Scott Van Pelt gives his Winners for Conference championship weekend

    Scott Van Pelt joined ESPN in Spring 2001 as the network’s lead professional golf reporter. He has since become a SportsCenter anchor, primarily hosting the 11 p.m. ET edition while remaining the lead reporter and host of the network’s coverage of golf’s grand slam events. In April 2008 he was named co-host of ESPN Radio’s Tirico & Van Pelt weekday show (2-4 p.m. ET on weekdays). A native of Brookville, Md., Van Pelt graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in radio/television and film.

All I can say is thank goodness all those dire predictions of doom for Twitter didn’t come true. Everyone who got the tweet with Thanksgiving week winners can be thankful for that. We went 9-1, if the Apple Cup came through, the birdcage actually would have happened. Kinda glad it didn’t, because had I gone 10-0, I think I would have just walked off the stage like Randy Watson in Coming to America. As it is, we’re 17 games over .500 — another good season in progress here. But we remain humble and focused.

Season: 65-48-3

Pac-12 Championship Game

No. 11 Utah vs No. 4 USC (-2.5, 67)
Friday 8 p.m. ET, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada

Van Pelt’s pick: No. 11 Utah (+2.5)

As for championship week, we will begin on Friday in Vegas with Utah plus the points against USC in the Pac-12 title game. A lot had to go the Utes way to even be in the game and Kyle Whittingham’s team gets a chance to spoil the Trojans playoff hopes. They gave ‘SC their only loss and it is tough to beat a good team twice — but that’s just what they did last year with Oregon.

SVP: 8-6 all-time when picking against Lincoln Riley

Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship

    No. 10 Kansas State vs No. 3 TCU (-2.5, 62.0)
    Saturday 12 p.m. ET on ABC, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

    Van Pelt’s pick: No. 10 Kansas State (+2.5)

    On the Saturday slate, we will take another bite of the team from the Little Apple. We backed Kansas State when they visited Fort Worth… they were up 28-10 but TCU did what it’s done all year and roared back to not only win — but cover. We’re on the Cats in the Big 12 title game… EMAW and all that.

    SVP: 1-5 this season when picking against TCU

    Sun Belt Championship

    Coastal Carolina at Troy (-8.5, 48)
    Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, Alabama

    Van Pelt’s pick: Troy (-8.5)

    As America’s No. 1 Sun Belt tout, I feel I should take the title game out of general principle — which is NOT to say it’s a GPG game — I’m mostly just doing it out of a sense of obligation. We are laying the points with Troy. They’ve won nine in a row. Coastal limps in a bit after losing by 40 to JMU last week.

    SVP: 13-2 when picking Sun Belt teams this season

    American Athletic Championship

    No. 22 UCF at No. 18 Tulane (-4, 57)
    Saturday 4 p.m. ET on ABC, Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana

    Van Pelt’s pick: No. 22 UCF (+4)

    We have a rematch in New Orleans of a game UCF won earlier this year over Tulane and I will back the road team plus the points in this one. Feels like a close 4-quarter battle and I like the candy in a game like that.

    SVP: 32-12 all-time when picking AAC conference games

    SEC Championship Game

    No. 14 LSU vs No. 1 Georgia (-17.5, 52.5)
    Saturday 4 p.m. ET, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

    Van Pelt’s pick: Georgia (-17.5)

    On the other hand, what’s the most points we’ve laid in this segment? I don’t know, but we are putting a bunch on the table in Atlanta. Who’s that coming down the track? Mean machine in red and black to roll into the playoff. (Editor’s note: SVP laid 33.5 points with No. 5 Oklahoma at home against West Virginia in 2019. 52-14… Winner.)

    SVP: 5-1 all-time when laying at least 17 points

    Mountain West Championship Game

    Fresno State at Boise State (-3, 53.5)
    Saturday 4 p.m. ET, Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho

    Van Pelt’s pick:

    SVP: 5-1 when picking Mountain West teams in last two seasons

    Big Ten Championship Game

    Purdue vs No. 2 Michigan (-17, 52)
    Saturday 8 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

    Van Pelt’s pick: Purdue (+17)

    One last underdog to close this out. We implore our friends from West Lala to bang that big drum and keep it close with Michigan off their statement win in the shoe last weekend. I expect the Wolverines to win and make their second consecutive CFP appearance, but we’re hoping the Boilers can scheme up enough plays and chuck it around enough to hang around in Indy.

    SVP: 6-2 all-time when picking Purdue

    And that’ll do it. Seven for the people before we turn our attention to the NFL and bowl season.

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