Alabama quarterback Bryce Young
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) and defensive back Devonta Smith (27) celebrate after a 24-22 four-overtime win in an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)


Patrick Werkmeister

With the college football season now entering conference championship week, this slate featuring only the best teams will be extra juicy with action. This week’s college football playoff rankings features Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, and Cincinnati with Oklahoma State and Notre Dame at the five and six spots. Following their 42-27 loss to Michigan, Ohio State was quickly taken out of the playoff equation. Although there’s just one more opportunity left for these teams, a lot can change between now and December 31st. Following a solid 2-1 performance in last week’s college ‘Best Bets’, the picks for this slate are primed to stay hot. With that in mind, here is what I love for this championship Saturday.

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Kent State (-3.5) vs. Northern Illinois
From Ford Field in Detroit, the Kent State Golden Flashes face off against the Northern Illinois Huskies for the MAC Conference championship. The opening line for this matchup favored the Flashes by two points, but they are now listed as three and a half-point favorite. Although the Huskies are 6-3 ATS over their last nine games, Kent State is a sharp 4-1 ATS in their last five. While Northern Illinois was thumped by Western Michigan 42-21 in Week 12, the Golden Flashes pulled off a tremendous 48-47 victory against Miami OH. Led by quarterback and NFL draft prospect Dustin Crum, the Kent State graduate student already has an astonishing 26 total touchdowns with a top 20 QBR in the entire country. Although the Flashes defense has shown some weaknesses over the season, they have been one of the top teams in the country in turnovers, so they can provide some assistance. Earlier in the year when these two met, the Kent State offense had a jaw-dropping 682 total yards from scrimmage where they nearly had three-100 yard rushers. As long as they take care of the ball with just minor success on defense, they should have no problem covering this margin. Take the Golden Flashes minus the points for this championship game.  

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State (-5.5)
For this edition of the Big 12 Championship game, the Oklahoma State Cowboys face off against the Baylor Bears. The Cowboys opened as six and a half-point favorite but are now favored by just five and a half. Although the Okies are a terrific 9-0-1 ATS in their last ten games, Baylor is a solid 8-3 ATS in their previous 11. Last weekend, Baylor barely defeated Texas Tech whereas the Cowboys pulled off an outstanding 37-33 upset against their archrivals, the Oklahoma Sooners. Although both of these programs have had fantastic seasons, this year feels different for the Cowboys since they overcame Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma. On the other hand, Baylor has strung together a few impressive victories in anticipation for this game, with one of the best defenses in the country. With the Cowboys covering the spread in five of their last six games by a margin of 11 or more, I like the position the Okies are in for this one. Take Oklahoma State minus the points to cover this margin.

Georgia vs. Alabama (+6.5)
For the SEC Championship in Atlanta, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide look to give Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs their first loss of the year. The opening line for this contest favored the Bulldogs by six and a half-points and that is where they are currently listed. While Georgia comes into this one with a terrific ATS record of 8-4, Bama was a par 6-6 ATS on the year. In Week 13, Georgia absolutely blew out Georgia Tech, 45-0. Contrarily, the Tide scraped by Auburn in the Iron Bowl with a two-point victory in overtime, 24-22. Even though they had absolutely no control of the line of scrimmage versus Auburn, Bama displayed they are still a national championship caliber team when QB Bryce Young led them 97 yards to tie the game and send it to overtime. With Nick Saban being one of the most reliable college coaches for sports bettors, it’s hard to bet against him and his squad when they are this large of a dog in such a big game. Take Bama plus the points to cover this spread.

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