College Capper: Championship Week Best Bets

College Capper: Championship Week Best Bets

This article is part of our College Football Picks series.

Chris' Picks

Two easy covers, three bad beats to close out the regular season. Pleased I avoided the traps, but if Ole Miss-Mississippi State would have played two quarters like they played the fourth on Thanksgiving, I'd have been back in the winning column. Slippery slope this week because of last week's results. Want to lay it out there, but also want to tread lightly and secure a season-long winning record! Suppose there's no time to be scared, so let's get it. We've only got 11 games to choose from Friday/Saturday, so picking five is a challenge. Zero cares!

Western Kentucky (-3) at UTSA

This has nothing to do with UTSA's first loss of the year last week, and obviously isn't banking on a repeat from the Roadrunners' six-point win during the season. This is all about the Hilltoppers; they've won every game since that loss to UTSA, going 6-1 ATS while failing to score 42+ just once. They outscored Marshall, on the road, 47-7 in the second half last week. I don't love that this is moving up, opening at nearly a pick-em, but WKU looks like they are on a mission.

Kent State (-3.5) over Northern Illinois

We haven't gotten word on the availability of NIU QB Rocky Lombardi, but this line certainly suggests he's playing. Assuming so, NIU can keep this close enough against a porous Kent State defense, but the favorite here was expected to be in this situation from the preseason, while the underdog

Chris' Picks

Two easy covers, three bad beats to close out the regular season. Pleased I avoided the traps, but if Ole Miss-Mississippi State would have played two quarters like they played the fourth on Thanksgiving, I'd have been back in the winning column. Slippery slope this week because of last week's results. Want to lay it out there, but also want to tread lightly and secure a season-long winning record! Suppose there's no time to be scared, so let's get it. We've only got 11 games to choose from Friday/Saturday, so picking five is a challenge. Zero cares!

Western Kentucky (-3) at UTSA

This has nothing to do with UTSA's first loss of the year last week, and obviously isn't banking on a repeat from the Roadrunners' six-point win during the season. This is all about the Hilltoppers; they've won every game since that loss to UTSA, going 6-1 ATS while failing to score 42+ just once. They outscored Marshall, on the road, 47-7 in the second half last week. I don't love that this is moving up, opening at nearly a pick-em, but WKU looks like they are on a mission.

Kent State (-3.5) over Northern Illinois

We haven't gotten word on the availability of NIU QB Rocky Lombardi, but this line certainly suggests he's playing. Assuming so, NIU can keep this close enough against a porous Kent State defense, but the favorite here was expected to be in this situation from the preseason, while the underdog was picked last in their division at that point. NIU went 6-2 SU in-conference despite being outscored. Give me the Kent ground game, paired with QB Dustin Crum, to put up too many points for NIU to keep pace here.

Appalachian State (-3) at Louisiana

Goodness, a third mid-tier game, two of which feature true road teams against opponents that beat and/or dominated them during the regular season. Louisiana blasted Appy State 41-13 in mid-October. Since then, the Mountaineers have gone 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS, only failing to cover by .5 points last week against Georgia Southern. They've allowed just 31 points across their last four games, and that trend continues here with an inconsistent and distracted Cajuns team limping to the finish as their coach heads to Gainesville.

Georgia (-6.5) vs. Alabama

I really want to buy the Tide as underdogs, something they haven't been in 91 games. And I think this is low scoring and taking the points seems favorable. And the Tide have a huge advantage under center with Bryce Young. But I just can't find a path to this being close. Georgia is elite, and healthy, across both lines of scrimmage. Alabama seemingly has no rushing attack, and Young isn't going to be able to escape pressure forever. I don't expect a rout, but the Bulldogs still win by double-digits.

Pittsburgh (-3) vs. Wake Forest

These two offenses rank second and third nationally in scoring, so we should be entertained at least. But Wake just has no pulse defensively, where Pitt does, specifically across the defensive line. The Panthers have the second-most sacks in the country, while Wake ranks 74th in sacks allowed. Wake will be ready and coached up, but Kenny Pickett has more weapons in the passing game and will get more help from his defense, allowing for a cover.

