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Litwin’s Locks: Conference championship week

Heather Newberry

An Arizona player holds a football prior to the UA-ASU rivalry game on Nov. 25, at Sun Devil Stadium.

Welcome back to a very exciting week of Litwin’s Locks. I’m locking only six games this week, but they are the most important six games of the college football season. After conference championship week, my focus will return to the NFL.

I’m not picking the Pac-12 games this week, so let’s take a look at how I did on the season. After going 2-1-1 (Win-Lose-Push) in last week’s games, my record for the season finished at 13-11-1 (Win-Lose-Push). I’m currently patting myself on the back for finishing above 0.500. 

(Lines according to ESPN Daily Lines pulled on 12/17/2020 @ 10:50 a.m. EST)

Pac-12 Title Game

Oregon Ducks (+130) vs. No. 13 USC Trojans (-150) (Friday)

Line: USC -3, Total: 64

It’s hard to even call this a conference championship game since Oregon really wasn’t supposed to be playing in this game. Washington was supposed to be playing USC but the Huskies were unable to play due to a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak. USC played an exciting game last week against UCLA and, as usual, USC quarterback Kedon Slovis put the team on his back. USC is going duck hunting this week. Pick: Trojans -3

Big Ten Championship Game (Saturday)

No. 14 Northwestern Wildcats (+900) vs. (-1600) No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes

Line: Ohio State -20.5, Total: 57.5

Ohio State is probably in a “win and get into the CFP situation” with this game. However, while this is a good Ohio State team, I don’t believe they are as good as last year’s CFP team. They will win this game without a doubt but covering 20.5 against a well-coached Northwestern team seems like a lot. Northwestern’s defense is good enough to slow down the Buckeyes’ offense and keep this game relatively close even with a loss. Plus, both Northwestern’s starting and backup quarterbacks are from Cincinnati. I have to ride with the Cincy boys. Pick: Northwestern +20.5

Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship

No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners (-200) vs. No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones (+175)

Line: Oklahoma -5.5, Total: 58

While Oklahoma is favored, Iowa State has the better CFP ranking. For Iowa State to have any chance of making it into the top four, they need to win this game big. Oklahoma is having a bit of a down year after a dreadful start to its season. Iowa State had a rough start too but might be the hottest team in the country at the moment. Get ready for this to be a high-scoring affair since both offenses can score points. Pick: Iowa State +5.5

ACC Championship Game

No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+310) vs. No. 3 Clemson Tigers (-380)

Line: Clemson -10.5, Total: 60

This is by far the most important conference championship game. If Clemson loses, they are out. If they win, they are probably in and the top four would be Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Ohio State. I do think Clemson will win the game but it will be decided by less than one score. This game has the chance to be one of the all time greats. Pick: Notre Dame +10.5

RELATED: Starting quarterback Grant Gunnell, wide receiver Boobie Curry enters transfer portal

SEC Championship Game

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-900) vs. No. 7 Florida Gators (+600) 

Line: Alabama -17.5, Total: 74

This game has an incredibly high total and Alabama will be scoring most of it. Alabama has future NFL players at every position and backups who will be joining them. Florida ruined any chance they had to get into the CFP with a brutal loss against a miserable LSU team a week ago. Even if Florida had won that game, it would have to beat Bama which is something nobody will be doing. Alabama is also 8-2 against the spread this season, which makes Alabama a gambler’s dream team. Pick: Alabama -17.5

American Athletic Conference Championship Game

No. 9 University of Cincinnati Bearcats (-700) vs. No. 23 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (+500)

Line: Cincinnati -14.5, Total: 45.5

Cincinnati desperately needs to get into a bigger conference. This team is plenty talented enough to compete in the Power Five and even win a few of those conferences. They have upper class experience on both sides of the ball and head coach Luke Fickell is an incredible coach. Cincinnati will show why they belong in this game and blow out a ranked Tulsa team. Pick: Bearcats -14.5  

MAC Championship Game

Buffalo Bulls (-500) vs. Ball State Cardinals (+400) (Friday)

Line: Buffalo -13.5, Total: 67

This game should be on a Wednesday night to stick with the MAC theme. Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson scored eight touchdowns in a game this season. I am obligated to pick the team with the guy who scored more touchdowns in one game than Arizona all season. Pick: Buffalo -13.5

Sunbelt Conference Championship Game

No. 19 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns vs. No. 12 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Saturday)

Line: Coastal -3, Total: 55

Both these teams are having excellent seasons. Louisiana beat Iowa State week one and Iowa State will have a chance to make the CFP. Coastal is a Cinderella story and an easy team to root for. Coastal linebacker Teddy Gallagher has the best hair in college football. I have bet and won on both of these teams and Coastal feels like a team of destiny. Pick: Coastal Carolina -3

Mountain West Championship Game

No. 24 San José State Spartans vs. Boise State Broncos

Line: Boise State -6.5, Total: 56

San José State has not lost this season and that will remain true in their conference championship game. San José is also 5-0-1 against the spread which is a huge plus for me. Their head coach Brent Brennan has been one of the names rumored to be pursued by Arizona to be their next head coach. I could see Brennan leaving SJSU on a high note before potentially coming to Tucson. Pick: San José State +6.5  

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