Preview and Predictions for Week 14 NCAA Top 25 Conference Championship Weekend
Off a big rivalry weekend winner with underdog Michigan in Week 13, we chip-in more picks and information you can bet on for college football conference championship weekend. The biggest games involving AP Top 25 teams are in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 with College Football Playoff spots on the line. Same for the American Athletic Conference championship for undefeated Cincinnati.
Last week the Michigan Wolverines ate the whole turkey in a rivalry beatdown of the Buckeyes. If you followed Fairway's Forecast and bet Michigan, congratulations. You were in the minority of less than 20% of spread bets on the Wolverines, and even less on the moneyline. For many top online sportsbooks, it was the biggest net win of the season on a college football game. I moneyline parlayed a nice score with big underdogs Michigan (+8) football to Duke (+9) basketball the night before in a game I attended in Las Vegas that saw a record 20,389 fans see Duke beat No. 1 Gonzaga 84-81 in a most exciting and entertaining game.
This week's big games and Top 25 conference championship match-ups have different point spreads and odds from the leading online sportsbooks, including reduced juice shops and renamed Everygame. So shop and get the best numbers and become an OSGA VIP for more free contests, bonuses and options when wagering.
The AP Poll is different from the College Football Playoff rankings, so note the CFP committee is watching closely this weekend as the top teams try to secure their spot into the final four College Football Playoff, including undefeated Cincinnati. The Bearcats are No. 4 in the CFP rankings and could become the first Group of 5 team to make the CFP in it's eighth year. Fewer pre-game and pre-flop picks, but plenty of live, in-game wagering opportunities in these big conference championship games.
Week 14 AP Top 25 Conference Championship Match-ups
Friday, Dec. 3
No. 10 Oregon vs No. 14 Utah / 8:00 ET / ABC
Saturday, Dec. 4
No. 1 Georgia vs No. 4 Alabama / 4:00 p.m. ET / CBS
No. 2 Michigan vs No. 2 Iowa / 8:00 p.m. ET / FOX
No. 5 Oklahoma State vs No. 5 Baylor / 12:00 p.m. ET / ABC
No. 17 Pittsburgh vs No. 18 Wake Forest / 8:00 ET / ABC
No. 3 Cincinnati vs No. 16 Houston / 4:00 ET / ABC
Oregon vs Utah - Allegiant Stadium - Las Vegas, NV
Line: Utah -3 and Total 58 at BetUS
Oregon's College Football Playoff hopes ended two weeks ago in Salt Lake City in a 38-7 loss to Utah. The Utes rushed 50 times for 208 yards in a dominating point of attach pounding. Utah (9-3) has won 8 of their last nine games and seemingly get better each game with QB Rising taking over during the streak. The Utes offensive line has allowed just 11 sacks this season including one against Oregon with Rising sporting a 17-3 TD-to-INT ratio. Both teams have solid, balanced 200 club offense averaging nearly 220 rushing and 210-220 passing yards per game. Oregon (10-3) comes off a rivalry win over Oregon State, and the Ducks are the two-time Pac-12 champs looking to return to the Rose Bowl. This line was same two weeks ago, and now shifts to a neutral site where the team with the better record is 0-3 ATS in the Pac-12 Championship since 2017. The Ducks will play better, but digger deeper into common opponents and you'll see that both teams went 5-1 but Utah out-gained them by more than 900 yards compared to Oregon's 500 yards. Let's look the Utes way with improved and more consistent play as top coach Kyle Whittingham reaches his goal of playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time.
Georgia vs Alabama - Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga
Line: Georgia -7 and Total 49.5 at My Bookie
Georgia (12-0) has been an absolute dominator this season with one of college football's all-time best defenses. Playbook adds more support noting that Georgia is the first team since 1979 Texas to hold every opponent to 17 or fewer points for an entire season. In the season's most anticipated match-ups, Alabama (11-1) is an underdog for the first time since 2015 when they beat Georgia. Think about that, Alabama never an underdog for more than 6 seasons and just twice over the past 15+ years! The Crimson Tide have won two close contests the past two weeks, and Alabama's defense has also held seven opponents to season low yards. This line opened Georgia -3 two weeks ago in Las Vegas, and immediately went to -4. Upon Alabama escaping against Auburn in the Iron Bowl last week, the line rose higher with MyBookie now at Georgia -7 and other leading online sportsbooks at -6.5. Georgia does qualify as a 200 club offense with 200 rushing and 239 passing per game. Alabama rushes for just 149 yards per game but Heisman favorite QB Bryce Young leads' Alabama's explosive passing game at 348 yards per game and now faces the nation's No. 2 'Dawg pass defense. I like the better play Under the Total and a lean towards the 'Tide.
