This is it, conference championship week. We’re now down to the final 10 games of the regular season, with nine played today and the Army-Navy Game next week. As such, I’ll provide a small breakdown of each of the games being played before the bowls in hopes of getting everyone a little spending money for the holiday season. Here are my best plays for each of the remaining games.
THE COMPUTER’S PERFECT PARLAY: SAN DIEGO STATE -10.5, OKLAHOMA STATE -9.5, KENT STATE -1.5, APPALACHIAN STATE ML, GEORGIA -8.5, CINCINNATI -14, MICHIGAN -12, WAKE FOREST ML, CALIFORNIA -5.5, +79395
Let me just preface this with the fact that the computer is designed to pick the winners, not the spread. It does win more often than it loses on the spread, but it’s a lot better at picking winners. However, if you want to try to turn a dollar into almost $800, you could do worse.
UTAH STATE +6, -110
I’ll go against the computer here because San Diego State does not have a good pass defense, and Utah State beats teams by throwing. The Aztecs win with their dominant run defense, but the offense isn’t very good unless it’s setting up short fields. San Diego State is the Mountain West’s version of Iowa, and I don’t think that works here.
OKLAHOMA STATE -6.5, -110
The Cowboys won that game in Stillwater despite finishing minus-3 in the turnover battle. Oklahoma State’s offense now knows what it is and isn’t going to try to do too much, which should lead to a cover against Baylor. The Bears have gotten much better as the season has progressed, but I think Oklahoma State is the Big 12’s best.
LOUISIANA ML, +110
Billy Napier is still on the sidelines, and Louisiana has waited for this game for years. App State has been the one mountain they couldn’t get past, and this is Napier’s final game with the Cajuns. They want to send him out on top with that elusive Sun Belt title, and he badly wants that in the trophy case. The Cajuns should win at home here.
KENT STATE -3, -115
Northern Illinois already had problems stopping FlashFAST on a chilly night in Kent. Now they’ve got to go indoors in Detroit on the Lions’ field and try to stop them after getting shredded by Western Michigan? Good luck with that. The Huskies should stay close by keeping the offense humming, but there is no way to prepare for the Flashes, and Northern Illinois already showed once they couldn’t figure it out. Kent State is the pick.
GEORGIA -6, -110
The Bulldogs have that Alabama mental block, but I think they charge through it here. Kirby Smart’s team is just too good to lose to what has been a shaky Alabama team over the past month. Honestly, the Crimson Tide, based on what they’ve shown to date, have no business being in the playoff. Alabama looks like it belongs in the Sugar Bowl, and that’s where it’s headed if Georgia does its job.
CINCINNATI -9.5, -125
The Bearcats play to the level of their competition, and they get up for big games. They don’t come much bigger than this, a home game for a chance to win the American and break through to the playoff. I think I will need the point, but Cincinnati should be able to take care of business against Houston.
IOWA +13.5, -140
Here again, I want a cushion, but I think the Hawkeyes can stay within shouting distance of the Wolverines. This feels like a low-scoring, tight game, and Iowa is accustomed to those kinds of contests. Michigan should win, but I think Iowa hangs around.
WAKE FOREST-PITTSBURGH O72, +100
The only thing that could stop these two offenses from lighting it up is a bad day by Kenny Pickett or Sam Hartman or bad weather in Charlotte. We’re good on the weather, so as long as both QBs show up ready to play, there will be fireworks in this one.
CALIFORNIA -4.5, -110
This is basically the “Who Cares Bowl”, because neither team is playing for anything more than pride at this point. Well, the Golden Bears should care, because it’s a home game against USC and a chance to get a fifth win. USC looks as checked out as Indiana did, and that worked well for me before.
ARMY-NAVY U36, -110
In the Army-Navy game, you always bet the under. These teams see the triple option every day in practice, and they both know how to shut it down. Last year’s game was 15-0 Army, and this won’t be likely to be much higher. The total is low, but I feel good on the number.