Northwestern fans, students and gambling degenerates alike, welcome back to a series that is fast becoming a staple of the holiday season here at Inside NU. Over the past two years, Matt and Avery have picked nearly every bowl game that has occurred. From glorious playoff semifinals to the most random of games, we have seen it all, and we’re excited to meet the site’s gambling quota for the year once again.
Because there will be fewer games this year due to the pandemic and its consequences, we decided to kick things off a little early this year, starting our push towards gambling greatness with this week’s conference championship games. For credibility and honesty’s sake, our records are below. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Records (2018-2019 seasons):
Big Ten Championship Game: Ohio State (-20) vs. Northwestern
Avery: It’s hard to question the heart and character of this Wildcat squad, and it’s also one of the most talented groups that has resided in Evanston for a long time. But Ohio State is a different beast, something NU fans know all too well. There are rumblings of a COVID problem building in Columbus for the second time this season, and that could add another layer of drama to the contest, but I believe that the Buckeyes are just going to be too talented and too well-coached for the ‘Cats to handle, Chris Olave present or not. I’ll go with OSU to narrowly cover.
Matt: Easy. Money. ‘Cats ATS.
ACC Championship Game: Clemson (-10) vs. Notre Dame
Avery: Take no credit away from Notre Dame, a win is a win, but its victory over Clemson came in very precise circumstances. In South Bend (with fans), no Trevor Lawrence and a massive choke job from the Tigers. I have a strong feeling, and Vegas does as well, that this game will be a different story. Clemson comes out with something to prove, but the Irish fight back, ultimately resulting in a similarly narrow cover for Dabo’s team.
Matt: I think this spread is just too big. It’s frustrating to have to side with Notre Dame but I see this as a one possession game either way and Ian Book is a really good quarterback. If Clemson blows them out, I just hedged happiness and there’s a shot ND misses the playoff! Both are great results in my eyes, but the Fighting Irish will edge a cover.
SEC Championship Game: Alabama (-17.5) vs. Florida
Avery: I don’t care how bad Florida looked last week, is Alabama really going to boat race the Gators that bad? It appeared that Florida’s catastrophe against Coach O and LSU was a matter of unfortunate moments as well as possibly overlooking the opponent, rather than a true talent problem (though in terms of talent, there are three familiar teams far above the rest). I would be surprised if the Gators didn’t come out with serious motivation and energy, which won’t give them a path to beating the Crimson Tide, but it will be enough for a Florida cover.
Matt: In the past I’ve made use of analytics to justify why I feel a certain way. But I’ve realized that I’m still an average picker at best in that case, so I’m following intuition here and picking Bama. Mac Jones is too good and this game won’t be close. Florida is FAR overrated and it’s overdue that the Gators are exposed for the frauds they are. Bama cruises to a cover.
Big 12 Championship Game: Oklahoma (-6) vs. Iowa State
Avery: Both of these teams have rebounded from shaky starts to put together solid seasons, but this line doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Iowa State has a nice collection of talent, and an incredible coaching staff that includes the best running backs coach in the nation. The Cyclones make a statement in this one, handing the Sooners another loss.
Matt: I’m on Iowa State, and this is against my better judgement, because I know that I have terrible intuition and everything about this game is telling me to take ISU. I hope to see Mick McCall succeed and achieve great things, and I hold no animosity toward him personally. I think Breece Hall is one of the most dynamic players in college football, and while I disagree with where Iowa State is ranked, there’s no doubting their talent as a football team.
Pac 12 Championship Game: USC (-3) vs. Oregon
Avery: Make no mistake, the Pac 12 is an absolute dumpster fire this year, almost like the Big Ten on steroids in terms of leadership mistakes and team talent (outside of Ohio State). USC is the most unimpressive 5-0 squad I have ever seen, and it should have lost again last week if not for awful coaching by Chip Kelly and horrendous mistakes by UCLA. With that being said, Oregon isn’t a good team, and USC has indeed grinded out wins. This contest will not be pretty, but USC pulls away to cover in the end.
Matt: Having watched both of these teams play multiple times (which is hard to say seeing as the PAC-12 hasn’t played particularly many games), USC passes the eye test and wins by more than a touchdown. Oregon isn’t a particularly bad football team, but they are levels below USC. In all honesty, I am rooting for Oregon, mostly because I don’t want USC to pass Northwestern in the CFP rankings and I think that they’ll put far too much significance on it. Nonetheless, the Trojans cover.
Myrtle Beach Bowl: Appalachian State (-21) vs. North Texas
Avery: I can’t say that I’ve watched more than a couple quarters here and there of either of these teams, but I believe in Luke Fickell and I believe in Cincy’s motivation for this game after being abused by the committee for weeks. Bearcats romp to a cover.
Matt: I’m riding Tulsa here. I think that Cincinnati is probably better, but this spread is very large and that worries me. The gap between these two is not worth the two touchdown spread. Golden Hurricanes with the points.