During the college football season, the Stadium staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice in this roundtable. Here are our thoughts on conference championship weekend.
Note: Ben and Nate will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
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Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: USC -2.5 over Utah.
I’ve been struggling with what to put in this spot because I don’t see very much value on the board this weekend. But after much deliberation, I’ve decided to hitch my wagon to Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams in Sin City. Maybe I’m a prisoner to the narrative and this bet goes up in flames, but Riley has been in this spot before with the Heisman frontrunner at quarterback and a playoff spot on the line. Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners covered the spread in the conference title game and made the CFP with a Heisman-winning QB in both 2017 and 2018, so let’s see if the third time’s the charm.
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: USC -2.5 over Utah.
I made the dumb move of betting the USC win total under 9.5 all the way back in the summer, so this is my official “Apology Bet” to the Trojans. We know how hard it is to beat the same team twice in college football, and I think USC is simply rolling right now. In their last three games, USC has the fourth-best points per play number in the country, scoring an average of 47 points in that stretch. Caleb Williams is in the process of cementing his Heisman Trophy candidacy, and the USC defense is still holding on to one of the best turnover margins in the land.
Sure, Utah is a top-15 team and has been winning games, but the opponent quality recently has been lacking (Stanford, Colorado, and Arizona make up their last three wins). Utah is exploitable, and USC seems to have set themselves up to win and cover this spread.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Kansas State +2.5 over TCU.
Back in July, I bet on Kansas State to win the Big 12 at 18/1. I’m not going to invest more on the Wildcats for this game, but if I didn’t have a ticket on them to win the conference, I would bet on Kansas State plus the points or on the moneyline.
I had Kansas State +3.5 at TCU in this section for their regular season meeting in October. The game started perfectly, as Kansas State built a 28-10 lead with backup QB Will Howard, but then Howard got banged-up in the second half and TCU’s offense got going. It ended in an unfortunate loss and non-cover for the Wildcats, but here we are for the rematch. I was impressed with how TCU played at Texas and Baylor in November to secure an amazing 12-0 regular season, but they certainly aren’t as good as their No. 3 ranking indicates. I have officially decided not to hedge, and I’ll let my future ride.
AS: Coastal Carolina +8.5 over Troy.
I’m taking a risk here backing the Chants with Jamey Chadwell reportedly in the mix for multiple coaching vacancies, and Grayson McCall’s status up in the air due to a foot injury. But here’s the thing, if McCall suits up on Saturday then this point spread is going to move substantially in Coastal’s favor. I’m going to try to get ahead of the move.
BW: Purdue +17 over Michigan.
How confident are we that Michigan REALLY wants to win this game by margin? They’re in the College Football Playoff regardless, and they don’t want to give any major strategy away to their next opponent. On the flip side, this is Purdue’s Super Bowl. For the first time since 2000, the Boilermakers have a chance to win a Big Ten title. It doesn’t get better than this for them.
For the Maize and Blue, this might as well be a scrimmage. Plus, you have a classic letdown spot for Michigan after an emotional win over Ohio State last week. As an IU alumni, I’m nauseous typing this, but give me Purdue to cover.
NJ: Purdue +17 over Michigan.
This is a potential letdown spot for Michigan as they come off their first win against Ohio State in Columbus since 2000. That victory should be enough to get them in the College Football Playoff regardless of the result of this game, so winning by margin and covering this number isn’t a priority for the Wolverines. Michigan’s health is another reason why I would bet against them, and it would be wise for the Wolverines to rest some banged-up players knowing they’ll have plenty of time to recover before the semifinals on Dec. 31.
Purdue is also an opponent I don’t mind backing here in their first Big Ten Championship Game appearance in nearby Indianapolis. Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell can keep this game within the number, unlike the other Big Ten West quarterbacks that were fighting to play this weekend.
AS: Fresno State (+135) over Boise State.
These are two evenly-matched teams, and this point spread (Boise State -3) is right in line with my power ratings for each team, so at the current number I’m going to pass.
However, Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener is going to be the best player on the smurf turf on Saturday afternoon, and he’s shifted into fifth gear in November with 8.6 yards per pass attempt, 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions in four Bulldog victories. This is Haener’s last shot to record a victory against the Broncos before he moves on to the NFL, and the more I think about it the more I want to back Haener and the Bulldogs just to be a part of a storybook ending.
BW: TCU -2.5 over Kansas State.
Do you know how many times I’ve thought, “Is this the end of TCU’s win streak?” Way too many, and my wallet has suffered because of it. I keep underestimating the Horned Frogs and they keep coming through. But could THIS be the end of TCU’s undefeated season?
Kansas State is a really tough team, and RB Deuce Vaughn is an absolute stud who should run all over TCU’s 60th-ranked rush defense. People have slept on K-State all year, and they’ve just chugged on. TCU might still be able to win, but can they do it by a field goal or more? The fact that I’m even questioning it makes me want to stay away.
NJ: LSU team total under 16.5 vs. Georgia.
I tried to figure out a way to bet on Georgia to perform well in this game. The biggest issue is they don’t have an incentive to cover -17.5 because they are securely in the playoff no matter how this game plays out. The best angle I could come up with is the LSU team total under with Tigers QB Jayden Daniels nursing an ankle injury that would compromise his ability to run.
I also expect Georgia’s coaching staff to be engaged for this opponent because Joe Burrow and LSU dominated them 37-10 in the 2019 SEC Championship Game. But the team total being down to 16.5 will make me stay away because LSU could score garbage-time points at the end with Georgia shifting their focus to the postseason.