Matt Barkley

Oddsmakers still high on USC’s 2012 title hopes

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Thanks to a 10-win 2011 season that included a road win against then-No. 4 Oregon as well as a plethora of returning talent, USC has been viewed by most observers — including one you may recognize — as a serious contender for the 2012 BcS title.

Less than three months ahead of the start of the new season, degenerates those who make their living wagering on sports are in full agreement with that offseason assessment of the Trojans.

In the latest odds released by Bovada.com, the betting website has the Trojans as the 3/1 favorite to hoist the crystal football at season’s end.  USC is coming off a two-year bowl ban as part of its NCAA sanctions and will be eligible for the postseason — including the second Pac-12 title game — for the first time since after the 2009 season.

Next up after the Trojans in the eyes of bettors are the two participants in last year’s title game at 11/2, defending BcS champion Alabama and LSU.

Oklahoma (10/1); Florida State and Oregon (12/1); Georgia (14/1); Arkansas and Michigan (20/1); and — brace yourselves — Notre Dame and Texas (28/1) round out Bovada’s “Top Ten” (and ties).

As far as conference odds go, Florida State (1/1) is favored over Virginia Tech (3/1) to win the ACC; Oklahoma (1/1) over Texas (4/1) in the Big 12; Michigan (2/1) over Wisconsin (5/2) in the Big Ten; USC (5/8) over Oregon (2/1) in the Pac-12; and Alabama and LSU are co-favorites at 11/5 to claim the SEC crown.

After the jump, you can peruse the entire list of preseason odds for both the BcS title as well as the conference favorites, again courtesy of Bovada.

Odds to win the 2012-2013 BCS National Championship
USC 3/1
Alabama 11/2
LSU 11/2
Oklahoma 10/1
Florida State 12/1
Oregon 12/1
Georgia 14/1
Arkansas 20/1
Michigan 20/1
Notre Dame 28/1
Texas 28/1
Virginia Tech 30/1
West Virginia 30/1
South Carolina 30/1
Clemson 33/1
Nebraska 40/1
Wisconsin 40/1
Florida 50/1
TCU 50/1
Auburn 60/1
Michigan State 60/1
Boise State 65/1
Kansas State 75/1
Miami (Florida) 75/1
Oklahoma State 80/1
Mississippi State 100/1
Missouri 100/1
Texas A&M 100/1
Tennessee 125/1
Cincinnati 150/1
Iowa 150/1
Louisville 150/1
Penn State 150/1
Arizona 200/1
Boston College 200/1
BYU 200/1
California 200/1
Georgia Tech 200/1
Pittsburgh 200/1
Stanford 200/1
UCLA 200/1
Washington 200/1
NC State 250/1
South Florida 250/1
UCLA 250/1
Oregon State 300/1

CONFERENCE ODDS

ACC – Odds to Win
Florida State 1/1
Virginia Tech 3/1
Clemson 5/1
Miami (Florida) 9/1
Georgia Tech 15/1
North Carolina 15/1
Virginia 18/1
NC State 20/1
Wake Forest 35/1
Boston College 50/1
Duke 100/1
Maryland 100/1

ACC Atlantic Division – Odds to Win
Florida State 1/2
Clemson 11/4
NC State 9/1
Wake Forest 16/1
Boston College 22/1
Maryland 30/1

ACC Coastal Division – Odds to Win
Virginia Tech 10/11
Miami (Florida) 9/2
North Carolina 11/2
Georgia Tech 6/1
Virginia 13/2
Duke 30/1

BIG 12 – Odds to Win
Oklahoma 1/1
Texas 4/1
TCU 11/2
West Virginia 11/2
Kansas State 12/1
Oklahoma State 22/1
Texas Tech 30/1
Baylor 40/1
Iowa State 65/1
Kansas 100/1

Big East – Odds to Win
Louisville 9/4
South Florida 7/2
Cincinnati 5/2
Pittsburgh 13/2
Rutgers 13/2
Syracuse 20/1
Temple 20/1
Connecticut 25/1

Big Ten – Odds to Win
Michigan 2/1
Wisconsin 5/2
Nebraska 7/2
Michigan State 15/2
Penn State 12/1
Illinois 20/1
Iowa 20/1
Northwestern 35/1
Purdue 50/1
Indiana 65/1
Minnesota 100/1

Big Ten – Leaders Division Winner (Without Ohio State)
Wisconsin 1/2
Penn State 3/1
Illinois 15/2
Purdue 10/1
Indiana 15/1

Big Ten – Legends Division Winner
Michigan 11/10
Nebraska 9/4
Michigan State 4/1
Iowa 8/1
Northwestern 12/1
Minnesota 40/1

PAC 12 – Odds to Win
USC 5/8
Oregon 2/1
Washington 12/1
California 18/1
Stanford 25/1
Arizona 35/1
Utah 35/1
UCLA 40/1
Arizona State 50/1
Washington State 50/1
Oregon State 60/1
Colorado 100/1

PAC 12 – North Division Winner
Oregon 2/5
Washington 5/1
California 17/2
Stanford 10/1
Washington State 15/1
Oregon State 22/1

PAC 12 – South Division Winner
USC 1/6
Arizona 10/1
Utah 10/1
UCLA 15/1
Arizona State 18/1
Colorado 30/1

SEC – Odds to Win
Alabama 11/5
LSU 11/5
Georgia 11/2
Arkansas 7/1
South Carolina 10/1
Florida 12/1
Auburn 22/1
Mississippi State 30/1
Missouri 35/1
Tennessee 35/1
Texas A&M 40/1
Vanderbilt 60/1
Kentucky 100/1
Mississippi 100/1