Last week: 2-3; Season: 36-33

GREG'S PICKS

 It took 13 weeks, but I finally nailed it. Not only did I get to four wins this past week, but I didn't even suffer a loss. 4-0-1 was the final tally, a number that will help ease the pain of a rough regular season. Still ahead however is championship week and a slew of bowl games, so perhaps I can take some momentum into December.

A quick sidebar before we get to the recap: Anyone out there still think MSU should be ranked in front of Michigan? I know, the complaint from a few weeks ago was that MSU had just beaten Michigan, which I understood, but what people making that argument failed to understand was that the committee was ranking which team they thought was better. Head-to-head is not the be-all-end-all when comparing two teams that play 11+ other games in a season.   

As for this past week—a nail-biter with Iowa over Nebraska, an easy outright win with Michigan over Ohio State, a backdoor push with FSU and two very comfortable covers with Wake Forest and Purdue. Weeks like this don't come along that often, 4-0-1 and only two games were ever in doubt. 

All lines courtesy of draftkings.com

Over (72.5) Western Kentucky vs Texas-San Antonio (UTSA)

I have no numbers to back this up, but it feels like conference championship games are played a little more conservatively than regular-season games, often resulting in the total not only going under, but way under. The problem with that in this spot is that no one is slowing down Bailey Zappe and the WKU offense. WKU has been held under 40 points just one time in its past nine games. As for Zappe, he was held under 300 yards just one time all season! He eclipsed 400 yards in half of his games! These two teams met up earlier in the season and UTSA won 52-46. I don't think we'll get near 100 points on Friday, but 73 should be a problem.       

Oklahoma State (-5.5) vs Baylor 

There is certainly a hangover possibility here for OSU, but the way the Cowboys have played all season, I don't see them letting this opportunity pass them by. Both teams have been impressive this season, but OSU has been just a little better. These teams met earlier this season and OSU pulled out a 10-point win in what was a fairly close game. OSU has its sights set on bigger things as well as a berth in the playoffs is a possibility with a win and a Cincinnati loss or an impressive win and a less than impressive win from the Bearcats.        

Georgia (-6.5) vs Alabama

This line is actually insulting. If the resumes of these teams were reversed, Alabama would be favored by double digits, but as it is, 'Bama still carries a lot of cache. Prior to last week, I was leaning Georgia in this matchup, but after what we witnessed in Auburn this past week, I'm full steam ahead with the Bulldogs. Up until this past week, this matchup looked to feature the best defense in the nation against maybe the best offense, but what I witnessed was a decent Auburn defense completely lock down the 'Tide for three quarters. If Auburn could pull that off, imagine what Georgia can do. As for the other side of the ball, 'Bama doesn't have a special defense and while I'm still not completely sold on the Bulldog offense, I think they'll get more than enough to cover this number.        

Over (71.5) Wake Forest at Pittsburgh

I'm really tempting fate here. Another over in a conference championship game. I can picture this game ending up 13-10 somehow, as both teams have played a bit of defense here and there this season, but nah, this is Kenny Pickett vs. Sam Hartman, this game will be won on offense, not defense. What I like most about this game is that Wake ran the ball a lot this past week as it bled the clock against Boston College, but Pitt shuts down the run, averaging less than 100 yards per game on the ground, so Wake will be forced to throw all game. As for Pitt, did I mention Kenny Pickett? Yeah, they'll be chucking it all night as well.      

Iowa (+10.5) vs Michigan

This one feels dirty. I don't like it, but I think it's the right play. Michigan will undoubtedly be suffering a hangover after this past week, there's no way to avoid it after such a huge win. Yes, this game now means everything, but that doesn't mean the Wolverines have been focused all week. I'm expecting them to come out slow and turn this into a battle for at least a few quarters. Picture this same game last year when Northwestern gave Ohio State everything it wanted and more. That's what Iowa will do here. They won't win, but the Hawkeyes will make this game ugly enough to cover.      


Last Week: 4-0-1, Last Season: 28-37-1

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Chris Bennett
Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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