It’s an enormous Saturday of faculty soccer forward, with convention championship video games galore. Our handicappers Adam Burke, Tim Murray and Wes Reynolds are right here to provide you their finest bets for among the huge video games.
SEC Championship Recreation: Georgia (-6.5, 49.5) vs. Alabama, 4 p.m.
Burke: This recreation ends Alabama’s favourite streak at 92, maybe just a little little bit of foreshadowing in a season that noticed Nick Saban lose to a former assistant for the primary time. Saban is now 24-1 straight up after shedding to Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M early within the yr. He’s, nonetheless, undefeated in opposition to former defensive coordinator Kirby Sensible.
The Bulldogs are probably the greatest CFB groups of all-time in a statistical sense. Their + 3.39 yards per play differential is unimaginable, as Georgia has the third-ranked offense at 7.06 YPP and the top-ranked protection by far at 3.67 YPP. Alabama’s seventh in defensive YPP allowed and thirteenth in offensive YPP, however one thing nonetheless appears amiss with the Crimson Tide.
Perhaps that has to do with the speeding assault that ranks 83rd in yards per carry. Brian Robinson is injured and he was simply the bell cow again for this group with 157 extra carries than anyone else. He’ll seemingly give it a go, however at lower than one hundred pc. It may make ‘Bama one-dimensional on offense. With a UGA protection that has allowed 2.49 yards per carry, passing extra may be the perfect plan of action anyway.
The sticker shock of seeing Alabama as a 6.5-point underdog has not influenced bettors up to now, as many are nonetheless siding with Georgia. The loopy half about what Georgia has completed is that the Bulldogs are solely + 2 in turnover margin. They solely have 16 takeaways in 12 video games. There may be nothing fluky about their defensive dominance.
All of that being stated, 6.5 factors are quite a bit in a recreation that initiatives to be a defensive slugfest. Saban is aware of what his former assistants are going to do earlier than they even do it. This would be the first time because the Clemson recreation that Georgia has been matched up in opposition to a group with related athleticism and expertise. Additionally it is truthful to level out that Georgia’s energy of schedule per Sagarin is 33 spots decrease than Alabama’s, a byproduct of enjoying within the weaker of the 2 divisions. Georgia has been dominant, however Alabama is the primary opponent in months that may hold with the Bulldogs.
Decide: Alabama + 6.5
Large Ten Championship Recreation: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines (-11, 43.5), 8 p.m.
Burke: As a common rule, I have a look at the underdog when the unfold is such a giant share of the overall like it’s on this recreation. That isn’t the case for me with this matchup. Iowa has been a fraudulent group all through the season. The protection ranks sixth in yards per play allowed with 4.52, however the group solely has a + 0.08 yards per play differential as a result of the offense has been such a humiliation.
Because the season wore on and the offense received worse, the Iowa protection confirmed increasingly more cracks, permitting almost 5 yards per play in 4 November video games. Michigan managed 6.41 yards per play offensively in the course of the common season, which makes the Wolverines simply the third offense within the high 50 in yards per play that Iowa has confronted.
The others have been Nebraska and Iowa State. The Cyclones had 4 turnovers and Nebraska had a first-time beginning quarterback, however nonetheless mounted a 21-9 lead earlier than collapsing in true Cornhusker trend beneath Scott Frost.
Iowa’s +13 turnover margin trailed solely Nevada and Kent State in the course of the common season, however Michigan solely had 9 turnovers in the course of the common season, which was tied for sixth. The truth right here is that Michigan might solely must get into the mid-20s to cowl this quantity, because the Iowa offense has a really low projection. Michigan’s offense was nearly two yards per play higher than Iowa’s whereas the hole between the defenses was simply 0.26 yards per play.
The one concern here’s a Michigan hangover for lastly beating Ohio State, however it’s the Large Ten Championship Recreation and that ought to hold the Wolverines targeted. The Large Ten Championship Recreation was instituted in 2011 and Michigan had by no means performed on this recreation up till now.
Decide: Michigan -11
Murray: When Michigan takes the sphere on Saturday night time in Indianapolis, it is going to be the primary time at school historical past that the Wolverines will play within the Large Ten Championship; onerous to imagine however it’s true.
Michigan exorcised its demons in opposition to rival Ohio State final weekend, snapping an eight-game shedding streak in opposition to the Buckeyes with an emphatic 42-27 victory. How will the Wolverines reply? May Michigan’s first ever look within the Large Ten Championship recreation be a “let down” spot? My first inclination was to take the factors with Iowa however it’s onerous to again a group that was trailing by 12 factors getting into the fourth quarter per week prior at 3-9 Nebraska.
The angle for this recreation is sooner or later’s market. Final Saturday, 15.89 million viewers watched Michigan beat Ohio State. It was probably the most watched common season school soccer recreation since Nov. 2019. The person who stood out probably the most in that victory was Michigan’s DE Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson completed the afternoon with three sacks because the Wolverines all however eradicated Ohio State QB CJ Stroud from the Heisman race.
On this week’s Heisman straw ballot by The Athletic school soccer reporters, Hutchinson was second within the Heisman race behind Alabama LB Will Anderson. Crimson Tide QB Bryce Younger is the prohibitive favourite to win the Heisman Trophy within the betting market. However what if Younger struggles within the SEC Championship in opposition to Georgia, the nation’s high protection? Are Younger’s numbers so overwhelming that he might be awarded the Heisman whatever the final result? I don’t assume so. If Alabama loses to Georgia, will the Crimson Tide’s finest defensive participant win the Heisman Trophy? Appears unlikely.
In a yr the place the Heisman race is as huge open because it has ever been, Hutchinson has a possibility on Saturday night time in prime time to make the ultimate assertion to Heisman voters. In case you imagine that Alabama will lose to Georgia within the SEC Championship, #Hutch4Heisman is totally price a shot.
Decide: Aidan Hutchinson 12-1 to win the Heisman Trophy (Boyd Sports activities)
MAC Championship Recreation: Kent State Golden Flashes (-3, 74) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies, midday
Burke: Whereas Northern Illinois rested some personnel and received doubled up on Wednesday by Western Michigan, Kent State was making ready for the primary of two straight championship video games. As a way to seem on this recreation, the Golden Flashes wanted to beat Miami (OH) within the MAC East Division title recreation.
It took the whole lot that Kent State needed to win that recreation, stopping a two-point conversion try after scoring first in additional time. The 48-47 last was an prompt traditional that featured 1,191 yards of offense and 63 first downs. Kent State has to rise up and play one other recreation in opposition to a well-rested NIU group, however the Flashes ought to have numerous benefits.
The Huskies managed to win the MAC West and go 8-4 within the common season regardless of permitting 6.72 yards per play. Solely 10 groups fared worse in defensive yards per play: Vanderbilt, USF, Duke, Charlotte, Akron, TCU, Kansas, Arkansas State, New Mexico State and UMass. That isn’t the corporate a group needs to maintain.
Northern Illinois transformed simply 36.4 % of its third downs, whereas Kent State coated 42.4 %. NIU solely scored 23 touchdowns in 43 purple zone journeys. The Flashes did battle within the purple zone with solely 31 touchdowns in 60 journeys, however these 60 purple zone journeys have been tied for the fifth-most within the nation. Northern Illinois ranks 106th in TD share in opposition to within the purple zone.
Kent State has the extra explosive offense on the quick, indoor observe at Ford Subject in a recreation anticipated to rise up into the 70s. They need to have the higher hand right here.
Decide: Kent State -3
Reynolds: Kent State was predicted to win the MAC East at MAC Media Day in Detroit over the summer season. That’s precisely what they did final weekend, though the Golden Flashes needed to survive a two-point try by Miami (OH) with the division crown on the road. Kent held on for the 48-47 victory in additional time in a typical MACtion shootout.
The Golden Flashes have been of their fair proportion of observe meets as they run one of many quickest tempos offensively in FBS, averaging 78.3 performs per recreation. Sean Lewis, FBS’s youngest coach at 35, has an offense that charges eighth nationally in complete offense (490.5 yards per recreation) and third in speeding offense (247.2 yards per recreation). Certainly one of Kent State’s shootouts this season was again on Nov. 3 with a 52-47 victory over its MAC Championship opponent, Northern Illinois.
Talking of Northern Illinois, the Huskies have been predicted to complete final within the MAC West division however wrapped up the division title earlier than the ultimate recreation of the season. In that last recreation, Northern Illinois was defeated 42-21 at house by Western Michigan; nonetheless, the Huskies have been enjoying sans beginning quarterback Rocky Lombardi who transferred on this yr from Michigan State. Lombardi continues to be listed as questionable however greater than seemingly ought to play because the Huskies will want him to assist match Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum (twenty fourth nationally in complete offense) rating for rating.
