- BYU Cougars vs Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
- Texas A&M Aggies vs Auburn Tigers
- Florida Gators vs Tennessee Volunteers
- West Virginia Mountaineers vs Iowa State Cyclones
- Indiana Hoosiers vs Wisconsin Badgers
- Oregon Ducks vs California Golden Bears
- Clemson Tigers vs Virginia Tech Hokies
- Ohio State Buckeyes vs Michigan State Spartans
In a normal year, the first Saturday of December would be the day for the conference championship games, but those games are two weeks away this year of the pandemic.
One game on the Week 14 slate did not exist as of Wednesday night, but it has been scheduled on the fly as an adjustment to COVID-19 updates. We’ll lead off by telling you about that new game, and then go through the other big games on this week’s college football schedule as well as the betting odds in the best online sportsbook.
BYU Cougars vs Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Odds: BYU -10
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were originally scheduled to face the Liberty Flames in a matchup of top-25 teams. Liberty was a No. 15 team before it narrowly lost to North Carolina State on a blocked field goal at the end of regulation.
Liberty versus Coastal Carolina was going to be a showcase for smaller conference teams that had both cracked the top 25 this season., However, Liberty ran into COVID-19 complications, and when that happened, BYU – a team that is trying to improve its schedule and boost its College Football Playoff ranking – entered negotiations with Coastal Carolina to play as a replacement for Liberty.
Thursday morning, the deal was confirmed, and so BYU will play in Conway, South Carolina, on CCU’s home field this Saturday. The Liberty-CCU game was scheduled to start in the early afternoon, but with the late adjustment for BYU, this game will now start at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has been one of the stars of the 2020 season. He has a Patrick Mahomes-like ability to throw from different angles and change the geometry of the field. No, he doesn’t have Mahomes-level arm strength or field vision, but he is a very tough dual-threat quarterback who is not easy to defend. Coastal Carolina will have to find a way to contain Wilson.
The fact that this game was scheduled at the last minute means neither team will be able to do a lot of film study. This is a classic pandemic game built on improvisation and hustle. It is an anything-but-normal backdrop to a game, and that’s just part of the weird year in sports we have faced in 2020.
Texas A&M Aggies vs Auburn Tigers
Sportsbook Odds: Texas A&M -6.5
This game has College Football Playoff implications. Texas A&M is squarely in the hunt for a playoff berth. The Aggies are trying to win out. If they do that, and if Alabama beats Florida in the likely SEC Championship Game matchup, and Notre Dame beats Clemson a second time, Texas A&M should make the playoff (along with Alabama, Notre Dame, and probably Ohio State).
A&M doesn’t control its fate in the playoff race, but the Aggies are first in line to benefit if another key result falls in their favor.
A&M needs to take care of Auburn and dangerous receiver Seth Williams if it wants to stay on the path to the playoff. Even if the Aggies don’t make the playoff, however, beating Auburn would enable the Aggies to take a big step toward qualifying for a prestigious New Year’s Six bowl game.
Florida Gators vs Tennessee Volunteers
Odds: Florida -17
Florida is in the College Football Playoff race as well. The bad news for Florida is that it still has to play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Florida has to go through Alabama if it wants to make the playoff. The good news for Florida is that unlike Texas A&M, the Gators control their own fate.
They don’t need outside help to get into the playoff; they just need to win their next three games.
If they handle Tennessee here on Saturday, beat LSU the week after, and then defeat Alabama on Dec. 19 in Atlanta, they will be in the playoff without any question. It’s up to Florida to maintain focus here against Tennessee before the bigger games which lie ahead.
West Virginia Mountaineers vs Iowa State Cyclones
College Football Odds: Iowa State -7
The Iowa State Cyclones want to throw a party in this game on their home field in Ames. Iowa State has never made the Big 12 Championship Game in its history, but if the Cyclones defeat West Virginia on Saturday…
They will officially register that achievement, a proud moment for a school which hasn’t often tasted gridiron success at the highest level. Iowa State lost its opening game of the season, a nonconference game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
It seemed this would be a long year for coach Matt Campbell and his team. Yet, Iowa State quickly bounced back, beating Oklahoma and TCU to start quickly in Big 12 play. The Cyclones have been the most consistent team in the conference this season, and that’s why they’re so close to making history. One more win, against West Virginia, and that Big 12 title date on Dec. 19 will be secure.
Indiana Hoosiers vs Wisconsin Badgers
Odds: Wisconsin -14
The attractiveness of this game has taken a huge hit due to the injury suffered by Indiana starting quarterback Michael Penix. An injury endured last week against Maryland has knocked out Penix for the rest of the season, removing Indiana’s best offensive player from the mix. Yet, even though this game is not as sexy, this is still a very important game.
The winner of this game has a good chance of making a New Year’s Six bowl, which is a prize and a goal for a lot of teams before every college football season begins.
Wisconsin lost one important game this season to Northwestern. The Badgers will try to regroup and make sure they don’t lose a second high-stakes game.
Oregon Ducks vs California Golden Bears
Odds: Oregon -10
This game is important on a national level because Oregon needs to stay within one game of the Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 North Division. If Oregon loses here and Washington beats Stanford, Washington would clinch the North title before playing Oregon next week.
Oregon has to win here so that it can still win its division, still win its conference, and thereby still have a shot at the Fiesta Bowl game, possibly against Cincinnati. That would be one of the bigger national bowl matchups in this pandemic postseason.
Clemson Tigers vs Virginia Tech Hokies
Odds: Clemson -22.5
The importance of this game is clear: Clemson can move into the ACC Championship Game against Notre Dame with a win. However, if the Tigers lose, Miami – should it defeat Duke this Saturday – would leapfrog the Tigers and face the Fighting Irish on Dec. 19.
Clemson is playing for the right to defend its ACC championship and to make the College Football Playoff National Championship Game for the third straight season and fifth in the past six.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs Michigan State Spartans
Odds: Ohio State -24
This game is huge for Ohio State. The Buckeyes – due to not playing many games as a result of COVID-19 complications in the Big Ten – have been slipping in the polls. There is a lot of talk that the SEC and ACC could both get two teams into the college football odds for the playoffs.
Ohio State needs to change the discussion here with a big performance against Michigan State. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields needs a huge day to move upward in the Heisman Trophy race as well.