College Football Picks: Championship Week Odds, Picks, Predictions and Best Bets

College Football Picks: Championship Week Odds, Picks, Predictions and Best Bets

This article is part of our College Football Picks series.

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Chris' Picks

Well, I finally did it, we're over .500! Six straight winning weeks to get us to the finish line feels great. We've got a limited slate for this championship weekend, which is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we can zero in on fewer games and really break things down. On the other hand, there are so few games to choose from we're sometimes forcing a square peg into a round hole. We've got 10 games to choose from, so if we add in-game totals, that's 20 options to pick five winners. Not easy. Paired with that, I'll have a deeper breakdown on Florida State-Louisville later in the week, and I refuse to double-dip, so that cuts out two options! It's time to get weird and out of my comfort zone and see how the dust settles.

Miami (OH) (+8) vs. Toledo

The MAC is completely unpredictable, so I don't enjoy picking a side here. And Toledo has the conference's best offense, while the RedHawks are futile when in possession. But Miami boasts the conference's best defense. Their only two losses are to Miami-FL and Toledo, the latter of which came by four points. They rank eighth in points allowed at 16.3 points per game and have never allowed more than 21 points in any conference game. So, if they can find the endzone twice, they should be in a good spot.

Alabama (+5.5) vs. Georgia

Nick Saban is 4-1 against Kirby Smart, and 'Bama has beaten Georgia in seven of the last eight meetings. Somewhat amazingly, only two of those meetings have been decided by one score. History can be debated when analyzing a matchup; on the one hand, it's different players; on the other, it's the same coaches, and that's what I'm backing here. I'm worried the Tide OL plays like it did in their loss to Texas, but they look like a different team right now. Jalen Milroe is making solid decisions and can extend plays with his legs. And Dallas Turner is a one-man wrecking crew. This column is shaping up for me, backing underdogs and chaos. I'm not sure the Tide will win, but I like their chances.

Over 47 SMU at Tulane

I really like SMU in this game, even without QB Preston Stone, but his absence makes me look elsewhere in this matchup. Still, the Mustang offense is schemed, scoring 31 points in all but two games, those coming against Oklahoma and TCU back in September. Tulane is stout against the run but very vulnerable to the pass. SMU has Power 5 transfer talent at RB and WR, and I'm banking on HC Rhett Lashlee to find ways to succeed. Tulane won't go quietly, and while SMU's defense is probably a tad underrated, I back this to turn into more of a shootout than a slugfest.

Appalachian State (+6) at Troy

Both teams are in great form, with Troy winning nine straight and Appalachian State five straight. Troy has the far better statistical defense, but I'm questioning it. It's indisputable that their side of the conference was softer. It's also indisputable that the Mountaineers didn't earn their spot here, finishing a game behind JMU despite beating them, but benefit from their ineligibility as they complete their FBS transition. But Troy can be vulnerable to the pass and hasn't faced a team as capable as Appy State. A one-score game, or a back door cover, just give me the points.

Michigan over 27.5 points

I'm going to get a little different here with this pick, and it would stand to reason if I back this: we'd just take the game to go over the paltry 35.0-point total. But this is at (-120) odds at DraftKings, and that seems like a fair price for a team that averages 37.7 ppg, and walloped Iowa 42-3 in the 2021 Big 10 Championship. No one expects Iowa to move the ball, which should create some short fields for the Wolverines. Heavy doses of Blake Corum, and some shot plays to Roman Wilson, and maybe Michigan even lets James Turner attempt some field goals.

Last week: 3-2; Season: 33-32

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Greg's Picks

For the first time in a while, I can write about something other than "2-3". Yes, the streak was broken as I hit my first four games this past week, losing just the finale.

