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College football conference championship game expert picks, predictions for 2022

Fansided 12/1/2022 Cody Williams
© Provided by Fansided

Making our college football expert picks for every 2022 conference championship game with predictions for winners, ATS picks and more. 

Goodbye, regular season. Welcome to championship week. Over Friday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 2, college football fans will be treated to one conference championship game after another. In total, 10 conference titles will be on the line, some with higher stakes than others, however, to be sure.

The SEC Championship Game was robbed of its stakes after LSU fell to rival Texas A&M in the final week of the season but they'd still love to be the first team to beat Georgia, though it won't have an effect on the Bulldogs' place in the College Football Playoff. The same isn't true for USC and TCU having rematches against Utah and Kansas State, respectively. Both teams seem to be in position where they need to win in order to avoid the danger of being jumped in the Top 4 by Ohio State or even Alabama.

And let's not forget a game like the AAC Conference Championship Game as Tulane and UCF battle for a spot in the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of 5 team. Don't sleep on the entertainment coming in Conference USA, the MAC, the Sun Belt and much more.

Let's dive into these matchups, though, with our college football expert picks for every 2022 FBS conference championship game with score predictions and picks against the spread.

College football expert picks: Predictions for all 10 FBS conference championship games

Conference USA Championship Game picks: North Texas vs. UTSA

When the Mean Green and Roadrunners faced off in the regular season at the end of October, things got absolutely wild between the C-USA foes. After it was just 6-3 in favor of North Texas in at halftime, things got loose, especially late. There were three touchdowns in the final 2:15 of play with UTSA scoring the go-ahead score to earn the 31-27 victory.

The strength of both teams is on the offensive side of the ball, make no mistake.There is also no real momentum advantage as both teams had been rolling prior to emerging victorious in clear look-ahead spots in the final week of the regular season.

To me, though, this is a spot that UTSA quarterback Frank Harris, the coaching staff and the roster as a whole is more familiar with after the success the Roadrunners enjoyed a season ago. Particularly with this game in the Alamodome, I like for UTSA to make a more decisive effort in this rematch and cover as they claim the C-USA crown.

Prediction: North Texas 28, UTSA 38 (Roadrunners cover -8.5, Under 69.5)

Pac-12 Championship Game picks: Utah vs. USC

If the season ended without the Pac-12 Championship Game being played, USC would be into the College Football Playoff. But the conference title tilt offers the Trojans to leave no doubt about their spot in the Top 4 with a chance to avenge their one loss on the season in a rematch with Utah.

While the Utes were victorious in the first meeting, it was quite literally a matter of who had the ball last with reasonable time remaining on the clock. Trailing 42-35, Utah scored and elected to go for the two-point conversion, which they were successful, leaving Caleb Williams and the Trojans not enough time to mount a comeback.

That game was in Rice-Eccles Stadium on a night when Utah was honoring teammates who'd passed away. Moreover, Williams has turned into a Super-Saiyan of late while Cameron Rising doesn't look 100 percent healthy. I think we see the Utes cough the ball up a couple of times while USC has the same success offensively to earn a decisive victory and lock up its CFP spot.

Prediction: Utah 31, USC 42 (Trojans cover -2.5, Over 67.5)

Big 12 Championship Game picks: Kansas State vs. TCU

Among the many comebacks that Sonny Dykes' TCU Horned Frogs have pulled off to come into the Big 12 Championship Game unbeaten, one of the most impressive was against Kansas State. Trailing 28-17 at halftime, Max Duggan and Kendre Miller led a second-half charge that saw the Frogs put 21 unanswered on the board to win 38-28.

Outside of blowing out Iowa State last week, though, one thing that we saw down the stretch was that the book might be out on the TCU offense now as Texas Tech's poor defense only gave up 34 points, Texas held the Frogs to 17, and Baylor kept them under 30 as well.

I expect fewer points in this rematch. At the same time, though, Kansas State has been much more consistent and, frankly, better with Will Howard since he came in against TCU. I think the Horned Frogs get caught trailing again but, this time, they fall short of the comeback, which will raise questions about whether they'll make the CFP — even if that's completely ludicrous at this point.

Prediction: Kansas State 28, TCU 27 (Kansas State covers +2.5, Under 61.5)

MAC Championship Game picks: Toledo vs. Ohio

If you're curious as to why Toledo is favored in this matchup despite having two fewer wins than Ohio, it comes down to Bobcats quarterback Kurtis Rourke being ruled out for the rest of the season with an injury, a huge blow to the offense as he was one of the most underrated players in the country this season.

Even with that being the case, we did see one game from sophomore CJ Harris after Rourke's injury and Ohio still put up 32 points in a win over Bowling Green, a team with a solid defense. Meanwhile, Toledo has been dealing with quarterback injuries of its own with Dequan Finn being banged up and Tucker Gleason looking much like a freshman. That's why the Rockets come into this matchup off of two losses against Bowling Green and Western Michigan.

From what I've seen in recent MACtion, Ohio is just more well-rounded and sound on that side of the ball coming into this game. There's a reason the line has been moving steadily in their favor and I don't see that changing on Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: Toledo 20, Ohio 27 (Ohio covers +1.5, Under 54.5)

Sun Belt Championship Game picks: Coastal Carolina vs. Troy

There are going to be some people who look at Coastal Carolina getting boat-raced by James Madison last week and think that this could be a blowout in favor of Troy. It might be, but that game for the Chants was much more about looking ahead to this game than anything else.

