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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 3:00 PM

We have some early numbers up on the board in the conference championship games that will be played this weekend. Wanted to get those on the radar immediately for you regular students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. Don’t wait until later in the week to start analyzing or you may miss the best lines! I’ll provide some homework in each game.

Note that the first two games are set for Friday night. Everything after that is Saturday.


MAC CHAMPIONSHIP (in Detroit—Lions’ home field)

Northern Illinois is an early 6-point favorite over Bowling Green

Northern survived the much tougher Western Division, clinching with an impressive 31-21 victory on the road over surprising Western Michigan. Bowling Green and Northern Illinois didn’t meet in the regular season. Be sure you spend time studying how each performed against the best teams in the conference. You don’t want to use garbage games against the worst teams in the MAC. Only focus on what happened when contenders played each other.


PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP (in Santa Clara—49ers’ home field)

Oregon is an early 14-point favorite over Arizona

Early money was hitting the underdog, which means that 14 may no longer be in play. Though, the public will probably bet Oregon on game day. It’s likely an important indicator that professional wagerers took the +14 when they saw it. Remember that Arizona gave Oregon its only loss this season with a 31-24 stunner at Autzen Field in early October. Spend a lot of time studying the key stats from that game, and review footage if you can find it. Oregon will try to make meaningful adjustments. Can they do enough to cover a tall spread?


CUSA CHAMPIONSHIP (on the home field of Marshall)

Marshall is an early 12-point favorite over Louisiana Tech

Stores are slow to open this one because of question marks on injuries. The line may change a lot from the earliest guesses before kickoff. These teams didn’t play each other during the regular season. Be sure to study results vs. common opponents. And, spend some extra time with the boxscore from last week’s 76-31 win for Louisiana Tech over Rice to see if you can determine how much of that was an illusion created by a team running up the score on a disinterested visitor.


SEC CHAMPIONSHIP (in Atlanta—Falcons’ home field)

Alabama is an early 14-point favorite over Missouri

The two top teams in the selection committee rankings both opened as two-touchdown favorites in their championship games. It’s very tough to bet teams like Oregon and Alabama for “value” right now because they’re priced at perfection. You’ve probably watched a lot more of ‘Bama than you have Missouri in recent weeks. The homework for you here is to monitor the growth (or lack of growth) for Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk. Study his game logs. Figure out what he’s been doing right in their recent wins. Missouri will need him to be a PLAYMAKER this week.


ACC CHAMPIONSHIP (in Charlotte—Panthers’ home field)

Florida State is an early 3.5-point favorite over Georgia Tech

Oddsmakers are having trouble making FSU’s lines low enough, yet the Seminoles still keep winning straight up. Another title matchup where the teams didn’t play in the regular season. As with the SEC game…you’ve probably seen a lot more of Florida State on TV lately than Georgia Tech. Closely study what the Yellowjackets have been doing during their strong recent run. And, study up on how FSU has defended against the run this year. The key to handicapping games involving option teams is always their opponent’s rush defense.


BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP (in Indianapolis—Colts’ home field)

Wisconsin is an early 3.5-point favorite over Ohio State

There was a lot of guessing about where this line would open once Ohio State lost its quarterback for the season late in the Michigan game. You can tell a lot about the quality of a handicapper or oddsmaker by his guess here. Some though Ohio State would be a field goal favorite. Others had it around pick-em. Some of the earliest spots opened Wisconsin as a small favorite. By the time everyone went up on the board, the Badgers were laying more than a field goal. Clearly the smartest in the market don’t have much respect for OSU’s emergency quarterback. It will be tough for you to find out much about him on paper. So, instead, focus your efforts on how Ohio State stops the run. Wisconsin isn’t an option team per-se, but is a run-heavy team that tries to bully people on the ground.


MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP (on the home field of Boise State)

Boise State is an early 19-point favorite over Fresno State

Boise State gets a lot of respect at home because of their penchant for running up the score on the blue turf. They sure looked fantastic when beating Utah State 50-19 a couple of days ago. But, Fresno and Boise met on this field in mid-October, with the hosts only managing a 37-27 victory. Be sure you study that game closely, and all matchups with common opponents to see if the high number is truly justified.

You regulars know that I can’t post my personal selections here in the coursework. The Dean of Sports Handicapping is here to help do-it-yourselfers learn the trade. If you’d like some additional help pinning down final picks before kickoff, you can purchase my BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card on game day. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

Thanksgiving Weekend is in the books…but Championship Weekend is hours away. Keep your nose to the grindstone so you can keep cashing tickets. See you again later this week with more football-related study.


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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