College football betting: First look at conference championship weekend

·8-min read

The college football regular season is in the books, save for the meaningless rescheduled USC-California game on Saturday night. The coaching carousel is in full effect as we speak. On Tuesday, we'll get the penultimate college football playoff rankings. Then, we get conference championship weekend this upcoming weekend. By the beginning of next week, we'll know which teams are in the playoff and we'll get the full schedule of bowl games. 

This weekend, we have ten conference championship games on tap. Two will be played on Friday and the remaining games will unfold throughout the day on Saturday. Below is a betting-centric schedule of what's on tap.

Conference USA

Date and Time: Friday, 7 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network

Both Western Kentucky and UTSA went 7-1 in conference play and earned spots in the Conference USA championship game. Western Kentucky went 8-4 overall, winning seven straight games to end the season. UTSA went 11-1 on the year, but couldn't finish off the perfect regular season. The Roadrunners lost to North Texas in the final regular season game. 

Western Kentucky is a 1.5-point road favorite over UTSA in the championship game. Western Kentucky enters the game on a roll while UTSA has struggled in recent weeks before finally falling in the regular season finale. UTSA beat Western Kentucky by a score of 52-46 in October.

Western Kentucky ranks top 10 in the country in many offensive categories including points, yards per game and yards per play. The total for Western Kentucky-UTSA sits at 71.5 points.

Pac-12

Date and Time: Friday, 8 p.m. ET
TV: ABC

These two teams met just two weeks ago. In that affair, Oregon travelled to Utah where the Utes ended the Ducks' playoff dreams and aspirations. Utah won the game by a score of 38-7. In that game, Oregon was a 3-point road underdog. This week, Oregon is once again a 3-point underdog against Utah. However, this game will be played at a neutral site in Las Vegas.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT -  NOVEMBER 20: Brant Kuithe #80 of the Utah Utes breaks a tackle attempt by Jordan Happle #32 of the Oregon Ducks during their game November 20, 2021 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City , Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Utah and Oregon will meet in the Pac-12 Championship game. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

Oregon enters the game as the winner of the Pac-12 North, finishing the season with a 10-2 overall record. Utah has won five straight games to claim the Pac-12 South with a 9-3 record. 

In the previous meeting between these teams, Utah dominated the trenches and Oregon never had a chance. Will Oregon be motivated to get revenge in this spot? The market is expecting the Ducks to generate more offensively as the total for Oregon-Utah sits at 59.5 points.

Big 12

Date and Time: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
TV: ABC

If things go well elsewhere, this might be a win-and-you're-in spot for Oklahoma State. The Pokes are coming off a massive win in Bedlam against the Sooners. Oklahoma State has an 11-1 record on the season. They'll meet Baylor in the Big 12 championship. Oklahoma State is a 5-point favorite over Baylor. The game will be played at Jerry's World in Arlington. 

We know about Oklahoma State's résumé, but Baylor has also had a very good season. The Bears are currently ranked as the eighth best team in the country prior to the new ranking release and will provide stiff competition to Oklahoma State. These two teams met in Stillwater earlier in the year with Oklahoma State winning the game by 10 points. 

Both schools have been known for high-flying offenses in the not too recent past, but both teams have reinvented themselves this year. Both schools rank top 20 nationally in terms of points allowed per game. This would explain the low total for this game, which is currently set at 46.5 points.

MAC

Date and Time: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN

Played at a neutral field in Detroit, Kent State is a 3-point favorite over Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game. The total for the game sits at 73.5 points. 

Kent State is known for its lightning fast pace and ability to rack up yards offensively. It should feast against a Northern Illinois defense that ranks 119th in yards-per-play allowed. However, Northern Illinois has been fortunate this season with all breaks going its way. The Huskies are 7-1 in one-score games this season. Their one loss? It came against Kent State in early November. 

Mountain West

Date and Time: Saturday, 3 p.m. ET
TV: Fox

San Diego State is a 5.5-point home favorite over Utah State in the Mountain West championship game. The total is set at 50 points.

This will be a thrilling contrast of styles. San Diego State ranks top ten in most defensive metrics and plays at a crawling pace. Meanwhile, Utah State ranks seventh in the country in offensive pace and 23rd in yards per game. It'll be interesting to see which style wins out and whether the opponent will be able to adjust. 

Sun Belt

Date and Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN

Appalachian State is a 3-point road favorite against the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in the Sun Belt conference championship game. The total is set at 53 points. 

Since the Sun Belt added the championship game in 2018, these two teams have met in every single iteration of the Sun Belt championship game. Appalachian State won the first two times these teams met in the championship game. However, earlier this season, Louisiana beat Appalachian State by a score of 41-13. 

SEC

Date and Time: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
TV: CBS

There's a lot on the line in the SEC championship game this year. Alabama is basically playing for their season as it's hard to envision the committee rewarding a two-loss team with how the season has shook out. Unfortunately for Alabama, Georgia looks to clearly be the best team in the country. Georgia is a 6.5-point favorite against the Crimson Tide. The total for the game is set at 50.5 points.

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 01:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide shakes hands with head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs after the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 35-28 in the 2018 SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Nick Saban and Kirby Smart meet again in the SEC championship game. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

No team has been able to score against this Georgia defense, and it seems like Alabama is the team most likely to test that. However, we've seen Alabama's offense struggle in recent weeks highlighted by a poor performance in the Iron Bowl. 

American

Date and Time: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
TV: ABC

I, for one, am very excited for the American Conference championship game. Cincinnati is a 10.5-point home favorite over Houston. The total for the game is set at 54 points. 

We all know what's on the line for Cincinnati. A win here would give the Bearcats a near certain chance of becoming the first Group of Five team in history to qualify for the College Football Playoff. They are undefeated and have all the motivation in the world. However, it won't be easy as Houston has not lost since the first weekend of the season. Both teams move the ball well offensively and have tenacious defenses. 

ACC

Date and Time: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
TV: ABC

ACC championship games without Clemson do exist. For the first time since 2014, the Clemson Tigers are not playing for the conference championship. Instead, we get a matchup between Wake Forest and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a 3-point favorite at a neutral field. The total for this game is set at 72.5 points. 

This has all the makings of a back-and-forth shootout between Sam Hartman and Kenny Pickett. Both offenses rank top five in the country in terms of points per game. While there's no playoff implications here, it should still be an entertaining football game. 

Big Ten

Date and Time: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
TV: Fox

In the 1980 Winter Olympics, USA hockey's win over Russia was viewed as the "Miracle on Ice." Some people might not realize that was just a semifinal game and the USA needed to win another game to clinch the gold. A similar situation might apply for Michigan here. After their big win over Ohio State to clinch their spot in this game, Michigan still needs to take care of business against Iowa. 

Michigan is a 10.5-point favorite against the Hawkeyes at a neutral site in Indianapolis. The total for the game is set at 43.5-points. Both teams want to run the ball and lean on their defense, but Michigan is simply a more talented and better version. As long as they're focused on the task at hand, the Wolverines should take care of business. 

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