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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:55 PM

Saturday's Best Bets - Sides

Best Bets - Totals

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Nine conference titles will be decided on Saturday, and with it will come nine point spread results that hopefully you are on the right side of more often then not. Conference championship games have basically been a coin flip the past three years in terms of ATS wins for favorites or underdogs, as it was split right down the middle last year (5-5 ATS).

Prior to that, 2017 saw favorites go 5-3-1 ATS, while 2016 title games saw favorites finish 3-5 ATS. That's as even as it gets (13-13-1 ATS) in terms of backing favorites or underdogs, and with every favorite this year laying at least six points, I would not be surprised to see this year's results be nearly even again.

With that in mind, I've got one favorite and one underdog to back on Saturday, so let's get to it.

Conference Championship Favorite to Back:

Central Michigan (-7)

The Chippewas caught the break of the year last week when Western Michigan failed to win at Northern Illinois earlier in the week. Bad weather and sloppy execution did the Broncos in, as maybe the “Row the Boat” culture that former HC P.J Fleck started at Western Michigan has some issues in late November when all the bodies of water have frozen over. Either way, Central Michigan had everything in front of them after that loss and took full advantage of it on Black Friday with a dominant 49-7 win over Toledo to win the MAC West and punch their ticket to this title game.

The Chippewas now face a Miami (OH) team that went through the motions last week knowing they were already assured this spot, ultimately ending a five-game winning streak in the process. But the MAC East was a much softer division by far this year, and getting a division crown on the back of beating the likes of Akron and Bowling Green – who went a combined 3-21 SU and 4-20 ATS this year – isn't anything special. The Redhawks were also underdogs in every single conference game outside of those Bowling Green and Akron contests which is quite telling as well.

And yet, they rode some close wins – they were 4-0 SU in games decided by 7 points or less – to a division crown, as they were just +35 in point differential in MAC play as it was. Eventually running good like that in tight games wears out, and against a team the quality of Central Michigan, I expect that to be the case here.

The Chippewas finished MAC play with a +121 point differential in their eight conference games, as all but one of their six wins came by at least 14 points. That type of dominant football is what leads a team like Central Michigan to a 9-3 ATS record overall this year, and they were a perfect 6-0 ATS in MAC play if they won the game outright. What that says is that if you believe the Chippewas will win the game, the point spread won't matter, and after getting new life on their 2019 season because of that Western Michigan loss, the Chippewas definitely got new life.

Central Michigan made the most of that situation in the regular season finale, and that should carry over to this week's conference title game. They are by far the better team on both sides of the ball and as long as the Chippewas protect the football – they had 5 and 3 turnovers respectively in their two MAC losses – this game should be one they control from start to finish.

12 years ago these two teams met in the MAC title game and as three-point favorites it was Central Michigan who came away with a 35-10 win. This year's score could end up being quite similar, as the Chippewas end their 10 year drought of being the MAC champion.

Conference Championship Underdog to Back:

Georgia Bulldogs (+7.5)
Georgia ML

So it's a done deal right? Ohio State, LSU, and Clemson are going to be in the college football playoff regardless of what happens on Saturday, and then it's all up to who had more style points between Utah and Oklahoma/Baylor for that 4th spot right? I mean, that's what all the conversation seems to be about early this week. Poor old Georgia, not even in the same zip code as Dabo Swinney's “ROY” bus right now as the consensus #4 team that controls their own destiny.

And while I do tend to agree with the first part of that idea that Ohio State, LSU, and Clemson will be CFB Playoff bound regardless, if that is the case, technically, LSU can afford a loss here right? There is no way that a one-loss LSU team who has been in the Top 2 for the entirety of the rankings would get completely bumped out of the Top 4 after a conference championship loss to the #4 team, and the Tigers have to be feeling pretty comfortable with that position as it currently stands. That's not to say LSU will no-show or anything like that, as motivation to remain undefeated and win the SEC for the first time since they beat Georgia in 2011 is still there, but they aren't fighting for everything in the same sense that the Bulldogs are.

Georgia used their regular season finale vs Georgia Tech to get the offense right again, as the concerns of not scoring TD's and settling for FG's as they had for games prior were put to bed by the second drive. After opening up with a FG vs the Yellow Jackets, Georgia went on to put up seven TD's the rest of the way to at least gain some much needed confidence on that side of the ball heading into this LSU showdown. LSU's offense has lit up everyone this year, and for as much as Georgia likes to rely on their defense to get key stops, and Kirby Smart is a defensive guy, the Bulldogs knew they have to be able to put up TD's when the opportunities are there to beat a team like LSU.

And speaking of Kirby Smart, there is something to be said for a guy who's been on the sidelines in seven of the last 11 SEC title games in some capacity. This is the third straight year he's guided Georgia to this game as the head man, but he was the DC in Alabama for all those years that the Crimson Tide found there way to this spot. That type of experience can't be overlooked in a big game like this, and even the core of his team on the field can join him there with this being their third straight appearance. Also, I'm sure Kirby Smart has contacted old pal Nick Saban to pick his brain on ideas on how to get past LSU this week too.

So all this talk about whether it will be Utah, Oklahoma or even Baylor to make it into the 4th spot in the playoff is something I'll let others waste their breath about all week.

This Bulldogs team remembers the sting of being in this identical spot a year ago – sitting at #4 before the SEC Championship – and blowing a 21-14 halftime, and 28-21 lead going into the 4th against Alabama. That loss had the Big 12 champ Oklahoma take their spot, and I'd venture a guess that every Georgia player that was in pads last year, and every coach that was on the sideline last year will be damned if they let it happen again.

If the Bulldogs get beat by the better team then so be it, but they'll aim to be at their best from the outset here, and I do believe they win this game outright. Remember, this is the first time on this stage for basically everyone wearing LSU colors, and if they've already got that sense of entitlement of knowing/assuming they are in the playoff regardless, Georgia will show no mercy if they are given that chance.

Georgia wins this game 28-24.


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