I’m getting to this late, but it’s been a busy first week back to work. Apologies for that, but it’s finally time to breakdown these conference championship games and dish out some bets, with odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
I’ll list specifically which games I’m giving out a play on and which ones are just a lean or potential play, and if I add it as a play you can find that on Twitter — @julianedlow.
Obviously, this isn’t the most hyped weekend of games. I wish some of them meant more, but we still have a solid card with some interesting betting spots. Here we go!
PAC-12: Utah vs. USC (Friday 8pm ET)
I’ll admit, this game has my brain in a bit of a pretzel. My heart says Utah and my brain says USC. You bet with your brain, so I’m leaning USC in the game. Great revenge spot off the Trojans only loss of the year — which came by a single point at Utah on a two-point conversion.
However, if you tailed my futures card (which overall was poor), we are in a good spot here with some Utah tickets to win the conference. Personally, I’m still deciding how much I’m going to hedge off. But if you’re neutral, I’d just look to maybe make a one unit play on USC on the moneyline with it coming down to the -140 range.
Utah will have a good game plan for USC, but I the level Caleb Williams is playing at is scary. Whether it’s with his arm or legs, he seems to find a way to get the job done, particularly in big moments.
Meanwhile, Cam Rising has made some big mistakes in crunch time of some of these big games, particularly during costly losses at Florida and Oregon. While USC has gotten lucky bounces to get where they are this season, this defense does seem to find ways to force turnovers.
In the running game, I don’t feel the loss of Travis Dye will make that much of an impact. Williams has run for six touchdowns in the three games since he went down, and the next man up has performed well — Austin Jones is a senior and posted a 21-120-2 line against UCLA and then a 25-154-0 line against a physical ND defense.
I think playing USC and looking at some Williams rushing props is in play.
BIG-12: Kansas State vs. TCU (Saturday 12pm ET)
I think TCU is in, even with a loss, and I think we’ll find out the committee’s answer to that question too. Kansas State had a 28-10 lead over TCU in the regular season, and this was the most extreme case you can point to of one of the games TCU just got extremely fortunate. Adrian Martinez went down in that game, then Will Howard led the Wildcats to what looked like a win. Problem is Howard went down and the third-string QB lost K-State this game.
Major revenge factor here for the Wildcats, who know they can beat this TCU team. TCU might be a little tight in this situation, while K-State is playing with house money and revenge on their minds.
SEC: LSU vs. Georgia (Saturday 4pm ET)
I get that Brian Kelly will have a good game plan here and Georgia somewhat has nothing to play for — they are in with a loss, but might need a win to land the No. 1 seed. The Tigers weren’t ready last week in a game they needed to win against a bad Texas A&M team to keep their outside playoff hopes alive.
Maybe LSU can play loose here without any pressure, but it’s also somewhat a letdown spot. Jayden Daniels hurt his ankle last week, and likely is not 100%. His rushing ability is a huge part of this offense, and the Tigers can’t afford him slowed against this UGA defense. Ultimately, I do think this is a blowout and would lay it with the Bulldogs at -17 or better (I played some -16 earlier in the week).
The one thing missing from Georgia’s resume last season was an undefeated record and an SEC Championship. They get it this time with some style points.
Potential Plays: UGA -17 or better
AAC: UCF at Tulane (Saturday 4pm)
Another rematch and another revenge angle. UCF took the regular season meeting, and now have to go play a true road game here against a Tulane team I feel is the better team. Not a good spot to be in.
We saw this line below -3 earlier in the week and as high as -4. While I like the matchup for Tulane a lot, I’m not laying the points. So I’ll look to pair it into a ML parlay with something else. Troy is a team that sticks out to me to use, but we don’t know if Coastal’s QB is playing or not, which makes all the difference in that game — if he is out I will put out some kind of play using Troy on Saturday.
For now, I think a couple of safe pieces would be the Celtics (who are rolling in NBA right now) on Friday night, or the Ravens (who are at home off a loss and have the luxury of facing the lowly Broncos) on Sunday.
Best Bet: Tulane/Ravens ML Parlay (-105) 1.5-units
Mountain West: Fresno State at Boise State (4pm ET)
Fresno got off to a terrible start to the season and then lost Jake Haener for some time, which really hurt them. Since getting the quarterback back, the Bulldogs are yet to lose a game. Another revenge spot here, and I’ll take the dog that lost the previous matchup. However, now at +3, I’m going to wait and see if we can get +3.5.
Neither defense is very good either, but the total seems to be set a little low because of some of the dreadful offenses these teams face in this conference. I also lean over in this one and may make a play there when I likely wind up firing on a side.
BIG TEN: Purdue vs. Michigan
Michigan is in the playoff win or lose, and I think they do ultimately win. But somehow, this “championship” game is a bit of a letdown spot. Last week was obviously the Wolverines statement game, and essentially their first playoff game. If there’s a spot to come out a little flat, this would be it.
Michigan is a physical team that plays smash mouth football. Built to win some of these tough Big Ten games we’ve seen outdoors. This game is a little different — indoors in Indy, and Purdue is a team with a good passing game.
I like the Boilermakers to come out hot here and put a little scare in Michigan early.
ACC: Clemson vs. UNC
Both teams limp into the ACC title game, but even off two losses, this one means more to UNC. I’m worried about the Tar Heels on defense being able to match Clemson’s physicality in the run game, but the offense should be able to keep up against an overrated Clemson defense that might lack motivation.
Clemson probably wouldn’t have had a shot at the playoff anyway, but officially eliminated themselves last week. Heels keep it inside of a touchdown, maybe win outright.
Best Bet: UNC +7.5 (-110) 1.25-units
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.
The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment.