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Utah vs. USC and more

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Conference championship weekend is finally here as college football’s top teams seize their last chance to make their case before bowling season — or, for those sparsely selected, to influence the committee and earn a spot in the college football playoffs.

With 20 teams vying for a conference crown over this busy weekend, there’s no shortage of side bets to target in the 10 title games. Here are our favorite BetMGM bets heading into the Championship weekend, which kicks off early Friday:

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Utah vs. USC and more

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Utah (+2.5) vs. USC (8 p.m. EST, Fox)

USC may be the hottest name in the Pac-12 right now, but Utah was the winner when these teams faced off in that thrilling 43-42 victory on October 15. revenge.

The Trojans’ offense was electric behind Caleb Williams’ season-ending exploits, but that defense remains a serious concern after allowing more than 35 points in four of six games dating back to that Week 7 loss at Utah. . That’s not counting last week’s performance against Notre Dame, which finished with 408 yards and 22 first downs but scored just 27 points.

The Utes’ three losses don’t tell the whole story — they’ve won five of their last six games with only one loss to Oregon, which was coming off its first home loss in its last 24 tries. If USC can’t control Cameron Rising on Friday, Round 2 might look awfully familiar to Trojan bettors.

Utah's Cameron Rising
Utah’s Cameron Rising
Getty Images

Kansas State (+2.5) vs. TCU (12 p.m. EST, ABC)

The pressure is mounting for TCU to complete an undefeated season in Sonny Dykes’ first year at the helm and earn this program’s first-ever trip to the playoffs. I’m skeptical of the Horned Frogs’ ability to quiet the noise and survive a second Test against Kansas State, who should have won that Week 8 clash and apparently used that stunning loss to fuel a push in second period.

The Wildcats held a 28-10 lead in that first meeting before giving up 28 straight points in the loss, but have won four of five since and outscored their opponents by 21.2 points per game. That’s in stark contrast to TCU, which had won seven straight games with 10 or fewer points before beating Iowa State a week ago.

This kind of good fortune in close games eventually catches up with teams, especially when faced with an opponent who feels let down by the way the last encounter went. I expect Kansas State coach Chris Klieman to have a better plan on Saturday to (finally) end the Horned Frogs’ perfect season.

Betting on college football?

Clemson vs. North Carolina under 63.5 total points (8 p.m. EST, ABC)

This total is clearly inferred from the showy offensive numbers of these teams throughout the season. It just doesn’t reflect the reality of the two units prior to Saturday’s affair.

Clemson needed a pick six and a safety last week just to score 30 points thanks to another ominous performance from plummeting junior DJ Uiagalelei (8 for 29.99 yards). He’s thrown an interception in four of his last five games and passed 200 yards only once in that streak, a big reason the Tigers have averaged less than 30 points in that streak.

Likewise, former Heisman prospect Drake Maye has cooled considerably over the past two weeks, leading North Carolina to its two lowest totals (17, 27) of the season. These teams have seen a combined final score of over 64 points just eight times in 24 games between them (33.3%), and I don’t expect this game to hit such an ambitious mark either.

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