1-2 punch of Sam Noyer (650 yards passing, 4 TDs, 112 yards rushing, 3 TDs on the ground) and Jarek Broussard (432 yards rushing, 3 TDs) to light up the scoreboard here in a mismatch.

On an added note, Colorado has revenge on their mind, dropping the last three meetings with Arizona. The road team is 7-1 ATS the last eight meetings in this series. COLORADO

Last week: 1-1

Season: 23-17

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