Michigan vs Iowa - Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Line: Michigan -11 Total 43.5 at BookMaker
Clearly this line is bumped up a bit following Michigan's big win last week. Can the Wolverines (11-1) stay focused and play as well to beat Iowa and reach the College Football Playoff? Iowa (10-2) allows just 4.4 yards per play to rank top 10 in the country in defense along with Michigan (4.6). One difference is the Wolverines sport a perfectly balanced 200 club offense with 225 rushing and 226 passing to Iowa's poor ground game of 121 rushing yards per game. Michigan and Iowa have played six common opponents with the Wolverines going 6-0 and outgaining them by 740 yards and Iowa 5-1 and plus 169 yards. Will talent and strength win out over the potential letdown, situation and technical angles supporting the underdog? Iowa is among the nation's best in turnover margin (+13), and the Hawkeye's will need more to stay in range or pull off the upset. I won't be surprised if the Wolverines shut down Iowa and win this championship game 30-10 to complete a special season and make the College Football Playoff. If Michigan gets to 28 points, they cover, but history says solid support to the underdog if they allow less than 28 as a 'Dog at this price. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is at his best in this role when he has a stronger team of .750 or greater going 5-0 ATS as a 'Dog of 7 or more points.
Oklahoma State vs Baylor - AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Line: Oklahoma State -5.5 and Total 46.5 at Everygame
Pretty even match-up it seems and we've been able to cash-in on both these teams in recent weeks. The line has dipped from the opener, despite Oklahoma State (11-1) riding a 9-0 ATS streak until last week's push in a 4-point win over rival Oklahoma. The Cowboys defense is finally getting more recognition as a top-3 unit this season, and while Baylor QB Gerry Bohanon (hamstring) appears to make post after missing last week's game, he'll have a tougher time similar to the October match-up when OSU won 24-10 and held Bohanon to less than 50% completions and 173 passing yards and just 10 first downs on offense. Oklahoma State has doubled-up Baylor in common opponent yards going 7-1 with a an astounding plus 1,140 yards over those opponents. Last week's Bedlam win has to be factored in, but we still like the Cowboys and their 200 club offense and dominant defense to beat the Bears and advance to their first College Football Playoff.
Opinion: Oklahoma State
Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest - Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Line: Pittsburgh -3 and Total 71.5 at BetOnline
We've been fading Wake Forest (10-2) and their sieve defense since the Demon Deacons 8-0 start. The are 2-2 SU/ATS since and we were unlucky, or Wake was fortunate, to escape against NC State 45-42. That won't happen Saturday against the Panthers much stronger defense and the Panthers (10-2) even better passing attack behind senior QB Kenny Pickett. Both Wake and Pitt have top-10 passing attacks with Pickett passing for more than 4,000 yards this season and 40 TD passes. He'll go out in style as an ACC champion with the Deacon's deficient defense unable to contain him and the Panthers offense that averages more than 500 yards per game. No surprise if Pitt double-rushes Wake Forest noting too that Pitt has out-gained common opponents by 547 yards while going 5-0 and wins over Clemson and North Carolina. Wake Forest went 3-2 with plus 235 yards and losses to Clemson and North Carolina while getting torched for 48 and 58 points. Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman was sacked 7 times by Clemson, and Pitt's defense and pressure is even better and has 46 sacks this season. Pitt's pass defense appears suspect based on stats, as teams are forced to pass more with the Panthers dominant run defense ranking top 5 in the country. Pitt players have been dealing with the flu this week, but feeling here is Pitt is for real, and Wake Forest has been more perception than reality. Panthers pound their way to the ACC title.
Cincinnati vs Houston - Nippert Stadium - Cincinnati, OH
Line: Cincinnati -10 and Total 53 at Sportsbetting.ag
Cincinnati (12-0) may need an upset by Baylor or Iowa go make the College Football Playoff, but the undefeated Bearcats do sit No. 4 in the current College Football Playoff Poll. Would the CFP Committee take a 2-loss Alabama team over undefeated Cincinnati? That would cause a further uproar and demands for an 8-team playoff, which may be coming in the next 3-4 years. The Bearcats have been their best the past two weeks in one-sided wins, and now need to win by double-digits to cash in for Cincinnati spread bettors. The Bearcats have beaten the Cougars each of the last two years by at least 15 points with the same quarterbacks and coaches. Houston (11-1) has won 11 straight games but held on at home against SMU and East Carolina (overtime) while Cincinnati crushed those two bowl teams the last two weeks. Cincinnati has won 26 straight games and is hosting this championship game on their home field. Pressure may be mounting, but the situation, motivation and stats support another Bearcats win.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay