It's Championship Weekend, and teams want to solidify their standing in the College Football Playoff picture.
While some matchups pit heated rivals against one another, like Georgia vs. Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, plenty of other lopsided point spreads are on the board. Michigan is the biggest favorite of the weekend, laying over three touchdowns against the porous offense of Iowa. At the same time, Texas is favored by more than two TD's against Mike Gundy's Oklahoma State Cowboys.
How do the likes of Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Oklahoma State's Gundy perform as big favorites and big underdogs, respectively?
Here are some trends to note ahead of this weekends action.
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Trust Jim Harbaugh as Big Favorite
Michigan got passed Ohio State in the season finale for the third straight season and are all but certainly set to make the College Football Playoff. While Harbaugh may not be known for covering massive numbers at Michigan (he is just 16-21-2 since taking over as a favorite of three or more touchdowns), he has dominated in Big Ten Championship Games.
In the last two Big Ten Championship games, Michigan beat Iowa 42-3 and beat Purdue 43-23.
Michigan was a double digit favorite in both games, -12 against Iowa and -15.5 against Purdue and showed little issue building a big lead and blowing out the Big Ten West foe. It's worth noting that the Wolverines scored late in each game too, punching in a rushing score in the final two minutes both time, which could play a role in the massive point spread on Saturday.
Harbaugh was suspended the last three games after the Wolverines sign stealing investigation, and will return for this matchup.
Trust Mike Gundy as an Underdog?
Oklahoma State is a surprising entrant into the Big 12 title game, opening the season at around 60-1 odds with a win total of 6.5. Following a slow start to the season that included a double-digit home loss to South Alabama, the team got hot in Big 12 play and is now into the title game, facing the league's best team Texas.
Oddsmakers aren't high on the Pokes' chances of beating Texas, setting the line north of two touchdowns as of this writing.
However, Gundy has been strong as an underdog throughout his coaching career, 41-36-2 against the spread (ATS) dating back to 2005, per KillerSports.com. Further, he is 7-4 ATS when catching two touchdowns or more, including three outright victories in that admittedly small sample size.
This season, Oklahoma State is 5-1 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog, winning all five games outright. Can the team play spoiler come Saturday afternoon against a CFP hopeful in Texas?
SEC Championship Game Trends
Georgia and Alabama will meet for the third time in the Kirby Smart era in Athens with a spot in the CFP on the line. These two are the gold standard of college football with Smart looking to take the mantle from his mentor, Nick Saban, if he hasn't already.
These two have met in only high-stakes matchups since Smart took the job at UGA, twice in the SEC Championship Game, with the Crimson Tide taking each matchup. Most recently, in 2021, Alabama was an underdog but won handily against the Bulldogs. Could something similar be in store come Saturday afternoon?
In the prior meeting, Alabama didn't cover as a double-digit favorite, winning 35-28, but both games have been high-scoring. In 2018, the total pushed the high mark of 63, but the 2021 edition soared over the modest total of 49 as Alabama won 41-24.
Overall, Smart is 3-2 against the spread in SEC Championship games, but 2-3 straight up. His Bulldogs won and covered as a 17-point favorite against LSU last year, 50-30.
Meanwhile, Saban has been here plenty. He is 8-1 straight up in SEC title games at Alabama, going over at a 7-1-1 clip. It's worth noting, though, that his Crimson Tide teams are only 4-5 ATS in these games.