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Betting Against The Spread: Championship Saturday


-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

The college football season is basically over. With the possible exception of The Bedlam Series, there is very little on the line this weekend. Six of the eleven conferences have concluded play and have only a champion to crown. The national title game is basically set, despite the LSU-Georgia battle in The Dome. And my 2011 "gambling" season has come to an end. My holiday weekend got started right with a tasty 3-0 Black Friday, but I wrapped up my final weekend with a 3-4 Saturday afternoon.

I picked 133 games against the spread this season and finished 26 games up. So if you laid $100 — for entertainment purposes only, of course — on every game I picked you would have made roughly $2,600 for the season (minus the juice). But just because I cannot leave you hanging with a pseudo-week of action still taking place, I will go ahead and pick the conference championship games. Consider it an early Xmas present.

Final 2011 Season Record ATS: 78-52-3 (6-4 last week)

Bonus Championship Picks:

UCLA (+31.5) at Oregon (Eugene, Friday, 8 PM ET)
Poor Slick Rick. The UCLA Bruins are currently looking for a new head coach after a 50-0 loss to rival USC. Oregon beat the Bruins 60-13 the last time they visited Eugene in 2010, and this edition shouldn't be much different. My Pick: Oregon -31.5

Ohio (+3.5) vs Northern Illinois (Detroit, Friday, 7 PM ET)
The Bobcats have won five straight games and the Huskies have won seven straight, so both teams are confident entering Ford Field. Chandler Harnish leads one of the nation's most dynamic offensive attacks — ranking in the top ten nationally in rushing and total offense. Ohio ranks near the bottom of the MAC in nearly every offensive category. My Pick: Northern Illinois -3.5

Southern Miss (+13) at Houston (Saturday, 12 PM ET)
Houston boasts the best record in the nation against the spread this season at 10-2. With a cover, they would post the best mark ATS of anyone (since the other 10-2 teams are done playing). The Cougars are rolling, are at home and have a trip to the BCS on the line. My Pick: Houston -13

LSU (-14) vs Georgia (Atlanta, Saturday, 4 PM ET)
The Georgia Bulldogs have won ten straight games and are playing for their BCS bowl lives. LSU is playing for...nothing? It is believed that even with a loss to UGA, the LSU Tigers are locked into the BCS title game. I will take LSU to win, but there is no way they aren't looking ahead with nothing really to play for. My Pick: Georgia +14

Virginia Tech (-7) vs Clemson (Charlotte, Saturday, 8 PM ET)
Clemson handled the Hokies when these two got together earlier this season in Blacksburg. The Tigers have been manhandled by Georgia Tech, NC State and South Carolina since. The Hokies simply continue to be one of the nation's best second half teams and have not lost an ACC game in the state of North Carolina in 14 tries. My Pick: Virginia Tech -7

Oklahoma (+3) at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)
The Cowboys have a very small outside shot at landing in the BCS national title game with a convincing win. A BCS bowl is on the line for both, but there is more at stake for little brother. The emotion of the night, the home crowd and some extra motivation give the Pokes their first win over big brother since 2002. My Pick: Oklahoma State -3

Michigan State (+9.5) vs Wisconsin (Indianapolis, Saturday, 8:15 PM ET)
The MSU-UW rivarly has been elevated in recent years as both programs have been competing for conference titles of late. And with the Michigan State Miracle earlier this season, fans can bet the Badgers will be ready. However, as a big underdog, Mark Dantonio will have his Spartans ready for battle. Wisconsin is the best team in the league and should win, but Sparty will keep it very close (if not pull the upset). My Pick: Michigan State +9.5

2011 Top Teams ATS:

Houston (10-2)
Louisiana Tech (10-2)
Stanford (10-2)
Western Kentucky (10-2)
Arkansas State (9-2)*
Kansas State (9-2)*
LSU  (9-3)
Vanderbilt (9-3)
Georgia (8-3-1)
USC (8-3-1)
Oklahoma State (8-3)*
Alabama (8-4)
UL Lafaytette (8-4)
Michigan (8-4)
Michigan State (8-4)
Rutgers (8-4)
Temple (8-4)
Western Michigan (8-4)

2011 Bottom Teams ATS:

Central Michigan (1-11)
Maryland (2-10)
Texas A&M (3-9)
Mississippi (3-9)
Colorado State (3-8)*
Florida Atlantic (3-8)*
Middle Tennessee (3-8)*
Troy (3-8)*
Syracuse (3-8)*
Akron (3-8-1)
Penn State (3-8-1)
Hawaii (3-8-1)
Colorado (4-9)
Auburn (4-8)
Florida (4-8)
SMU (4-8)
Virginia Tech (4-8)

* - one regular season game left to play