Wilson: How to Hedge Your Conference Championship Futures

Wilson: How to Hedge Your Conference Championship Futures article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: AJ Erdely and CeeDee Lamb

  • Collin Wilson has a few conference championship futures pending this weekend.
  • He explains how to hedge them, if you should at all, and how much to invest in the other team.

Congratulations are in order when you get a conference future this far into the season, especially when there is a significant payoff. The Action Network 130 college football previews were chock-full of futures, and some of those have found their way to conference championship weekend.

For those of you who took Notre Dame -110 to make a New Years Six or Clemson to make the College Football Playoff, this is a relaxing weekend with pending tickets about to be cashed.

There were plenty of bad calls out there to digest in a later column (looking at you Khalil Tate, Michigan State, and Texas Tech), but for this piece, we’ll focus on the pending tickets I recommended.


Let’s take a look specifically at the Pac 12, Big 12, Mountain West and Conference USA Championship games.

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All data below as of Wednesday morning. Download The Action Network app to get real-time odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.

Washington to Win the Pac-12

Utah vs. Washington

  • Spread: Washington -5
  • Over/Under: 44.5
  • Time: Friday, 8 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

While I agreed with most of the gambling community that Washington was the class of the Pac-12, I believed its ceiling was the conference title game, not the playoff. I was looking to invest in any number that had Washington plus-money, as the Huskies would not be a dog to any team in the Pac-12 South.

Once +200 was posted back in May, I knew it was time to fire at the limits until the number moved.

This is a rematch from Week 3, in which a Tyler Huntley interception and a few Utes fumbles sealed the victory for Washington in Salt Lake City. Utah has lost Huntley for this game (may return for a bowl) and lead running back Zack Moss to injury, while the backups have been serviceable against Oregon, Colorado and BYU.

Washington plays differently on the road than it does at home, evidenced by its 1-5 against-the-spread mark away from home. While I am not looking to back Utah, I would be tempted to put a small hedge at +7 with the chance at a middle. At the current number of +5, there is no hedging the Washington future no matter the price scooped over the summer.

Strategy: No Hedge

Oklahoma to Win the Big 12

Texas vs. Oklahoma

  • Spread: Oklahoma -8
  • Over/Under: 78
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ABC

Congratulations to anyone who cashed a Texas to make the Big 12 title game at +142 with me. The Longhorns needed victory over Kansas and a Sooners victory in Morgantown to make it, but now we have our first ever Red River Rivalry in December.

As you can see from the screenshot in the Washington blurb, Oklahoma as Big 12 Champion was one of the first plays made in the season. The Action Network Oklahoma preview suggested grabbing the Sooners at +132. With a current Longhorns moneyline of +260, there is plenty of room for a hedge. The Longhorns won this game earlier this year with just an 8% postgame win expectancy, making the likelihood of Texas winning again unlikely.

Personally, I am taking a fraction of my investment on the Oklahoma future and taking the best Texas number available. I logged Texas +9.5 on open in the The Action Network app, and suggest anyone with an Oklahoma future to consider backing the Texas spread for a chance to get paid twice.

Hedge Strategy: Longhorns Spread, currently +8

Fresno State to win the Mountain West

Fresno State vs. Boise State

  • Spread: Boise State -2.5
  • Over/Under: 53
  • Time: 7:45 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ESPN

A Bulldogs +750 to win the Mountain West conference ticket presented too much value in the summer, especially with Fresno and San Diego State being the West’s only representatives in history.

Fresno State was in the conversation as one of the best Group of 5 teams until a 24-17 defeat in this very same spot against Boise a few weeks ago. Fresno was hampered by long drives resulting with missed field goals or no points after crossing into Boise State territory. It was a must-win game for Boise State, which needed to keep its conference hopes alive with Utah State waiting at the end of the season.

I do like Fresno to fight until the end of this game, as it had a long drive in Albertsons Stadium to tie and send the game to overtime in Week 11 thwarted. These teams are very familiar with each other, but Fresno has won just twice in the past 13 games against Boise.

Hedge Strategy: Boise -140 for 50% of the total Fresno State ticket value

UAB to win Conference USA

UAB vs. Middle Tennessee State

  • Spread: Middle Tennessee State -1
  • Over/Under: 45
  • Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS Sports Network

This is the biggest game of my weekend. While I fell in love with UAB last year, depth in the roster caused a few losses to end the season for head coach Bill Clark.

This year, a part of the handicap working in the Blazers’ favor was Florida Atlantic being in a different division, and not on UAB’s schedule, clearing a path to the title game. The Owls didn’t quite pose a problem to anyone by finishing 5-7 — nevertheless, we take a Blazers future into Middle Tennessee State this weekend.

I’ve watched the game footage from last week’s disaster in Murfreesboro at length, and so many notes have been taken about missing offensive linemen, linemen ejections for throwing punches, running back Spencer Brown having just one carry on the game, and the defense sending almost zero blitz calls.

The gameplan was very unlike UAB, and some of that may have been by design with the Florida International loss happening almost exactly after UAB’s first drive that resulted in a field goal. UAB, at that point, knew it would be playing MTSU in the title game just seven days later.

As of this writing, I am awaiting word on the extent of Brown’s discomfort discovered pregame. If Brown is a scratch, along with half the offensive line, then this ultimately becomes a 50% hedge on Middle Tennessee State. If those players are healthy for the game, then the hedge becomes around four times my initial investment.

My best advice is to wait as long as possible, as Pinnacle and Westgate flirt with a pick’em. I would not be surprised to see UAB’s starters announced healthy and this line swing back to the Blazers being a favorite.

Hedge Strategy: Wait for injury news. 50% of UAB ticket worth with injuries and 10% of ticket worth on Middle Tennessee if UAB is at full strength.

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