College football’s championship week is here, and conference titles are on the line this weekend. More importantly, a few of the marquee games have College Football Playoff implications.
Here’s what on tap, including betting information and edges.
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No. 11 Utah (9-3, 7-5 ATS) vs. No. 4 USC (11-1, 8-4 ATS)
Moneyline:Utah +135, USC -160
Spread: USC -3.0
In order to clinch a spot in the CFP, USC will have to avenge its one loss of the season. Utah topped the Trojans, 43-42, at home back on Oct. 15.
USC has the best player in the game. That would be Heisman hopeful Caleb Williams. He has been sensational of late, including in USC’s last two wins against UCLA and Notre Dame. But it’s the Utes who own the most significant edge in this matchup.
Utah’s offense ranks 20th in total yards against USC’s defense that is allowing more than 400 yards per game. However pulling off this upset will require improved play from quarterback Cameron Rising, who was dreadful against Oregon two weeks ago and nearly cost Utah a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Utah needed a Washington win over Washington State in the Apple Cup in order to edge Oregon in a tiebreaker.
You’ll have to decide if you think Utah’s 19th-ranked scoring defense can keep the Utes close against a juggernaut of a USC offense that ranks third in scoring and fifth in total yards. Utah got them earlier in the season, but winning a second time on neutral ground at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas will be a much taller task.
No. 10 Kansas State (9-3, 8-3-1 ATS) vs. No. 3 TCU (12-0, 9-2-1 ATS)
Moneyline: Kansas State +115, TCU -135
Spread: TCU -2.5
TCU is in a similar situation as USC: Win and you’re in without having to worry about whether the CFP committee will prefer the Horned Frogs over the likes of Ohio State or Alabama. If it were up to me, TCU would already have a spot clinched at 12-0, but they can’t afford to feel secure.
These teams met in Fort Worth, Texas back on Oct. 22 with the Horned Frogs beating the Wildcats, 38-28. That matchup featured a stunning turn of events with Kansas State jumping out to a 28-10 lead, only to surrender a 28-0 run to close the game.
Will Howard will continue to start for the Wildcats, even though Adrian Martinez will be healthy enough to play. But that doesn’t mean you won’t see Kansas State tap into Martinez’ athleticism.
This is a strength-on-strength game with TCU led by its offense (fourth in scoring) and Kansas State by its defense (15th in scoring).
No. 14 LSU (9-3, 7-5 ATS) vs. No. 1 Georgia (12-0, 6-6 ATS)
Moneyline: LSU +615, Georgia -990
Spread: Georgia -18.0
Georgia will be in the playoff no matter what happens against LSU. That could be a potential reason to back the Tigers, especially given Georgia’s six losses ATS.
But LSU is coming off an egregious 38-23 loss to Texas A&M last weekend, and the Tigers haven’t been all that impressive since beating Alabama back on Nov. 5.
Georgia possesses the No. 1 scoring defense and the 12th ranked scoring offense. LSU’s offense ranks 39th in scoring with a defense that ranks 33rd in scoring. The Bulldogs haven’t played a big game since dismantling Tennessee, 27-13 on Nov. 5. It’s hard to imagine LSU hanging around barring Georgia lifting its foot off the gas.
This is a chance for one final statement as the Bulldogs shift gears to the College Football Playoff.
Purdue (8-4, 5-7 ATS) vs. No. 2 Michigan (12-0, 7-4-1 ATS)
Moneyline: Purdue +575, Michigan -895
Spread: Michigan -16.5
This would normally figure to be a huge letdown spot for Michigan after a dominant road win against Ohio State. But given a tidy win will secure the No. 2 seed in the CFP, it’s hard to imagine Jim Harbaugh’s boys not showing up.
Purdue arrived in the Big-10 Championship Game after three-straight wins to close out the regular season against Illinois, Northwestern and Indiana.
The Wolverines are led by a defense that ranks seventh in scoring and allowed just three second half points to the Buckeyes last Saturday. Michigan’s running game was dominant as well, even without star ball carrier Blake Corum. It was backup Donovan Edwards who racked up 216 yards and a pair of scores on 22 carries.
The Boilermakers might be the most underwhelming team in action on championship weekend as they’re without a true signature win on the season. They lost badly to Wisconsin and Iowa prior to their current three-game winning streak. Purdue’s biggest strength is its 21st-ranked passing offense, but that might not mean much against Michigan’s 11th-ranked passing defense.