CFB betting preview: How to bet the Pac-12, Big 12, and ACC title games
This wasn't the plan from college football's bigwigs - three Power 5 conferences with just one championship game that's relevant to the College Football Playoff Committee. Of course, that doesn't mean the games aren't viable to bet, to varying degrees.
The best bets are the most uncomfortable to make. After the Ducks got annihilated 38-7 in Salt Lake City just two weeks ago, this one certainly qualifies. Before that game, the Utes were -3, and while we backed the favorite, the common refrain was that Utah was giving too many points to the Ducks.
All it took was one game in an electric pro-Utah atmosphere to change that tune as this matchup comes indoors to Allegiant Stadium. The line hasn't changed with the venue, and that's a mistake.
We liked the Utes because their offensive line could hold up against Kayvon Thibodeaux and Oregon. But on a faster track, and with the Ducks' recent experience to fuel their preparation, I expect Mario Cristobal's defensive line to succeed in applying pressure.
Offensively, Anthony Brown has gotten better throughout the season, finding a few big throws to mix in with his threat as a runner (even though he wasn't all that dangerous in Salt Lake City, running for 8 yards on 9 carries). With less noise to deal with and a more comfortable environment, Brown will have a big game. The Ducks have a better chance to win the Pac-12 title than people are giving them.
Pick: Oregon +3
For a brief period Saturday, I thought my respect for the Cowboys' defense might be misplaced. Oklahoma scored 24 first-half points, and it looked like an old-fashioned Big 12 shootout was on the horizon. Then Oklahoma State held the Sooners to nine points in the second half.
Baylor is a decidedly less intimidating foe, as starter Gerry Bohanon might not be available. In the teams' first meeting, the dual-threat Bears quarterback wasn't a major issue, passing for 14-of-29 and 178 yards as well as rushing for 13 yards on nine carries. If Blake Shapen starts instead, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy doesn't seem concerned. Gundy said the game plan won't change for Baylor's backup quarterback, who was serviceable last week when Baylor barely edged Texas Tech as a two-touchdown favorite.
We gave the points Saturday against the Sooners, and you likely either cashed or pushed depending on your market entry point. Even though this isn't a home game for the Cowboys, we'll lay it again. Just like last week, we're getting the more experienced coach and quarterback, plus a better defense, as they make their final case for a College Football Playoff spot.
Pick: Oklahoma State -5.5
Kenny Pickett can apparently alter your brain. He's been so good in his record-setting career at Pitt that head coach Pat Narduzzi has eschewed his favorite thing in the world - kicking field goals - in order to sling it with Pickett.
The Panthers quarterback would normally be a Heisman favorite. Sometime in recent history, however, we decided to ding players for not having NFL-level talent around them and started requiring quarterbacks to have a good defense to be considered the best player in the country.
|Kenny Pickett||4066 yards / 44 Total TD / 7 INT||10-2|
|Bryce Young||3901 yards / 42 Total TD / 4 INT||11-1|
|C.J. Stroud||3862 yards / 38 Total TD / 5 INT||10-2|
Pickett might be the only one of these three who winds up with a conference title on his resume, and the Panthers are clearly kicking themselves for needless losses to Western Michigan and Miami in which the defense gave up 44 and 38 points at home, respectively.
This game could come down to a late kick, but the difference in red-zone efficiency between these teams makes me think the Panthers can stretch out a lead for the first three quarters in Charlotte. The Demon Deacons are 98th in red-zone efficiency on offense and 106th on defense. Meanwhile, Pitt has a top-30 red-zone defense. That might be enough for a late 4-point lead and a defensive stand to seal the win - a victory that also might make voters notice the best quarterback in the country.
Pick: Pittsburgh -3
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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