College Football Odds Week 14: Picks Against the Spread for Updated Top 25 Games
The USC Trojans can become the first team to confirm their spot in the College Football Playoff while avenging their lone loss of the regular season.
USC kicks off conference championship weekend in college football against the Utah Utes in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday night in Las Vegas.
The goal is simple for the Trojans. A win gets them into the playoff in Lincoln Riley's first year as head coach, and it likely wraps up the Heisman Trophy for quarterback Caleb Williams.
The Trojans were not outplayed in their regular-season loss on the road to the Utes, and that should give them the confidence to take care of them at a neutral site.
USC is one of two top-four teams to be a field-goal favorite or less in conference championship weekend.
The TCU Horned Frogs are a 2.5-point favorite in the Big 12 Championship Game against the Kansas State Wildcats.
TCU has dealt with every challenge posed during its undefeated campaign. That includes five wins by eight points or fewer. TCU knows how to win close games, and it might have to show off that talent once more to land in the playoff in Sonny Dykes' first season as head coach.
Week 14 Odds and Schedule
Friday, December 2
No. 11 Utah vs. No. 4 USC (-3) (8 p.m. ET, Fox)
Saturday, December 3
No. 10 Kansas State vs. No. 3 TCU (-2.5) (Noon ET, ABC)
No. 14 LSU vs. No. 1 Georgia (-17.5) (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 22 UCF at No. 18 Tulane (-3.5) (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Purdue vs. No. 2 Michigan (-17) (8 p.m. ET, Fox)
No. 9 Clemson (-7.5) vs. No. 23 North Carolina (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
No. 11 Utah vs. No. 4 USC (-3)
USC has been on a high-scoring winning run since it left Salt Lake City with a loss on October 15.
The Trojans scored at least 38 points in every game of their five-game winning streak. The last two wins in that run were the most impressive, as they handled the UCLA Bruins and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
USC won all of those five games by at least three points and three of those victories came by eight or more points.
Caleb Williams and Co. answered any questions about how they would handle pressure-packed situations by posting 45 points against UCLA and 38 versus Notre Dame. They earned those totals without running back Travis Dye on the field because of an injury.
To beat USC, you have to try and outscore it. Utah did that in October, but that was at home with a raucous crowd for a night game. Utah went on to struggle in two of its three road games after the USC win.
Utah eked out a 21-17 win over the Washington State Cougars, and then they lost to the Oregon Ducks two weeks ago.
All three of Utah's losses came away from home. The Utes lost all of those games to dynamic quarterbacks in Anthony Richardson, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Bo Nix.
Williams posted 381 passing yards and five touchdowns in the loss to Utah, and he may have won the game if it went to overtime. Utah won on a two-point conversion with 48 seconds left.
Utah holds the advantage in Pac-12 Championship Game experience. The Utes have been to three of the last four conference title games, but they are 1-2 in those contests.
If Utah was an unbeatable force at this stage, a more convincing case could be made for it to win as the underdog.
USC proved it could go up and down the field against Utah once, and it could do so again against a Utes team that has performed worse away from home.
No. 10 Kansas State vs. No. 3 TCU (-2.5)
TCU flexed its offensive muscle in a 62-14 win over the Iowa State Cyclones last week.
The 62-point outburst served as a reminder of how dominant the Horned Frogs can be on offense.
TCU likely will not beat Kansas State by 48 points, but it can race out to a double-digit lead that forces the Wildcats to get out of their comfort zone of rushing the football.
A fast start to begin a strong first half is vital for TCU after how its regular-season game with Kansas State played out.
The Horned Frogs led 10-7 after one quarter, and then Kansas State bolted out to an 11-point halftime lead. TCU held Kansas State scoreless in the second half to win 38-28.
TCU can't afford a quarter as bad as the second period versus K-State again, and that should serve as a lesson to keep pushing on offense instead of settling.
Kansas State will try to run the ball to keep its defense fresh and to give Max Duggan as little time as possible to get comfortable in the pocket.
The Wildcats average 210 rushing yards per game, but if they are forced to throw from a losing position, they may struggle a bit on offense.
Duggan and the TCU offense need to push the issue from the start so that it is comfortable on offense and so that K-State could be forced into a few short drives because it has to throw.
TCU proved it can win any type of game during the regular season, but it is best suited to win a high-scoring affair, and that requires an even better first quarter than the one it had against K-State in October.
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