Back in the old days, if two teams played each other more than once in the same season, fans would have considered those games as anomalies. I suppose in today’s slang, we would call them fan-nomalies.
Either way, we now live in a world of conference championships, bowl games, and sometimes just weird scheduling to the point where rematch fanomalies have become routine.
This week, we have some of those as ten conference championship games plus a make-up game close out the regular season.
In the PAC-12 . . .
On Friday, #11 Utah (9-3) and #15 Oregon (10-2) get together to repeat last year’s PAC-12 conference championship game. In the regular season, these teams met with Utah thrashing the Ducks daffy in a 38-7 blowout.
In that game, Utah pounded Oregon’s rush defense for 208 yards and four touchdowns. You can bet Ute coach Kyle Whittingham is going to try to do it again. And, why not when he has Oklahoma transfer running back T.J. Pledger, who is third in the nation in yards per carry (7.1)?
It’s amusing to me that despite that 31 point crush occurring just two weeks ago, the betting line has only moved one-half of one-point to now favor Utah by three.
Our system favors Utah 33-24 at a neutral site.
USC and Cal will play a make-up game with the winner earning the grand title of “dang, just one more win, and we woulda been bowl eligible.”
Cal is favored by two points.
Across the Nation . . .
Top-ranked Georgia is headlining the conference championship docket, putting its 12-0 record on the line against #4 Alabama (11-1). Oddsmakers favor Georgia by six points, and our system (savvygameline.com) points to a significant advantage in trend lines and nearly doubles the margin to 32-21.
However, I have other notions about this showdown. I believe Georgia’s history of choking when it matters will manifest once again. As I look through the past decade, I can’t find Georgia beating Alabama even one time. I see this as 24-21 for Alabama.
Coach Jim Harbaugh of #3 Michigan (11-1) finally figured out why he couldn’t get to the top of the Big-10 Conference. Yes, he had legendary Don Brown as defensive coordinator. Still, after four years of diminishing results, Harbaugh fired Brown and raided his brother’s Baltimore Ravens program to come up with Mike McDonald, and the Wolverine defense went from 34 ppg last year to 17 ppg this year.
The difference puts Michigan into that same defensive excellence as this week’s Big-10 Conference championship opponent, #8 Iowa (10-2).
The Wolverines are getting better play behind center, where Cade McNamara has a higher completion percentage, lower interception rate, and better long-ball effectiveness than Spencer Petras of Iowa.
Savvy is projecting a strong 13 point advantage for the Wolverines.
Forecasting a double-digit Michigan win against the wholesome farm boys of Iowa might be less desirable than Mitt Romney in a pink tutu. Still, the differences between these teams are just as stark.
The Big-12 trophy will go to #7 Oklahoma State (11-1) by at least five points over #20 Baylor (10-2).
Oklahoma State defeated Baylor 24-14 two months ago. Our Index says it will be closer this time (28-23). If I were a gambler, I would bet the over on both the Vegas 6.5 spread and 48 total game points.
Picket and Pitt will be too much for #19 Wake Forest (10-2). Yes, Sam Hartman of Wake Forest is a great quarterback, but Kenny Pickett of #14 Pittsburgh (10-2) has completed 68% of his passes for over 4000 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Our Index is refuting the experts in two predictions this week.
We see #10 Louisiana (11-1) closing out coach Bill Napier’s ULL career with a 28-25 win over #23 Appalachian State (10-2).
These teams are submerged in negative metrics, so this might be one you watch only if you feel obligated to. It’s sorta like the convoluted wisdom of Yogi Berra, who once told us that even if we didn’t want to, we should attend other peoples’ funerals because if we don’t, they won’t participate in ours.
The other upset we’re predicting is unranked Western Kentucky (8-4) over #25 UTSA (11-1) by a score of 38-30. Experts favor UTSA by 2.5 after the Roadrunners beat the Hilltoppers by six two months ago.
The experts and our Index are calling for a double-digit spread for #5 Cincinnati (12-0) over #21 Houston (11-1). My prediction is the Cougars getting the upset, 33-30.
Last week was the first time all year that the betting lines picked winners better than Savvy Index. However, our Index was six games better in projecting over/under for point spreads last week, and it is 70 games better in projecting over/under for total game points.
Among our best predictions last week were:
Iowa over Nebraska 27-21 (final was 28-21)
Southern Miss over FIU 34-17 (final was 37-17)
Memphis over Tulane 33-27 (final was 33-28)
Cincinnati over East Carolina 36-17 (final was 35-17)
Houston over Connecticut 45-17 (final was 44-13)
Our worst was predicting Northern Illinois by one over Western Michigan. WMU won by 21.
To see all of our predictions for this weeks games, please visit us here.