College Football Picks Week 14: Predictions for Top 25 Games on Upcoming Schedul
The Cincinnati Bearcats and Michigan Wolverines could be on a College Football Playoff collision course.
Cincinnati and Michigan are the only double-digit favorites for FBS conference championship weekend. The Bearcats are predicted to win big over the Houston Cougars, while Michigan is expected to blow out the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The line is right for the Big Ten Championship Game since the Wolverines have a significant offensive advantage over Iowa. Cincinnati, however, could find itself in a much more difficult battle with Houston given the Cougars have one of the more potent offenses across the conference title game field.
Houston might give Cincinnati its toughest test of the season, and in a way, that could help the Bearcats' playoff resume.
If Cincinnati and Michigan win, they will be the likely No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in some order as long as the Georgia Bulldogs are still undefeated following their game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Week 14 Schedule and Odds
Friday, December 3
Conference USA: Western Kentucky (-1.5) vs. UTSA (7 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
Pac-12: No. 10 Oregon vs. No. 14 Utah (-2.5) (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Saturday, December 4
Big 12: No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State (-4) (noon ET, ABC)
MAC: Kent State (-3) vs. Northern Illinois (noon ET, ESPN)
Mountain West: Utah State vs. No. 19 San Diego State (-6) (3 p.m. ET, Fox)
Sun Belt: No. 20 Louisiana vs. Appalachian State (-2.5) (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC: No. 1 Georgia (-6.5) vs. No. 4 Alabama (4 p.m. ET, CBS)
AAC: No. 16 Houston vs. No. 3 Cincinnati (-10) (4 p.m. ET, ABC)
Big Ten: No. 2 Michigan (-10.5) vs. No. 15 Iowa (8 p.m. ET, Fox)
ACC: No. 17 Pittsburgh (-3) vs. No. 18 Wake Forest (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook. Predictions against the spread in bold.
Rankings based off Sunday's AP Top 25 release.
No. 16 Houston (+10) vs. No. 3 Cincinnati
Houston should provide Cincinnati with its toughest test yet because of how well it can move the ball down the field. The Cougars average 38.8 points per game, which is only slightly worse than Cincinnati's 39.6 points per contest.
Most of the attention focused on Houston is about its offense, but its defense has played well this season as well. The Cougars allow 19.8 points per game, which is just four points worse than Cincinnati's mark.
Houston possesses an experienced quarterback in Clayton Tune, who has strikingly similar numbers to Cincinnati counterpart Desmond Ridder. Tune has 3,013 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Ridder, meanwhile, recorded an even 3,000 passing yards to go along with 27 touchdowns and eight picks.
Tune is capable of matching whatever Ridder and the Bearcats put on the scoreboard, which is why the programs could finish within 10 points of each other.
Cincinnati owns a slight edge in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game because of its home-field advantage. The Bearcats won five of their six home games by double figures, and they benefited from the crowd to pull out a one-possession win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Week 10.
It was a good experience for Cincinnati to get through a struggle at home. Tulsa was down by two at halftime and moved to within eight points in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati's close-game experience should help pull out a victory and put another Top 25 win on its resume, but its path to the playoff might not be as easy as Michigan's looks.
No. 15 Iowa vs. No. 2 Michigan (-10.5)
The Big Ten Championship Game has the potential to be the most lopsided matchup of the weekend.
Michigan heads to Indianapolis off of an overpowering performance against the Ohio State Buckeyes in which it did whatever it wanted on the ground. The Wolverines average 224.9 rushing yards per game, which is only 75 yards fewer than Iowa's total yards-per-game mark.
Iowa was in the playoff conversation in October, but its offense let it down in losses to the Purdue Boilermakers and Wisconsin Badgers. Although the Hawkeyes have looked better in recent weeks, those wins came against some of the weaker teams in the Big Ten.
Meanwhile, Michigan beat two of the toughest teams in the Big Ten East thanks to its dominant rushing attack. And Iowa may not have answer for Michigan's Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins if they get rolling again Saturday.
The Hawkeyes have had questions at quarterback all season, and their rushing output could be thwarted by the Michigan pass-rush duo of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, who have 23 sacks between them.
Iowa managed 427 total yards and 14 points in its two losses. If it fails to deal with Michigan's tough interior play, it could post similar numbers in another defeat.
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