Each groups are most likely fortunate to be enjoying for the MAC Championship this week in Detroit. Kent State ranks 124th out of 130 groups in complete protection (474.6 yards per recreation) and permits 34.6 PPG. However, the Golden Flashes rank second within the nation in turnover margin (+ 15; 24 takeaways). In the meantime, Northern Illinois has had its fair proportion of excellent fortune. Regardless of having a protection that enables 452.4 yards and 33.5 PPG, the Huskies went 8-4 and exceeded all expectations. NIU’s success this season merely comes all the way down to breaks on fourth down. The Huskies price No. 1 within the nation for fourth down conversions at 19-for-23 (82.6 %). Additionally they rank high 25 nationally on protection in opposition to fourth down by solely permitting opponents to transform 40 %.
Kent State (-3.5), 5-1 ATS this season as a favourite, defeated Northern Illinois 52-47 on Nov. 3 and each groups eclipsed 600 yards of offense, however Kent’s 31-point second quarter led to ending a 10-game shedding streak within the collection.
Decide: Over 74
Solar Belt Championship Recreation: Appalachian State Mountaineers (-2.5, 53) at No. 20 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, 3:30 p.m.
Burke: How fascinating is that this line? Louisiana hosts the Solar Belt Convention title recreation due to the head-to-head win in opposition to Appalachian State. Win is an understatement, as Louisiana received that recreation 41-13, greater than doubling up the Mountaineers in yardage. App State had 4 turnovers to Louisiana’s one and settled for 2 purple zone discipline objectives within the first half that might have made the sport quite a bit nearer.
In that Tuesday night time recreation again on Oct. 12, Appalachian State was a 4.5-point street favourite. This line has been adjusted in gentle of that end result and the our bodies of labor for each groups, but App State continues to be a street favourite. Clearly, Louisiana has a distraction with head coach Billy Napier headed to Gainesville after this. In some respects, that is the Ragin’ Cajuns bowl recreation, as they’ll have an interim coach within the bowl and have double revenge in opposition to App State for the 2018 and 2019 convention championship video games.
Given all of that, the early motion on the road continues to be in the direction of App State, which says quite a bit. In case you look statistically, App State is best in yards per play on offense and protection. The Mountaineers protection is within the high 10 in third-down conversion price in opposition to and likewise TD share in opposition to within the purple zone.
There are some 3s on the market and the market is trending to going to three throughout the board, so seize any 2.5 yow will discover. The important thing numbers aren’t as huge in school soccer as they’re within the NFL, however you continue to need as a lot line worth as potential.
Decide: Appalachian State -2.5
USC Trojans vs. Cal Golden Bears (-4, 58), 11 p.m. ET
Burke: Rightfully buried after the convention championship video games is a few #Pac12AfterDark between USC and Cal. These two groups have been alleged to play again on Nov. 13, however a serious COVID outbreak for the Golden Bears pushed the sport again to Dec. 4.
The large information at USC is that Lincoln Riley is now on the town, so we’ll see if that places any pep within the steps of the Trojans. On condition that the whole lot as they know it’ll change, it might not likely have any bearing on their effort degree. For Cal, with the stories that Kalen DeBoer is the brand new Washington head coach, the Bears received’t have to fret about Justin Wilcox going wherever.
This can be a fairly simple handicap for me, and it is going to be to play the over. Offensive gamers are at all times going to fret about padding their stats in hoping to impress scouts on the subsequent degree or put a stamp on the season by hitting some private accolades. In video games that don’t have excessive stakes, offenses normally guidelines over protection. The extra necessary the sport, the tighter the sport finally ends up being. This one could be an outright observe meet, as each groups are 4-7 and the mantra might be to go on the market and have enjoyable.
USC ranks 119th in purple zone protection going into this week, so Cal’s offense ought to be capable to money in on these alternatives contained in the 20, which is one thing that has been an issue many of the yr. The USC protection can be 113th in yards per play allowed, so Cal ought to be capable to transfer the ball.
OC Graham Harrell will most likely simply let all of it hang around for USC, whether or not Kedon Slovis or Jaxson Dart will get the decision. Cal’s protection has performed properly this season, however guys could be on the lookout for the massive performs right here. USC’s offense ought to be invested, on condition that each QBs are more likely to return, except one transfers, and the highest receivers are all trying to be the Drake London replacements for subsequent season.
Decide: Over 58