NCAA College Football Preview: Conference Championship Week

Ricky Rothstein | Updated Oct 04, 2017

Lots to get into as we dissect the world of NCAA college football betting, so let’s jump straight in. All lines courtesy Sports Interaction’s online sportsbook:

SEC Championship No. 1 Florida (12-0) at No. 2 Alabama (12-0) Gators -5.5, Over/Under 41.5

The grandaddy. The big game. The real national title contest. Any and all apply.

There’s no shortage of storylines heading into what could be a classic affair between the Gators and Crimson Tide. There’s Heisman hopefuls in Tim Tebow and Mark Ingram. High-profile coaches in Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Outstanding defenses on both sides of the ball. And oh yeah, the chance to advance to the BCS title game in January.

One major thing to follow here is the healthy and productivity of Ingram. He had just 30 yards on 16 carries in a narrow win over Auburn last Friday and missed most of the final drive with a bruised hip. If Ingram isn’t at 100% against a dynamite Florida defense, it’ll be major trouble for the Tide.

Big East Championship No. 5 Cincinnati (11-0) at No. 14 Pittsburgh (9-2) Bearcats -2.5, Over/Under 58.0

Offense, offense and more offense. That’s what will be on the menu in the Big East championship as Brian Kelly and the high-flying Cincy Bearcats take on the Pitt Panthers. Just consider some of the ridiculous totals Cincy has put up this season: 41 points against Louisville, 47 points against UConn and Rutgers and, last week, a season-high 49 against Illinois.  In that game, QB Tony Pike didn’t show any rust after returning from an arm injury, throwing for 399 yards and six touchdowns.

Pitt, meanwhile, is no slouch when it comes to scoring, especially with Dion Lewis in the backfield. Lewis is the nation’s fourth-leading rusher (131.5 yards per game) and has topped the century mark in five straight contests. Lewis has been one of the stories of this college football season, emerging as arguably the best freshman runner in the country. He’ll need to do everything in his power to rack up another 100-yard game, because Pitt will need to not only score to win this game, but keep the Cincy offense off the field as well.

Big 12 Championship Game No. 3 Texas (12-0) vs No. 21 Nebraska (9-3) Longhorns -14.5, Over/Under 47.0

This game will be played in Arlington, Texas — so you can imagine who most of the fans will be rooting for. Still, the 14.5 points that Nebraska are getting seem tasty, and with good reason. The ‘Huskers have one of the best defenses in college football, allowing a Big 12-low 11.1 points per contest. Ergo, this game becomes a classic offense (the ‘Horns average 43 points per game) vs. defense battle, and the victor will be whichever unit can exert its will over the other.

Speaking of defense, it’ll be curious to see how Texas’ reacts after getting gouged for 39 points and 532 yards against Texas A&M last week. Aggies QB Jerrod Johnson absolutely tore the Longhorn secondary apart, throwing for 342 yards and four TDs (while adding 97 yards on the ground).

Nebraska is a longshot to capture the Big 12 crown, but smart bettors will look at that number and see that a cover is highly likely. Remember, Texas went into last week’s game at A&M as a 21-point favourite, but only won by 10.