If you have been keeping an eye on my weekly college football best bets article, I have already laid out my best bets for Week 16. This article, though, looks strictly at the conference championship games and I have my best bet for each of the nine title games this weekend.
Last year we did the best bets for five of the conference championship games, posting a record of 2-2-1. We’re looking to improve upon that in 2020. Without further rambling on, here are my best bets for each of the conference championship games.
Conference Championship Best Bets
UAB Blazers vs Marshall Thundering Herd -5
Not only did Marshall sport the best record in the C-USA at 7-1 but the Herd also went 5-3 ATS, while UAB was just 2-6 ATS on the year. Blazers senior running back Spencer Brown was a force, racking up 740 yards with 10 majors to take pressure off freshman QB Bryson Lucero, who had more interceptions than touchdowns. Unfortunately for Brown, Marshall had the second-best rush defense in the nation. Tough sledding for UAB – I like Marshall to win this one comfortably.
Ball State Cardinals vs Buffalo Bulls OVER 67
Buffalo ran completely through the MAC East Division, racking up an average of 51.8 points per game, the most in the nation. However, the West Division was much more competitive.
The Cardinals had a hiccup to open the season but rattled off five straight wins heading into this one, averaging 33.7 points per game. I look for a ton of MACtion (couldn’t resist) in this matchup in a barnburner championship game.
Oregon Ducks vs USC Trojans -3
Hey, how ’bout making a conference championship game after another team couldn’t go! Well, that’s the case for Oregon after Washington bowed out as the team battles a COVID-19 outbreak. The Ducks backed their way into this game, dropping their last two, including giving Cal its only win of the season. Meanwhile, USC rolled through its season on the back of sophomore signal-caller Kedon Slovis, who threw for 1,601 yards with 15 touchdowns in five games. This could be a competitive game, but USC appears to be the stronger squad.
Northwestern Wildcats vs Ohio State Buckeyes -20.5
I wrote about this game already in my best bets article: Not only do I like Ohio State to cover but for the OVER to come through as well. The Buckeyes backfield is comprised of two great players in QB Justin Fields and RB Master Teague III, with Fields even getting some Heisman Trophy consideration. Some are saying OSU’s five-game schedule isn’t sufficient for it to warrant a CFP berth; I think they put a pounding on Northwestern to prove they deserve to be on the national stage.
Oklahoma Sooners vs Iowa State Cyclones +5.5
Many people like to bet on teams based on “revenge” or “motivation.” In this case they would be backing the Sooners after they fell to the Cyclones earlier this season. Since then, though, Oklahoma has gone 6-0, earning a second crack at Iowa State. Quarterbacks Spencer Rattler (OU) and Brock Purdy (IWST) both played well in that first meeting, which Iowa State won 37-30. However, the difference was on the ground as Sooners lead back T.J. Pledger had just 47 yards, while Cyclones tailback Breece Hall had 139 yards and two touchdowns. I think Oklahoma gets its revenge, but Iowa State keeps it close.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +10 vs Clemson Tigers
This may be the most intriguing conference championship game of the weekend. If Clemson loses again to Notre Dame, its playoff hopes may be dashed. But what’s in a name? That’s the question people will ask heading into this matchup. When these teams collided in early November, Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, the Heisman Trophy hopeful and projected first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, didn’t play in that 47-40 double-overtime loss as he dealt with the coronavirus. Is his return worth 17 points? I don’t think so. A Clemson victory is likely but I think the Irish are a competitive squad and 10 points is too much.
Boise State Broncos -6.5 vs San Jose State Spartans
I touched on this game as well in my best bets article, looking at the UNDER, but I also like the Broncos to win comfortably. San Jose State allowed the 13th-fewest points per game in the nation at 17.5 but could have an issue slowing down Boise State’s offense, which racked up 36.2 points per game. I think the Broncos secondary is going to give Spartans QB Nick Starkel some trouble while on the other side, Boise State QB Hank Bachmeier had a strong campaign in the four games in which he appeared and is a difference-maker for sure.
Alabama Crimson -17 vs Florida Gators
The two top favorites for the Heisman Trophy play on the same team, the Alabama Crimson Tide. QB Mac Jones and WR DeVonta Smith have been a formidable combination, leading the Crimson Tide to a 10-0 record and an average of 49.5 points per game. Meanwhile, the always tough ’Bama defense is giving up just 16.8 points per game and has yielded 17 or less in each of its last six games. Of course, Florida, led by QB Kyle Trask, can put up plenty of points in a hurry, but opponents can do the same against its defense. Four of the Gators’ 10 games saw the defense surrender 35 or more points, including 37 last week vs LSU. This defense will be on its heels vs Alabama and I anticipate a bit of a blowout.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs Cincinnati Bearcats -14.5
Tulsa tiptoed its way through the AAC, not losing an in-conference game, but three of its six victories were by six or fewer points. On the other hand, Cincinnati, who some believe should get some love from the CFP committee, rolled through the AAC with an average winning margin of 25.9 and only one game won by fewer than 10 points. The Bearcats scored the second-most points in the AAC and allowed the fewest. A two-touchdown spread does have me a little concerned because Tulsa is definitely worthy of being in this championship game. The Golden Hurricane could be competitive and keep it close but overall I just think Cincinnati is better in every facet of the game.
Doc's Picks Service
Need more winning picks? Get $60 worth of premium member picks from Doc’s Sports – a recognized leader and trusted name in sports handicapping since 1971.