College Football Conference Championship Game Picks

By Chris Hughes   December 1, 2022 

College Football Conference Championship Game Picks

A wild week to the college football regular season has left us with four teams who control their destiny: win their conference championship games and advance to the College Football Playoff

While this weekend features no “elimination” games where the winner of a conference title game will advance to the playoffs, at least two of the teams need to win to get in with idle Ohio State and Alabama both lurking at spots No. 5 and 6. 

Let’s take a look at our quick picks for championship weekend in college football.

Pac-12 Championship Game, Las Vegas, NV: (11) Utah Utes vs. (4) USC Trojans

Lincoln Riley turned USC from an also-ran into a championship contender in just one season, and all that’s left in the Trojans’ way from its first-ever College Football Playoff appearance is a return matchup with Utah, who handed USC their only loss earlier in the season.

The Utes (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) won that game against the Trojans at home, 43-42. Utah hasn’t allowed more than 21 points since that game in mid-October, while USC has continued to play in shootouts. The Trojans have given up at least 35 points in four of their last six games. 

Riley was 4-0 in conference title games at Oklahoma, and Utah is just 3-3 away from home. With a spread under a field goal, there’s definite value in the Trojans.

PICK: USC -2.5

Big 12 Championship Game, Arlington, TX: (10) Kansas State Wildcats vs. (3) TCU Horned Frogs

TCU (12-0, 9-0 Big 12) also have a chance to reach the playoffs for the first time in what would be a surprise given that the Horned Frogs are in their first season without longtime head coach Gary Patterson. 

TCU has passed every test sent its way, including defeating the Wildcats 38-28 on Oct. 22 in which was the fourth-straight game where the Horned Frogs faced a ranked opponent. This will also essentially be a home game for the Frogs—AT&T Stadium is just about 15 miles away from their campus in Fort Worth. With another tight spread, we’re going to take value in the favorites.

PICK: TCU -2.5

SEC Championship Game, Atlanta, GA: (14) LSU Tigers vs. (1) Georgia Bulldogs

This game was shaping up as a matchup where the winner would’ve secured a playoff berth, but LSU took on its third loss of the season last week, dropping an ugly decision to Texas A&M 38-23, sending them from No. 5 to 14 in the playoff rankings. They can play spoiler to Georgia, who will likely reach the playoffs even in a loss, which is exactly what happened last year when the undefeated Dawgs lost to Alabama in this game.

We don’t expect Georgia to fall in this one, but with a spread of 17.5, a backdoor cover for the Tigers seems reasonable.

PICK: LSU +17.5

Can Georgia run away from LSU?
Can Georgia run away from LSU?

Big Ten Championship Game, Indianapolis, IN: Purdue Boilermakers vs. (2) Michigan Wolverines

Last year, Michigan followed its high-profile win over Ohio State with a blowout of overmatched Iowa in the Big Ten title game to reach the playoffs at 13-0. There’s no reason to expect that history won’t repeat itself this year against a Boilermakers team (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) that’s also overmatched. 

Purdue hasn’t been on this stage before, while Michigan proved last year that they are capable of shifting their focus after a huge rivalry game win over the Buckeyes.

PICK: Michigan -16.5

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