College Football Picks: Week 14 Predictions for Every Game

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2020

College Football Picks: Week 14 Predictions for Every Game

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    It's been a bumpy ride, but we have arrived at Week 14 of the 2020 college football season.

    The top of the AP Poll has remained largely unchanged in recent weeks, and that will likely be the case once again with only two games between ranked teams and several lopsided matchups.

    That said, this week's slate is not without intrigue.

    Can unranked Auburn pull off the upset at home against No. 5 Texas A&M?

    Will No. 10 Indiana be able to overcome the loss of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. against No. 18 Wisconsin?

    Who picks up their 10th win in a marquee Group of Five clash between Liberty and Coastal Carolina?

    Ahead are B/R's predictions for each Week 14 game with a closer look at each AP Top 25 contest and a handful of the best clashes between unranked teams, followed by a quick rundown of the rest of the slate.

AP Nos. 25-21

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    Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough
    Oregon quarterback Tyler ShoughChris Pietsch/Associated Press

    No. 24 Iowa (4-2) at Illinois (2-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Winners of four straight, Iowa is on the upswing after starting the year with consecutive losses.

    That said, last week's 26-20 victory over a bad Nebraska team was far from a statement game. The Hawkeyes were outgained 338-322 in total yardage and needed a pair of fourth-quarter field goals to pull out the win.

    By comparison, Illinois beat that same Nebraska team 41-23 two weeks ago for its second straight road win. With an extra week of rest following their cancellation against Ohio State, the Fighting Illini are well-positioned to pull off the upset.

    Prediction: Illinois 24, Iowa 21

         

    No. 23 Washington (3-0) vs. Stanford (1-2), 4 p.m. ET

    The final undefeated team in the Pac-12 North and one of just three teams in the conference that is still unbeaten, Washington joins the Top 25 following a 24-21 victory over Utah.

    A well-balanced Huskies ground game should have no problem running all over a Stanford defense that is surrendering 229 rushing yards per contest and 5.7 yards per carry on the year.

    Prediction: Washington 31, Stanford 17

         

    No. 22 Tulsa (5-1) at Navy (3-5), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Tulsa has done a good job controlling the running game this year, and that bodes well against a Navy squad that leans heavily on its triple-option attack.

    At the same time, the Navy defense has rarely held up its end of the bargain, surrendering 33.6 points and 424.6 yards per game. If Tulsa can jump out to an early lead, the Midshipmen are not built to play from behind, and things could get lopsided quickly.

    Prediction: Tulsa 31, Navy 14

         

    No. 21 Oregon (3-1) at California (0-3), 7 p.m. ET

    The Ducks' playoff hopes were squashed last week with a 41-38 loss to Oregon State, and that first loss seemed like an inevitability after a less-than-dominant showing during their 3-0 start.

    Despite the loss, Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough is poised for a big game against an overmatched Cal defense in what should be a multi-score win if the Ducks can put last week in the rearview and play up to their potential.

    Prediction: Oregon 37, California 20

AP Nos. 20-16

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    TCU linebacker Garret Wallow
    TCU linebacker Garret WallowBrandon Wade/Associated Press

    No. 20 Louisiana (8-1) at Appalachian State (7-2), 7:30 p.m. ET Friday

    The Ragin' Cajuns ran it up last week in a 70-20 victory over Louisiana-Monroe, while Appalachian State scored a convincing 47-10 win of its own over Troy.

    The Mountaineers running game was silenced earlier this year in losses to Coastal Carolina and Marshall, and quarterback Zac Thomas was unable to pick up the slack when called upon to carry the offensive load. The Louisiana defense is capable of the same disruption.

    Prediction: Louisiana 27, Appalachian State 23

         

    No. 19 Oklahoma State (6-2) at TCU (4-4), Noon ET

    TCU beat Texas by two points earlier this year, so the Horned Frogs can't be overlooked in this Big 12 matchup despite their middling record.

    The Cowboys offense exploded for 50 points against Texas Tech last week, but it has been wildly inconsistent this year. Don't be surprised if the Cowboys struggle to move the ball against a strong TCU defense that is led by a stellar secondary unit, paving the way for more Big 12 parity.

    Prediction: TCU 27, Oklahoma State 17

         

    No. 18 Wisconsin (2-1) vs. No. 10 Indiana (5-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    For prediction, see No. 10 Indiana

         

    No. 17 USC (3-0) vs. Washington State (1-1), 9 p.m. ET Sunday

    USC now sits atop the Pac-12 heap following Oregon's loss last week. After winning their first two games by a combined five points, the Trojans scored a 33-17 road win over Utah two weeks ago to cement their place atop the conference standings.

    The Trojans forced five turnovers in that victory, and they should feast on whichever freshman signal-caller winds up under center for Washington State in this game.

    Prediction: USC 34, Washington State 21

         

    No. 16 Northwestern (5-1) IDLE

    Next Game: vs. Illinois (Dec. 12)

AP Nos. 15-11

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    Iowa State running back Breece Hall
    Iowa State running back Breece HallCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    No. 15 Marshall (7-0) vs. Rice (1-2), Noon ET

    The Rice Owls have not posted a winning record since 2014 and have won just 10 total games since the start of the 2016 season, including their 30-6 victory over a 2-7 Southern Mississippi team earlier this year.

    This one isn't going to be close, and it's the perfect opportunity for Marshall to shake off some rust after last taking the field on Nov. 14. Star running back Brenden Knox has topped 100 running yards five times this year, and he'll have a great shot at surpassing his season high of 138 yards.

    Prediction: Marshall 42, Rice 13
          

    No. 13 Oklahoma (6-2) vs. Baylor (2-5), 8 p.m. ET

    Baylor snapped a five-game losing streak with 32-31 victory over Kansas State last weekend. Thanks to a solid defensive unit, the Bears have not lost a game by more than 11 points all season, but they lack the offensive firepower to hang around with an Oklahoma team that is finally playing up to its potential.

    The Sooners have scored 165 points the last three weeks, including a dominant 41-13 victory over Oklahoma State two weeks ago that saw Spencer Rattler complete 17-of-24 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns in the best all-around game of his collegiate career. This one isn't going to be close.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Baylor 20

         

    No. 12 Iowa State (7-2) vs. West Virginia (5-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    That season-opening loss to Louisiana that sent Iowa State tumbling from the rankings doesn't look nearly as bad a few months later, and the Cyclones' only other loss was to then-No. 6 Oklahoma State by three points on the road.

    On the other side, the West Virginia defense has allowed 17 or fewer points five times this year. The Mountaineers are allowing just 112.5 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry, but they haven't faced a running back the caliber of Breece Hall this year. The Cyclone ranks second in the nation with 1,260 rushing yards, and he'll shoulder the load again on Saturday.

    Prediction: Iowa State 30, West Virginia 21

         

    No. 11 Georgia (6-2) vs. Vanderbilt (0-8), 4 p.m. ET

    Vanderbilt fired coach Derek Mason after a 41-0 loss to Missouri last week, leaving offensive coordinator Todd Fitch tasked with game-planning against a thoroughly superior Georgia team.

    This one isn't so much a question of who wins as it is whether the Commodores will get shut out for a second straight week.

    Prediction: Georgia 42, Vanderbilt 6

AP Nos. 10-6

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    Florida quarterback Kyle Trask
    Florida quarterback Kyle TraskJohn Raoux/Associated Press

    No. 10 Indiana (5-1) at No. 16 Wisconsin (2-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    News broke on Monday that Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, a devastating blow to a Hoosiers team that has been one of the biggest surprises of 2020.

    Utah transfer Jack Tuttle completed all five of his pass attempts for 31 yards after replacing Penix on Saturday, but the running game will have to pick up the slack for Indiana to have a chance against Wisconsin. The Badgers are allowing just 67.3 rushing yards per game through three games, so a more run-heavy approach plays into their defensive strength.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 32, Indiana 21

         

    No. 9 Miami (7-1) at Duke (2-7), 8 p.m. ET

    The Hurricanes have not played since squeaking out a 25-24 victory over Virginia Tech on Nov. 14, and they have won their last three games by a combined nine points against a trio of unranked opponents.

    That said, they shouldn't have any trouble running it up against a Duke defense that has surrendered 56 points in back-to-back games. D'Eriq King has thrown for 2,083 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year, and he'll be looking to make a statement now that he has fallen behind Kyle Trask, Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence and others in the Heisman Trophy race.

    Prediction: Miami 31, Duke 17

         

    No. 8 BYU (9-0) IDLE

    Next Game: vs. San Diego State (Dec. 12)

         

    No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0) IDLE

    Next Game: at No. 22 Tulsa (Dec. 12)

         

    No. 6 Florida (7-1) at Tennessee (2-5), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Tennessee has lost five games in a row, bottoming out after climbing as high as No. 14 in the AP poll earlier this year with victories over South Carolina and Missouri to begin the year.

