It’s finally college football conference championship weekend!
FOX Sports’ Chris “The Bear” Fallica and Geoff Schwartz had a lot of thoughts on this weekend’s big slate, as did FOX Sports contributors Sam Panayotovich and Will Hill.
The Group Chat segment of the latest “Bear Bets” episode broke down each Power 5 conference title game, and shared their favorite picks against the spread.
Let’s get into their thoughts!
The only true “win-and-in” for the College Football Playoff this weekend is the Pac-12 Championship Game, where No. 5 Oregon takes on No. 3 Washington. Despite Washington going undefeated and winning the regular-season matchup, Oregon is a 9.5-point favorite for the game. Which side are you on?
Sammy P: Lean Washington +9.5
“The overreaction is real; everybody is on Oregon now. I mean, you thought the deli guy liked Oregon. Everybody likes Oregon in this game. So we’re at 10. And what was the line a month ago? Well, for 4.5 on the look ahead. So, we have completely jumped the shark on Oregon. Obviously, we all want the Ducks to win and keep our futures alive. I don’t want to lay 10, though. That ain’t happening.”
Hill: Lean Oregon -9.5, potentially bet Bo Nix to win the Heisman if you don’t want to lay the points
“Oregon looks great. They’ve won, they’ve won by margin. Washington has been dying to lose. If [the Cougars] just run on third down, Washington State’s gonna win that game last week. They’re going to be in field-goal range, they kill the clock. Michael Penix Jr. was dying to throw it away on that last possession. He has not looked healthy. Who knows? You know, there’s some whispers about his health.
“Let’s just put it this way, Oregon, everyone’s gonna bet them on Friday night. If they win, and they win big, don’t you just bet Bo Nix at +145 or so to win the Heisman? How is there a scenario where Oregon wins and wins going away, and Nix doesn’t win the award?”
Schwartz: Oregon -9.5, play Over on Oregon receiving props and Bo Nix rushing props
“Washington’s pass defense gives up a ton of yards; they don’t tackle very well. [And for Nix] this is the game [for him to run], right? He has not rushed much this season. He had a rushing touchdown against Oregon State. When he played Utah, they rushed him on third and fourth down. This feels like the game where you’ve been waiting all season [to run Nix].”
Oregon vs. Washington: PAC-12 Championship best bets, predictions and odds
In the Big 12 title game, No. 7 Texas might need a big win as a 14.5-point favorite over No. 18 Oklahoma State to reach the College Football Playoffs. Do you think Texas is capable of doing that?
The Bear: Strongly lean Texas -14.5, maybe Texas team total Over 34.5
“Texas needs the game and to win by a big margin. Oklahoma State’s kind of been hit-or-miss all year a lot. They won so many one-score games, but they got blown out at home by South Alabama, and they lost by 42 at UCF.
“As attractive normally as a two-touchdown underdog would be, I just think Texas is healthy now; the way they played last week against Texas Tech [was impressive].”
Sammy P: Lean Texas -14.5, Over 54.5
“I’ve got Texas 121, Oklahoma State 104 [on my power rating system]. So that’s a 17-point edge on a neutral. Not much of an edge at the window.
“I have always been cognizant of these big dogs conference championship weekend, like the Iowas of the world and the Oklahoma States of the world. ‘Wow, that’s a lot of points,’ and then they’re getting destroyed in the second quarter.”
Hill: Over 54.5, lean Texas -14.5
“My favorite bet of this game, maybe the weekend, is the Over. Oklahoma State plays with some pace. I don’t like their secondary. I think that’s a total mismatch, the Texas receivers against that Oklahoma State secondary.
“Texas is going to be looking for style points. [They’ll be] dressed to impressed here and try to stick one in late to impress the committee. Remember, they’re the first game of the weekend.”
Schwartz: Texas -14.5
“Texas needs the style points to win this game by three, four or five touchdowns. … I like Texas in this game; I just think Oklahoma State is too limited offensively to really test Texas. If you want to get a throwing game, be my guest. But that’s not what they want to do. That’s not their bread and butter.”
