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Sparse Menu for Week 14 Early Best Bets

Conference Championships Finally Here

Week 13 of the college football season — the last full regular-season week — is done so conference championships (plus USC versus California) are the only FBS games in town for Week 14.

It’s a light schedule which means there aren’t many games to choose from. But, the very nature of conference championships allows for exciting, high-profile matchups between teams that are very familiar with each other. For this group of championship games, there is some really interesting early-line value that is worth taking.

College Football Week 14’s Early Best Bets
Nic Antaya/Getty Images/AFP

Let’s look at some of the more intriguing early college football odds:

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. UTSA Roadrunners

Odds: Western Kentucky -1

The Roadrunners’ dream of an undefeated season died on Saturday when they got beat handily by North Texas 45-23. But, UTSA is still in the Conference USA Championship Game on Friday against a Western Kentucky team that the Roadrunners beat back in October and will be playing on their home field at the Alamodome.

The Hilltoppers, on the other hand, are a pretty interesting team. They lost four of their first five games — two to Big Ten foes in addition to UTSA and Army — but have won seven in a row since, all by double digits and all by scoring 34 points or more. So, Western Kentucky is rolling while UTSA is coming off a tough first defeat.

Western Kentucky’s gaudy offensive numbers — second in the country in scoring offense, 52 passing touchdowns for quarterback Bailey Zappe, 525 total yards of offense per game — belie a pretty weak defense that UTSA hung 52 points on earlier in the season. The Roadrunners aren’t as explosive offensively but, considering that they hold opponents to 22 points per game, they’ll be able to get the key stops that the Hilltoppers can’t. If you’re making college football picks, take UTSA at home as slight underdogs.

Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Odds: Oklahoma State -5

The Big 12 Championship Game outside of Dallas is another one that should be a barn-burner. After the Cowboys stunned Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series — prompting Sooners coach Lincoln Riley to head for greener pastures at USC — Oklahoma State is right on the edge of the College Football Playoff and needs a win over Baylor, and some help from Iowa and other teams to aid their slim chances.

The Cowboys can’t overlook the Bears, though, as Baylor has a bunch of Top 25 wins and won’t be an easy foe. Oklahoma State did win 24-14 when these teams played in Stillwater, but both have improved since then and this matchup should be much more competitive than the last one.

With that said, you should jump on Oklahoma State before the line moves any more in the Cowboys’ direction. They’ve been playing incredible football lately and are really balanced on both sides of the football, with quarterback Spencer Sanders and running back Jaylen Warren leading the way offensively and the defense holding opponents to 276 yards of total offense.

Baylor is also solid across the board but this game will be decided by which team can get the bigger stops down the stretch and that should be the Cowboys.

Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Odds: Appalachian State -2½

Even though Louisiana’s head coach, Billy Napier, was hired away by Florida over the weekend, he’ll still coach the Ragin’ Cajuns in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game on Saturday against the Mountaineers. Louisiana’s only loss was in Week 1 to Texas, and the Ragin’ Cajuns smoked Appalachian State 41-13 when they played in Lafayette in October.

So, it’s pretty surprising that, on the BetUS Sportsbook, Appalachian State is the favorite. Of course, it’s probably not that easy for Louisiana players to get hyped up to play for a coach they know is about to start a job with a new school, but it probably is better for Napier to still coach — and give his team a chance to send him off well after he turned the program around — the championship game than leave it to an assistant or interim coach. Plus, the Ragin’ Cajuns get to play at home on Saturday, which should give them a boost.

Both teams are pretty close statistically speaking, with Appalachian State probably getting a little bit of an edge for playing better as of late. They each have top-20 defenses nationally, with the Mountaineers’ offense — specifically the wide receiver trio of Corey Sutton, Malik Williams and Thomas Hennigan — outpacing Louisiana’s more balanced group.

Still, though, it’s tough to go against Louisiana as a home underdog. Look for this line to even out a bit as we get closer to kickoff.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

Odds: Michigan -11

Michigan’s performance against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday was the kind of impressive showing that makes it hard to believe the Wolverines won’t end up winning the Big Ten Championship Game. Minnesota’s upset of Wisconsin allowed the Iowa Hawkeyes to sneak into the title game.

That was good news for Michigan, which should be able to easily shut down Iowa’s limited offense. Also, the Wolverines have a good enough offensive line and running game to break through the Hawkeyes’ tough defense.

The Wolverines have both a top-15 offense and defense and basically haven’t been touched by anyone in the Big Ten since they lost to Michigan State. Even though it’s a big spread to cover, it’s one Michigan should be able to handle.

If you’re betting online, side with Michigan even if the spread moves up a few points in the Wolverines’ favor. They proved, with their win over Ohio State, that they’re much better than every second-tier Big Ten team and the Hawkeyes don’t have enough firepower to keep up.

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