You probably already know this, but bloggers love to gamble. Follow any blogger or website and you’ll see picks being handed out like Almond Joys on Halloween. You don’t want them, but you eat them anyway.
Enter college football’s Conference Championship week, with an appetizing slate of about 15 or so games on Friday and Saturday. But in all reality, only six of those games matter.
So, in a heroic effort to help you pay for the Christmas shopping you haven’t done yet, here’s who I’m investing my emotional sanity and Bovada balance on this weekend.
(All lines pulled from Scoresandodds.com)
Conference Championship Week Picks
MAC Championship – Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green | BG -13.5 | Total: 69.5 |
There’s a general rule of thumb in Vegas circles that Bowling Green and the over is always a lock. It was actually coined by Clay Travis, so I have no idea how trustworthy of a rule it is. All I know is that I’ve won every BG bet I’ve sent in this year.
I don’t think that changes tonight, as Northern Illinois will be without their starting quarterback for the MAC Championship. The over has some intrigue too; because Bowling Green isn’t stout defensively by any means and the Huskies should be able to put up at least 20 points.
But I’ll be nothing short of surprised if the Falcons don’t drop 40 on the fast-track turf at Ford Field. If this total does break 69.5, it’ll be late in the 4th – which is why I’m staying away and just laying the two touchdowns.
The Pick – Bowling Green -13.5
AAC Championship – Temple vs. Houston | Houston -5.5 | Total: 54.5 |
Lost in the tradition of the SEC Championship, the importance of the B1G Championship, and the chaos that may be caused by the ACC; sits the promising American Athletic Conference championship game between 10-2 Temple and 11-1 Houston.
This is simply going to be a really, really good football game between two very well coached football teams. In a matchup like this, I like to look for a few X factors that can separate two very evenly matched squads.
The first significant thing that jumps out is that the AAC Championship is a home game for the Cougars. Despite their double-digit win total, the Owls haven’t been particularly solid on the road. Houston also has the best player on the field in QB Greg Ward, Jr.
With those things in mind, I’m rolling with the Cougars.
The Pick – Houston -5.5
Big Ten Championship – Iowa vs. Michigan State | MSU -3.5 | Total: 51 |
Ahhh, you’re just going to expect me to hammer the Spartans here because you’ve read me bash the Hawkeyes for so many weeks now aren’t you. Full disclosure: I think the Spartans are the right side here, but I’m probably laying off the spread.
The under is more appealing to me and here’s why. Iowa needs a grind-it-out football game. Though the Hawkeyes rank in the top 50 nationally in points per game, the Spartans offense is on a different level talent-wise than a lot of the teams that Iowa has gotten in shootouts with.
If Iowa thinks they can trade touchdowns with Michigan State and win, they’re dead wrong. The Spartans will come prepared with more weapons on offense, a better defense, and would completely manhandle the Hawkeyes.
But Kirk Ferentz didn’t win 12 games this year by being dumb. Iowa’s game plan has to be a slugfest. I see a 21-20 type football game here.
The Pick – Under 51
ACC Championship – North Carolina vs. Clemson | Clemson -4.5 | Total: 67.5 |
For my dollar, this is the best game of the day. Let’s not ignore the fact that I have the potential for thousands of dollars pending the outcome of this one, but that’s neither here nor there.
What is here, however, is North Carolina’s legit shot to completely bust open the playoff top four. Coupled with a USC win and an Iowa win and it’ll be hard to keep the Heels out of the 4th playoff slot.
That type of opportunity has me siding with the Tar Heels in what should be an extremely high scoring affair. (That means the over of 67.5 is in play, too.) Clemson has looked a tad off the past three weeks starting slow against Wake Forest, Syracuse, and South Carolina.
Ironically, South Carolina is the only team to have beaten North Carolina – on the opening night of the CFB season.
The Pick – UNC +4.5 and UNC Moneyline
SEC Championship – Florida vs. Alabama | Alabama -18 | Total: 39 |
I hate this pick so much, but it’s the right side. 18 is just too many points for a team in the conference title game with as good a defense as Florida has. Sure, their offense can’t do shit. But they’ll muster points somehow.
This game screams 24-7 Alabama, and Florida is going to find themselves inside the number when the final whistle blows. The under is also intriguing, but six touchdowns is a bit aggressive for a game played in a dome.
The Pick – Florida +18
Pac-12 Championship – USC vs. Stanford | Stanford -4.5 | Total: 59 |
I love, love, love the Trojans in this spot.
Stanford is coming off an emotional win against Notre Dame, and now they have to play in a conference title game vs. a red-hot USC team who just hired their new longterm head coach in Clay Helton.
These Trojan players love Clay Helton and they’re going to come out firing. A Rose Bowl appearance would be a hell of a way to reward their coach, and I expect the Trojans to win this game by 10 points and crush the Cardinal’s remaining playoff hopes.
The Pick – USC +4.5 and USC Moneyline