Oklahoma State vs. Texas: Who will take home the Big-12 title?
In the SEC title game, No. 8 Alabama is still lingering around in the playoff picture but is a 5.5-point underdog to No. 1 Georgia. Do you think Nick Saban can pull off his magic once again? What other wagers do you like here?
Hill: Under 54.5, Lean Alabama +5.5
“I just think both teams, their path for success is running the ball. Georgia is good on defense. They’re not great. You can run it a little bit on them. Auburn had some success running it last week against Bama. If both teams approach to run the ball, that’s going to move the clock a little bit.”
Sammy P: Under 54.5, Lean Alabama +5.5
“I’ve got a couple stats for you: Nick Saban is 10-1 in SEC championship games. Saban’s also won 16 straight games in the city of Atlanta. Trends don’t pay the rent, but those two certainly help.
“These quarterbacks are a lot different than they were [when Alabama and Georgia played in 2021]. … How many really good defenses has Georgia faced this year? Tennessee? Georgia got Ole Miss. Pretty sure Georgia played Missouri. The Alabama defense over the course of a season generally gets better.”
SEC Championship, Georgia vs. Alabama best gambling odds
No. 2 Michigan is the biggest favorite in any of the Power 5 conference championship games this weekend, laying 21.5 points against No. 16 Iowa in the Big Ten title game (Saturday, 8 p.m. on FOX and the FOX Sports app). The betting number that is gaining traction is the total, which is set at 34.5. Are you riding another Under in an Iowa game?
The Bear: Under 34.5, Lean Michigan -21.5
“I think off of the game last week, off of all of the emotion and everything that’s gone on with Michigan over the last month, maybe it’s kind of, ‘OK, we got here. We know we tower over Iowa in terms of skill and ability. We’ll just go out and we’ll just win in the surest way: Run the ball right down their throat, control the clock and just get out of here.'”
Hill: Under 34, Lean Michigan -21.5
“I think you put it well, Bear. It’s like a golfer that’s on the 18th hole; just don’t hit it in the water and you win the tournament. So run the ball, be conservative and that would keep the scoring down.
“It’s not enough for me to take the points. If it keeps going up, maybe I just plug my nose and think about [picking] Iowa. That’s not a pleasant way to spend your Saturday evening.”
Sammy P: Iowa Under 0.5 first-half points,
“I don’t give a damn. We couldn’t get Iowa to move the ball against Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois and Nebraska. Now, they face the best defense in the country. I mean, look … Iowa could kick a field goal in the final minutes of the second quarter, and that could ruin my bet. But more times than not, I think it’s mathematically advantageous to take the under in the first half for Iowa.
“I’m not too fazed about Michigan looking ahead. They’re ready to go.”
Schwartz: Michigan -21.5, Under 34.5
“Do you remember when Michigan in the second half of the Penn State game just ran the ball the entire second half? They’re gonna do the exact same thing here because the worst thing that can happen for them is J.J. McCarthy throws an interception. So they’ll just run the football.”
Michigan vs. Iowa: Big Ten Championship best bets, predictions and odds
Finally, No. 4 Florida State feels like it has to win in impressive fashion to make the College Football Playoff. It takes on No. 14 Louisville in the ACC Championship Game. Do you think FSU can cover the 2.5-point spread, or will Louisville end its playoff hopes?
Schwartz: Lean Louisville +2.5
“If Florida State cannot run the football, are they going to move the football at all? The answer is no. And this is the best offense FSU has played since forever. Louisville can move the football, so I believe that Louisville wins this game.”
Sammy P: Lean Lousiville +2.5
“I know I could have got a better number. But Jeff Brohm this year, who would have thought that Louisville would be live to win [the ACC]?”
Hill: Lean Florida State -2.5
“I think they can play the ‘Us against the world’ thing. They still have pros at the skill positions. They still have a really good coach. Louisville does, too, but Florida State has pros in the front seven on defense. I thought the defense played a little better last week.”
Michigan vs. Iowa totals, Oregon vs. Washington player props and best bets
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