College Football Best Bets: Conference Championship Games (2021)

Dec 2, 2021 - 12:51 PM

Week 14 in college football brings us ten conference championship games, as well as a Pac-12 game between USC and California that was rescheduled to this week because of COVID-19 complications earlier this season. Georgia is the only team playing this week that has its spot cemented in the College Football Playoff, as a loss to Alabama would likely not be enough to drop them out of the top four. However, from there, it gets interesting, with several other teams trying to earn their way into the CFP by winning the conference championship and with teams on the outside like Notre Dame rooting for chaos. In addition, other games like the ACC Championship have intrigue with fresh faces like Wake Forest and Pittsburgh, the latter of whom is searching for their first-ever conference championship as a member of the ACC.

Here are my top plays for Week 14 in college football.

Best Bets for Week 14: College Football

(Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Last Season: 35-22 (+9.5 units)
YTD: 26-19 (+4.4 units)

Western Kentucky (-2.5) vs. UTSA

If this does not categorize as a “fishy line,” then I do not know what does. 8-4 Western Kentucky is favored by 2.5 points over an 11-1 UTSA team that did not lose its first game until last week. However, unlike several other conference championship matches that feature two teams playing each other for the first time this season, this Conference USA Championship game is a rematch of one played on October 9th. UTSA won at Western Kentucky 52-46 in a game that featured 1,234 yards of total offense. The Hilltoppers had an early fourth-quarter lead in that game but ultimately could not get enough stops. Western Kentucky has won seven consecutive games by an average of 26.4 points, and none of the wins were by fewer than 15. Thus, the Hilltoppers are seemingly playing their best football at the moment and can be declared deserving favorites.

Western Kentucky has the nation’s leading passer, Bailey Zappe (4,968), and he has been on fire during the seven-game winning streak. He has a trusted connection with wide receiver Jerreth Sterns, who ranks second in the country in receiving yards.

The Hilltoppers have covered the spread in each of their last five games and are 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight December games. UTSA should have more of the crowd in their favor with the game being played in San Antonio, but we like that Western Kentucky has seen UTSA this year and trust they will make the necessary adjustments this time around.

PICK: Western Kentucky -2.5

Georgia (-6.5) vs. Alabama

This year’s Alabama team is not the typical dominant Nick Saban team we have grown accustomed to over the last decade. While they have done well to get to 11-1 at this point, it has been much more of a grind with four wins by one possession. This breaks a 92-game streak where Alabama has been favored, as the last time they were underdogs was in 2015.

However, Georgia is a deserving favorite in this matchup. Alabama comes into this game banged up, specifically with leading rusher Brian Robinson Jr. dealing with a lower body injury after the Auburn game. The Crimson Tide have faced dominant Georgia defenses in the past but have not been as fierce and talented as this year. Their 6.9 PPG allowed average is more than eight points better than the next closest team, and their 230.4 YPG allowed average is 46 yards better than the third-ranked total defense in the country.

Kirby Smart has been waiting a long time to knock off his mentor, Nick Saban, and this is the year he does it. Georgia is 10-3 ATS in their last 13 neutral site games as favorites, and we like them to knock Alabama out of the CFP discussion with a win by at least a touchdown.

PICK: Georgia -6.5

Iowa vs. Michigan: O/U 43.5

Because of interesting scheduling quirks in the Big Ten, Iowa and Michigan have met just twice since 2016. Their last two meetings have ended 14-13 and 10-3. However, both of those games were played outdoors in the cold weather months, while the two teams will play this game indoors at Lucas Oil Stadium. In addition, most bettors will likely associate these two teams with rock-solid defenses that play it close-to-the-vest on offense. However, while both of these teams rank in the top ten in the country in scoring defense, Iowa’s defense, in particular, has shown vulnerability lately.

The Hawkeyes allowed 21 points and 327 yards to a Nebraska team that started a backup quarterback replacing the injured Adrian Martinez last week. They have allowed at least 20 points to six of their previous seven opponents after beginning the year holding each of their first five opponents to 17 points or fewer. Meanwhile, Michigan’s offense looked physical and played fast in their win against Ohio State, and head coach Jim Harbaugh should be applauded for his offensive ingenuity with this year’s team.

The over has cashed in Michigan’s last five games as favorites at neutral sites and is 4-1 in Iowa’s last five neutral site games. This will not be your typical Big Ten defensive struggle, and we should see plenty more points scored in a domed setting than this projected total.


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