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Scott Hastings’ Best College Football Bets: Conference Championship Weekend

Best College Football Bets: Conference Championship Odds

The college football regular season has wrapped up and conference championship weekend is all that stands between us and bowl season. We finished the season with winning weeks in five of the last seven but ultimately finished two games under .500 on the year. I have five more plays for conference championship weekend that will hopefully get us over the .500 mark ahead of bowl season.

Scott Hastings’ Best Bets Record

Louisiana at No. 25 Appalachian State

The App State Mountaineers had their best regular season ever, going 11-1, and are looking for back-to-back Sun Belt Conference championships. For the second straight season, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns are opposing the Mountaineers in the championship game and they also had their best-ever regular season at 10-2. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished the season on a six-game winning streak after falling to the Mountaineers in Week 7. As for App State, it had its perfect season ruined in a 24-21 home loss to Georgia Southern in Week 10.

Since joining the Sun Belt in 2014, the Mountaineers are a perfect 7-0 against the Ragin’ Cajuns, covering in four of those games and boasting an average winning margin of 20.6 points. App State was a 2.5-point underdog but earned a 17-7 triumph when the two met in Week 7 in Louisiana. Now, at home, the Mountaineers are 7-point favorites, the lowest home spread for them all season.

Prediction: App St. -7

No. 19 Cincinnati at No. 18 Memphis

A rematch from one week ago has the Cincinnati Bearcats visiting Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to take on the Memphis Tigers in the AAC championship game. Memphis won the first contest to run its record to 11-1 in the regular season, with its only loss coming at Temple 30-28 in Week 7. The Bearcats, meanwhile, had just two blemishes on the season, falling to the Tigers to close out the regular season and getting swarmed in Week 2 at then-No. 5 Ohio State 42-0.

Last week, the Tigers scored a 34-24 home triumph over the Bearcats, claiming their first-ever 11-win season. Cincinnati didn’t have starting QB Desmond Ridder as he is dealing with a shoulder injury, but replacement Ben Bryant did well, throwing for 229 yards with one touchdown and two picks. Ridder’s status is still up in the air for this weekend – I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start but he may not be 100 percent. The biggest takeaway from last week’s game was that the Tigers offense had little to no issue moving the ball against the strong Bearcats defense.

Prediction: Memphis -9.5

Hawaii at No. 20 Boise State

A single 28-25 loss at BYU in Week 8 dashed the hopes of the Boise State Broncos for a perfect regular season. The 11-1 Broncos are hosting their third straight Mountain West Conference championship game and fourth since the conference started playing a title game in 2013. Meanwhile, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are making their first appearance in the Mountain West Conference championship game after a 9-4 regular season, including 5-3 in conference play. Hawaii closed out the schedule on a four-game winning streak and won five of its last six, with its only loss being a 41-38 defeat at home to Fresno State.

The Rainbow Warriors paid a visit to Albertsons Stadium in Week 7 and were sent away having been dealt a 59-37 defeat, representing the most points the Broncos scored all season. That Boise State victory ran its win streak to seven over Hawaii. It has covered in six of those and has an average winning margin of 35.4 points, with no game being won by fewer than 20 points. I expect that streak to continue this weekend.

Prediction: Boise State -13.5

No. 1 Ohio State vs No. 12 Wisconsin (Neutral Site)

The No. 1 team in the nation, Ohio State, ran through the Big Ten this season with a perfect 12-0 record and an average winning margin of 38.1. The Buckeyes led the nation in points scored per game at 49.9 and surrendered the fourth-fewest points per game at 11.8. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Badgers looked like a team that could compete with Ohio State early, winning their first six games by a combined score of 255-29. Wisconsin then lost in perhaps a look-ahead game at Illinois in Week 8 and the following week at Ohio State. The Badgers defense allowed an average of 24.3 points per game over its final six games.

The Buckeyes have won seven straight games against the Badgers, covering in six of them with an average winning margin of 17.3. When the two met in the regular season, Wisconsin was held to 191 total yards and star running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for just 52 yards on 20 carries, the third-fewest yards over his three-year college career. Additionally, potential Heisman candidate defensive end Chase Young racked up four sacks in that game. The Buckeyes are favored to win the national title and rightfully so as they are incredible on both sides of the ball and I think they roll on Saturday.

Prediction: Ohio State -16

Virginia vs No. 3 Clemson (Neutral Site)

The Clemson Tigers had a perfect regular season at 12-0 and haven’t lost since the College Football Playoff semifinal in the 2017-18 season. Although Virginia didn’t have a perfect season, it is heading into the ACC championship game on a four-game winning streak, scoring an average of 41.3 ppg over that span. Prior to that recent run, though, the Cavaliers had lost three of four games, with each loss coming on the road, at then-No. 10 Notre Dame 35-20, at Miami 17-9 and at Louisville 28-21.

Outside of a narrow 21-20 triumph at North Carolina in Week 5, the Tigers defense has been absolutely nasty, surrendering the fewest points per game in the nation at 10.1 and only once allowing an opponent to score over two touchdowns. Virginia brings the second-best offense in the ACC to the table, averaging nearly one ppg more than third-placed Wake Forest, which could only score three points against Clemson. I don’t anticipate the Cavs will be able to move the ball effectively and the UNDER is the play to make.

Prediction: UNDER 54.5