College Football Expert Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 10 Favorite Week 14 Bets

College Football Expert Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 10 Favorite Week 14 Bets article feature image
Credit:

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney

  • Our 10 college football experts give their favorite betting picks for Week 14 of the 2018 season.
  • All 10 bets involve one of the 10 conference championship games this weekend, including one on Friday night.
  • You'll find a few underdogs and a variety of over/unders worth taking a deeper look at.

Can you believe it’s Week 14 already? Conference championship weekend has finally arrived.

We have a number of unusually high spreads this weekend, but that doesn’t mean an upset can’t happen. While conference championship double digit underdogs have gone just 6-21 straight-up since 2005, betting on all 28 would have given you a +22.2% ROI.

That said, they have lost 14 straight since 2011 when Southern Miss (+12) upset Houston in the Conference USA title.

Regardless, college football bettors never need certain matchups or spreads to get excited about the weekend.

To help narrow down your final bets, we asked ten of our staffers for their one favorite bet. Hopefully, the supporting information can help guide you to a winner or two that wasn’t on your radar.

We will get things started with one wager for Friday night — and then go through the remaining nine on Saturday’s card, including multiple bets for Alabama-Georgia and Ohio State-Northwestern. Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for our Saturday contest — we’re giving away $1,000 and it’s free to enter!

We hope you at least pick up one key nugget of information  that can help you make a more informed wagering decision. I think you’ll find plenty. Let’s jump in.

*All odds pulled overnight on Nov. 29.
**YTD: 79-81-1 -2.95 units


Ken Barkley: Washington -5 (vs. Utah)

Santa Clara, CA — Friday, 8 p.m. ET on FOX

We’ve waited all year for Washington to achieve some balance on offense. The problems began really even before the season when it was announced that tight end Hunter Bryant would miss the entire year. A sloppy loss to Auburn in the opener featured miscues in the red zone in what could have been a win. Myles Gaskin also missed some time with an injury and never really looked 100%.

Washington won, but went 3-9 ATS this season and failed to live up to market expectations. The market got so down on the Huskies that they became an underdog in the Apple Cup against a team they typically wreck. And they responded by playing their best game of the year, led by the aforementioned Gaskin (who finally looked healthy) and Bryant (who did recently return).

On the other side of the ball, the defense has been top 10 in S&P+ every single week there’s been a ranking. This is the Washington we all expected, finally, and just in the nick of time to face a Utah team that will play hard and is well-coached, but is just totally out-classed here.

Gimme the Huskies at anything under a touchdown.

Danny Donahue: UAB +1.5 (vs. Middle Tennessee)

Murfreesboro, TN — Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET on CBSSN

This game is an exact rematch of the one played just eight days prior in which Middle Tennessee absolutely dominated, winning 27-3. Well, it’s an exact rematch except for the point spread.

Last week, UAB was listed as a three-point favorite, but with that game still fresh on the mind, it was Middle Tennessee that opened at -3 for the rematch. It’s since been bet down to -1.5 despite MTSU getting the slight majority of bets, but nonetheless, this is a big time overreaction.

If you want to tell me that last week’s game inched these teams slightly closer to one another, I can live with that. But a 5-6 point swing from a one game sample when we’re already 12 games into the season? Please. It’s sports. Good teams have lousy games sometimes. Plus, UAB played without a handful of starters that should return this week.

I’ll take all the free points I can get and bank on the Blazers putting up more than 89 yards of total offense this time.

PJ Walsh: UAB-MTSU Under 45

Murfreesboro, TN — Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET on CBSSN

You have the familiarity factor since these teams just faced each other last week. But more importantly, the weather will be very conducive to an under play here, as the forecast calls for 15-25 mph winds. Since 2005, December games with double-digit average wind speeds have gone under 25 of 38 times, per Bet Labs.

Steve Petrella: Alabama-Georgia Over 63.5

Atlanta, GA — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on CBS

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has always been labeled as a game manager, for some reason. Maybe it’s because his running game is so steady and the defense was so good last year when he was a freshman.

But Fromm is legit on his own — top six nationally in yards per attempt in each of the last two years — and he’s got the Georgia offense humming. The Dawgs rank third overall in offensive S&P+, including ranks of fourth in passing and sixth in rushing.

You don’t need me to tell you much about Alabama’s offense. The Tide rank second in yards per play and points per possession behind only Oklahoma, and have generally looked unstoppable.

The Tide should also have no issues in this particular matchup, for the following reasons.

  • Alabama’s defense has had so much success against one-dimensional or somewhat predictable offenses like LSU and Mississippi State. Georgia is anything but that.
  • The only thing that has slowed the Alabama offense is teams that can rush the pass, especially without needing to dial up the blitz. Georgia can’t get after the quarterback. with just 20 sacks all season, 99th nationally. It also ranks 78th in sack rate. The Dawgs secondary is great, but if Tua has time, he’ll feast.

On the other side, Georgia should find some level of success against a Tide defense that ranks 76th in explosiveness allowed. The secondary especially isn’t perfect.

I expect this to turn into shootout with big plays on both sides and get over the total. I think 13 points is way too many for a Georgia that seems to be peaking and will be taking the dog, as well.

