College Football Picks Against the Spread (ATS) for Championship Week

The SEC title game is a showdown between two top-4 teams

It's the Championship Week edition of college football picks against the spread. The LSU-Georgia showdown in Atlanta is the marquee matchup of the weekend, but there is plenty of intrigue in the Big Ten (can Ohio State complete the season sweep over Wisconsin?), Pac-12 (will Utah grab the fourth playoff spot if Georgia loses?), Big 12 (can the OU-Baylor winner jump Utah in the rankings?) and ACC (can Virginia make Clemson sweat?).

 

SEC: LSU (-7) over Georgia

The main storyline heading into the game is going to be LSU’s strength (its offense) vs. Georgia’s strength (its defense), but which team wins the other side of the ball could end up being the difference. Can Georgia’s offense finally flex its muscles against a good team? Can the LSU defense slow down a quality team? LSU made a statement last week by limiting a pretty good Texas A&M offense to 169 total yards and 2.8 yards per play (1.4 yards per play fewer than its previous season-low). That shows us that the Tigers have the ability to shut down a good offense. Have we seen the Georgia offense put up gaudy numbers against a quality defense? Not really. The Dawgs did get close to 400 yards against Florida but scored only 24 points. So based on what we’ve seen in recent weeks, LSU gets the edge because its defense has a higher ceiling than Georgia’s offense. LSU 34, Georgia 21

 

Big Ten: Ohio State (-16.5) over Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a really good team that has recorded some quality wins — 35–14 over Michigan and 38–17 over Minnesota. The Badgers also have two losses, one to Illinois as a 30.5-point favorite and one to these Ohio State Buckeyes by 31 points. Ohio State has no such blemishes. The Buckeyes are undoubtedly one of the elite teams in the nation and should complete the season sweep over Wisconsin without breaking too much of a sweat. Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 17

 

Big 12: Baylor (+9) over Oklahoma

Winning a Big 12 championship is the short-term goal for both of these teams, but they are both in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The best-case scenario for the Big 12 would be a convincing win by one of these two teams; that might impress the committee enough to jump either Oklahoma or Baylor over Utah — assuming the Utes win the Pac-12 (and Georgia loses to LSU in the SEC Championship Game). The guess here is that Oklahoma wins a close game, and it’s not enough to earn the Sooners a spot in the Playoff. Oklahoma 31, Baylor 27

 

ACC: Virginia (+28.5) over Clemson

Virginia: college football picks against the spreadVirginia recorded one of the biggest wins in school history last week, ending a 15-game losing streak against rival Virginia Tech and earning a spot in the ACC title game for the first time. The reward? Facing an undefeated Clemson team that somehow believes it’s being disrespected by the national media. The 2019 Tigers might not be as talented as last year’s team that won the national title, but they have completely dominated every opponent not named North Carolina. Virginia will need a special game from quarterback Bryce Perkins to keep this interesting. Clemson 41, Virginia 17

 

Pac-12: Utah (-6.5) over Oregon (Friday)

This is the most important game in the history of the Utah program. A win by the Utes combined with an LSU win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game could vault Utah to No. 4 in the final College Football Rankings. The schedule hasn’t been too difficult, but few teams nationally have played as well as Utah over the last two months. The Utes have held five of their last eight opponents to seven points or fewer and only one of their 11 wins has been decided by fewer than 18 points. Utah 24, Oregon 13

 

MAC: Central Michigan (-6.5) over Miami (Ohio)

Jim McElwain engineered the biggest turnaround in college football in 2019, guiding Central Michigan to an 8–4 record and MAC West title just one season after the Chippewas won just one game. And they are playing their best ball of late, with November wins over division rivals Northern Illinois (48–10), Ball State (45–44) and Toledo (49–7) to secure their spot in the MAC Championship Game. Miami saw its five-game winning streak snapped last weekend at Ball State, losing to the Cardinals 41–27 in a game that didn’t affect the RedHawks’ division title hopes (they already had the East wrapped up). Four of the five wins during their streak came by seven points or fewer, including beating Akron (the only winless team in the nation) by only three points at home just two weeks ago. Cause for concern? Yes. Central Michigan 31, Miami 16

 

Sun Belt: Louisiana (+6.5) over Appalachian State

The Sun Belt title game is an intriguing rematch between two very good Group of 5 teams that went a combined 15–1 when not playing each other (App State won the regular-season matchup, 17–7, in early October). Louisiana won its final six games, with only last week’s rivalry showdown against ULM decided by fewer than 10 points. App State stubbed its toe on Halloween night, losing 24–21 at home to Georgia Southern, but has been otherwise dominant. The Mountaineers have two wins against Power 5 teams as well — 34­–31 at North Carolina and 20–15 at South Carolina. Louisiana lost its only game against a Power 5 opponent, 38–28 at Mississippi State in the opener. Appalachian State 34, Louisiana 31

 

C-USA: Florida Atlantic (-7.5) over UAB

UAB is back in the Conference USA title game despite losing key personnel on both sides of the ball. The Blazers beat Louisiana Tech and North Texas (on the road) in the final two games to clinch the West. Florida Atlantic bounced back from a disappointing 2018 season (3–5 in the league) and will make its second title game appearance in three seasons. The Owls lost at home to Marshall in mid-October but won their other seven C-USA games by an average of 20.4 points. Florida Atlantic was the better team throughout the course of the 2019 season. Florida Atlantic 31, UAB 21

 

AAC: Cincinnati (+9.5) over Memphis

These two teams will play at the Liberty Bowl for the second straight weekend. Memphis won 34­–24 to clinch the AAC West title — Cincinnati had already clinched the East — in a game that was probably closer than most Tiger fans expected. What can we expect in the rematch? Another “close-ish” Memphis win — and possibly a trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl for the Tigers. Memphis 34, Cincinnati 27

 

MWC: Boise State (-14) over Hawaii

Hawaii will be the first team other than Fresno State or San Diego State to represent the West Division in the Mountain West title game. The Rainbow Warriors secured their spot with a very un-Hawaii-like 14–11 victory over San Diego State two weeks ago. It was the first time they had scored fewer than 21 points in a league game this season. Boise State made it through the league without a loss despite dealing with a revolving door at quarterback. Senior Jaylon Henderson is expected to get the start this week. He came off the bench, as the third-stringer, when the Broncos topped Hawaii 59–37 in Boise in mid-October. Boise State 41, Hawaii 21

 

Last week: 5-5

Season: 72-65-2

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