It's Wednesday and you know what that means, it's time to make our Championship Week college football betting picks!!!
That's right, it's hard to believe we have just a few games left in the season, and a few days before we know the four teams headed to the College Football Playoff and other bowl games.
The good news: We're entering this weekend red hot, finishing 5-1-1 last week, which included being on the correct side for most of the big games, including Michigan (+7.5) and USC (-5.5), as well as hitting overs in the Florida-Florida State and South Carolina-Clemson games.
So let's get to it, and before we do, a few quick reminders.
One, make sure you're subscribed to the College Football Betting Podcast - which I truly believe is the best resources anywhere for college football betting content.
Now, to the picks:
Pac 12 Championship Game: No. 14 Utah vs. No. 6 USC (-3) - Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX
I have so many different thoughts on this one, but I'll try to be quick and explain why I like the Trojans to win in this one.
First off, these two teams have already played once, and on a cold, icy night in Salt Lake City, Utah didn't really beat USC as much as they outlasted them. Despite the conditions, USC ended up with over 550 yards of total offense, and lost by a single point, in a game with some, umm, questionable, refereeing. They also did it in a game where Jordan Addison got hurt midway through, and he is back at full strength.
Now to be fair, Travis Dye was healthy in that game and has since gone down - but that hasn't really slowed down the USC run offense, with Austin Jones picked up 154 yards on the ground last week versus Notre Dame.
Speaking of Notre Dame, didn't USC kind of show the blueprint on how they plan on beating big, physical teams at the line of scrimmage?
Pass the ball with your soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winning QB, and get up early, which limits the opponent's run game. Notre Dame had run the ball at least 34 times in their previous four games prior to USC, including 47 in a win against Clemson. They ran it just 26 times last week.
Well, isn't that the same blueprint to beat Utah?
Speaking of Utah, in their win over USC, Cam Rising had 415 yards passing, which was, by far, the most this season. Call me skeptical that he can replicate that.
Finally, there's this: Everyone keeps waiting for the Trojans to falter. Many (including me) picked them to lose to UCLA. They won outright. Many at least picked Notre Dame to keep things close against the Trojans, it wasn't.
Well, if USC lost by one point, on the road in a game where the refs gave them a bunch of breaks, the first time they played Utah, what makes you think that they can't win outright, in a domed, neutral site stadium?
USC wins. USC covers. USC is headed to the playoff. Big 12 Championship Game: No. 10 Kansas State vs. TCU (-2.5) - Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC So I always try to be transparent with you guys and girls, and I want to continue to do so here: Of every game this weekend, this is the one that I have by far the least confidence in.
Then again, isn't that kind of the TCU mantra this season: Basically, no game goes the way you expect.
Sometimes, they just flat out blow teams out - like they did Oklahoma early.
Sometimes, they fall down early and rally - like they did in the first game against Kansas State.
Sometimes, we expect a shootout - and the game ends up being a close, low-scoring slugfest like against Texas.
And sometimes, it's just pure insanity, like against Baylor a few weeks ago.
Basically, every time you think TCU is going to zig, they zag. Every time you think they're going to zag, they rally for a double-digit deficit to win.
But you know what? They keep winning.
And I don't expect that to change here.
In the end, neither team seems to have a clear advantage - both are solid, balanced offenses. And while TCU's defense is far from elite, they are pretty good against the run, which is obviously K-State strength.
The Horned Frogs have made a habit of winning close, weird games, and I see no reason it changes here.
Like USC, TCU wins here and heads to the playoff.
SEC Championship Game: No. 14 LSU at No. 1 Georgia (-18) - Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, CBS
This is going to sound weird, but you know what this game reminds me of a bit: The 2019 SEC Championship Game. Why I said it's "weird" is because in that one, LSU was college football's best team, steamrolling towards the No. 1 seed in the playoff, all while Georgia was coming in as a solid, but unspectacular double-figure underdog.
It's not apples to apples, because that Georgia team was 11-1, compared to LSU which is 9-3 this year. At the same time, it had those same mid-week "Well, could the underdog keep it close" vibes I've been getting this week.
