Corrigan's Gambling Corner: College Football Championship Saturday Best Bets
It's almost time for college football's conference championship Saturday.
That means it's time for us to pick our favorite bets from the six championship games.
Do not worry, I will eventually have a pick for the MAC Championship game. I will never miss an opportunity to bet on some MACtion.
Anyway, the college football playoffs are still so wide open, and almost every game this weekend has an immediate impact on who the final four teams will be. It is going to be an exciting day full of football. and, hopefully, some winners.
*Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Pac-12 Championship: Oregon vs Utah
The last time these two teams played this season, it got ugly pretty quickly. Utah pounded the Ducks 38-7, and it was not even that close. This time, they will meet on a neutral field for the right to play in the Rose Bowl.
Looking back at their previous matchup, Oregon averaged just 2.7 yards per rush and 6.6 yards per pass. That is not even close to being good enough to beat Utah. Speaking of the Utes, they rattled off 208 rushing yards and had a whopping 9.9 yards per pass against Oregon. Utah also had 24 first downs in the game and converted on 11 of their 14 third downs.
Plain and simple, Utah just kicked Oregon's ass.
Oregon's offense had a solid day against Oregon State last week, but it was not enough to make me think they have improved enough since the Utah game. On the season, Oregon is only beating teams by an average of 8.7 points per game this season. With the 34th ranked SOS, that is just simply not good enough.
Although Utah's offense would not scare me, quarterback Cameron Rising has been on a tear as of late, and I am going to ride with the hot hand in this one.
Pick: Utah -2.5 (-114)
AAC Championship: Houston vs Cincinnati
This is the biggest game in the history of the Cincinnati program. With the committee keeping them inside the coveted top four for the second straight week, they sent Luke Fickell's squad a clear message.
Win, and they are in.
Now, they have an extremely tall order against a Houston team that has caught fire recently. The Cougars are scoring 41.7 points over their last four games, and they are winning by an average of 21.7 points in those four games.
On the season, Houston is 10th in the country in scoring and sixth in total defense. They are well balanced on offense, but their bread and butter is throwing the ball. Quarterback Clayton Tune has 26 touchdowns to only eight interceptions on the season, and he has thrown the ball for 3,013 yards. If Cincinnati is going to slow down this offense then they will need their dynamic duo of Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant in the secondary to continue their reign of excellence this season.
While I am a big fan of Desmond Ridder, the spread is just a touch too high for me to back the Bearcats. Cincinnati is 4-5 ATS as at least 10.5 point favorites, and with how good Houston has been on both sides of the ball this season, I have to roll with the Cougs.
Pick: Houston +10.5 (-110)
ACC Championship: Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest
This game has no playoff implications, and unless you are a fan of either of these schools, this game doesn't really matter. However, it could be the best quarterback matchup of the season.
For Pitt, 20th-year senior Kenny Pickett could become the first quarterback in ACC history to throw for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season while Wake Forest's Sam Hartman leads the third-ranked offense in the country.
Whenever a spread hits north of 70 points, it is a massive gamble, no pun intended, but man is it fun when the over hits. This total would have hit in six of Pitt's games this season, and five for Wake Forest. Over their last 20 games, Pitt has gone over the total 15 times, and Wake Forest has gone over in four of their last five games as an underdog.
Both offenses are just unbelievable and can score from anywhere on the field at any time. For that reason, we will close out Championship Saturday with an alarmingly high over.
Pick: Over 71.5 (-110)
Big 12 Championship: Baylor vs Oklahoma State
Any other year and this game is the most important game of championship weekend. It does not hold the same weight as the SEC championship this season, but it will still impact the college football playoffs.
Oklahoma State was ranked fifth by the committee in the latest College Football Playoff rankings so even if they win, there is no guarantee that they sneak in. While Baylor still has an outside chance of stealing a playoff spot with a dominating win, the committee dropping them one spot is pretty telling of their thoughts on Baylor.
