Peter Read Miller/SI
Last week, I contacted a couple sportsbooks in Las Vegas to see who they would pick to win the national championship if there was a playoff. In other words, was there a team that would be favored to beat any team in the country on a neutral field? I was surprised to find that USC was the unanimous choice.
That opinion, however, had to be different now that Oklahoma has rolled up a record 60 or more points in its last five games to win the Big 12 and Florida beat No. 1 Alabama by 11 on a neutral field to win the SEC.
Instead of seeking the advice of Vegas sportsbooks that might be setting a certain line in order to draw some action from California visitors or West Coast transplants, I went to the odds makers at BetOnline.com, one of the top online sportsbooks in the world who have been setting lines on everything from college football to cricket for the past 17 years.
Handicappers from the site put odds to a potential eight-team bracket following Sunday's announcement of the final BCS rankings, pitting No. 1 Oklahoma against No. 8 Penn State, No. 2 Florida against No. 7 Texas Tech, No. 3 Texas against No. 6 Utah and No. 4 Alabama against No. 5 USC in an eight-team playoff that would make Barack Obama proud.
Here is how the playoff would play out with the favorites advancing:
2008-09 BCS EIGHT-TEAM PLAYOFF
Quarterfinals Semifinals Championship Champion
No. 1 Oklahoma (-9.5)
No. 8 Penn State
No. 1 Oklahoma
No. 4 Alabama No. 5 USC (-2.5)
No. 5 USC (-7) No. 5 USC (-2)
No. 2 Florida No. 5 USC
No. 3 Texas (-14)
No. 6 Utah No. 3 Texas
No. 2 Florida (-4)
No. 2 Florida (-14.5)
No. 7 Texas Tech
In the BetOnline.com bracket, USC -- despite finishing No. 5 in the final BCS standings -- would win the national championship as a less than a field goal favorite against No. 2 Florida in the BCS Championship Game. BetOnline.com has USC listed as a favorite against any team in the country.
"Flat out, college football needs a playoff," said BetOnline.com odds maker T.J. Kendrick. "The fact that USC is the favorite to win a BCS title they won't even have a shot at this season really sheds light on one of the many flaws the current BCS structure presents. The best team may not win the national title because of a computer."