The Week 14 edition of college football picks against the spread features championship games from the Power 5 conferences, four of which (sorry Pac-12) will impact the College Football Playoff Selection committee. Here are 10 predictions for games against the spread:
Oklahoma (-7) over TCU
Much has been made about Oklahoma’s shaky defense — and rightfully so — but there hasn’t been enough talk about just how dominant the Sooners have been on offense. OU is averaging 593.5 yards per game (the most in the nation) and an astounding 8.56 yards per play — almost a full yard per play more than any other team in college football. But here’s the most impressive stat: According to SportSource Analytics, Oklahoma is averaging 29 percent more points per possession than any other FBS team. The Sooners scored 38 points when these teams met on Nov. 11; TCU allowed an average of 13.4 points in its other eight Big 12 games.
Oklahoma 34, TCU 17
USC (-3) over Stanford (Fri.)
USC played its best game of the season when these two teams met in Week 2, ripping the Cardinal 42–24 at the Los Angeles Memroial Coliseum. It is the only time, dating back to at least 2001, that Stanford has allowed more than 300 yards passing and rushing in the same game. The Cardinal followed the loss at USC with a 20–17 defeat at San Diego State (dropping their record to 1–2) but have since lost only one time and find themselves back in the league title game for the fourth time in the last six seasons. Still, this is not a vintage David Shaw team; five of its seven Pac-12 wins have come by 10 points or fewer, including close calls against Oregon State (15–14) and California (17–14).
USC 30, Stanford 20
Auburn (-2.5) over Georgia
Auburn might not deserve to be ranked No. 1 in the nation — the Tigers have two losses — but you can make a strong argument that this is the best team in college football at this point of the season. There are some concerns about the health of star tailback Kerryon Johnson (above, right), but he is confident he will be able to play on Saturday. Georgia has bounced back from its 40–17 loss at Auburn by beating Kentucky and Georgia Tech with ease to finish the regular season with 11 wins. The big question for the Bulldogs: Can they find a way to run the ball on Auburn after gaining only 46 yards in the first encounter?
Auburn 24, Georgia 17
Wisconsin (+6.5) over Ohio State
Few teams in college football look as good as Ohio State when the Buckeyes are at their best. But Urban Meyer’s team has been unable to reach that optimal level each week in 2017 — and this is why this team very likely will miss the College Football Playoff. Wisconsin has powered through a less-than-rigorous schedule without a loss, a feat that will earn the Badgers a playoff invite if they can maintain that perfect record for one more week. Ohio State has dominated this series, winning eight of the last nine, highlighted by the 59–0 shutout in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes are the more talented team, but it’s hard to know which Ohio State team will show up on Saturday.
Wisconsin 21, Ohio State 20
Clemson (-9.5) over Miami
After stringing together a series of good but not great games (24–10 over Georgia Tech, 38–31 at NC State, 31–14 over Florida State), Clemson flexed its championship muscles with a dominating 34–10 win at South Carolina. The Tigers now look primed for a run at another national title. The only thing standing in the way of yet another CFB Playoff invite is a Miami team that is coming off a 24–14 loss at Pittsburgh. The Canes looked rather ordinary against team that ended the season with a 5–7 record, and the passing game continues to be a concern.
Clemson 34, Miami 17
FAU (-11) over North Texas
Lane Kiffin is stealing the headlines in Conference USA, but Seth Littrell also deserves a ton of credit for his quick rebuild at North Texas. Littrell inherited a team that went 1–11 in 2015 and won the C-USA West title in 2017 with a 7–1 league record. That one loss? A 69–31 defeat at Florida Atlantic on Oct. 21. The Mean Green gave up a staggering 804 yards of total offense in that game, 447 on the ground and 357 in the air. It’s doubtful that Kiffin’s club can duplicate those offensive numbers, but it’s reasonable to believe FAU will win this game by a comfortable margin. All but one of the Owls’ nine wins have come by 14 points or more.
FAU 44, North Texas 30
Georgia Southern (-2.5) over Coastal Carolina
Georgia Southern snapped a season-long nine-game losing streak with a shocking 52–0 win over South Alabama two weeks ago and followed up with a 34–24 victory at Louisiana. Those two impressive performances resulted in the school naming Chad Lunsford as the Eagles’ full-time head coach after serving as the interim since the dismissal of Tyson Summers in late October. Now, GSU closes out the season against a Coastal Carolina team that is 2–9 in its first year in the FBS ranks. The Chanticleers have been playing better of late — they lost at Arkansas 39–38 on Nov. 4 and won at Idaho last week — but Georgia Southern is the better team right now.
Georgia Southern 30, Coastal Carolina 17
Arkansas State (-1) over Troy
A share of the Sun Belt title is on the line — and possibly more if Appalachian State loses to Louisiana (not likely) — in Jonesboro on Saturday. Arkansas State is coming off of a 67–50 win at ULM last weekend in a game that featured nearly 1,400 yards of total offense (781 by ASU). It was the third time in the last five games in which the Red Wolves have topped 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. Troy made national headlines with its 24–21 win at LSU in late September. The Trojans lost at home to South Alabama in their next game but have since won five straight games. Arkansas State won this matchup last season at Troy by a surprisingly lopsided score of 35–3.
Arkansas State 41, Troy 37
Fresno State (+8.5) over Boise State
Jeff Tedford’s first season at Fresno State, his alma mater, has been a tremendous success. The Bulldogs, who went 1–11 in 2016, captured the West Division of the Mountain West with an impressive 7–1 record that included double-digit wins over San Diego State and Boise State, the top two programs in the conference in recent years. The win over Boise State was just last week, so it’s a bit surprising that Fresno State is an 8.5-point underdog, even with the game being on the road.
Boise State 28, Fresno State 24
UCF (-7) over Memphis
It’s another rematch in a league championship game. UCF ripped Memphis 40–13 in Orlando in late September, handing the Tigers their only loss of the season. Memphis has been playing at a very high level late in the season — and scoring lots of points along the way. Since that defeat at UCF, the Tigers have scored 42 points or more in all but one game and have scored a total of 136 points in the last two weeks. UCF survived its biggest scare of the season last week, holding off USF 49-42 in a thrilling rivalry game that decided the AAC East Division title. The winner of this game likely will be the Group of 5 representative in a New Year's Six bowl game. UCF appears to be the better team, but you have to question the Knights’ focus a bit with rumors swirling that their head coach, Scott Frost, is headed to Nebraska.
UCF 38, Memphis 30
Last Week: 4–6