NCAA Football

College football picks, schedule: Predictions vs. spread, odds for conference championship weekend

College football picks, schedule: Predictions vs. spread, odds for conference championship weekend

This weekend’s conference championship game is all there is to it between some of the best teams in the country and the College Football Playoff or New Year’s Six Bowl games. There are limited opportunities for teams to compete for position on Friday and Saturday, but opportunities nonetheless exist in the five specific championship games played over the weekend.

The weekend got off to a surprise start with No. 11 Utah edging No. 4 USC to clinch its second straight Pac-12 crown and a Rose Bowl appearance — all while effectively hindering the Trojans Student football Playoff hopes.

With USC falling out of the top four, No. 5 Ohio State suddenly has an opportunity to join the four-team field left at home after falling last week in The Game. That doesn’t mean the Trojans will necessarily be eliminated if they lose, but with two losses to the Utes, the CFP Selection Committee will likely be hard pressed to include USC in a limited field. If USC goes down and Ohio State takes its place, the Big Ten will become just the second conference to field two teams in the playoffs in the same season (SEC).

Elsewhere, Saturday showdowns are mostly about sowing. CBS Sports Bowl expert Jerry Palm says current No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 TCU are likely in the playoffs, win or lose. The Wolverines have the easiest path to the top seed as they are more than a two-touchdown favorite over unranked Purdue. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 but have to contend with No. 14 LSU, which looked like a legitimate contender before being upset by Texas A&M last week. And then there’s the Horned Frogs, who have the toughest test of the bunch as they battle No. 10 Kansas State, who they narrowly beat on the road earlier this season.

Be sure to stay tuned to CBS Sports throughout the weekend for college football coverage from Friday’s first doubleheader to Election Sunday. Let’s take a look at our experts’ picks for the best games during Championship Weekend.

Big 12: No. 3 TCU vs. No. 10 Kansas State

Selected game | TCU Horned Frogs vs. Kansas State Wildcats

At noon | alphabet, fuboTV (Try it for free) — Kansas State outplayed TCU for much of its opener in Fort Worth, Texas, before the quarterback injuries, but the Horned Frogs have improved significantly over the past month. TCU scored 62 points with ease despite missing key pieces against Iowa State and certainly kept the previous matchup against K-State in the back of their minds. In the rematch, take the best team to beat – it’s TCU. Prediction: TCU -2.5 — Shehan Jeyarajah

SEC: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 14 LSU

Selected game | Georgia Bulldogs vs. LSU Tigers

15:30 | cbs,, The CBS Sports appGeorgia will throttle an LSU team that should be demoralized after last week’s stunning loss at Texas A&M. Jayden Daniels absolutely has to establish himself as the centerpiece of the Tigers’ ground game or it won’t work. That’s easier said than done against this Georgia defense, which will force Daniels to win this game by hand. It won’t happen. However, Georgia knows that this game needs to be finished as soon as possible. The Bulldogs would build up an early lead and take their foot off the gas pedal to allow the Tigers to cover. The game, however, will never be in doubt. Prediction: LSU (+17.5) — Barrett Sully

American: No. 18 Tulane vs. No. 22 UCF

Selected game | Tulane Green Wave vs. UCF Knights

16:00 | alphabet, fuboTV (Try it for free) — The green wave makes its move as the knights fight. Tulane topped two-time defending champion Cincinnati and topped fourth-place SMU by 35 points. UCF was down 17-14 against Navy and needed a late push to avoid a terrible South Florida team. Willie Fritz’s team will not let this opportunity pass and win the conference championship for the first time since 1998. Prediction: Tulane -4 — Shehan Jeyarajah

ACC: No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 23 North Carolina

Selected game | North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Clemson Tigers

8 pm | alphabet, fuboTV (Try it for free) — Clemson is the better team, but the door is open for an upset the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time when it comes to these conference championship matchups against the ACC Coastal. North Carolina has some injury issues and is far from a consistent team this season, but it has the market advantage at quarterback and should play with much less pressure given preseason expectations. Forecast: North Carolina +7.5 — Chip Patterson

Big Ten: No. 2 Michigan vs. Purdue

Selected game | Michigan Wolverines vs. Purdue Boilermakers

8 pm | fox, fuboTV (Try it for free) — I don’t give Purdue much of a chance to win this game, but I don’t think the Boilermakers are a fluke. This is a team that could give the Wolverines some trouble on offense, but the question is how many stops will Purdue’s defense get? It’s a solid unit, but not one that meshes well with the Wolverines. Given that, and the fact that this game will be played indoors and on turf, I can see more points being scored than expected. Because of this, I love more than anything. Forecast: Over 52 –Tom Fornelli

Pac-12: No. 4 USC vs. No. 11 Utah (Friday)

Selected game | USC Trojans vs. Utah Utes

8 pm | fox, fuboTV (Try it for free) — Last week, USC had to pull out a 38-27 win over Notre Dame, while Utah easily won at Colorado. In a short week and a game between two evenly matched teams, attrition could be a factor. Utah won the first meeting by a point on Oct. 15, and the Utahns have experience at this stage as the defending Pac-12 champions. While beating the same team twice in a season can be tough, Utah did it last season against Oregon. The Utes can do it again when they take on a USC team that remains shaky on defense and over-reliant on an uncanny ability to force turnovers. Prediction: Utah +3 — David Cobb

Which college football picks can you confidently make during championship week and which favorites will be spooked? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread – all from a proven computer model that has produced nearly $2,500 in profits over the past six-plus seasons – and find out.

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