Conference championship college football picks, predictions

Conference championship weekend is here, and the 10 matchups will not only close out the 2019 college football regular season, but also help determine the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Day 6 bowls.

Plus, it’s just a weekend of great college football matchups, featuring ranked meetings between No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Georgia; No. 2 Ohio State and No. 10 Wisconsin; No. 3 Clemson and No. 22 Virginia; No. 5 Utah and No. 13 Oregon; No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 8 Baylor; and No. 16 Memphis and No. 21 Cincinnati.

Get the latest NCAA odds & betting advice at Sports Insider

Sporting News will pick all 10 conference championship games against the spread to close out what has been a great season. Here’s how we’ve done this season:

Straight up: 217-49, .816 (18-1 last week)
Against the spread: 148-118, .556 (11-8 last week)
Upset picks: 3-16, .158 (1-0 last week)

With that, Sporting News’ picks against the spread for every conference championship game (odds provided courtesy of Sports Insider as of noon ET on Monday, Dec. 2):

It’s a matchup of the last two Conference USA champions, and a great coaching matchup between Bill Clark and Lane Kiffin. The Owls have scored 34 points or more in every game of their five-game winning streak, and Kiffin wins a second conference title before looking at some job opportunities in the Power 5.

FAU wins 37-27 and COVERS the spread.

The Chippewas are looking to complete a banner first season under Jim McElwain, and former Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady is heating up at the right time. Central Michigan averaged 47.3 points in its last three games. Miami lost its regular-season finale to Ball State.

Central Michigan wins 38-28 and COVERS the spread.

This is a rematch of last year’s Sun Belt championship game, and the Mountaineers still have some New Year’s Day 6 bowl hope. Zac Thomas is coming off his best game of the season against Troy, and the App State quarterback keeps that rolling against Louisiana.

Appalachian State wins 36-21 and COVERS the spread.

The Broncos won the Oct. 12 matchup 59-37, but they are 3-5 against the spread as a double-digit favorite this season. The Warriors closed the regular season on a four-game win streak and will hang around a little longer this time.

Boise State wins 42-31 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.

It’s a déjà vu game for both teams, who met on Black Friday. The Bearcats committed three costly turnovers in that game, and Luke Fickell will throw new wrinkles at the Tigers’ offense. It will be a little tighter this time, but it comes with the same result.

Memphis wins 34-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.

Style points count for both of these one-loss teams if Utah wins. This is a rematch of the classic these two played in Waco on Nov. 16, and it’s on the Bears to prove they are as comfortable as the Sooners on the big stage. Remember, Baylor at one point led the Sooner 28-3 before surrendering the biggest comeback in Oklahoma history. If Oklahoma looks the part, it finds a way to the Playoff as a result.

Oklahoma wins 41-34 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.

The Pac-12 championship, played on Friday night, is must-watch material. The Utes can potentially punch their Playoff ticket with an impressive performance against the Ducks, and they have covered each of the last eight weeks since losing to USC. The Utes won a 32-25 thriller against Oregon last year, and this one could be similar. We just have a feeling Oregon can start the weekend off with some chaos.

Oregon wins 34-33 in an UPSET.

The Tigers have won the last four ACC championship games by an average of 20.5 points per game, so why would this one be any different? The schools haven’t met since 2013, and Virginia should play with confidence after beating rival Virginia Tech. That won’t be enough against a team that has allowed more than 14 points in just one game this season.

Clemson wins 41-17 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.

The Buckeyes can leave no doubt by completing a perfect season in the Big Ten — which would be the first since the conference went to a nine-game conference schedule. The Buckeyes broke open a 38-7 blowout against the Badgers on Oct. 26 in the second half. Look for a similar trend here.

Ohio State wins 40-21 and COVERS the spread.

If the Bulldogs win, then both teams might end up in the Playoff. It’s a strength-on-strength matchup where the nation’s second-best scoring offense (48.7) meets the second-best scoring defense (10.4). The Tigers, however, prove to be too much in the second half.

LSU wins 34-26 and COVERS the spread.

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