I have not been this excited for a day of college football in so long. I am so anxious to see ... the Kent State Golden Flashes face the Northern Illinois Huskies and see which team comes out as 2021 MAC champs. Legit serious. Kent State QB Dustin Crum is one of my favorite players and I’m thrilled to see this team in contention. Really though, I am as anxious as you to see the SEC title game. What we get: The FBS sack leader in Alabama’s LB Will Anderson Jr. against Stetson Bennett and one of the best front seven units in Georgia against Heisman favorite Bryce Young. To say that I am stoked is an understatement.
Here’s how I am attacking college football's conference championship weekend.
Best bet: Oregon vs. Utah (Under 59.5), Pac-12 championship
You can find my full analysis here:
Appalachian State vs. UL Lafayette +3 (+120), Sun Belt championship
The Ragin’ Cajuns won the first matchup in mid-October, 41-13, at home. The Mountaineers had four turnovers in that game (two interceptions, two fumbles) leading to 21 points scored for Louisiana. There is absolutely no reason for me to believe the same can’t happen again. App State is a 10-2 team ranked 95th in giveaways with a zero turnover ratio, 11 team fumbles, 10 thrown interceptions. Down the stretch, the Mountaineers did not improve one bit. In the final three games of the regular season, App State had seven total turnovers. Unfortunately, it faced offenses that were subpar and unable to capitalize on those opportunities.
Louisiana has an offense, top 20 in touchdowns scored per game. Louisiana has a defense, top 25 in takeaways. So Louisiana lost its head coach in Billy Napier to Florida. But this late in the season, a team knows its identity, knows its strengths and weaknesses, and knows its conference opponents well. Expect turnovers from the Mountaineers and hope the Ragin’ Cajuns benefit.
Those are my only two pre-game tickets.
My plan for the rest of the conference championship games
I want to fire on every game. The smart thing to do ... not that. I’ve talked about live betting before and that’s how I’ll attack the rest of the slate. What to look for: If your pregame predictions are on par in the first quarter. For example, I like the OVER in the C-USA championship game. The line opened at 72 and it’s now at 73, pretty steep to take for a Week 14 bet. With an early punt, maybe a slow start because of rushing offenses, you could potentially get this total in the mid- to high-60s. I utilized this strategy for midweek MACtion and it worked to perfection.
Other predictions I made, both Michigan and Georgia to cover.
I am worried about Georgia. All the attention is on how Bryce Young will handle the pass rush from the Bulldogs, but the bigger question should be how will Georgia QB Stetson Bennett handle the pressure from Bama LB Will Anderson Jr.. In-game betting allows you to watch a few drives and see exactly how both quarterbacks are managing the pressure. You could potentially get Georgia at a better number than 6.5, say maybe 3, or if you like Alabama, you could potentially get a line above a touchdown or if things look bad pretty early, above 10 points. This game should be close. I see Georgia doing well early and Alabama making it a game late similar to that of Auburn.
What to look for
Whichever team you are looking to back, live-bet when they don’t have the ball. For example, if you want Alabama at a better line, wait for either Georgia to get into Alabama territory or even after Georgia scores — both of which will hike the line to your favor. Or if the team you want to wager is running an effective drive and in position to score. Fire then. That’s for a spread.
If you want to bet a total ... if you are looking to bet an OVER, do so when things start slow, a couple of punts, maybe some rushing plays, or when you see a team is in position to score and fight before because once points get on the board, the total will go back up. If you want to bet an UNDER ... look for tempo, slow drives, heavy run play-calling, and know ahead of time if teams are good defending in the red zone because you can bet an UNDER when a team is in its opponent territory but likely to produce a field goal instead of a touchdown because of either an inefficient offense or a really good red zone defense.
Last tip: Don’t just watch the game on television but instead follow on the scoreboard. I, of course, use the Yahoo Sports scoreboard.
By doing it this way, you are able to see play-by-play how a team is running its offense or vice versa how well a defense is holding up. Are teams putting themselves in third-and-long situations or is it one first down after another? Are there big passing plays or slow-tempo run plays? By following on the scoreboard, you can both be entertained by what you see on TV while also focusing on objectively finding live-betting spots.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @pamelam35 as I may post a play or two. The sides I am looking for an opportunity to play in-game:
Western Kentucky (-) vs UTSA and OVER
Baylor vs Oklahoma State UNDER
Houston (+) vs Cincinnati
Georgia (-) vs Alabama and maybe middle with Alabama (+), and UNDER
Wake Forest vs Pitt (-)
Iowa vs Michigan (-)
Take Michigan, for example. You’ll know right out of the gate if the Wolverines are still nursing a hangover after last week’s major win over Ohio State or if they have a thirst for blood. That’s why in-game wagering can be the best bet sometimes — wait and see, then fire away.
Full transparency: I do have futures on Wake Forest, Iowa and UTSA to win their respective conferences. At the time of writing, I have not hedged any tickets.