It's conference championship weekend across college football. The regular season is in the books and by the end of the weekend, we'll know which teams are in the College Football Playoff as well as which bowls teams will participate in. The outcomes this weekend will have an impact on all of that. Of course, winning your conference is plenty of motivation to begin with.
Not all conference championships games are created equal. Some have serious impacts on the national stage. Some spreads are under a field goal, while other spreads are three scores. Some totals are near 70 while other totals are in the 40s. With all of that being said, it should be good football and, of course, any football is good football to bet on. How are bettors playing the games this weekend?
Bettors expect USC to avenge Utah loss
USC enters the Pac-12 championship game with an 11-1 overall record. The Trojans are currently ranked No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. If they win on Friday night, they'll all but secure a spot in the playoffs. Caleb Williams would also secure the Heisman Trophy.
The only thing standing in USC's way is Utah. The Utes enter with a 9-3 record and as defending Pac-12 champions. Oh yeah, they're also the only team to beat USC this season, winning 43-42 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in mid-October.
The rematch takes place Friday night, and USC is a slight 2.5-point favorite. The game will take place at a neutral field in Las Vegas. The total is 67.5 points, which is high, but not surprising when you remember the teams combined for 85 points less than two months ago.
Bettors like USC to avenge its lone loss and secure a spot in the College Football Playoff. As of Friday morning at BetMGM, 84% of the bets and 91% of the money are backing USC to cover the short spread. Bettors are also expecting points as 82% of the money is on the game to go over 67.5 points.
The stakes couldn't be higher for USC. A loss makes it much more likely a team like Ohio State jumps it in the final rankings. A two-loss team has never gotten into the College Football Playoff. If Williams struggles mightily, he might also cost himself the Heisman. With all of that being said, bettors are expecting Williams and USC to rise to the moment.
Can TCU cap perfect season with Big 12 championship?
TCU enters conference championship weekend with a 12-0 record. The Frogs are ranked third in the College Football Playoff rankings. On Saturday, they'll be playing for the Big 12 championship and a berth in the playoffs.
Can TCU get in with a loss? While that might lean toward "yes," that's a question nobody knows the answer to at this point. TCU would rather not find out. However, it's just a 2-point favorite over Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game.
This is the game that has received the most bets of any conference championship game at BetMGM. And unsurprisingly, TCU is the most popular bet of the weekend in terms of both number of bets and amount of money wagered. The Horned Frogs are 9-2-1 against the spread this season, the third-best mark in the country during the regular season. Not only are they winning on the field, but they've been cashing for bettors.
These two teams met in Fort Worth in October. Kansas State opened up a 28-10 lead late in the first half, but TCU came all the way back to win 38-28. In that game, Adrian Martinez was injured on the second drive for Kansas State, and Will Howard had to come in at quarterback. The Wildcats' offense fizzled in the second half. This time around, Howard has the week to prepare for TCU and has more reps under his belt. Will that make a difference?
TCU wants to put a cap on their season. The Frogs also don't want to leave anything up to chance and have the committee decide their fate when it comes to the postseason. Bettors are expecting the Horned Frogs to take care of business on Saturday.
Other popular bets
How are bettors betting the other eight conference championship games?
The Conference USA championship game takes place on Friday night, and bettors are expecting a high-scoring, close game between North Texas and UTSA. Overall, 79% of the money is on North Texas as an 8.5-point underdog. Additionally, 89% of the money is on the game to go over 69.5 points. Fun fact: North Texas' quarterback Austin Aune is 29 years old.
Bettors like the underdog in the MAC championship game on Saturday. At BetMGM, 81% of bets are on Ohio as a 3-point underdog against Toledo. Additionally, 83% of the money is on the game to go under 54.5 points. The total opened at 57.5 points but has dropped three points from the opening number. Both teams have questions at quarterback. Dequan Finn of Toledo was injured, returned and was then benched. Kurtis Rourke suffered a season-ending knee injury for Ohio.
Troy is an 8.5-point favorite in the Sun Belt championship game over Coastal Carolina. Grayson McCall is questionable to play with a foot injury for the Chanticleers. Bets are split, with 55% on Coastal Carolina getting 8.5 points. However, bettors love this game to be low scoring as 89% of the money is on the game to go under 48.5 points.
It's one-sided action in the Mountain West championship game, as 84% of bets and 93% of the money is backing Fresno State as a 3-point underdog against Boise State.
In the SEC championship game, Georgia is a 17.5-point favorite over LSU. Sixty-three percent of bets are backing LSU to keep it somewhat close. Bettors are expecting some points, as 79% of the money is on the game to go over 52.5 points.
In the American conference, Tulane is now a 4-point favorite over UCF. The line opened at 2.5 points, but 66% of bets and 76% of the money is backing Tulane. Additionally, 82% of the money is on the game to go over 56.5 points.
Clemson is a 7.5-point favorite over North Carolina in the ACC championship game, but bettors are liking the underdog. At BetMGM, 70% of the money is on UNC getting over a touchdown. Bettors also are hoping for points, as 69% of the money is on over 63.5 points.
In the final game of the night, bettors are expecting Michigan to roll Purdue in the Big Ten championship game. Michigan is a 17-point favorite, and 69% of bettors are laying the points. Additionally, 88% of the money is on the game to go over 51.5 points.