It is Conference Championship weekend, which will be the final piece to solving the most complicated College Football Playoff puzzle in years since the format started in 2014.
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It’s important to keep in mind the fact that building a margin and running up the score could be a legitimate factor in a couple settings this weekend. For example, teams like Oklahoma and Utah — a pair of one-loss teams battling it out for the final playoff spot, may not only be required to win their respective conference title games this weekend but also winning them decisively and by a bigger margin hoping that could be what tips the scale in their favor in the eyes of the playoff committee.
Teams like Ohio State, Clemson and LSU only need to win their games and they are in, so building a margin and covering inflated point spreads will not at all be an extra motivational or extra incentive factor for those teams.
That’s not to say they won’t be too much for their opponents to handle. But winning in a massive blowout will not alter their playoff status one iota.
The need to run up the score is obviously not a handicapping factor to use all by itself. But it is important to be aware that some teams this weekend in the playoff picture will not need to do anything besides win by any margin while other teams may need to tack on some extra style points in doing so to punch their playoff ticket.
Here are my picks for this week:
Miami Ohio vs. Central Michigan -6.5. This is in Detroit for the Mid-American Conference championship. It has been a resurgent season for the Chippewas under head coach Jim McElwain. CMU enjoyed a strong bounce-back season with an 8-4 overall record and they went 6-2 SU, 7-1 ATS in MAC games.
Central Michigan has a very good, experienced QB in Quinten Dormady who has 13 TD’s and just five INT’s this season and two great RB’s in Jonathan Ward and Kobe Lewis. The defense has also steadily improved throughout the season.
Miami feasted on a much weaker East Division of the MAC and the RedHawks’ defense struggled against the more explosive offenses. CMU definitely has one of those types of offense and I like them to win this game by at least a TD. Lay the points. CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Baylor +9 vs. Oklahoma. I cashed with Baylor plus the points against Oklahoma when these two teams met just a few weeks ago and I am going in that same direction here in the Big 12 title game.
Oklahoma has been an overvalued commodity in the betting markets going 2-6 ATS in their last eight games and they failed to come close to covering in the regular season meeting against Baylor. Oklahoma’s defense struggled with the physicality of Baylor in escaping with a narrow 34-31 win in that game as the Bears coughed up a big 28-3 lead.
Oklahoma is one of those squads that could benefit from possibly running up the score but I don’t believe this Baylor team will allow that to happen in a game the Bears are very much live to win outright. BAYLOR
Hawaii +14 at Boise State, Total 64.5. The Rainbow Warriors have enjoyed their best season in over a decade since the June Jones and Colt Brennan era and are in the Mountain West championship game. Nick Rolovich has done a terrific job as head coach leading this Hawaii program.
Hawaii’s offense is explosive averaging over 35 points per game led by QB’s Cole MacDonald and Chevan Cordeiro.
Boise State’s two worst performances in Mountain West action on defense came against San Jose State and this Hawaii team who both had strong passing attacks that could do damage against a suspect Boise secondary. The Broncos allowed 79 points combined in those games and I think they will struggle to contain Hawaii’s dynamic aerial attack here.
On the other side, Boise State’s offense should move the football against a Hawaii defense that is much weaker than their offense. Senior QB Jaylon Henderson has played well (9-1 TD-INT ratio) taking the place of an injured Hank Bachmeier at QB for Boise.
And even though the Rainbow Warriors have to travel to the mainland yet again and have to play in the Broncos’ home stadium a second time this year where weather could be an issue, I still think Hawaii keeps this game within two scores and I expect a shootout on the blue turf. HAWAII and OVER
Last week: 2-2