Earlier in the season, the Pokes' defense completely shut down Baylor en route to a 24-14 victory. Baylor could only muster up 280 total yards and had 10 total first downs in the game. If they perform to that same level against an Oklahoma State offense that is averaging 40.4 points per game over their last five, they do not have a chance.
However, I am going to take Baylor in this spot. After the latest rankings came out, it is pretty clear that the Bears do not have a realistic path to the playoffs. Even if they do win, and there is a lot of Chaos later in the day, they will not jump Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, or even Cincinnati in my opinion. This may play in Baylor's favor for this game.
This is the perfect letdown game for Oklahoma State, and with how well Baylor does with just about everything, the value is definitely with the Bears. Dave Aranda's squad has covered in eight of their last 11 games, and Baylor is 12-2 ATS in their last 14 games played in December. I am not in love with the spread on either side, but Baylor's Moneyline is the most intriguing play, and that is what we are riding with.
Pick: Baylor ML +180
Big 10 Championship: Michigan vs Iowa
What a season from Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines. Not only did they break their eight-year losing streak to Ohio State, but they have punched their ticket to the Big 10 Championship for the first time ever. One more win and they will also make their first-ever playoff appearance.
In their way are the Iowa Hawkeyes, who at one point, were the No. 2 ranked team in the country. Like Michigan, they win games with a physical defense, and a solid running game. The Hawkeyes are only giving up 17.3 points per game, 4.4 yards per play, 6.1 yards per pass, and 3.0 yards per rush. That is going to be how they could beat Michigan, but this just feels like it is Michigan's year.
Cade McNamara is certainly not the best quarterback Michigan has had under Harbaugh, but he is the most efficient. To be fair, all he has to do is turn around and give the ball to either Blake Corum or Hassan Haskins. Against Ohio State, those two combined for 256 yards rushing. Iowa's defense is a lot tougher against the run than Ohio State's, but I just do not trust the Iowa offense to keep up.
Iowa has routinely played spoiler over the past few years, but this is Michigan's year, and it is starting to feel like 1997. Only this time, they can't only win half a national championship.
Pick: Michigan -10.5 (-108)
SEC Championship: Georgia vs Alabama
Alright, we have arrived at the most important game of the season to this date. Win or lose, Georgia is going to be in the CFP. Their body of work this season speaks for itself. However, if Alabama were to lose this game, even by a small margin, the defending champions will have failed to make the playoffs the following year for the first time since Ohio State in 2015.
Let's talk about Georgia's defense this season. The Dawgs are the No. 1 defense in scoring (6.9), yards (240.5), points per play (0.105), yards per play (3.7), yards per pass (5.3), and red zone scoring percentage (55%).
That is just absurd.
Offensively, the numbers are better than what you would expect with Stetson Bennett leading the charge. They are not an explosive offense, but they are very efficient. Georgia likes to gobble up the yards and wear your defense out. On the season, the dawgs are third in yards per game, yards per pass, and red zone scoring. While they are missing their best offensive playmaker in George Pickens, running backs Zamir White, and James Cook have been a lethal combination.
Usually, when we are talking about a game with Alabama, they are the "unbeatable team." This year, the Tide has a lot of problems. Every semi-quality team that Alabama has played this season has given them fits. LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M have all kept their matchups within one score, and the latter of those teams straight-up beat them.
On the season, Alabama and Georgia have played four common opponents, which were Arkansas, Florida, Auburn, and Tennessee. In those four games, Alabama's margin of victory was 9.7, and Georgia's average margin of victory was 28.
Folks, I do not see a world where Alabama can beat this team.
Sure, Bryce Young and Jameson Williams have been a lethal combination this season, but Alabama completely fell apart against Auburn when Williams was ejected for targeting. Without him this season, who knows how many losses Alabama has. Georgia has way too much on both sides of the ball for a bad Alabama team to handle.
Give me the Dawgs.
Pick: Georgia -6.5 (-106)
Photo: Getty Images