Washington as of this afternoon is a 15.5-point underdog against Alabama. It’s a tough game to get into beforehand. Of course, anything can happen, but Nick Saban has molded this team and won so many other times that they just feel like an unstoppable juggernaut. While Washington deserves to be in the playoffs with just one loss, they’re setting a precedent where it’s advisable strategy to play an out-of-conference slate of Twinkies and Swiss Cake Rolls.
Ever more, “best” and “earned it” are two different things. My Dad suggested I find out how teams that were on the outskirts of the playoffs would fare in the Vegas lines against Alabama. So, I asked Jeff Sherman of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and Jason Simbal of CG Technology what their lines would be for Alabama vs. Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, and USC.
Alabama -9 vs Michigan
Alabama -17.5 vs Penn State
Alabama -16.5 vs Wisconsin
Alabama -11.5 vs USC
Alabama -8 vs Michigan
Alabama -21 vs Penn State
Alabama -18 vs Wisconsin
Alabama -14 vs USC
So, while the lines would differ a little bit between the two books, both of them have Michigan and USC as closer underdogs than they do Washington. Also, both of them have Penn State and Wisconsin as even more distant underdogs.
Again, none of this is to argue that Michigan or USC should have made the playoffs over Washington. USC had three losses. Michigan finished third in their conference division. They had their chances. But, matchups with them versus Alabama would be more appealing.