And the answer in 2022, like it was in 2019, is a big, fat "no."
The bottom line is this: First off, virtually everything LSU does on offense is based on Jayden Daniels, who is both LSU's leading passer (obviously) and rusher (maybe not so obvious). The fact that he left Kyle Field last weekend in a walking boot simply isn't a good sign. Nor is it a good sign that LSU gave up 41 sacks this season, which was second worst in the SEC. That's bad news going up against that Georgia front, especially if Daniels is hobbled.
More than that, I just get the vibe that Georgia is a big game team.
No, they're not as good as last year, and no, they don't play with that "nobody believes in us" chip on their shoulders they did a year ago. Which makes sense, since well, everyone believes in them.
Still, there have really been two games this season where people genuinely doubted them: The opener against Oregon, and the Tennessee game at home.
And those were their two best performances of the year.
While I'm not saying that people are genuinely doubting them, they again, appear to be a big game team, one that plays their best when the lights are the brightest.
Dawgs roll to the No. 1 seed in the playoff here.
ACC Championship Game: No. 17 North Carolina (+7.5) vs. No. 8 Clemson - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC
At this point, it's sad to say that we know who Clemson is:
A good team, but not an elite one. A group that is good on defense, but also not elite relative to their talent. And one which was let down by their head coach, who refused to play the best quarterback on their roster for meaningful snaps this year.
With it, Clemson now arrives in Charlotte with no playoff hopes, and will have to settle for an ACC title and Orange Bowl appearance.
Now to be clear, Dabo Swinney will try to play it up that the Tigers have plenty to play for, but I simply don't believe it. Last year, the Tigers could pull the "Well, we didn't make the playoff, but we're still an elite program" card.
But not this year. Not after last week against South Carolina.
Beyond that, they're also playing a North Carolina team that they simply don't match up well with.
The bottom line is that North Carolina's strength is in their quarterback Drake Maye, maybe one of the most gifted signal-callers in the sport, who leads the eighth ranked passing attack in college football. Maye has struggled the last two weeks, yet believe it or not, their two opponents - Georgia Tech and NC State - have statistically better pass defenses than Clemson. Pass defense is the Tigers' weakness, highlighted by Spencer Rattler throwing for close to 400 yards a week ago.
So, Clemson could struggle to slow down North Carolina's strength in this game, and here's the bigger problem: I'm not sure the Tigers can exploit UNC's weakness. Defensively, the Tar Heels have the ACC's worst pass defense.
The problem is, well, actually you've seen Clemson's pass offense and you don't need me to tell you much more.
I'm just going to say it: North Carolina plus the points is my favorite bet of this week. And I might even sprinkle a bit on the money line as well.
Big Ten Championship Game: Purdue vs. No. 2 Michigan (-17): Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX
First, shout out to me.
While most of my conference championship game picks were abhorrently bad (Oklahoma, AT, really?) how about me calling my shot on Purdue, back in August?
(Again, if you want to be a friend and ignore my Miami, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State picks, that would be much appreciated)
With that said, while I love giving myself a pat on the back about Purdue in the preseason, the truth is, this year's Big Ten title game actually reminds me a lot of last year's.
If you remember last year, Michigan was coming off an emotional win over Ohio State, and there was really a thought of, "Wait, could they go to Indianapolis and actually lose to Iowa?" - then they destroyed them, winning 42-3.
Well this year, I'd argue that Michigan is better, and the team they are playing is less equipped to beat them than a year ago. Heck, part of the reason that I picked the Boilermakers to play in Indianapolis was because of a soft schedule, and even with that, they didn't exactly blow the doors off the building late in the season, with narrow wins over Illinois, Northwestern and Indiana.
Point being, Purdue is a good team, with a good story.
Michigan wins convincingly.
A reminder: The picks are brought to you by Betfred Sportsbook. New users can get $250 when they bet $50 on any game this weekend - good in Arizona, Colorado and Iowa only