    The Volunteers have one of the worst pass defenses in the country, allowing 243.6 yards through the air per game, and Heisman front-runner Kyle Trask is going to take full advantage on Saturday. He has 34 touchdown passes in eight games, and it wouldn't be surprising to see that total reach 40 before the week is over.

    Prediction: Florida 52, Tennessee 24

AP Nos. 5-1

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    Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond
    Texas A&M quarterback Kellen MondSam Craft/Associated Press

    No. 5 Texas A&M (6-1) at Auburn (5-3), Noon ET

    Auburn has been outclassed by top-tier opponents in Georgia (27-6) and Alabama (42-13) already this year, and its five wins have all come against teams .500 or worse.

    Meanwhile, the Aggies defense has been utterly dominant of late with just 10 points allowed in the team's last two games. The Tigers are poised to embrace the role of spoiler in this one, but they simply haven't shown the offensive ability to come out on top against one of the best defenses in the nation.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Auburn 10

         

    No. 4 Clemson (8-1) at Virginia Tech (4-5), 7:30 p.m. ET

    The Hokies have lost three straight entering this game, including a 47-14 trouncing at the hands of Pitt two weeks ago. They spent five weeks hovering around the bottom of the AP poll earlier this year, but they have clearly not lived up to those expectations.

    Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 404 yards against the Hokies, while the running game averaged 4.8 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns. Sounds like it's going to be a long day for the Virginia Tech defense against the one-two punch of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne.

    Prediction: Clemson 45, Virginia Tech 19

         

    No. 3 Ohio State (4-0) at Michigan State (2-3), Noon ET

    After upsetting undefeated Northwestern last weekend, Michigan State will have a chance to shake things up atop the Big Ten standings once again when Ohio State visits East Lansing this Saturday.

    The Spartans forced four turnovers en route to last week's victory, but they had just one takeaway through their first four games, so that speaks more to careless play on Northwestern's part than anything else.

    As long as Justin Fields doesn't get careless, this should be a a cakewalk.

    Prediction: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 21

         

    No. 2 Notre Dame (9-0) vs. Syracuse (1-9), 2:30 p.m. ET

    It's almost impossible to believe that Syracuse is just two years removed from a 10-3 season in which it finished No. 15 in the final AP Poll.

    The Orange have mustered just 37 points in four road games this year, and now they will square off against a Notre Dame defense that is among the best in the nation. A shutout is a very real possibility as the Fighting Irish take another step toward an undefeated regular season.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 45, Syracuse 7

         

    No. 1 Alabama (8-0) at LSU (3-4), 8 p.m. ET

    This was a matchup of two undefeated teams and the top two teams in the AP poll a year ago, but a mass exodus of talent to the NFL has left LSU a shell of the team it was a year ago.

    The Tigers turned it over three times against Texas A&M last week, and two different quarterbacks combined to complete just 23-of-47 pass attempts. Expect more of the same against the Crimson Tide's dynamic defensive unit, and Mac Jones will continue to pad his Heisman resume on the offensive side.

    Prediction: Alabama 42, LSU 20

Best Unranked Clashes

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    Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson
    Buffalo running back Jaret PattersonAssociated Press

    Buffalo (4-0) at Ohio (2-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    What will Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson do for an encore?

    In four games, the junior standout has piled up 920 yards and 16 touchdowns, including an absurd 409-yard, eight-touchdown performance against Kent State last weekend.

    The Bulls are playing for a spot in the AP Top 25 after finishing second among the "others receiving votes" crowd in this week's poll, and they face an Ohio team coming off a 52-10 victory over Bowling Green.

    Prediction: Buffalo 38, Ohio 27

         

    Hawaii (3-3) at San Jose State (4-0), 4 p.m. ET

    Hawaii handed a 5-0 Nevada team its first loss of the season on Saturday, and now it'll look to do the same against an upstart San Jose State squad.

    The Rainbow Warriors have done a good job controlling the passing game, allowing just 183.3 passing yards per game. If they can slow down San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel, who already has a 467-yard, five-touchdown performance on his ledger this season, they have a good chance of pulling off the upset.

