Stuckey & Wilson: The Best College Football Moneyline Underdogs to Bet on Conference Championship Weekend
Tim Warner/Getty Images. Pictured: Ian Book.
Each week on The Action Network Colleges Podcast, Collin Wilson and I pick our two favorite moneyline underdogs for each Saturday’s college football slate.
Collin came through in a big way with New Mexico last week to get us back in the black for the season, but why stop there? Let’s go for a sweep on championship weekend, starting with a conference title game on Friday night and finishing up with another on Saturday afternoon.
- 2018-19: 29-47 +4.00 units
- 2020: 9-19 +0.8 units
If you’re feeling lucky, a moneyline parlay of both pays over 8-1 odds.
Wilson: Oregon +130
- Spread: USC -3
- Over/Under: 63.5
- Date: Friday, Dec. 18
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: FOX
- Location: Los Angeles, CA
There have been quite a few surprises in this unprecedented college football season, including what new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has done with the Oregon offense after a disastrous run at Mississippi State.
The job for Moorhead would be tough as Oregon entered 2020 with one of the nation’s lowest returning production rates on offense. Plus, not only did the Ducks lose star QB Justin Herbert, they also lost arguably the best offensive lineman in the country to an opt out before the season.
We have seen major strides with this young offense that ranks in the top 20 in Success Rate and Pass Explosiveness. Quarterback Tyler Shough has shown flashes of greatness despite dealing with 10 drops on 105 passing attempts. He also has some mobility, which could give the Trojans’ weak run defense fits.
I’m not sure the USC will get many stops. The Ducks rank third in the nation in Rushing Success Rate against a Trojans defense that ranks 55th in that same category.
The defense was expected to carry the Ducks until subsequent opt outs left them with a decimated secondary. Currently a freshman, Noah Sewell leads the team in defensive stops and is the highest-graded Duck in pass coverage.
While Sewell is important in coverage, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux is just as important in applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks. Thibodeaux has 14 quarterback hurries on the season — twice as many as any other player on the defense.
USC has enjoyed quite a bit of luck in its shortened season. The Trojans needed late comebacks against Arizona and Arizona State early in the season. And in last week’s last-second victory over UCLA, they had just a 4% post-game win expectancy.
Schematically, USC may throw more than its 58% rate against Oregon with the injury to lead rusher Vavae Malepeai. USC’s struggling rushing attack, especially without Malepeai, may make life easier on the Ducks. (Also noteworthy on the injury report are defensive backs Briton Allen and Dorian Hewett, who missed the UCLA game).
I project this as a coin flip, so I’m happy to back the Ducks as an underdog on the moneyline. Oregon is the better third-down team on both sides of the ball, and its offense is highly efficient on the ground and explosive through the air. The Oregon offense has been excellent but just a bit unlucky. Regression looms for both teams, and USC can’t keep this charade up forever.
Stuckey: Notre Dame +300
- Spread: Clemson -10.5
- Over/Under: 59.5
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 19
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC
- Location: Charlotte, NC
This one is dedicated to Team Chaos as a Notre Dame win would really throw a wrench into the College Football Playoff projections.
I loved Notre Dame in the first matchup and actually took it on the moneyline for this piece back in November. The Irish pulled out that game in overtime as five-point home underdogs. I thought there was value in that number and think there’s value on ND once again this weekend.
Yes, I know Clemson will have Trevor Lawrence for this rematch, but it’s not like freshman DJ Uiagalelei played poorly in South Bend. In fact, he performed quite well on the big stage. I think Clemson just didn’t throw it downfield enough with Clark Lea’s defense selling out to shut down Travis Etienne on the ground.
I expect Clemson to come out firing through the air from the jump, which is the most ideal way to attack Notre Dame’s defense. However, I have confidence Notre Dame’s secondary can rise to the occasion after seeing what it did against UNC — another high-powered offense with one of the best rushing attacks in the country.
If Ian Book can match his production from the first meeting, Notre Dame will have a shot to pull off this upset against a Clemson team that hasn’t looked as dominant at times as it has in recent seasons.
For what it’s worth, including the postseason, Brian Kelly is 34-17-2 (66.7%) ATS as an underdog, covering by almost five points per game. He’s the most-profitable active coach in our database in this situation and the third-most overall out of 550 coaches since 2003.
Bring me the chaos.