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College Football Picks Week 15: Vegas Odds and Predictions for Top 25 Games

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 2, 2019

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) carries past Oklahoma State linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga (11) for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The Week 15 college football schedule lacks the volume of the last three months, but the stakes could not be any higher Friday and Saturday. 

LSU, Ohio State and Clemson can solidify College Football Playoff spots with victories in their respective conference championship games. 

Clemson is the heaviest favorite of the three, as it opened with a 29-point line for its clash with Virginia. 

Utah has the national stage to itself Friday to impress the playoff selection committee, while Oklahoma has to beat Baylor for a second time to move into the discussion for the No. 4 seed. 

The best Group of Five program will also be decided Saturday. If Memphis beats Cincinnati, it earns a Cotton Bowl berth, but if the Bearcats enact revenge for their Week 14 loss, Boise State and Appalachian State could slide into the picture. 

                           

Week 15 College Football Schedule

All Times ET.

Odds via Caesars; predictions against the spread in bold. 

Friday, December 6

No. 13 Oregon vs. No. 5 Utah (-6) (8 p.m., ABC) 

        

Saturday, December 7

No. 8 Baylor vs. No. 6 Oklahoma (-9.5) (Noon, ABC) 

Louisiana at No. 20 Appalachian State (-6) (Noon, ESPN) 

No. 21 Cincinnati at No. 16 Memphis (-10) (3:30 p.m., ABC) 

No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 1 LSU (-6) (4 p.m., CBS) 

Hawai'i at  No. 19 Boise State (-14.5) (4 p.m., ESPN) 

Virginia vs. No. 3 Clemson (-29) (7:30 p.m., ABC) 

No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 2 Ohio State (-16.5) (8 p.m., Fox) 

                                  

Predictions

Baylor vs. Oklahoma (-9.5) 

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Since their November 16 meeting, Oklahoma and Baylor have won two games and gained ground in the playoff race. 

With Alabama, Minnesota, Penn State and Oregon eliminated from the playoff, the Big 12 champion could be competing with Utah for the No. 4 seed. 

Although it is hard to beat any team twice, the Sooners are capable of doing just that at AT&T Stadium Saturday. 

In their come-from-behind win at McLane Stadium, the Sooners outgained the Bears 525-307 and had a pair of potential first-half scoring drives cut short by turnovers. 

If Jalen Hurts did not fumble and throw an interception, there is a good probability both drives would have resulted in scores. 

Before the fumble, Oklahoma moved the ball from its own five-yard line to the 43 in five plays, and prior to the pick, it went 39 yards in eight plays to reach scoring territory. 

Additionally, Lincoln Riley's team marched 51 yards on 11 plays before a second-half fumble inside the five took away the potential to find the end zone.

If the Sooners do not turn the ball over Saturday, Hurts and Kennedy Brooks may be able to run all over the Bears. The pair combined for 207 rushing yards on 45 carries in Waco, Texas. 

The Oklahoma defense, which held Oklahoma State to 16 points in Week 14, limited Charlie Brewer's second-half impact and the Baylor quarterback finished with 194 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. 

In wins over Texas and Kansas, the junior quarterback racked up 403 passing yards on 29 completions for a pair of scores. 

In the last four weeks, Brewer owns a single 200-yard performance, which will not be good enough if the Bears try to keep pace with the Sooners. 

The Bears are coming off a 243-yard ground game in a 61-6 win over Kansas, but the Sooners are expected to put up more of a front-seven fight than the Jayhawks. 

With Hurts and Brooks running well and the quarterback combining with CeeDee Lamb, who missed the Baylor game, Oklahoma should have enough to offensive power to overwhelm Baylor.

The question regarding the Bears is if they can maintain the high-scoring rate of the Sooners, and based off Brewer's recent totals, there is doubt that will occur. 

A victory would put Hurts and Co. in the conversation for the No. 4 playoff seed alongside Utah, as long as it succeeds Friday in the Pac-12 Championship Game. 

                      

Cincinnati (+10) at Memphis 

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Cincinnati and Memphis are also meeting for the second time this season, but unlike the Big 12 foes, they are squaring off for the second straight week. 

The Tigers gained the upper hand Friday, which allowed them to host the American Athletic Conference Championship Game at the Liberty Bowl. 

In November, Mike Norvell's side put away SMU and Cincinnati on home soil to create separation in the race for the best Group of Five team. 

Memphis landed at No. 16 in Sunday's AP poll and it now holds a buffer between itself and Boise State at No. 19. Appalachian State and Cincinnati are No. 20 and No. 21, respectively. 

If the Brady White-led offense overpowers the Bearcats again, they will earn a Cotton Bowl berth.

Saturday's difference-maker could be Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, who sat out Friday due to an injury. 

Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell said he would evaluate Ridder's health during the week, per The Athletic's Justin Williams

Justin Williams @Williams_Justin

Fickell on starting QB next week: "We have to assess exactly where we are, see how Des is. I mean, Des is our starter. If Des is healthy & can practice & prepare, then I would be crazy to say that Desmond Ridder, who has gotten us to this point, wouldn't be our QB." #Bearcats

Ben Bryant threw for 220 yards and a score in Week 14, but he was picked off twice and only averaged 7.2 yards per completion compared to White's nine. The backup also fumbled on three occasions. 

Ridder has thrown an interception in seven of his 11 appearances, which is something the Tigers could take advantage of, if he is healthy. 

Even if Ridder is ready to go and keeps the game close, the visitors may not win if they fail to contain White and Kenneth Gainwell.

Memphis racked up 199 rushing yards Friday, with Gainwell leading the group at 87 yards on 15 carries. 

The Tigers have not fallen at home, but they did beat SMU and Ole Miss by one possession, which leads us to believe Cincinnati can keep it close and at least cover. 

Memphis' 12th win would earn it a trip to the Cotton Bowl to face an at-large New Year's Six team, and it will raise Norvell's coaching profile even more with a few higher-profile programs looking to fill vacancies.

                         

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

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