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Giving Away Money: 2023 Championship Week Picks Against the Spread To Enhance Your Filthy Lucre

Vegas has your money on championship week; let’s go get it.

Week 13: 3-2-1
Season: 43-29-3

Welcome to the final regular weekly installment of 2023’s Giving Away Money.

We use data-based algorithmic predictions for all of our picks, combined with deep knowledge, and some good ole’ fashioned eyeballs.

For a third year, we extend our thanks to DraftKings for sponsoring Roll ‘Bama Roll in this space. For more degenerate gambling, fantasy, and sportsbook posts, you can check all of those out at the SBNation DraftKings Supergroup hub.

For current odds, check those out here.


Half a dozen games to go through today, and you know the drill: One we like, one we love, an underdog to consider, one to steer clear of, a ginormous spread worth your time, and a mortal lock.

Vegas has your money; let’s go get it.

Not with a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money:

Luhvl +1.5 vs. FSU

The data here are functionally useless. Not only is Travis out, his backup is likely out too, and FSU will be playing behind a freshman QB with four attempts. But, even before that, I thought UL had a puncher’s chance here given their ability to force turnovers, rush the passer, and their passing game vs. a shaky FSU secondary, and given FSU’s poor play out of Doak. I can’t project anything here, but I may just take the ‘Ville on the ML.

On a neutral field, with no turnovers, both teams playing to their average efficiency, and with no absences, FSU was only favored by the composite to the tune of -2.56. So this one was always going to be close. At least the Pewters thought so.

FSU -2.56
And you’d be a damn fool to take it.


One We Like:

Michigan -22 vs. Iowa

This spread functionally says that, on a neutral field, Iowa is worse than Rutgers was on the road. Do you believe that? Me either. By a long, long vast distance this is the best defense across the board that Michigan has played this year. And while Iowa’s offense won’t wow anyone, their lethal punting, outstanding defense, return game, ability to force turnovers, and general special teams play overall can ugly this one right up. JJ McCarthy was nothing special against any of the reasonably decent defenses he played, and this one is far from merely decent. Meanwhile, I’m not sure the UM ground attack can run wild. Can they win? Oh, yeah. But dominate like this? Likely not.

The Gods hate hubris and inevitability. This is going to be a mollywhomper of an affair, and should Iowa stay out of turnover trouble, can at least salvage a cover for the Hawkeyes. Who knows, a few breaks and short fields may even pull off the stunner.

The Hawkeyes have literally nothing to lose here.
Michigan -9.089


One We Love:

Georgia -5 vs. Alabama

Georgia is just a slightly more efficient team, in general. It’s not as dumb.

But these DWAGS are mortal. They lack the usual star power and leadership, they have struggles in the red zone, they struggle getting red zone TD stops, it’s a bit more turnover prone than usual, the special teams unit is a step behind some of those better UGA groups, and Kirby has always had issues stopping running QBs — especially on third down. Did we mention the two (kind of gross) freshman inside linebackers UGA will have to play?

Carson Beck...we know nothing about him except that he is a 50-50 passer under pressure and hasn’t shown the YOLO that Bennett did. And he’s facing the best secondary he’ll play all season, and the best pass rush.

For the first time in a long time, most UGA fans are mindful of playing a healthy team that is a peer adversary. And they should be. These two are very, very close.

The numbers call for a narrow UGA win, but not a cover. And, like UNLV above, a +1 TOM for the Crimson Tide could even effectuate the upset.

The data are what they are, but Alabama can win this game — cover, at the least
UGA -3.24

Underdog With Bite

Tulane -2.5 vs SMU

We got us a wrong-team-favored, fellas...for many reasons.

The Green Wave have a superior defense...except for a penchant for giving up deep strikes in the passing game. Sure, they force a lot of turnovers, and it’s likely the AAC’s best defense overall. But you can score on this group with a concerted passing attack. That’s music to the ears of SMU who most of the season have been devouring the AAC. Now, they will also give up some points and occasionally revert to that old school SWC shootout style, but the difference between 2023 and 2022 SMU is three-fold, and will make the difference. 1. Much better, consistent defense this season, 2. Far better ball control — Mordecai is now turning it over with great regularity in Madison, and 3. A more balanced attack. It is a superior running game to the one they’ve featured of late.

Tulane has simply been playing with fire far too long this season, hoping to turn it on and salvage a win, or will leap out to a lead and hope that they can hang on. That’s a bad recipe against a team with as much talent as you. SMU can punish them for it. They’ve played two games within double digits their last 8 weeks, they went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma.

Cocaine Fundies Ain’t Skurred.
SMU in an “upset” — -3.93

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Texas Christian
TCU’s not playing this week. But I don’t care...and neither do you now.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Ginormous Spread Worth Your Time

This is as close as it gets to “ginormous.”

NMSU +10.5 at Liberty — This is a rematch of a late September meeting between these two. The Ags weren’t very competitive in that contest, losing by 16 on the road in Lynchburg. They’re again on the road, and has the passage of time changed the prognosis?

NMSU’s ground defense should be able to hold up decently, but the mismatch here that gives you the greatest pause is their penchant for allowing explosive plays. LU is 4th in the country in generating them, and 2nd in per-play explosive efficiency — NMSU is 90th in preventing them. They can hold for 5-6 downs, force a punt here or there, and still give up 28-30 points pretty easily.

The other issue is road TOs for NMSU — they’re a crappy -2 overall as it is, but when assessing road games against teams, it drops to -4. They’ve feasted on a lot of home mistakes. Liberty is not the place they want to be doing this in.

Both teams are heavily penalized, so expect a sloppy one. But most of Liberty’s comes in the form of presnap 5-yarders. NMSU has been flagged for the 12th most holding calls this year. The former can be worked around; the latter are win-killers.

Yesterday, I voted for Jerry Kill as the Nat’l coach of the year, and NSMU has been stellar ATS (10-2-1) but those two losses and push? All road games. The Aggies are .500 ATS in true roadies. Expect a slightly more competitive game but the same bottom line.

Liberty wins and covers: -13.09


Mortal Lock

Oregon -9 vs. Washington (LV)

The Ducks still have to be kicking themselves for losing this game twice because of an inability to hang on to large leads. They were the better team both times and simply could not close it out. But that has been characteristic of every Lanning loss.

Can the Doogs win a rematch here, with the winner likely punching a ticket to the CFP?

Short answer: No.
Longer answer: Hell no.

The Ducks I think have figured out the secret sauce now. Prevent those haymakers from UW on defense, shut down an anemic running game, punish Washington with their own ground attack, and take their strategic shots against an absolutely dreadful secondary.

The data here aren’t cute or hidden. Oregon is simply better. Better offense. Better defense. Better ball security. Better coached. Better talent. The chalice is at hand and a simple formula really is all that they need. Lanning won’t get cutesy again or outhink himself. This is closer to a 14-17 point game than a 7-10 pointer.

Ducks continue to pass the “eyeball test” against another dreadful defense.
Oregon -15.92

Poll

Who ya’ got?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    DWAGS -5
    (27 votes)
  • 79%
    BAMMERS +5
    (176 votes)
  • 8%
    PUSH, BABY
    (19 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now

Want some more of these? I crank the data for (almost) every single game, every single week over at my companion site: (Almost) Giving Away Money. Check it out, and prosper.

Just five bucks a month. Far cheaper than a divorce attorney when your wife leaves you for being a bad gambler.