The first win was a nail-biter, as you would expect, going under a total of 26.5. Iowa and Nebraska got off to a bit of a fast start, but in the end, their true nature won out and the total came in under. Another close call with the Memphis over. Memphis dominated this game as Temple never really got going, but a couple of late scores pushed that one over. Next up was Missouri, which crushed Arkansas. Oregon played around with Oregon State a bit but had enough to cover in the end. The only loss came on the under in the Michigan-Ohio State game. I should have known better. No matter how good the defenses are, this game just finds a way to go over, at least since it's been Harbaugh and Day at the helm.

We're ditching our five-game minimum this week since there are only a handful of games, but I happen to like five plays.

Oregon (-9.5) vs. Washington

I have to think a line like this is unprecedented. Washington is undefeated, and it beat Oregon already, and yet the Huskies are almost double-digit dogs. The crazy thing is I like Oregon here. Well, maybe it's not that crazy, as these teams appear to be headed in opposite directions. It's crazy to say that an undefeated team is headed in the wrong direction, but Washington hasn't inspired much confidence lately. Conversely, Oregon has steamrolled nearly everyone since losing to Washington, and I'm sure the Ducks can't wait to get another shot at Washington. As for the Huskies win earlier this year, Oregon was one failed 4th down conversion away from winning on the road, so I don't put much stock in that win by Washington. Oregon is the more complete team, and it'll show from the start here. My only worry is that everyone seems to be thinking the same way about this game, and I'm sure the Huskies are aware of the lack of respect they are getting here.

 Over (55.5) Texas vs. Oklahoma State

The Longhorns are attempting to make a final push into the CFB playoff and to do so, they'll need some help, and they'll need to win with style. While the offense should have no issues contributing to the style factor, the defense might have a more difficult time playing its part. Oklahoma State is terrible on defense, and the Longhorns will get whatever they want on offense, but the Longhorn defense has had some issues this season. They haven't been terrible, but they come into this one ranked 87th against the pass. Oklahoma State should be able to take advantage of that, as the Cowboys rank 37th in passing yards per game. Texas will keep the throttle down all day, which should result in a lot of points, and if OSU can contribute some, we should get this one over the total.                        

 Georgia (-6.5) vs. Alabama

Not only does Georgia want to win the SEC title, but the Bulldogs might need to win this game to make the playoff. If FSU, Washington, and Michigan win, this game is then a winner-take-all contest. Okay, so I don't think Washington is going to win, but motivation is not going to be a problem for Georgia. Alabama still has a shot at the CFB Playoff, and the Tide have really turned things around since their loss to Texas earlier this season. Still, if I'm being honest, I'm a little concerned about how the 'Tide played this past week against a bad Auburn team, and make no mistake, that was a bad Auburn team. Perhaps they overlooked them, but that's no excuse for needing a miracle TD to win in the end. Georgia has been solid all season, and if this team is anything like the past two versions, the Bulldogs have another gear they haven't shown yet.                  

 Louisville (+2.5) vs. Florida State

This could be a case of reading too much into this past week, but I did not see anything from FSU that led me to believe the 'Noles should be favored this week. FSU was without Jordan Travis, but Florida was without its QB as well, and while I'm not comparing the two, what I am saying is that the 'Noles beat an average team, made worse by not having its starting QB. Louisville had not been very reliable this season, but the Cardinals have been good; they've been really good. If we get that version of the Cardinals this week, they'll win this game, maybe easily. FSU brings a strong defense into this matchup, but Louisville can beat you with the run or the pass. The Cardinals are stout against the run and somewhat susceptible against the pass; the problem for FSU is I don't think the 'Noles can beat Louisville through the air without Travis.              

Over (34.5) Iowa vs. Michigan

I took the under in the Iowa game this past week because of Iowa's competition. Nebraska was equally inept as Iowa on offense, but that's not the case this week. Iowa's defense is legit, but let's remember that the Badgers reside in the Big 10 West, a division completely void of any offense. Iowa could easily handle those inept offenses, but the Hawkeyes will be facing something unknown to them this week: a balanced offense with some firepower. We had this same matchup in 2021, and Michigan came out sleepy but still scored 42 points. I don't think we'll see 42 in this game, but we don't need 42, just 35 total.