Collin Wilson: Northwestern +15 (vs. Ohio State)

Indianapolis, IN — Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on FOX

On the Action College Podcast, my co-host Stuckey summarized Northwestern football and head coach Pat Fitzgerald as users of  “voodoo black magic” throughout the season. And I can’t argue, as the Wildcats won games over Purdue and Nebraska with postgame win expectancies of 37% and 15%, respectively.

The Wildcats posted an 8-1 conference record, but suffered non-conference losses to S&P+ ranked 67th Duke and 116th Akron. Northwestern is just 6-5-1 against the spread on the season but went 4-1 away from home.

So, how has Northwestern been able to defy some very sad statistical numbers, such as 125th in offensive IsoPPP, 106th in finishing drives and 125th in Special Teams S&P+?

A bend-don’t-break defense tells a lot of the story, as it ranks 24th in Finishing Drives, a stat that captures point per attempt past the 40-yard line. That could play a major role on Saturday night, as Ohio State has had issues scoring in opponent territory all year, ranking of 117th in red zone offense. Northwestern ranks 15th against passing downs explosiveness, which means quarterback Dwayne Haskins may struggle to find open targets.

The Wildcats also don’t make many mistakes, ranking first in the country in penalty yards per game (26.7). Northwestern has had just 34 penalties on the season! Meanwhile, Ohio State ranks 125th in the nation, committing almost triple the amount of penalties.

Some have said Ohio State may have a letdown after a scoring 62 on Michigan, but the Buckeyes may also know they are essentially knocked out of the College Football Playoff if Oklahoma beats Texas earlier in the day.

Fitzgerald has been getting the most out of his team all year, and I expect the Wildcats best effort in Indianapolis.

John Ewing: Northwestern +15 (vs. Ohio State)

Indianapolis, IN — Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on FOX

I’m with Collin here.

This is the most lopsided bet conference championship game. Ohio State is receiving 74% of spread tickets, which isn’t surprising given the Buckeyes impressive 62-39 victory over No. 4 Michigan and Northwestern’s inability to cover against a bad Illinois team last weekend. Oddsmakers knew casual bettors would bet Ohio State after whopping Big Blue so you can assume they shaded the line toward the Buckeyes.

Plus, it has been very profitable to bet against the public in conference championship games. Since 2005, teams getting less than 50% of spread tickets have gone 44-32-3 (57.9%) ATS since 2005, per Bet Labs. Teams getting less than 40% of bets, like the Wildcats, are 24-15-1 (61.5%) ATS.

Stuckey: Clemson-Pittsburgh Under 52.5

Charlotte, NC — Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on ABC

If you can shut down Pitt’s rushing attack, you can shut down Pitt’s offense. The Panthers rely heavily on their explosive rushing and average a top-10 mark of 5.8 yards per carry.

We saw what Pitt did last week against a great run defense in Miami, which won 24-3 after holding the Panthers to just 69 rushing yards on 38 carries. Well, Clemson has an even more dominant run defense.

In fact, nobody can shut down the run as effectively as the No. 1 ranked S&P+ rush defense of Clemson, which only allows an NCAA-best 2.2 yards per carry. That’s historically dominant, as only four other teams have allowed the same or fewer yards per rush since 2007.

To throw another stat out there, Pitt ranks No. 6 in rush explosiveness — a major part of their offensive attack. Well, Clemson ranks No. 1 (surprise, surprise) in defending rush explosiveness. Advantage neutralized.

As a result, Pitt will find itself in plenty of passing situations, which should give quarterback Kenny Pickett nightmares. The Panthers’ offensive line has allowed 28 sacks or 2.33 per game, which ranks 78th in college football. They will be tasked with containing a Clemson defense that has totaled 43 sacks on the season (tied No. 2).

The advanced metrics paint the same picture, as Pitt ranks 115th in Adjusted Sack Rate (113th on Passing Downs). Meanwhile, Clemson’s defense ranks in the top 10 in that same category — both overall and on Passing Downs. Pickett will be running for his life all night long in Charlotte, as Clemson will force the Panthers into plenty of obvious passing situations by stopping the run early.

While Pitt’s offense is getting shut down, it will also help the under by bleeding clock. Pitt plays at one of the slowest paces in the country, ranking 128th in Adjusted Pace and plays per minute.

When Pitt has the ball, it should be a dream for the under. The Panthers play at a snail pace and run the ball at a top 20 rate on both standard and passing downs going up against a historically dominant rush defense.

Sign me up for under 52.5 in what should be wet conditions in Charlotte on Saturday night.

Travis Reed: Clemson-Pittsburgh Under 52.5

Charlotte, NC — Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on ABC

I agree with Stuck here.

There is a Bet Labs system in the Think Tank that points to the under in the ACC Championship Game — and I’m following it. It looks at games where both teams average at least 215 rush yards per game. Clemson (258 rush yards per game) and Pittsburgh (233 rush yards per game) clear this threshold easily. This system has hit at 59.5% since 2005.

The idea is pretty obvious. Teams that run the ball effectively tend to churn more clock and have fewer explosive plays. I also like focusing on games with a heavy favorite. The game script leads to Clemson being up big and calling more conservative plays and just coasting to a victory. They don’t need to impress anyone with a blowout, simply get a win and they are in the College Football Playoff.


Quick Grabs


Sean Koerner: Fresno State +2.5
Scott Miller: Georgia +13

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