Turner Skehan (26-19-2)
Preamble: I somehow feel cheated. The Iron Bowl lived up to the hype, but it felt like the sort of fluky loss we’re used to seeing from Bama. A strange sequence of plays and officiating calls set Bama back, and they fall just short. I can’t help but feel embittered. Recruit a fucking kicker. Ok, I’m done.
Clemson (-28) vs. UVA
If there is one thing we should know, it’s Dabo loves playing the victim. He stokes the fires of underdog-ism (not a word) by grandstanding about the lack of respect Clemson receives and bemoaning the (legitimate) criticism of their soft conference. As we should know by now – what can be said about the ACC cannot be said about Clemson. They have proven themselves on the national stage time and time again, and I don’t suspect Virginia will prove a road bump. Just lay the points. Clemson is going to dominate.
LSU (-7) vs. UGA
Keep the favorite train rolling. I love UGA’s defense. It far outclasses more-lauded defenses like Ohio State’s. The problem is – I hate their offense. Their line is good, but not great. Although Swift is dynamic, the rest of their offense is not. They do not have a play-maker outside of Cager (OUT), and Pickens is suspended for the first half. LSU’s defense looks improved and, although I think it will be slowed, I don’t see their offense putting up less than 24. Lay the points and take the Tigers.
OSU (-16) vs. Wisconsin
I left “The Game” unimpressed by OSU’s much-praised defense, but I am not sure it matters. Wisconsin does one thing well offensively – run the ball. OSU is big enough and athletic to put a stop to that. Wisconsin isn’t dynamic through the air. I suspect LSU with Brandon Harris under center had more of a passing attack. Wisconsin’s defense didn’t have much of an answer for Fields and OSU last meeting, and I doubt they do now. The Buckeyes aren’t afraid to run up the score, just lay the points.
Baylor (+9) vs. Oklahoma
I am not brave enough to bet Baylor ML, but I like them to cover the nine points. They built a big lead against OU last meeting and proceeded to blow it. I expect OU to play cleaner, and the game to be more stable, but also for Baylor to cover. Nine is a lot to cover against a defense as quality as Baylor’s. Take the points.
Cincinnati (+9.5) vs. Memphis
Cincinnati gave Memphis a run for their money last outing (and covered). Statistically, they were very competitive with the big margin coming in the form of turnovers. Cincinnati had 3 to Memphis’ 1. Notwithstanding, they lost by 10. I like Memphis to win, but not to cover the 9.5. They are both well-coached, talented non-P5 schools. I just like the points. Take the Bearcats.
Oregon (+6.5) vs. Utah
Three weeks ago, Oregon was the favorite. Since their second loss, the tables have turned. Give me Oregon. They are big across the front and run the ball well. Cristobal has made Oregon something I thought I would never see – a physical, run-first team. That helps, but let’s not forget, they have Herbert at QB. Utah’s defense is fierce, but give me Oregon and the +6.5.
Chase Irle (32-25-2)
Utah vs. Oregon (Under 48)
Life’s too short to bet the under, but I like it here in the Pac-12 Championship. Utah’s defense is for real, and Oregon’s offense has had its fair share of problems at times. Meanwhile, the Utes aren’t exactly a scoring machine. In a game with something on the line, I like the defenses to hold strong and keep the total below 48.
Georgia vs. LSU (Under 54.5)
Georgia’s going to be playing with their backs against the wall here, and if they want any chance of beating LSU, their defense is going to have to play the best game of their lives. The Bulldogs will be missing Lawrence Cager, D’Andre Swift is nursing a shoulder injury, and George Pickens is suspended for the first half. I also think LSU’s defense has been disrespected by the public. They are a much better unit than people give them credit for. I like this total to go well below the number.
LSU (-7) vs. Georgia
While I expect the total to go under, I still think the Tigers should win this one handily. This game means a lot to them, as they jostle with Ohio State for the #1 overall seed. LSU also seems like a team on a mission, led by Ed Orgeron and Joe Burrow. Those two won’t let their team sleepwalk into an SEC Championship game. Missing skill position players will haunt the Bulldogs, as LSU wins its first SEC title since 2011.
Virginia (+28.5) vs. Clemson
I’ve ridden the Clemson train all season, and they’ve treated me well, but I like Virginia to play well enough to lose by 28. Maybe it’s close for a quarter, and that’s just enough for Virginia to cover.
Harrison Coburn (24-24-1)
Utah (-6.5) vs. Oregon
Maybe I’m an idiot, but I think the Pac-12 finally gets a team in the playoff this year. All Utah has to do is win, and they’ve been the more complete team of the two all season. That loss to USC early in the year is way in the rearview mirror. The Utes stellar defense will slow down Oregon, and eventually, they will pull away in the second half.
LSU (-7) vs. Georgia
Hope is all that is left for Georgia. I don’t see how they keep this game close unless they completely shut down LSU’s offense for the majority of the game, which frankly, doesn’t seem possible. Even as good as the Bulldogs defense is, the Tigers have scored at least 36 points in all of their games except one. Georgia’s offense has been anemic all season, and now they are without two or possibly three of their best offensive weapons. LSU’s defense has been slept on. The Tigers win BIG in Atlanta.
Jake Gordon (23-25)
App State (-6.5) vs. ULL
App State has been rolling through the Sun Belt all season (except when they got whipped by those boys from Statesboro). Expect more of the same.
Utah (-6.5) v Oregon
Utah has yet to beat a top 25 team all season, but this will be their first one. I think they can lay a touchdown against Oregon and make the playoffs.
Baylor (+9) v Oklahoma
Not sure how I feel about Oklahoma this year, but I don’t see them winning by nine after barely escaping the Bears in Waco last time. Oklahoma has looked shaky all season; I think the Bears win outright.
Ohio State (-16) v Wisconsin
Ohio State will crush yet another inferior opponent and roll to the playoffs.
LSU (-7) v Georgia
I think Georgia puts up a decent fight, but LSU pulls away in the end. The Bulldogs’ defense will keep them in this one, but I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire wears them down, and LSU covers.