SEC – East Division Winner
Georgia 17/10
South Carolina 5/2
Florida 3/1
Missouri 11/1
Tennessee 11/1
Vanderbilt 16/1
Kentucky 25/1

SEC – West Division Winner
Alabama 8/5
LSU 8/5
Arkansas 4/1
Auburn 12/1
Mississippi State 15/1
Texas A&M 20/1
Mississippi 50/1

Jim Harbaugh is looking forward to seeing Chief Osceola and Renegade at the Orange Bowl

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 15:  Chief Osceola, mascot of the Florida State Seminoles plants a spear at midfield prior to a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher got together for a joint press conference in Miami today as the two coaches prepare to face one another in the Orange Bowl on December 30. Harbaugh said he is looking forward to the matchup but seemed to be much more interested in getting a chance to witness one of the pregame traditions of Florida State; Chief Osceola riding on Renegade and planting a spear in the turf.

“I’ve never been to a game at Florida State,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve always wanted to go there and see what that atmosphere was like in person. This will be as close as I’ve ever been to that. I’m excited for that. I know I’m going to get some chills when that Appaloosa comes riding out there.”

Of course, this isn’t exactly a home game for the Seminoles, so sometimes pregame traditions are put on ice for the bowl season. Knowing this, Harbaugh made his case and made sure everyone listening knows just how cool he thinks it is.

“I want to see that. That’s one of the cool things,” Harbaugh said. “We have cool things and other teams have cool things, but that is right up there as one of the coolest things.”

Fortunately for Harbaugh, he will indeed get a chance to witness this pregame routine in person. Florida State Associate Athletics Director Jason Dennard said on Twitter Chief Osceola and Renegade will make the trip to Miami from Tallahassee.

Houston reportedly closing in on a head coach; Kiffin and Miles still being considered

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 18:  Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches action prior to the University of Alabama A Day spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 18, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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The Houston Cougars are reportedly hoping to have a new head coach named as soon as this coming weekend. As expected, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and former LSU head coach Les Miles are among the final candidates being considered for the job.

One candidate no longer to be in the mix, according to a report from Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle, is Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. That should be good news for Oklahoma, as it likely means Riley will be back in Norman for at least one more season to run the offense (and with Baker Mayfield coming back for 2017, the Sooners offense should continue to rack up some big numbers).

As noted by Duarte, five total candidates were vetted by Houston for the head coaching job. Kiffin, Miles and interim Houston coach Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite along with Riley all were checked by the university as a decision is approaching.

KD Cannon promised Matt Rhule Baylor will beat Boise State in Cactus Bowl

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  KD Cannon #9 of the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Baylor introduced new head coach Matt Rhule in a press conference setting today, and it would seem Rhule has already gotten some opportunities to speak to his new players in Waco. One player in particular delivered a promise to the new Bears head coach. Baylor wide receiver KD Cannon reportedly made a bowl game guarantee to Rhule.

Baylor started the season with a 6-0 record but dropped their last six games to enter the bowl season at just 6-6. The Broncos of Boise State finished the season with a 10-2 record and second in the Mountain Division behind Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference. Boise State has won six bowl game sin the last seven seasons between head coaches Chris Petersen (now at Washington) and Bryan Harsin.

Personally, I’m still trying to figure out how many people thought pairing Boise State and Baylor in a bowl game would be a good idea, considering the unfortunate story surrounding former Boise State and Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu. We can focus plenty on the non-controversial stuff leading up to the Cactus Bowl, but that is one story that cannot be totally overlooked either, especially given the current state of the Baylor football program.

Baylor and Boise State have never faced each other in football. The two will play in the Cactus Bowl in Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Mark Emmert thought “Penn State’s season was spectacular”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 23:  NCAA president Mark Emmert speaks during a press conference at the NCAA's headquarters to announce sanctions against Penn State University's football program on July 23, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The sanctions are a result of a report that the university concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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There was a certain irony in seeing Penn State win and celebrate a Big Ten championship in Indianapolis on Saturday night. Penn State, five years after the horrifying revelations of the Jerry Sandusky scandal ripped through the program, university, and community, was slammed hard by the NCAA, whose offices are located in Indianapolis with sanction terms that were thought to be crippling for the program at the time in the summer of 2012.

So, with Penn State clinching the Big Ten title in the home city of the NCAA headquarters, what did NCAA President Mark Emmert have to say about it?

I thought Penn State’s season was spectacular,” Emmert said while taking questions at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York on Wednesday: “What coach [James] Franklin has done there, I think, is very, very impressive.”

Emmert has been criticized by many who have taken issue with the NCAA getting involved with any decisions regarding Penn State’s football program in the aftermath of the Sandusky fallout following the release of the Freeh Report, which the NCAA used in place of its own in-depth investigation.

“It’s great to see it bounce back and do well,” Emmert said of Penn State’s 11-2 season. “While people will occasionally say those sanctions were meant to cripple the university, that’s not true at all. I’ve always said and always believed Penn state is a wonderful university, because it is, and secondly it’s got great sports traditions.”

Emmert may say the sanctions dropped on Penn State were never meant to cripple the university, but that is exactly what a four-year postseason ban and a massive reduction of available scholarships (reduced to 15 per year as opposed to the typical 25) is intended to do. Regardless, Emmert had nothing but praise for Penn State’s 2016 season.

“How can you not be pleased that they’re playing good football again? That’s very good stuff.”