The first weekend in December has traditionally been known as Championship Saturday. The action now starts tonight with the MAC Championship Game and the Pac-12 Championship. With the rash of conference realignment over the past few years, there are now six conference championship games. Four games are played at neutral sites: Big Ten in Indianapolis, ACC in Charlotte, SEC in Atlanta and MAC in Detroit and two at campus sites, Pac-12 and Conference USA.
While the weekend is known as Championship Weekend, it is more like a place where champions go to die.
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Since 2008 favorites are an underwhelming 6-14 ATS in conference championship games, including eight outright losses. Four of the underdogs to win outright since 2008 have done so as double-digit underdogs, and five have been underdogs of at least seven points.
Last season Southern Miss went to Houston as a 12-point underdog and rocked the Cougars, 49-28. Clemson also won last season as a seven-point underdog, 38-10 over Virginia Tech at Charlotte in the ACC Championship Game.
In 2010 Miami of Ohio shocked Northern Illinois 26-21 as an 18.5-point underdog in the MAC Championship Game. The MAC Championship Game, played annually at Detroit’s Ford Field since 2004, was home to another major upset in 2008: Buffalo upset Ball State, 42-24. Ball State was undefeated and a 15-point favorite at the time. That same season East Carolina, as a 12-point underdog, went to Tulsa and knocked off the Golden Hurricane 27-24 in the Conference USA Championship Game.
There have been other close calls over the years like in 2009 when Nebraska, as a 14-point favorite, fell to Texas 13-13 in the Big 12 Championship Game. Last season Michigan State lost to Wisconsin 42-39 but easily covered as a 10-point underdog.
Considering the recent history of conference championship games, favorites should be on alert this week, especially on Friday night: Northern Illinois (-7.5) in the MAC Championship Game against Kent State and Stanford (-8) at home against UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
On Saturday Alabama (-7.5) plays Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, and the largest favorite of the championship games is Florida State (-14) against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.
Here are some other championship game trends since 2008:
Favorites are 4-0 ATS in the SEC Championship Games
Underdogs are 4-0 ATS in MAC Championship Games
The “over” is 12-8 in all championship games played since 2008
The over is 3-1 in ACC Championship Games and SEC Championship Games
The “under” is 3-1 in MAC Championship Games
Underdogs are 3-1 ATS and 3-1 SU in Conference USA Championship Games
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