LSU quarterback Joe Burrow led the Tigers to the Fiesta Bowl last season and is the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY)

Mike Craven staff


Craven’s Corner: Conference championships take center stage for sports bettors

Posted December 4th, 2019


November was great for Craven’s Corner. A 6-2 week brings us to 57-50-3 on the season. Our college football picks the last three weeks are 12-2-1. The bets this week focus on the conference championship games.

Readers who remember our inaugural trip to the Corner already have money on a few of the conference championship games because of future bets. Back in August, we picked Ohio State to win the Big Ten at +175, Georgia to win the SEC at +250 and Memphis to win the AAC at +265.

A quick refresher: Betting looks difficult, but it is easy to grasp. A negative number denotes the favorite. The number after the negative represents how much money you’d need to bet to win $100. For example, a -265 favorite would require a $265 bet to win $100. Conversely, a positive number is the underdog. The number following the positive represents how much money you’d make on a $100. So, a +265 bet means $100 earns you $265.


We’re using as our general sports book. Remember that lines fluctuate based on bets and are subject to change before kickoff.

Got it? OK, let’s make some money:

Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) looks for a receiver against Texas in the first half of their game last month in Waco. The Bears face Oklahoma for the Big 12 title this week. (Stephen Spillman/For Statesman)

Baylor +8 over Oklahoma: The Sooners won the first matchup by three points and they needed a miraculous performance in the second half to escape Waco with a win. Since that game, Baylor has looked better and Oklahoma looks the same. That might not mean that the Bears can pull the upset, but it certainly means Matt Rhule’s team can keep this within a touchdown. The pressure is squarely on Oklahoma while Baylor wants to prove the first half of their November meeting wasn’t a fluke. 

Cincinnati +9.5 over Memphis: This is a hedge bet for those of us who picked Memphis to win the AAC before the season. For reference, taking Memphis to win the game outright on Saturday is -350, so we received tremendous value before the season. Take Cincinanati to cover just in case the Bearcats come close to pulling the upset. Conference championships tend to get weird and I wouldn’t feel great about needing a 10-point win for Memphis. 

LSU -7 over Georgia: This is another bet that pays for itself if wrong because we enter the game with Georgia to win the SEC before the season. Georgia was +250 before the season and are +240 entering this game, so that line held up in the regular season. LSU looks like a different monster and the Georgia offense doesn’t inspire much confidence if this becomes a high scoring affair.  

Oregon +7 over Utah: This is the biggest game for Utah’s football program in my lifetime. A convincing win could send Utah to the College Football Playoffs. That’s a ton of pressure on a national stage. It feels like its too much, too soon for Utah. Give me Oregon and seven points since the Ducks are playing this game with nothing to lose. We don’t even need Oregon to win. We simply need Oregon to keep it within a score.