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College Football Betting: Best Games of the Week for Week 14

It has come down to this, the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences will hold championship games this weekend. The top five teams in the College Football Playoff rankings will be playing this weekend so there’s much more at stake than just conference bragging rights.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, ranked sixth, and No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes will be monitoring the results closely with the hope that they will get a chance to compete for the national title.

Georgia Bulldogs week 14 NCAAF
Adam Hagy/Getty Images/AFP

We focused solely on the 10 FBS conference title tilts so sorry Southern California and California, we hope you have a game to top all games.

It starts on Friday with the Conference USA and Pac-12 title tilts.

Oregon Ducks vs. Utah Utes
Odds: Utah -2½
What to know: The total set by the Las Vegas odds has gone over in seven of the last nine games between Oregon and Utah. The total on Friday night’s game is 58.

Few scores in recent weeks were as shocking as the Week 12 meeting between Pac-12 division leaders. The Oregon Ducks have put themselves in the top four in the College Football Rankings and only had to win out to give the conference its first playoff representative since Washington in 2016.

The Utah Utes (9-3, 8-1 in the Pac-12), had other ideas. They had four scoring drives lasting more than four minutes and pushed the Oregon defense to its breaking point in the convincing 38-7 win. This wasn’t one of those games where costly turnovers made the score look worse than it was, Utah simply overpowered the Ducks (10-2, 7-2) at the line of scrimmage. Seven different Utah players had offensive plays of 10 yards or longer.

A 28-0 game at halftime turned into a 31-point win. Now they will meet again for the Pac-12 championship.

Utah has the No. 1 ranked defense in the Pac-12 and looked every bit like the top unit in the last game against Oregon. The Utes also neutralized the impact of Kayvon Thibodeaux, who could very well be the top pick in the NFL draft, by running the ball on 50 of 68 plays in the last meeting so the Ducks will need to do a better job against the run to win the title for the third year in a row.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Texas-San Antonio Road Runners
NCAA odds: Western Kentucky -3½
What to know: Texas-San Antonio is 10-2 against the college football odds in its last 12 games playing as an underdog.

What a difference a week makes. Heading to the regular-season finale, the Texas-San Antonio Road Runners (11-1, 7-1 in Conference USA) was one of three remaining undefeated teams at the FBS level. Now they head into the Conference USA championship game as a three-point underdog to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-4, 7-1).

There have been six FBS players to throw for at least 5,000 yards in a season in the last decade and four of them have started games in the NFL, including current NFL passing leader Derek Carr, Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes as well as Joe Burrow, who is fifth in the NFL in completion %. Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe needs just 32 yards for 5,000. It won’t be surprising to see Jerreth Sterns on the receiving end of the pass that gets Zappe to 5,000 since Sterns leads the nation with 127 receptions.

UTSA has returned three interceptions for touchdowns and will have plenty of chances to defend the pass as the Hilltoppers average 49 passing attempts per game.

Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Odds: Oklahoma State 5½
What to know: Baylor (+4000) was ahead of only Texas Tech and Kansas in the preseason picks to win the Big 12 title while Oklahoma State (+1000) came in fourth behind Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Texas.

It certainly wasn’t the matchup people were expecting coming into the season as Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Texas all had better college football odds of reaching the Big 12 championship game than the Baylor Bears and Oklahoma State Cowboys.

If Baylor running back Abram Smith, who is second in the Big 12 with 1366 rushing yards, runs like a linebacker it is because a year ago that is exactly what Smith was. He was fifth on the 2020 Baylor team with 48 tackles but he moved back to running back and posted eight 100-yard rushing games.

Oklahoma State leads all FBS teams with 48 sacks and 102 tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez leads the Cowboys with 13.5 tackles for while freshman defensive end Collin Oliver leads the Cowboys with 8.5 sacks. Jalen Pitre counters with 15.5 tackles for loss for Baylor (10-2, 7-2 in the Big 12).

Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1) still has a chance to earn one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff but will need to win the Big 12 Championship game for the first time.

Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies
Odds: Kent State -3½
What to know: Northern Illinois (+5000) had the lowest odds among the six MAC West Division to win the conference title.

When the teams met during the regular season, what a show that was. The Northern Illinois Huskies put up 663 yards of offense including 532 passing yards and lost the game 52-47 as the Kent State Golden Flashes finished with 360 rushing yards and another 322 through the air.

Kent State (7-5, 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference) is last in the MAC in total defense and Northern Illinois is 10th as the teams combine to allow nearly 930 yards of offense per game.

Only four FBS teams have given up more offensive plays of at least 10 yards than Kent State. Northern Illinois (8-4, 6-2) rank near the bottom of the national database with 70 plays of 20 yards or more allowed. This is not shaping up to be a defensive slugfest as the scores and odds total of 74.5 indicates.

Utah State Aggies vs. San Diego State Aztecs
Odds: San Diego State -6
What to know: The total has gone under in six of San Diego State’s last eight games.

The San Diego State Aztecs lead the Mountain West Conference in scoring defense, allowing 17.3 points per game while Utah State is one of the top-scoring teams in the conference so it is an intriguing contrast of styles.

If you are looking for one player to focus on in the Mountain West championship game, it could be San Diego State defensive end Cameron Thomas who is tied for the conference lead with 10.5 sacks and leads the Mountain West with 20 tackles for loss.

Speaking about tackles for loss, Nick Heninger (15.5) and Justin Rice (12) are two reasons why Utah State leads the conference with 98 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

San Diego State (11-1, 7-1 in the Mountain West) is the only team to win back to Mountain West titles and go after its first title in five years. Utah State (9-3, 6-2) played in the inaugural Mountain West championship game in 2013 and hasn’t been back since.

