Sports

The Six Pack: Alabama vs. Georgia, Michigan vs. Iowa among best Week 14 college football picks

Where did the season go? It felt like a few weeks ago I was writing the first six-pack of the season, but now the entire regular season has flown by and the conference championship is on the weekend. Conference titles are at stake, and in some cases, playoff sites for college football.

It’s sexy and sad at the same time. After this weekend we still have the cup games and playoff games, but while I love this time of year, there’s nothing quite like college football on a Saturday. It’s the last of the season, and it’s a much smaller version than the one we’re used to, so we’d better make it valuable. All possibilities via Caesars Sportsbook.

Matches of the week

Featured game | Alabama Crimson Tide vs Georgia Bulldogs

No. 1 Georgia vs No. 3 Alabama: difference like people. They will tell you who they are if you listen to them and watch what they do. Alabama told you what happened all season, but not many people want to hear it. Alabama is an excellent team. He’s one of the best teams in the country, and he can beat anyone. But it’s not a dominant team in Alabama. Not up to the same standards as many of the Alabama teams we’ve seen winning national titles. That’s why Nick Saban was so frustrated with fans before the Iron Cup, and that’s why he was so happy and relieved when the tides screamed a win.

I can’t remember a Crimson Tide in this dynasty era that had the least physical control of the offensive line. She appeared early in the season with a close victory over Florida and a loss to Texas A&M. She appeared more in close pleas against LSU, Arkansas and Auburn. Now, that offensive line goes against the best defense and seven up front in the country, and I don’t like his chances of holding up. And I don’t think Alabama’s defense, which wasn’t great, is capable of slowing down Georgia’s attack enough to stay as close as they need to.

Like Alabama, Georgia tells us who it is each season. It’s the best team in the country. It’s a dominant force and we’ll finally see the difference on Saturday in Atlanta. Georgia 28, Alabama 17 | Georgia -6.5

Featured game | Oklahoma State Cowboys vs Baylor Bears

No. 5 Oklahoma vs No. 9 Baylor: When these two met on the regular season, it wasn’t pretty. Oklahoma State won the game 24–10 and Baylor won just 280 yards from the attack. If not for the three transitions in Oklahoma, it would have been a blast. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as saying, “Oklahoma State should have won more than that, so let’s put the points in with the Cowboys.” Both are different now – both are better. Oklahoma State’s offensive improved all season, as did Baylor on both sides of the ball.

They now meet at a neutral location, with Oklahoma State taking a big win over Oklahoma at Bedlam. I can’t help but wonder if something out of the cowboys’ emotional disappointment is making them slowly walk out of the gates. There is also the Dave Aranda factor. He’s one of the best defensive minds in the sport, and when he gets a second break in your face and knows what you want to do, I’m sure he can come up with a game plan to slow the Cowboys down. This game is going to be low on goals and physical, but the overall is a little less than I can handle. Instead, I’ll take the bears and the points. Neither of these two defenses would allow the other to get too far. Oklahoma State 24, Baylor 20 | Baylor +5.5

week lock

Featured game | UTSA Roadrunners vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Western Kentucky at UTSA (Friday): I hate that I make this choice. I really. Before the season started, I had a future in UTSA to win Conference USA at +425, so I have a lot of interest in the Roadrunners winning that game. The problem is that I don’t think they’re going to! While I was enjoying watching UTSA, the team was limping to the finish line. During the first eight games of the season, the UTSA defense had a 64.3% success rate and allowed 1.42 points per possession. Over the last four games, his pass rate has dropped to 61.7% and points per possession have jumped to 2.37. This is not a great sign before a match against one of the most explosive crimes in the country.

Western Kentucky ranks 17th nationally in offensive success rate and seventh in points per lead at 3.23. He’s won seven times in a row, his most recent loss being to UTSA. But what stands out in the 52-46 UTSA win is that Western Kentucky has 670 yards of attack and a chance to win in the last seconds when quarterback Billy Zappy threw an interception in the red. A strong argument can be made that the Hilltoppers were the better team that day, but they didn’t take the win. I think they will be the top team again on Friday night, but this time they will take the title. Western Kentucky 38, UTSA 34 | Western Kentucky -3

Big Ten Championship of the week

Featured game | Iowa Hawkeyes vs Michigan Wolverines

No. 2 Michigan vs No. 13 Iowa: Well, Michigan. I am convinced. I mean how can I not be? I’ve spent all season watching you and I think you’re a very good soccer team, but I wasn’t going to stick with that until I saw your performance against Ohio State. I have to say you did really well! So well that I’m not worried about an emotional disappointment after a week. This Wolverines team is so solid in every area with so much play left to think that they wouldn’t turn up for this game ready to run.

In the meantime, I’m not going to knock Iowa because it got this far because it deserves to be here. Her defense is exceptional and her squads are great. These two areas helped beat the onslaught of anemia, but this is a terrible rivalry for the Hawkeyes. Everything Iowa excels at, Michigan does too, except the Wolverines are better and have more talent. Oh, and a Wolverine offense can score points. Iowa can not. It’s very hard to stay with elite teams when you don’t have an offense, and make no mistake about that, Michigan is the elite. Michigan 27, Iowa 14 | Michigan -11

under the week

Featured game | San Diego State Aztecs vs Utah State Aggies

Utah in No. 19 San Diego State: Sometimes, you want to stick to something reliable. San Diego is like your first car, the one that got you to school and the first part of adulthood. Even if you’re not the coolest car and the air conditioner stopped working four years before the engine stopped, it might get you where you need to be. That’s how I feel about playing a game in San Diego State. The Aztecs will take you to your destination.

This elite defense ranks third nationally in pass rate, sixth in the Defense Environmental Protection Agency and sixth in points allowed per command. Utah State’s offense is ineffective, struggling to finish driving in the red and reliant largely on explosive plays — the explosive plays that San Diego State hasn’t allowed all season. Look for the Aztecs to control the ball in attack and stifle the Aggies when defending. San Diego State 24, Utah State 17 | less than 50

This Week’s Up-Tempo Team

Featured game | Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent vs Northern Illinois: While I’m happy Northern Illinois has exceeded expectations, the underlying metrics are that the Huskies aren’t as good as their 8-4 record suggests. In fact, while the Husky were 6-2 in group play, they allowed more points than they scored. They’ve only been excellent in single-score matches, but it’s hard to make a living playing this way, and now they’ll be facing Kent State’s explosive attack both indoors and on the lawn.

The Golden Flash started the season slowly, but it did get started in team play. They also beat Northern Illinois 52-47 earlier this season and I see the rematch playing out similarly. The Flashes had 682 yards of attack in the game and averaged 8.0 yards per carry on the ground. The rushing NIU attack—on which she relies so heavily—was halted at just 3.4 yards per carry, and the huskies beat off an uncharacteristic performance in the air. I don’t trust huskies will do this again if Kent can chain them to the ground. Kent State 38, Northern Illinois 31 | Kent State -3.5

SportsLine Pick of the Week

No. 21 Houston at No. 4 Cincinnati: Excuse me! We ran out of space at The Six Pack this weekend, but there’s still another play that I love. Cincinnati is looking to become the first Group of Five team to reach the College Football Playoff, but the bigger question isn’t whether the Bearcats will win. Will they cover? Head over to my SportsLine page to find out.

Matches of the week

0-2

14-12

week lock

1-0

8-5

Inclusive

3-3

46-32

What college football picks can you make with confidence during championship week, and which two of the underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the difference – all from a proven computer model that has earned close to $3,700 over the past five seasons – and find out.

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