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Arnold Against the Spread: Conference Championship Week

One last time

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that I went for it all to try and close out the season on a positive note. Sadly, things did not go as planned. It was another week below .500 as I went 5-7, bringing the yearly record to 37-50. The one bright spot was me correctly taking South Carolina moneyline in my Upset Special. Now with championship week looming and zero chance of getting back above .500, I’ll go ahead and take a stab at predicting each of the championship contests as well as some bonus #MACtion.

Akron at Buffalo -11.5

This contest was delayed from earlier in the year due to massive snowfall in Buffalo. The contest is being played as Buffalo have a shot to become bowl eligible with a win. The Zips are riding high after a massive victory over NIU but I think they come crashing back down to Earth here as Buffalo easily reaches the .500 mark. Take Buffalo to cover -11.5

North Texas +9 at UTSA (CUSA)

This contest has already been played once this year, with the Roadrunners needing a touchdown with just 15 seconds on the clock to keep their perfect conference record intact. When they welcome UNT to the Alamodome on Friday night, the stakes are higher with the Conference USA championship up for grabs. I expect UTSA to come out on top once more, but I think the Mean Green will keep it close. I like UNT +9.

Utah vs. USC -3 (Pac-12)

Utah shocked the Trojans once this year, defeating them in Salt Lake City to give USC their only blemish so far this season. The Trojans have to be thankful then that this contest is being played in a neutral setting in Las Vegas instead. While I respect the Utes and think they are capable of playing with many teams across the country, I just think we are going to see the best version of the Trojans that we have seen all season. I like USC -3 in this quasi-revenge game with a playoff opportunity on the line.

Kansas State vs. TCU -2.5 (Big 12)

Kansas State and TCU meet once more after the Horned Frogs topped the Wildcats earlier in the season in Fort Worth. This is a neutral site game at Jerry World but the Horned Frogs are only a hop skip and a jump away. While Kansas State should keep this one close, I expect the Horned Frogs to win by a field goal as they also have a playoff chance on the line. TCU -3 is the play here.

LSU vs. Georgia Under 51 (SEC)

This meeting lost a bit of it’s luster after LSU lost their final game of the season and their playoff hopes when they visited Kyle Field to take on the Aggies. The Tigers can still secure an SEC Championship, however, so I expect them to keep it close against Georgia. As for the Bulldogs, expect a conservative approach. Georgia is in the playoff even with a loss. They’ll ride their defense and make it a defensive struggle. Take the under.

Clemson vs. North Carolina Over 63 (ACC)

I’ve gotten burned by North Carolina overs the past few weeks but not this time. The Tar Heels are going to throw the ball like crazy in an attempt to unseat Clemson from the top of the ACC while the Tigers look to reclaim the title that they lost last year. Expect a shootout and take the over.

Toledo -1.5 vs. Ohio (MAC)

I love what Ohio has been able to do this season but they are missing their starting quarterback, Kurtis Rourke, due to injury. With this in mind, I think Toledo will take the MAC title back with them and while this contest could be close, I do think the Rockets win by at least a field goal. Toledo -1.5 is my play.

Coastal Carolina at Troy -7.5 (Sun Belt)

As much fun as I think the Chants are, they’ve looked lost without Grayson McCall taking snaps. Meanwhile, Troy is one hail mary against App State away from having a perfect conference record and only one loss overall. In my opinion, the Trojans should be ranked and they’ll prove that on Saturday with a resounding victory over Coastal Carolina. Also, a reminder that James Madison should be in this contest but due to NCAA restrictions on teams bumping up from FCS they were robbed. #FreeJMU.

UCF at Tulane -3.5 (American)

UCF handed Tulane a defeat earlier this season in New Orleans. My money is on Tulane to return the favor here with a trip to a New Years’ Six game on the line. I think the Green Wave defense will have a better performance than the first meeting between these two squads and I expect Tulane to win by a touchdown or more.

Fresno State +3 at Boise State (Mountain West)

Boise State beat Fresno State handily when these two teams met earlier in the year. Fresno State didn’t have Jake Haener at the time. They do now. Expect the Bulldogs to put up a much better performance when the travel to Boise for a shot at the Mountain West title. I like Fresno State +3.

Upset Special: Purdue +600 vs. Michigan (Big Ten)

Of all the championship week contests that could be a trap game, none of them feel quite like a trip more than the Wolverines taking on the Boilermakers in Indianapolis. Something about Purdue just spells disaster for ranked teams. Spoilermakers are a very real thing and while I think that Michigan should be in the playoff win or lose, don’t be shocked if the Wolverines get caught looking ahead. I don’t love this pick but championship upset pickings are slim so I’m riding with the Spoilermakers.

Which Championship Week game are you most looking forward to?