December doesn’t just mark the beginning of the Christmas season, it is most importantly time for the college football conference championships. For CFP fans like myself, this weekend is an early holiday present, and we have 5 big games ahead of us.
Here is a breakdown of all of those contests, with final score predictions as they relate to the spread. Don’t forget to put me on your Christmas shopping list when you take our predictions to the bank!
This Week's College Picks
Washington (5) vs. Colorado (9) – Pac-12 Championship
Tonight the Washington Huskies have the most important game in their Universities history, with not just the Pac-12 title on the line when they take on the Colorado Buffalos, but a chance in the final four and the College Football Playoffs. For entertainment purposes, we are getting spoiled with such an impactful game on a Friday night. With the opening line at -6 for Washington, it should also be a profitable night as well.
In the past 7 match-ups, Washington has owned the spread, going 6-1 in that span, with 5 of them going over. The average score in these contests have been 37-18. While the Buffalos have been a fun story this season, and have proven to be one of the most exciting teams in the conference, they just don’t have the fire power to win a shootout against a Washington squad who has covered the spread in their last 4 Friday night games. With two players getting suspended for a bar fight this week, the Buffalos have too many distractions to keep up with a Huskies team who believes they should be in the CFP and need a big win to prove it.
Final score prediction: Washington 42, Colorado 28
Oklahoma State (10) vs. Oklahoma (9) – Big 12 Championship
This could be the game of the weekend, where two top-ten teams meet in not just a conference title game, but a rival game as well when 9th ranked Oklahoma meets 10th ranked Oklahoma State. Both teams enter the contest at 9-2 and have plenty on the line. State could really use a win to ensure a spot in one of the big Bowl games, and Oklahoma still believes they have an outside shot at the top 4. If bedlam ensues and teams such as Clemson, Washington and Wisconsin loose, there is a chance that Baker Mayfield and company could manage to sneak in the back door of the final-four.
With both teams averaging over 500 yards of offense per contest, expect this one to be a high-scoring affair. Both are averaging over 40 points per game, and both allow over 27 points per game, so on paper they seem very close. So where will your allegiance fall when it comes to the 11 point spread that Oklahoma State is receiving? Consider the fact that the Sooners are just 5-6 this season against the spread, and a depressing 2-4 on the road, while their counterpart Cowboys have a 7-4 record against the spread. It hasn’t been pretty in the past, with Oklahoma owning the last ten games, and covering the spread in 7 of them.
Rivalry games always seem to be played a little closer than expected, especially with so much on the line. State’s total has gone over in 13 of their last 18, and I expect this to be a similar high scoring shoot out, the type of game that comes down to the last possession.
Final score prediction: Oklahoma 46, Oklahoma State 38
Alabama (1) vs. Florida (23) – SEC Championship
Can anyone beat the Tide? Possibly, but not this weekend. Not only have they won every contest this season, and convincingly, but they did so in style by shutting out LSU, embarrassing USC and dominating the Tennessee and Texas A&M teams that many predicted for an upset. Nick Saban has his team playing as well as he has had in Tuscaloosa, and the three-loss Florida Gators enter as their latest obstacle to the CFP’s #1 seed.
The Gators are coming off a 31-13 loss to in-state rivals Florida State, while Alabama beat their rival Auburn by 18. For trends to consider, Alabama has played the toughest schedule in college this fall, and still covered the spread in 8 of their 12 games. They have also covered 9 of their last 12 against Florida.
Florida is getting 24. Yes, Florida is getting 24. In the SEC title game. This spread is unheard of, but so is the play of the Tide. Their defense has been incredible this season, and no one gets their team to play harder from the first play up to the last than Saban. His team knows they have the SEC title and the #1 playoff ranking on the line, and they will blow out Florida for four quarters.
Final score prediction: Alabama 42, Florida 13
Penn State (7) vs. Wisconsin (6) – Big Ten Championship
No game on this weekend’s slate has more on the line for teams not on the field, than the Big Ten Championship. With #2 Ohio State sitting at home in Columbus, OH. Watching closely, this game will directly impact the CFP in some fashion.
Both teams enter the game at 10-2 and have big resumes to back up their 6th and 7th rankings. Wisconsin has played great defense this season and Penn State has the better offense. Which side will give on Saturday night when these two meet at Lucas Oil Stadium and Wisconsin gives 2.5 points to the Nittany Lions?
The Badgers are allowing just 14 points per game, which is real impressive considering the conference they play in. They also have allowed less than 300 yards per contest on average. Penn State looks to return to glory with their high scoring offense and middle of the road defense that gives up 23 per contest.
Here are the factors you will need to weigh with this line. The Badgers have covered the spread only once in the past five games against Penn State. Both teams have paid out excellent on the season, with Wisconsin 11-2 in their last 14 against the spread, and Penn State covering their last 5. It’s going to be a close game but PSU has just improved week after week and seem to be peaking at the right time. I expect them to do what Michigan did to the Badgers, and that is keep the game close in a low-scoring affair, and then score on a big play or two to separate down the stretch.
Final score prediction: Penn State 24, Wisconsin 14
Clemson (4) vs. Virginia Tech – ACC Championship
Clemson has been one the most confusing teams to predict all season. After beating NC State because the Wolfpack missed a field goal, then losing to Pittsburgh at the buzzer, the Tigers have been difficult to gauge down the stretch, even though they seemed to have recovered in the past two weeks with dominate wins over South Carolina and Wake Forest. They need to win to get into their second straight CFP, and Heisman finalist DeShaun Watson is one of the biggest primetime players in the country.
The Hokies on the other hand, are ranked 50th in rushing and 39th in passing. That does not look good against the 8th best defense in the country in Clemson.
The trends favor Clemson tremendously, even while giving 10 in the spread, as the Tigers have covered the spread in all 7 of their last neutral field games. Tech will have to rely heavily on their run-game, but Clemson has only allowed an average of 125 yards per game on the ground. Both teams are 6-6 against the spread this season, but for Virginia Tech to cover, they are going to have to score at least 3 touchdowns, which I don’t think they can against this defense. Not in primetime, and not with Watson aiming at the CFB and finalist seat in New York for the Heisman Trophy.
Final score prediction: Clemson 36, Virginia Tech 20
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