Free Sports Picks: Championship Saturday College Football Picks
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/4/2009
After an easy shutout win and cover by Oklahoma I am now 2-1 in my free college football picks heading into Championship Saturday. Much like rivalry week and bowl week, Championship Saturday games need to be looked at in a different light. In most situations, conference titles are up for grabs but in the grand scheme of things some teams are playing for completely different things.
No. 5 Cincinnati Bearcats at No. 15 Pitt Panthers
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
After starting as a pick the line has slowly crept up to two points favoring the undefeated Bearcats.
What's at Stake?
Both are playing for a Big East title as the conference got lucky in having this showdown scheduled for the last week of the season. The Bearcats are playing for an outside chance at a national title shot. A loss by Texas and a Cincinnati win could send the Bearcats to the title game. A Pitt win would likely send the Panthers to the Sugar Bowl but a loss could send them plummeting all the way to the International Bowl or Papajohns.com bowl. A loss by Cincinnati would not harm it as much, a New Year's Day Bowl game should still be in order for what would be an 11-1 Cincinnati team.
Undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the country, the public is squarely in the corner of the Bearcats, especially considering the last impression most people have of Pitt is their 19-16 loss to rival West Virginia.
Cincinnati is 4-1 ATS in its last five road games. I will mention though that Cincinnati has hardly played in many hostile environments and while Heinz Field on a Saturday at noon is hardly hostile, it will present the biggest road atmosphere challenge Cincy has faced since its game at South Florida.
Cincinnati is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 Big East games.
Pitt has bounced back from its last six straight up losses to go 5-1 ATS.
Pitt is 5-2 ATS in its last seven home games and 6-2 ATS its last eight Big East games.
Why to Stay Away from Cincinnati?
The Bearcats have not covered since a 28-7 win at Syracuse back in October. Since then they needed a last-minute defensive stand to hold back Connecticut, 47-45, referees help to edge West Virginia, 24-21, and then could never fully put away Illinois in a 49-26 win.
Why to Stay Away from Pitt?
The Pitt program over the past decade has shown that when the opportunity to elevate the program is there, Pitt disappears. Dave Wannstedt has rarely won a big game and this would classify as the biggest game in his loss filled tenure at the school.
Look at Pitt's schedule and hardly a marquee win stands out. The one game does is a 38-31 loss at North Carolina State who is 2-7 SU against everyone else it has played this year from Division 1-A.
The Bearcats have been challenged slightly more with a marquee win at potential Pac-10 champion Oregon State on the road back in mid September, a win against Fresno State and a late-season game against Illinois.
Much gets made of Pitt's weapons: Jonathan Baldwin at wide receiver and Dorin Dickerson at tight end. However, quarterback Bill Stull is suspect to say the least. The Panthers have the 56th-ranked passing offense in the country. This game could very well be determined through the passing game and Cincinnati's Tony Pike, at full health, leads the nation's sixth-best passing attack and Pike over Stull is the one matchup in this game that overwhelmingly favors Cincinnati.
Take the Bearcats giving the points
No. 3 Texas vs. No. 20 Nebraska
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
The Longhorns opened up as two touchdown favorites. There was enough to action to take the line off of 14 and send it down to 13.5. However, since then the line not only went back to 14 but climbed to 14.5.
Nebraska is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as an underdog.
Nebraska is 7-3 ATS in its last ten games against teams with a winning record while Texas is 2-5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Texas is 4-0-1 ATS in last five games on fieldturf (Cowboys Stadium has fieldturf) and Nebraska is 1-4 ATS in its last five games on fieldturf.
Mostly due to the line the public is split on this. If the line would be closer to 10 I am sure everyone would be jumping on Texas but with the line just over two touchdowns, the bets have been balanced for the most part.
The Double Digit Line
Of the Longhorn's 12 games this season, they have been favored by 20 points nine times. That is a remarkable state. They are 3-6 ATS in those situations.
What's at Stake?
For Texas, a chance at the national title, for Nebraska, a chance to be spoiler. All the pressure appears to be on Texas in this situation.
It is hard to believe the Nebraska defense will let this game get away from its team. The defense is ranked third in the country in points allowed and that is quite a statement considering the offensive weapons in the Big 12. The Cornhuskers defense has only allowed 11 points per game this year. Coincidentally, the Texas offense is ranked third in the country in points scored with 43 points per game.
The fact that Las Vegas has set the total at 45 lets you know they are expecting more of a defensive game than Texas has grown accustomed to.
It is the lowest total for any Texas game this season.
Take Nebraska and the points