What will be a major factor in the Sun Belt Championship Game, however, is that Troy is arguably the best defense that Coastal has seen all season. And then you have to add in that the Chanticleers are no longer playing with star quarterback Grayson McCall, that's another problem for Jamey Chadwell's team.

If there was one mitigating factor, it would be that the Trojans offense has not been anything special this season overall. But Coastal's defense has given up 26 or more points in seven of their 11 games this season and only held one team under 21 points. I think Troy is just superior and finds a way to control this game from start to finish.

Prediction: Coastal Carolina 20, Troy 34 (Troy covers -8.5, Over 48.5)

SEC Championship Game picks: LSU vs. Georgia

Speaking of one team just being far superior, that certainly looks to be the case for Georgia coming into this showdown against LSU. Granted, the Tigers were undeniably in another look-ahead spot last week when they looked hapless against ailing Texas A&M. But even before that, we started to see some shine wearing off on the heels of the win over Alabama.

There are going to be people talking about Georgia starting slow against Georgia Tech or messing around with a team like Kentucky. But since they dominated Tennessee, the Dawgs have quite obviously been in cruise control mode and not putting anything more on tape with a sugar-free-vanilla offense and dominating on defense.

We saw that they have a switch to flip when they played Tennessee and we should see more of it on Saturday afternoon. Jayden Daniels is going to be in hell against the Georgia front seven and Stetson Bennett IV should bring out his big-game chops once again for an emphatic UGA victory to move into the College Football Playoff at 13-0.

Prediction: LSU 17, Georgia 40 (Georgia covers -18.5, Over 50.5)

American Athletic Championship Game picks: UCF vs. Tulane

It was a massive AAC matchup on Nov. 12 when UCF went on the road to Tulane as, at the time, it felt like it could determine which of the two teams ended up in the title game. But despite the Knights coming out on top in a 38-31 showdown, they are set to meet again, once again facing off in New Orleans.

One thing that stuck out tremendous from that first matchup, though, was UCF catching Tulane off guard. The Knights behind a strong John Rhys Plumlee rushing game jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first half and led 31-14 midway through the third quarter. While Gus Malzahn might've been protecting that lead somewhat, Tulane defensive coordinator Chris Hampton also made adjustments and really clamped up UCF in the second half overall.

With those adjustments in mind, I think this game is tight throughout. But when it comes to crunch time, I trust the body of work that the Green Wave have put forth this season much more than UCF, especially with how the Knights defense has been suspect of late.

Prediction: UCF 27, Tulane 33 (Tulane covers -3.5, Over 56.5)

Mountain West Championship Game picks: Fresno State vs. Boise State

Boise State completely dominated Fresno State when these two Mountain West powers squared off on Oct. 8, taking a 40-20 win to the bank on their home field. That game also dropped the Bulldogs to 1-4 on the season. But if you'll notice, they also haven't lost since falling in Boise.

The big key to that game was that star quarterback Jake Haener was out due to injury for that game. Since his return, however, Fresno State hasn't scored fewer than 30 points in a single game. Moreover, his ability to sustain drives and score has put less pressure on a defense that does have its flaws but can be fine if they're not put in bad situations.

We'll be back on the blue turf for this game but I see the result playing out much differently. Fresno State is better than 8-4 with Haener healthy and on the field and Boise State doesn't have the overall offensive firepower to keep up with him. Give me the Bulldogs outright to take the Mountain West with their eighth straight win.

Prediction: Fresno State 31, Boise State 27 (Fresno State cover +3.5, Over 54.5)

ACC Championship Game picks: Clemson vs. North Carolina

Just a few weeks ago, this matchup was shaping up to be a battle between one-loss teams with a potential College Football Playoff berth on the line. But with UNC losing back-to-back head-scratchers to Georgia Tech and NC State along with Clemson falling to South Carolina, there luster has been taken off the ACC Championship Game a bit.

This is also a matchup between two teams with drastically different styles of play. North Carolina is all offense behind redshirt freshman quarterback Drake Maye but the Tar Heels defense is one of the worst Power 5 units in the country. Meanwhile, Clemson's offense has been a chore at many points in the season while their defense is among the most talented in college football.

Despite the fact that the UNC defense could and should be generous, I have more faith in Maye on the big stage. D.J. Uiagalelei has been far too unreliable this season for me to take him on the big stage when he could have to keep up with an explosive Tar Heels attack.

Prediction: Clemson 34, North Carolina 38 (UNC covers +7.5, Over 63.5)

Big Ten Championship Game picks: Purdue vs. Michigan

The tears in Columbus are still flowing with Michigan punching its ticket to the Big Ten Championship Game by beating Ohio State for the second straight season. Now a virtual lock to make the College Football Playoff, the Wolverines would love to get another feather in their cap by dismantling Purdue.

Over the years, Purdue has earned its "Spoilermakers" reptuation for popping up and knocking ranked teams off. And they have a strong playmaker in quarterback Aidan O'Connell leading the charge. Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, though, those games weren't in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title. Subsequently, that's a big reason why I see Michigan rolling.

Michigan proved last week that it can rely on J.J. McCarthy at quarterback much more than expected but, just imporantly, that it can dominate most anyone in the trenches. It might be somewhat tight early, but the Wolverines will wear down Purdue and stifle O'Connell and the offense en route to a monster victory.

Prediction: Purdue 10, Michigan 34 (Michigan covers -16.5, Under 52.5)

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