    Prediction: Hawaii 31, San Jose State 26

         

    Houston (3-3) at SMU (7-3), 9 p.m. ET

    The scoreboard operator is going to have a busy night. Two offenses averaging more than 400 yards per game, two defenses allowing more than 400 yards per game, and two teams with nothing to lose after falling short of expectations with three losses each.

    SMU quarterback Shane Buechele is second in the nation with 3,095 passing yards, and Houston quarterback Clayton Tune is also capable of airing out. That said, don't be surprised if the team with the more effective running game comes out on top.

    Mustangs running back Ulysses Bentley IV has been shut down in losses to Cincinnati (16 carries, 40 yards) and East Carolina (12 carries, 36 yards), so he is a clear X-factor against a Houston rush defense allowing 190.8 yards per contest.

    Prediction: SMU 45, Houston 38

The Rest of the Slate (1/2)

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Louisiana Tech (4-3) at North Texas (3-4), 6 p.m. ET Thursday
    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 31, North Texas 27

    Air Force (2-2) at Utah State (1-4), 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday
    Prediction: Air Force 32, Utah State 20

    Boise State (4-1) at UNLV (0-5), 9:30 p.m. ET Friday
    Prediction: Boise State 42, UNLV 24

    Western Carolina (0-2) at North Carolina (6-3), Noon ET 
    Prediction: North Carolina 63, Western Carolina 10

    Penn State (1-5) at Rutgers (2-4), Noon ET
    Prediction: Penn State 27, Rutgers 21

    Texas (5-3) at Kansas State (4-5), Noon ET
    Prediction: Texas 30, Kansas State 17

    Arkansas (3-5) at Missouri (4-3), Noon ET
    Prediction: Missouri 32, Arkansas 27

    Nebraska (1-4) at Purdue (2-3), Noon ET
    Prediction: Purdue 35, Nebraska 27

    Toledo (2-2) at Northern Illinois (0-4), Noon ET
    Prediction: Toledo 35, Northern Illinois 28

    Kent State (3-1) at Miami OH (2-1), Noon ET
    Prediction: Kent State 42, Miami OH 32

    Kansas (0-8) at Texas Tech (3-6), Noon ET
    Prediction: Texas Tech 45, Kansas 10

    Memphis (6-2) at Tulane (5-5), Noon ET
    Prediction: Tulane 31, Memphis 28

    FIU (0-5) at Charlotte (2-3), Noon ET
    Prediction: FIU 28, Charlotte 24

    Bowling Green (0-4) at Akron (0-4), 2 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Akron 27, Bowling Green 21

    Eastern Michigan (0-4) at Western Michigan (4-0), 2 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Western Michigan 38, Eastern Michigan 24

    Troy (4-5) at South Alabama (4-6), 2 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Troy 28, South Alabama 24

The Rest of the Slate (2/2)

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    Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec
    Boston College quarterback Phil JurkovecMichael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Louisiana-Monroe (0-9) at Arkansas State (3-7), 3 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Arkansas State 45, Louisiana-Monroe 21

    Boston College (6-4) at Virginia (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Boston College 30, Virginia 24

    Georgia Tech (3-5) at NC State (7-3), 4 p.m. ET
    Prediction: NC State 38, Georgia Tech 25

    Ball State (3-1) at Central Michigan (3-1), 5:30 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Central Michigan 38, Ball State 35

    Florida Atlantic (5-1) at Georgia Southern (6-4), 6 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Florida Atlantic 24, Georgia Southern 21

    Colorado (3-0) at Arizona (0-3), 7 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Colorado 34, Arizona 21

    Colorado State (1-2) at San Diego State (3-3), 7 p.m. ET
    Prediction: San Diego State 31, Colorado State 21

    South Carolina (2-7) at Kentucky (3-6), 7:30 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Kentucky 28, South Carolina 20

    UCLA (2-2) at Arizona State (0-1), 10:30 p.m. ET
    Prediction: UCLA 34, Arizona State 28

    Wyoming (2-2) at New Mexico (0-5), 10:30 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Wyoming 31, New Mexico 17

    Oregon State (2-2) at Utah (0-2), 10:30 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Oregon State 31, Utah 28

    Fresno State (3-1) at Nevada (5-1), 10:30 p.m. ET
    Prediction: Nevada 34, Fresno State 24

    UAB (4-3) at Middle Tennessee (3-6), 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday
    Prediction: UAB 27, Middle Tennessee State 20

        

    All stats courtesy of Sports Reference.