We've reached Championship Week, and there's a lot left to play for across the country this weekend. There are four spots in the College Football Playoff and eight teams with a conceivable shot of claiming one. That's easily the most drama and intrigue heading into the final weekend since the playoff's inception.
Of course, if The Six Pack was eligible for selection, only three spots would be left. We'd have locked up our berth weeks ago because we've been on a dominant run in this column all season. While our stretch of three straight 5-1 weeks came to an end with a 3-3 performance last week, we're still way ahead on the season with another chance to add to our wallet this week.
And that has to be the goal. The more money we win now, the more we'll have to blow on the random number generator that is bowl season!
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Games of the Week
No. 3 Washington vs. No. 5 Oregon (Friday): There's something that seems unfair about this game. Washington finished the regular season 12-0 with wins over the five Pac-12 teams directly behind it in the standings, including the Oregon Ducks. In a just world, you can argue that Washington has already won the Pac-12, but that's not how things work. Instead, the Huskies have to beat Oregon again. To be blunt, I don't think they can. However, with the spread approaching 10 points at some places, I'm not in much of a mood to mess with the spread.
Instead, I'll focus on why I don't trust Washington nearly as much in the rematch. A Huskies offense firing on all cylinders to begin the year hasn't played at nearly the same level for a while now. In their first five games before the first Oregon game, the Huskies averaged 3.86 points per possession with a 55.3% success rate on offense. Those numbers have dropped to 2.50 and 44.0%, respectively, in the five games since Oregon. Michael Penix has seen a steep decline in his performance as well; he's down from a 75% completion to rate to fewer than 60%.
Meanwhile, Oregon has looked like the second-best team in the country since the loss. I took the Ducks to win and cover the first game because I felt they were the more complete team then. I still feel that way now, but for my money the smarter play here is the under. If the Washington offense of old shows up, we could lose this bet before the third quarter ends, but I don't believe it will. Pick: Under 66 (-110)
No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 8 Alabama: I do not care in the slightest about how Georgia looked last week against Georgia Tech. That was a classic case of we're going to run three or four base plays because that should be good enough to win and not put anything on tape for Alabama to use. Though there was a trick play thrown in just to give Alabama something to think about.
Anyway, while both offenses have been terrific, these are still two of the best defenses in the country. In some ways, Alabama's defense has flown under the radar this year, but it's been incredible. So, of course, I'm leaning toward the over, right?
I've seen this story too many times. Great defenses are wonderful, but great offenses overcome them more often than not. It's not overly scientific, but this is a case of too much offensive talent on the field. You have to expect points will be scored. It's the same philosophy I used when taking the over in the Michigan-Ohio State game last week, and these teams have more skill position talent overall. Pick: Over 54 (-110)
Lock of the Week
No. 22 Tulane vs. SMU: We'll address the elephant in the room right off the bat. Last week's injury to SMU QB Preston Stone changed the outlook of this game. That's not to say that Stone is some world-beater, but he has been effective all season. Now, SMU must turn to freshman QB Kevin Jennings in a conference title game. That's not a great place to be, and it doesn't bode against a fantastic Tulane team with a veteran QB in Michael Pratt.
I'm not overthinking this one. Tulane can win a second consecutive AAC title and return to a New Year's Six game. SMU's defense has been solid enough this season that I don't expect the Green Wave to run away with it. That could make this thing a lot more uncomfortable than expected, but the dam will burst eventually and the Wave will roll. Pick: Tulane -3.5 (-110)
Underdog of the Week
Boise State vs. UNLV: Raise your hand if you're holding a UNLV-to-win-the-Mountain-West ticket at +2700 from earlier this season. Just me? That's too bad. Well, don't worry, it's not affecting my feelings about this game at all. I've already hedged it considerably, and I'm not sure I needed to! I understand why Boise State is favored in this matchup. It's been really good down the home stretch, but it faced New Mexico, Utah State and an Air Force team that didn't resemble the Air Force team from earlier in the season.
UNLV stubbed its toe against a good San Jose State team last week and lost to Fresno State in conference play -- not to mention it lost to a pretty decent Michigan team in September. I'd be lying if I said the Rebels hadn't taken advantage of an advantageous schedule (it was part of the reason I grabbed them at +2700). Even with that being the case, from what I've seen of both teams this year and what the numbers tell me, the Rebels match up well with the Broncos. It sounds cliche, but I'd bet this game comes down to the team that does better in third- and fourth-down situations. I trust the Rebels more there. Pick: UNLV +2.5 (-106)
Over of the Week
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 14 Louisville: It seems a little insane to take the over after watching the slop-fest that was Florida State's win over Florida last week, but it's the right kind of crazy. First of all, that was Tate Rodemaker's first start after the injury to Jordan Travis. Now he has the one game under his belt, and I suspect both Rodemaker and Florida State's offensive coaching staff have a much better idea of what works and what doesn't heading into this game.
I also think this is a matchup of two coaches -- Mike Norvell and Jeff Brohm -- who know how to scheme up big plays on offense. Florida State's defense has been solid against the pass all year, but it plays a lot of man coverage without having faced a lot of great quarterbacks since the season opener. I don't consider Jack Plummer an outstanding QB, but he has a coach who knows how to tear up man coverage and make it easy on him. Given all the unknowns, it's hard to know who wins this game, but I'm confident this total is an overreaction to last week. Pick: Over 47.5 (-108)
Under of the Week
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 16 Iowa: If you're more comfortable taking the Iowa Team Total Under, go for it, but we should be safe with the game total. It's simple. There is no reason to expect Iowa's offense will be able to move the ball against Michigan's defense. The Wolverines will take away the run game and force Deacon Hill and the Iowa passing attack to beat them. Based on everything we've seen from Hill this year, there's no reason to believe he can.
But on the other side, what motivation is there for Michigan to score in this game? Two touchdowns will probably be more than they need. Once the Wolverines feel comfortable, they won't have much reason to keep pushing. Pick: Under 35 (-110)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in conference championship games? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.