College Football Conference Betting Outlook: Which games have meaning?
Since it can get a little confusing this week with all of the different scenarios, I put together this guide to highlight every game this week that still has meaning in regards to each conference championship.
American Athletic Conference
- Memphis (9-1) has clinched the West, which means their home game against East Carolina (+28) on Saturday at noon ET is essentially meaningless.
- Memphis will play the winner of South Florida at undefeated Central Florida (-11) next week in the American Athletic Conference Championship.
- If UCF wins, they will host Memphis. If USF wins, Memphis will host USF (assuming Memphis beats ECU).
Atlantic Coast Conference
- Clemson has clinched the Atlantic Division, but they still most likely need to win this week at South Carolina (+14) to feel safe for a playoff berth if they win the ACC Championship.
- Miami has clinched the Coastal Division, which means their game at Pittsburgh (+14) might not mean anything if you think a one-loss Hurricanes ACC Champion still gets into the College Football Playoff. Keep in mind that Pitt lost in heartbreaking fashion last week at Virginia Tech, which ensured they will finish below .500 this season. The Panthers’ mental state, and the late November Pittsburgh weather, are both major factors this weekend. Does Pittsburgh treat this as their Super Bowl, or do they come out flat after losing at the goal line in Blacksburg last Saturday?
- Clemson is currently listed as a 7.5 point favorite against Miami in the ACC Championship lookahead line.
- Oklahoma has clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship. However, they will still need to beat West Virginia (+22.5) in Norman this weekend to avoid their second loss to keep their playoff hopes alive.
- The Sooners will most likely play TCU, who has not officially clinched yet. In order for TCU to not make it to Arlington for the Big 12 Championship, they would need to lose to Baylor (+24), Texas Tech (+10.5) would need to upset Texas, and Iowa State (+2.5) would need to beat Kansas State.
- Ohio State has clinched, but their noon game at Michigan (+11) still holds meaning for their playoff hopes.
- Wisconsin has clinched the East, and will face Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. They travel to Minnesota (+17) this weekend; the Gophers should be motivated to knock off the undefeated Badgers, especially considering that they will be playing to make a bowl.
- Ohio State is currently listed as a 6.5 point favorite against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship lookahead line.
- Florida Atlantic has clinched the East and will host North Texas for the Conference USA Championship next weekend. Their trip to Charlotte (+21.5) this Saturday means absolutely nothing.
- North Texas has clinched the West and will travel to FAU next week for the Conference USA Championship, where they will also seek revenge from a 69-31 beatdown at the hands of the Owls earlier in the season. Their trip to Rice (+14.5) this Saturday does not mean anything.
- If Akron (-15) defeats Kent State at home on Tuesday, they will clinch the MAC East. If this likely outcome occurs, Ohio will be eliminated from the division, and I would assume their line would come down against Buffalo on Friday. Buffalo (+3.5) will be playing for bowl eligibility, which should be very important to a program that has never won one.
- If Akron loses to Kent State, Ohio can win the MAC East with a win over Buffalo. The Zips would still head to the MAC Championship with an Ohio loss, even if they also lose.
- If Toledo (-14) beats Western Michigan, they win the MAC West. Keep in mind that Toledo, a senior-laden team, has been kept out of the MAC Championship each of the last two years by the Broncos. Revenge will be on the Rockets’ mind.
- Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan (+3), and hope Toledo loses in order to win the division.
- Central Michigan cannot win the MAC even if all three teams finish with two conference losses.
Mountain West Conference
- Boise State has clinched the Mountain Division.
- Fresno State has clinched the West. They’ll play Boise State (-7) this week at home and then again next week for the Mountain West Championship. I doubt either team shows much this week, and you could even see backups. However, it is worth noting the higher-ranked team in the College Football Playoff will host their conference championship, which could still be Boise State even with a loss; it could ultimately come down to margin if Fresno wins.
- Stanford plays Notre Dame (+2.5) this week, but their division hopes will be decided at the same time at another stadium in the Apple Cup. If Washington (-9) gets a home win over in-state rival Washington State, Stanford wins the North. However, if the Cougars pull off the upset, Washington State wins the North. The Huskies can only play the role of spoiler this week, as they have no path to win the division.
- USC has clinched and will enjoy a bye this week before playing either Washington State or Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship.
- Georgia has had the East wrapped up for weeks. They will play the winner of the Iron Bowl regardless of their result at Georgia Tech (+11). That game might not mean anything to Georgia if you assume the Dawgs would get in the College Football Playoff as a two-loss SEC champion.
- The Iron Bowl will determine who will represent the SEC West Division against Georgia in the SEC Championship. Alabama (-4.5) would probably still make the College Football Playoff with a loss. Conversely, Auburn cannot afford to drop this home game, which would give them three losses on the year.
- Alabama is currently listed at -115 to win the SEC Championship.
Sun Belt Conference
- There is currently no conference championship in the Sun Belt, although there will be one starting next year.
- Four teams with one conference loss are all tied at the top of the Sun Belt standings. Those teams include Troy, Arkansas State, Georgia State and Appalachian State.
- The losers of Appalachian State (-6) at Georgia State this weekend and Troy at Arkansas State next weekend will be knocked out of the tie.
- Without any other major upsets, the most likely scenario will be a shared conference championship between the winners of those two aforementioned games.