New Mexico is the team with lower odds to win the Mountain West title than Utah State (+5000).

Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
Odds: Appalachian State -3
What to know: Appalachian State is 8-2 against the scores and odds total in its last 10 games against Louisiana-Lafayette but the losses have come in the last two games.

If Nate Noel doesn’t pile up the rushing yards for the 10-2 Appalachian State Mountaineers, Camerun Peoples will. The duo combined for nearly 1800 rushings even with Peoples missing two games earlier in the season. Both average more than five yards per carry. As impressive as those numbers are, the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (11-1) have more rushing yards, more rushing touchdowns and average per carry than their opponents in the Sun Belt title game.

The most frightening thing about the ULL rushing attack is that its top three rushers are sophomore Chris Smith and freshmen Montrell Johnson and Emani Bailey so they just getting warmed up.

The conference went close to form as ULL (+120) and Appalachian State (+400) had the No. 1 and 3 preseason odds in the Sun Belt.

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Odds: Georgia -6½
What to know: Alabama has won the last six games against Georgia but the Crimson Tide was favored in each one of those contests.

Now, this is what a major-college football game looks like. Either the Georgia Bulldogs or the Alabama Crimson Tide have had the top recruiting class in the country according to the 247sports.com website every since 2010 with the teams finishing No. 1 and 2 in the 2019 and 2020 classes.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young goes into the game the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. He is coming off a rough showing in last week’s narrow escape against rival Auburn and now will face a Georgia defense that leads the country in total defense and scoring defense.

The game will feature two of the nation’s most feared defensive players. Alabama linebacker Will Anderson leads the country in both sacks and tackles for loss while Georgia’s 6-foot-6, 340-pound Jordan Davis is an absolute nightmare for opposing offensive lines.

Both teams are currently in a position to be part of the four-team College Football Playoff. It seems highly unlikely that even with a loss that No. 1 Georgia (12-0, 8-0 in the SEC) would fall out of the top four but there are plenty of teams out there pulling for a loss by Alabama (11-1, 7-1) which would open up a playoff spot for another team.

Houston Cougars vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
Odds: Cincinnati 10½
What to know: The winning team has scored at least 38 points in six of the last nine games between Houston and Cincinnati.

This could easily be a matchup of undefeated teams in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

Houston (11-0, 8-0 in the American Athletic Conference) has won 11 straight games since a season-opening loss to Texas Tech while Cincinnati takes a 12-0 record into Saturday’s game and are also 8-0 in conference play.

Freshman Alton McCaskill doesn’t always receive a heavy workload in the Cougars’ offense but has averaged at least five yards per rushing attempt in each of the last seven games and has seven touchdown runs in the last four.

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder is in his fourth season as the starter although it feels like he’s been slinging for the Bearcats for a decade.

Ridder has not only thrown for 3000 yards but also has six rushing touchdowns. Jerome Ford is back after missing the South Florida game and is already over 1000 yards with 17 touchdown runs. Ridder and the offense have been aided by a defense that leads the country with 32 takeaways.

Cincinnati is on the verge of joining Notre Dame as the only program not in a Power-5 Conference to receive a spot in the College Football Playoff but the Bearcats need to take care of business against a very good Houston team for that to happen.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
Odds: Michigan -11
What to know: Michigan has won its last seven games when listed by the sportsbook as double-digit favorites.

The biggest question surrounding the Michigan Wolverines will be whether they have stopped celebrating after finally beating rival Ohio State.

The Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2 in the Big Ten) were ranked in the top five in the Associated Press Top 25 poll earlier in the season and despite being a bit offensive challenged, will be a worthy foe in the Big Ten championship game.

Iowa leads the nation with 22 interceptions and that has helped the offense do enough. The biggest concern for Michigan (11-1, 8-1) might be that Iowa is 7-0 in games decided by 10 points or less so if the game is still in question coming into the final minutes, there could be plenty of anxious moments for the Michigan faithful as the Wolverines play in their first Big Ten championship game.

Aidan Hutchinson has played his way into the Heisman Trophy talk as he set a program single-season record with 13 sacks. Teammate David Ojabo has 11. The concern is that Iowa is not going to drop back to pass on every down so that might limit the impact of the two elite pass rushers.

Hutchinson was named one of the five finalists or the Walter Camp Foundation’s Player of the Year Award.

Tyler Goodson doesn’t receive the attention of some other running backs in the Big Ten but he has rushed for 278 yards over the last two games to move over 1000 yards on the season. He has nine career 100-yard rushing games and figures to be fed early and often as Iowa looks to control the clock.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Odds: Pittsburgh -3
What to know: The total has gone over in 15 of Pittsburgh’s last 20 games.

Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett has played his way into the Heisman Trophy conversation. He has the top passer rating in the ACC as well as the No. 1 completion %. He has thrown for 4,066 yards with 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions to lead Pittsburgh into the ACC championship game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

This is a matchup of the No. 1 and 2 scoring teams in the ACC which is saying something because six conference teams averaged more than 33 points per game. Pittsburgh’s Jordan Addison leads the conference with 1352 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches while the Wake Forest duo of A.T. Perry and Jaquarii Roberson are both over 1000 receiving yards.

Wake Forest (10-2, 7-1 in the ACC) has allowed more than 35 points in five of its last seven games and won three of those games. The Panthers (10-2, 7-1) have been slightly better defensively but have still surrendered 82 points in its two losses.

Wake Forest (+1800) was picked third in the ACC Atlantic Division with six-time defending ACC champion Clemson the heavy favorites while Pittsburgh (+1000) was fourth in the ACC Coastal Division before the season.

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