Last Week: 4-1-0; Season 29-36-0

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Jeff's Picks

Things didn't look promising early in the day as I was 0-2 right off the bat, but wins with Arizona, Clemson and Kansas put me over the hump for another winning week. Our betting article will be intermittent over the bowl games, so I want to finish well over .500 and finish off strong.

Oregon -9.5 vs. Washington

I also pushed this pick in an individual article, but the pickings are slim on Championship Week, and I am very bullish on the Ducks.  Oregon has romped through the season with this rematch in mind, and while Bo Nix and company have looked unstoppable, the Huskies have fizzled despite their unbeaten record. They've barely escaped scrapes with lesser teams, and Michael Penix's touchdown volume has slowed to a trickle. Oregon's biggest problem was letting Washington's receivers get behind the coverage, but they won't let that happen here. They've also coached an answer for Dillon Johnson. Put simply, the Ducks are trending up, and the Huskies are trending down. The winning margin was three points for the Huskies the first time around - it'll be at least 10 points Oregon's way as they stake their claim in the CFP.

SMU +3.5 vs. Tulane and OVER 47

Several checks are marked in SMU's favor for this game despite the loss of Stone. Backup Kevin Jennings has tossed three touchdowns with zero picks in limited action. He should do an efficient job with the offense, but SMU's defense will be the difference-maker in this contest.  The Mustangs' defense ranks near the top in several defensive categories, including pressure rate and sack percentage. The secondary and front lime are both excellent, and pocket passer Michael Pratt will be pressured constantly. The Tulane quarterback is also coming off an awful showing versus UTSA, and SMU's defense is much better than what he faced against the Roadrunners.  Pratt will also be without his top two wideouts, so all-in-all, it looks like a really bad spot for the Green Wave. I al also taking the OVER in this game at 47, and it will count as one of my five bets.

Over 34.5 Michigan vs. Iowa

If Iowa's playing, you typically take the under, right? Not here. As Penn State's 31-0 beatdown proves, Iowa's defense isn't invincible. The Hawkeyes had the scheduling gods in their favor and got the best draw the Big Ten could offer, so their defensive metrics are a bit skewed considering the competition. Michigan should win this game soundly, and it's entirely possible that the properly motivated Wolverines could put up 35 points all by themselves, especially with Jim Harbaugh back on the sidelines. I also like Michigan +22.5, but the total seems a little safer to me. To add insult to injury, Iowa will be without Cooper DeJean, who is arguably one of the best defensive backs in the conference.

Georgia (-5.5) vs. Alabama

Ok, this is the scariest game of all. We used to be surprised if Alabama DIDN'T make the playoff, but the dynasty era for the Tide is over, and in 2023, we'll be surprised if they make it in the bracket. They need this win to have a chance, and they represent the nation's best chance to beat Georgia. Both teams routinely attract the best recruits in the country, and it's hard to find weak spots on either team. I know a lot of sharps are banking on the miracle and Nick Saban's ability to make magic late in the season, but I'm not with them. Alabama shouldn't even be contending, as Auburn had Alabama on the ropes and should have taken them out. Ultimately, it comes down to consistency on both sides of the ball, and Georgia's offense comes through when it counts. Brock Bowers' status will be worthwhile to watch, and if the line is 7 or more, I'd think twice about this game if Bowers is absent. Still, I think Carson Beck will commit fewer mistakes than Milroe, and despite snoozing through the regular season schedule, the Bulldogs will come through.

Last Week: 3-2

Season: 34-30-1 (52.3%)

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Chris Bennett
Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.
Jeff Edgerton
Jeff has provided sports content for numerous sports outlets and has played fantasy sports since scores had to be tabulated via newspaper. He started working with RotoWire in 2017. Originally from South Carolina, he's a lifelong Clemson fan now enjoying the sun in Los Angeles.
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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