Normally we are against parlays in this space, but there’s one time of the year we make an exception: Conference Championship Weekend.
And while your humble author is on a plane to Biloxi, Mississippi to watch all 10 games with some friends in a sportsbook, because the “Free State of Florida” still won’t let you hedge at halftime, much less get down in the first place, we make some picks for the best weekend of the year for college football fans.
During the season if you love college football, either your team is playing or way too many other games are happening at the same time. It’s hard to keep up!
But this weekend there’s at most two games happening at the same time, and all of them matter. It’s the best viewing experience in the sport.
So let’s break our usual rules of gambling, and drop a dub trying to pick the entire weekend.
2022 Conference Championship Parlay: $20 to win $12,860.80
UTSA -7.5 vs. North Texas
The Roadrunners have been here before, are in their beloved Alamodome (I watched them lose to Houston at home earlier this year and I’m still not sure how that happened),
The Roadrunners not having Brenden Brady hurts, and you might even be able to find a -8 out there because of it, but they should be able to make up for it against a soft Not-So-Mean-Green defense (99th in D via SP+).
USC -2.5 vs. Utah
I don’t love a ton of lines this weekend where I’ll be on them separately, but this is one of them. USC has continued to improve week after week, and the Trojans basically played it to a draw in Round 1 in Salt Lake City earlier this season. The sketchy ‘SC defense has improved as the season has continued, and while it’s high-variance they should find some turnovers they crave.
Or they could just have the ball last. Either way, Trojans win, and Caleb Williams can head right to the Amex Lounge at Harry Reid Airport the next morning on the way to his Heisman coronation.
TCU -2.5 vs. Kansas State
Going chalk three in a row to open the slate doesn’t feel good, and this one feels the least good. And we’re sitting here writing this in a House of (Max) Duggan hoodie we’ve jumped so hard on the HypnoToad bandwagon this season.
But in what should be an extremely close one, we refuse to believe the breaks aren’t going to go the way of the league that desperately needs to get a team in the CFP not named Oklahoma for the first time. Conspiracy theories are bad, but if there’s a video review and it’s close, Quentin Johnston is getting that call.
Feels like K-State pulls out to a lead, and Duggan leads the Horned Frogs back for the 647th time this season. The best story in college football this season makes the playoff, where they will cash a huge check and promptly get blown off the field. That’s ok however, and Sonny Dykes is still the National Coach of the Year.
LSU +17.5 vs. Georgia
Jayden Daniels appears to be a go, and that’s not what UGA wanted here. But the best defense in the country should do enough to limit him, and while Brock Bowers is going to get his for the Dawgs, these slow-tempo’ed offenses will struggle to get over seven touchdowns.
Clemson vs. North Carolina Over 63.5
This might not be the best game on the board, but it could end up as the most entertaining. The usually-vaunted Tigers defense is all of 26th in SP+ this season, and we have enough of a sample size now where even UNC’s 104th defense can turn over DJ Uiagalelei. Look for a ton of big plays for all four starting units in this one, and the first team to 40 takes it.
Toledo -3 vs. Ohio
In what could be Jason Candle’s last game as head coach of the Rockets, he’ll lead what is likely the worst conference champion of this decade so far. The Bobcats lost quarterback Kurtis Rourke at the exact wrong time, and there’s a chance if you wait here you’re only going to have to pay -2.5 to back a team that’s very hard to root for, but one which will be the right side.
The four turnovers OU got last week against Bowling Green in the first game without Rourke won’t happen again. Toledo dropped their last two, but they’ll recover here.
Coastal Carolina vs. Troy Under 48
Coastal is going to lose this game, and Jamey Chadwell is going to take one of the most innovative offenses in the country to Liberty. This also means he’s not coming to South Florida, which means years of fun college football at my alma mater won’t be happening and honestly I’m going to be wearing black while watching this game. Why can’t we have nice things ever??
But Troy’s defense is the most underrated unit of any team in the nation (No. 8 in SP+!!), but even CCU’s generous defense will get some stops against a terrible offense. First to score twice might be enough.
Tulane -3.5 vs. UCF
Willie Fritz basically told Georgia Tech and their millions of guaranteed dollars “if you want me, wait until after the season because I’ve got a team to coach to our first conference championship in 25 years.” Like the Green Wave weren’t going to play out of their minds anyway in what will be a rockin’ sellout in Uptown NOLA.
UCF needed a last second drive to beat USF last week, and if you’re beating the Bulls by less than one score you absolutely don’t deserve a conference championship.
Fresno State +3 at Boise State
There’s two Fresno State teams: The one with Jake Haener, and the one without. The Bulldogs and their 47th-year M.D./MBA/lawyer (we can only assume he’s achieved all of this while in college for this long) will head on the Smurf Turf and claim their crown because they have one of the highest ceilings of any team in the Group of Five when it’s clicking.
Boise’s lame sauce offense got the unfortunate break of what will be a chilly-but-beautiful day to host a title game. They needed crap weather and they’re not going to get it. Congrats to Jeff Tedford on making his return to The Valley a winning one.
Michigan -17 vs. Purdue
This could get ugly. The Big Ten West wishes they could be the Sun Belt, and Jim Harbaugh showed last year he can keep his team focused even following the inevitable emotional drain of beating That Team Down South.
The Wolverines are playing their best football at exactly the right time. They’re probably going to play for the national championship, and if you told a Block M fan that two years ago they’d of said something high-falutin’ questioning your cognitive abilities. Public Ivy and all.
Congrats to Purdue on their division title at 6-3, and that might be good enough next year too.