College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 12/3/22

Can Michigan win their second straight Big Ten championship for the first time since 2004?

Conference championship week is here, and the playoff picture couldn’t be any clearer. It seems that Georgia, Michigan, and even TCU are in even if they lose their respective conference title games, and USC is in with a win over Utah. If the Trojans lose, then Ohio State is the most likely replacement in the top four.

By the time we get to Saturday, the College Football Playoff might already be set, but conference titles matter, and there will still be a lot on the line. We’ll start with the Big Ten championship, where Michigan is looking to win its second straight conference title for the first time since 2004. We’ll also cover the SEC championship that projects to be a relatively high-scoring affair despite Georgia’s top-ranked defense in points allowed per game.

Note: All college football odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. Please check numberFire's model to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Purdue Boilermakers vs. Michigan Wolverines

Michigan -16.5: 4 Stars

The Wolverines are coming off what was probably their best win as a program since beating Ohio State in 2003; the Buckeyes at that time were the defending national champions. Michigan went into Ohio Stadium and hung with Ohio State until the Buckeyes couldn’t keep up physically. Then the Wolverines proceeded to obliterate them with two huge touchdown runs by Donovan Edwards in the fourth quarter.

Michigan is clearly focused on more than just beating Ohio State. When J.J. McCarthy was interviewed postgame, he made a point to say that the job isn’t finished.

However, Michigan’s best player this season, Blake Corum, is done for the year with a knee injury. Corum was a Heisman contender until he tweaked his knee in the Wolverines’ close win against Illinois, and he didn’t touch the ball much in the win against the Buckeyes. Michigan had to rely on Edwards, a former four-star prospect in his sophomore season, and freshman C.J. Stokes, a former three-star prospect from South Carolina. Stokes ended up with only two carries, but Edwards had a breakout performance with 216 yards on 22 attempts.

The 2021 recruiting class for Michigan featured both J.J. McCarthy and Donovan Edwards, and those two represented the Wolverines’ ceiling on offense once they worked their way into the lineup. Now that McCarthy won the quarterback job from Cade McNamara (who has since transferred to Iowa) and Corum is out for the rest of the season, the two crown jewels from that class have their opportunity to shine.

Purdue has a respectable offense, ranking fourth in the Big Ten in total yards per game and second in passing yards per game. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell was named to the All-Big Ten second team by the coaches, and he has a solid QBR of 72.5 according to ESPN. O’Connell’s best weapons are wide receiver Charlie Jones, who leads the conference in receiving yards, and tight end Payne Durham, who is second in receiving yards by tight ends in the Big Ten.

The Boilermakers might be able to keep the game close if their passing attack is proficient against Michigan’s defense, which is fourth in ESPN’s SP+ metric. The Wolverines are led by defensive linemen Mike Morris and Mazi Smith, who will both likely play against Purdue despite a hamstring injury and a felony charge, respectively. The Wolverines are seventh in sack rate on passing downs, per Football Outsiders, so they should be able to pressure O’Connell and get the Boilermakers' offense off the field.

Our model gives Michigan a 67.3% chance to cover the relatively large spread, and based on how the Wolverines have been rolling, there’s no reason to doubt them Saturday night.

LSU Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Over 51.5: 5 Stars

Georgia has the nation’s number one defense, per SP+, but their offense has been under the radar. Former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett has led a Bulldogs’ passing attack that has averaged 285.8 yards per game, third in the SEC. Tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington are the top two at their position in the conference in receiving yards and present difficult matchups for opponents.

LSU has been more in the middle of the pack on defense in the SEC and doesn’t present Georgia with much of a threat on that side of the ball.

The Bulldogs rank 3rd in sack rate on offense, while the Tigers are 55th in sack rate on defense. Bennett should have plenty of time to find his go-to weapons like Bowers, Washington, and wide receiver Ladd McConkey, who is tied with Bowers for the most receptions on the team.

LSU currently employs the NFL’s top wide receiver prospect in Kayshon Boutte (Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba and USC’s Jordan Addison also belong in the conversation). The Tigers have struggled to involve Boutte in the offense in a way that fills his potential, but the talent is there. He’s currently second on the team in receptions behind fellow receiver Malik Nabers.

The focal point of the Tigers’ offense, though, has been quarterback Jayden Daniels, who leads the team in rushing yards on top of passing yards. If Georgia struggles to contain Daniels, LSU might be able to put up some points of their own. Georgia was able to contain other mobile quarterbacks they’ve faced this year, like Florida’s Anthony Richardson, but Daniels leads the SEC in rushing yards by a quarterback and is the most elusive.

Our model projects the score goes over the total with a 73.8% likelihood, and we know Georgia will put up points. If Daniels can make plays and utilize his talented receivers, LSU should be able to make this game into more of a shootout than the bookmakers project.