Utah fans will be keeping close watch on the SEC championship game

Utah, which is No. 5 in this week’s College Football Playoff ranking, opened as a 6.5-point favorite over Oregon at Circa Sports in Las Vegas for Friday night’s Pac-12 championship game.

The Utes clinched the Pac-12 South with a 45-15 rout of Colorado as 28-point favorites, and they’re hoping another big win Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will earn a bid to the four-team College Football Playoffs. Their chances will largely depend on what happens in other conference title games.

Georgia, at No. 4, is the most vulnerable target above the Utes. The Bulldogs opened as a six-point underdog to Louisiana State in Saturday’s SEC championship game in Atlanta.

Oklahoma would match Utah’s 12-1 record if both win conference championships. The No. 6 Sooners opened as 10.5-point favorites over Baylor in the Big 12 title game Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

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The Pac-12 has made two appearances since the Final Four structure began in 2014. The first year, Oregon (-7.5) defeated Florida State, 59-20, before losing to Ohio State, 42-20, as a six-point favorite. After the 2016 season, Washington (+12.5) lost to Alabama, 24-7.

USC is waiting to find out which bowl game in which it will play. The Trojans performed much better against market expectations. USC (8-4) surpassed its regular season win projection of seven and went 6-5-1 against the spread (ATS). UCLA (4-8) fell short of its six-win target and went 4-7-1 ATS.

Other Notes

• USC and UCLA bounced back in college basketball Sunday after disappointing stretches. USC (-1.5) defeated Harvard, 77-62, to finish third in the Orlando Invitational. That ended a four-game non-cover streak for the Trojans. UCLA (-22.5) defeated San Jose State, 93-64. That followed the Bruins finishing sixth in the eight-team Maui Invitational last week.

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• In the NFL, the Rams opened as 2.5-point home underdogs for Sunday’s rematch against Seattle. Barring major injuries, you don’t often see a team get more points at home than it did on the road. The Rams closed +1.5 in Seattle on Oct. 3.

Home-field advantage is typically worth three points in the NFL. That would mean a six-point adjustment from one site to another. Instead of laying 4.5 points at the Coliseum, the Rams are a bigger underdog because of a dramatic change in perception. Seattle carried a 9-2 record into its Monday night game with Minnesota. The Rams are on the fringe of the NFC wild-card race at 7-5 thanks to poor offensive showings against quality defenses.

The Chargers (4-8) opened as three-point favorites in Jacksonville despite losing another heartbreaker Sunday in Denver to fall to 3-7-2 ATS. Jacksonville has struggled badly in a four-game losing streak in which it also lost ATS. The Jaguars missed the market by a combined 73 points in falling by a combined 129-47 to Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee and Tampa Bay.

• In the NBA, the Lakers missed the spread by 20.5 points in Sunday’s 114-100 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks as 6.5-point favorites. That dropped the Lakers (17-3) to 2-5 ATS in their last seven games. The Lakers will play three road games in four days beginning Tuesday in Denver.

The Clippers will begin a six-game trip Friday against Eastern Conference favorite Milwaukee. The Clippers are 1-6 ATS their last seven road games.

• In the NHL, the Ducks and Kings enter Monday night’s head-to-head meeting with 11 wins in 27 games. Each scored a recent win over the previously red-hot New York Islanders. Each surrounded that win with losses to other teams.

Bettors backing the Kings every game would be down three units against the money line but more than eight units on the puck line, which uses a goal “spread” of 1.5 at varying prices. Those backing the Ducks every game would be down almost five units against money lines but only one on the puck line.

Fogle writes for VSiN.com.

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