College Football Week 14 Best Bets


By Phil Simon

With the regular season completed it’s on to championship week. That means fewer college football games on the Week 14 schedule, but it also gives us some blockbuster games to handicap. The biggest one is a clash of titans for the SEC championship. And this truly is a title game with the two best teams in the league and perhaps all of college football going at it.

The Georgia Bulldogs completed their perfect regular season with a 45-0 victory over rival Georgia Tech on Saturday. If they were looking ahead to the SEC Championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide it sure didn’t show. The best defense in the land pitched its third shutout of the season and hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in any game. The Dawgs will face a good but staggering Bama offense. And for the first time since the 2015 season the Tide will play as an underdog as they are catching 6.5-points on the college football betting line.

Let’s take a look at a few games on the Week 14 schedule that can win us some money.

Michigan (-11) vs. Iowa

With one hurdle cleared the Michigan Wolverines are one step away from a berth in the College Football Playoff. And don’t for one minute think that this team will have a letdown after their dominant win over arch rival Ohio State last week. Jim Harbaugh exorcised his demons in the 42-27 victory, his first against the Buckeyes, advancing UM to its first Big Ten Championship game. There are bigger fish to fry, though, and the Hawkeyes are just a bump in the road to get there. The Wolverines will have to win by more than 11 points to cash a winning ticket, but the balance they’ve shown on offense gives them an edge in this game.

Both teams have nearly identical numbers on defense, which are really good. But UM averages about 150 more yards per game and scores over 37 points per outing. They also have Hassan Haskins, who put on a show against Ohio State with five rushing touchdowns and 169 yards to improve his Heisman Trophy odds. Iowa’s only losses were to Purdue and Wisconsin when they managed just a touchdown in each game. The Hawkeyes went 10-2 with little help from the offense. They were next to last in total offense and 10th in scoring in the Big Ten. They just don’t have the firepower to keep up with a talented and motivated Michigan squad.

Georgia (-6.5) vs. Alabama

The one thing about the Tide is they can play poorly, at least by their standards, and still win. Their last three SEC games were all one score affairs when Bama was favored by at least 20 points, so they haven’t been as dominant as we’re accustomed to seeing. Because they barely got by LSU, Arkansas and Auburn some backers might be hesitant to throw down on Nick Saban’s bunch. But it’s always risky to bet against the Tide, and even more so now that they are getting points on the NCAA football lines.

But this has been Georgia’s year. It started back in September with a win over Clemson as a 3-point dog, holding the Tigers to just a field goal. And the defense hasn’t stopped playing. The group is historically good leading the nation in fewest points and yards allowed per game. They haven’t given up more than 17 points in any game and eight times they held an opponent to fewer than 10 points with three shutouts, and they yield less than a converted touchdown per game. Some will say UGA has yet to face an offense as good as Bama’s. I’ll say the Tide have yet to face a defense as stingy as the Dawgs’.

Houston at Cincinnati (-10.5)

Unlike most other conference championship games this one is held at the home venue of the higher-seeded team. In this case Cincinnati. Now it’s hard to imagine the Bearcats being left out of the CFP should they win, but you know the committee will do everything in its power to not give them a shot at a national title. You can call it the Power Five bias because that’s what it is. UC can make it easy on the committee with a loss, and that’s a possibility since Houston is a strong club. But all the Bearcats have to do is stick the landing and let the chips fall where they may.

After a few uneasy games where they beat Navy and Tulsa by a single score, the Bearcats turned things on to close the regular season. They beat SMU and East Carolina easily covering the college football lines. Why is home field a big deal? The Bearcats won their six home games by an average of 32.7 points. This one won’t have that big a margin, but with a possible berth in the CFP at stake I don’t think Cincy is going to let it slip away.