Smart Box Series: High Expectations
By Marc Lawrence
When Alabama defeated Florida, 28-21, to win the first ever SEC championship game in 1992, it signaled the start of Division-1 college football conference title games.
This week finds a total of six FBS conference championship games on tap, with no less than four teams each owning one loss on the season.
Satisfyingly enough, these four one-time losers – all 11-1 on the year - find themselves paired against one another as upstart Kent State squares off against Northern Illinois in the MAC title game, while Alabama meets Georgia in the SEC championship game.
In addition to the pressure of being a defending national champion looking to get back to the BCS Championship Game, Alabama must also overcome exceedingly high expectations of its own.
The staggering effect of what happens in conference championship games with teams who have dominated on the playing field the last two seasons is eye-opening, to say the least.
Our database confirms the notion, finding that teams in conference title games who managed to win 19 or more of their last 22 games are just 6-15-2 ATS when installed as favorites in these games.
Worse, when favored by 21 or less points, and playing off a win of 3 or more points, these ’pips’ dip to 1-14-1 ATS in these title game roles.
The Tide may be high in Tuscaloosa these days but expectancy of rewarding their backers is low this week.
- AAA Sports
- August 9, 2015 - 8:00 PM
- Offered at:
- bookmaker @ -2.5 -110 Minnesota
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Minnesota Vikings -2 1/2 8:00 EST
1* Free Play Minnesota Vikings.
What you see is what you get each year from Pittsburgh, which builds through the draft, doesn’t sign a lot of free agents and basically comes at you. How much Ben Roethlisberger has left is a question asked every September given the number of hits he takes. The biggest change will be at defensive coordinator, where legend Dick Lebeau is gone – which may mean the LBs will be freer to attack the pocket.
The Vikes have Adrian Peterson back and things seem to have calmed down a bit in Minnesota. But then again, Mike Wallace has been on board for only a few months. Vikes are looking for a huge Year 2 improvement from Teddy Bridgewater and if they get it they can make things sticky in the North.
In 2014/15 the Steelers were 1-3 SU/ATS in the preseason and in 2013/14 they were 0-4 SU/ATS. After missing the playoffs in 2013/14, Pittsburgh returned last year only to lose 30-17 to the Ravens in the Wildcard round. Mike Tomlin has clearly not been very worried about winning in the preseason the last few years.
Last year the Vikes went 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in the preseason, after going 1-3 SU/ATS in 2013/14 and 1-3 SU/ATS in 2012/13. For a team which is desperately trying to get back to the playoffs, the preseason suddenly becomes a lot more important.
There are many players on Minnesota which have something to prove, while Pittsburgh will surely be happy to just go through the motions and leave Canton without any significant injuries.
Minnesota would seem to be the more motivated team in this one, consider laying the short points.
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