When handicapping conference championships, to me, very little changes from the regular season.
Just to be sure, I paid a visit to one of the sharpest people in the industry, Jay Kornegay. The Executive Vice President of Operations at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook said there is no difference in the way they approach the conference championships as opposed to the regular season.
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Jay did tell me that conference championship Saturday “is a great day as the entire country is represented.” He also said the book usually knows what the general public will do. The tough part is predicting where the “sharp” money will land.
As far as fan favorites, Kornegay expects the LSU and Clemson lines to rise considerably. Unlike the NFL, which has been a consistent money maker for the books this season, the college campaign has been up and down.
The SuperBook is very excited to offer something new for the bettors. This is the first year they have implemented the College Bowl Blast which is a contest in which all 39 Bowl games will have lines on them. You pick the winner of all the games. For just a $100 entry fee, the top three winners will be in the money. Be sure to go down the SuperBook at the Westgate and join up.
Speaking of money making, here are this week’s Best Bets (Lines are as of Tuesday and can change. If a line is around a Hot Number or moves against us, be smart):
Hawaii at Boise State -14: Boise State had no problem dispensing with Hawaii earlier this season, 59-37 to mark their seventh consecutive SU victory in this series and the sixth straight ATS.
Traditionally, the Rainbow Warriors don’t fare well when traveling to the mainland, donning a 5-11-1 ATS record the last 17 on the road. Things go from bad to worse when facing quality opponents as they are 7-18 ATS the last 25 vs. teams with a winning record.
In the earlier meeting, Hawaii couldn’t run the ball nor could they stop Boise State from piling up yards on the ground. These have been major issues for the team all season long, ranking 85th in rushing and 111th against the rush.
Look for the Broncos to pass off the run, outscore the Rainbow Warriors and cover in the Mountain West championship. Hawaii is 2-5 ATS the last seven games played at Boise. BOISE STATE
Georgia at LSU -7: Georgia would certainly benefit from a good showing here in the SEC title game. But wanting to play well and actually doing so are two entirely different things.
To contend with the nation’s top team, you must be a complete squad. Well, Georgia falls short offensively. The 76th-ranked passing offense is going to once again be without wide receiver Lawrence Cager (ankle) and will not have the use of wide receiver George Pickens until the second half (disciplinary).
Quarterback Jake Fromm has barely completed 50 percent of his passes over the last month. The Bulldogs can run the ball but facing the ferocious Tigers stop-unit with a one-dimensional offense, is going to be an uphill battle.
On the flip side, Heisman candidate Joe Burrow leads the nation’s No. 2 offense in both passing and more importantly, scoring. While Georgia is good, LSU is great.
The Bulldogs are 0-3-1 ATS the last four meetings in this series and 2-5 ATS the last seven games played following an ATS win. The Tigers are 6-2 ATS the last eight games played vs. teams with a winning record and 15-7 ATS the last 22 games played vs. conference foes. LSU
Wisconsin at Ohio State -16: Ohio State is the most complete team in college football as they go into the Big Ten championship game. Not only that, they get us bettors paid, going 9-3 ATS this season. This includes a 38-7 shellacking of Wisconsin just six weeks ago.
We all know how explosive the Buckeyes are offensively (No. 1, 49.9 PPG). But it is their defense that will shine here (No. 4, 11.8 PPG allowed). You see on a team full of playmakers and future NFL players, the best player on the field, and maybe in the country, is defensive end Chase Young, who has tallied 16.5 sacks in 10 games (two-game suspension). He will wreak havoc on the 96th-ranked passing unit of the Badgers and allow the rest of the Buckeyes “D” to focus on Jonathan Taylor and the ground game.
These two Big Ten rivals met three times in recent years in the same situation, with OSU winning and covering all three. OHIO STATE
Virginia at Clemson -29: We’re laying more wood than a union carpenter here in the ACC title game. And it doesn’t scare me one bit.
It’s hard to believe that Clemson’s schedule is under the microscope as some feel, despite a 12-0 record, the Tigers don’t belong in the CFP. Dabo Swinney will have his boys put the pedal to the metal here to leave no doubt. This is a team (9-3 ATS) that has covered six of the last seven outings and have won each by no less than 31 points.
Virginia is in real trouble here. The Cavaliers pose no threat on the ground (110th) and in the air, face the nation’s top pass defense. Oh, by the way, the Tigers also rank No. 1 in scoring “D,” allowing a mere 10.1 PPG.
Clemson is 14-3 ATS the last 17 on neutral sites, 18-7-1 ATS the last 26 in the conference, and 17-5 ATS the last 22 overall. This game is going to get uglier to watch than the MNF hit Lawrence Taylor put on Joe Theisman back in the day. CLEMSON
Last week: 2-2