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Thursday, 28 November 2019

College Football Week 14 Picks 2019 (November 29-30)

The final week of the regular season is here in the 2019 College Football year and that means the last chance for some teams to try and give the College Football PlayOff committee something to think about.

The main team you think of in that regard has to be the Alabama Crimson Tide as they are arguably the biggest name that won't be playing in Championship Saturday in Week 15.

And just because you are playing in a Championship Game next week it doesn't mean you can afford to simply win out as the Committee are clearly looking to see who can impress. The likes of Clemson and Georgia have overmatched opponents on the road, but they can't afford to let those opponents hang around as the rivals would like to do.

Ohio State have a big challenge in front of them as they head to the Big House to take on Michigan, but they are arguably the team that can perhaps afford a loss more than any other along with the LSU Tigers who host the Texas A&M Aggies.

Things could really change quickly in College Football if there are some upsets in this week, but the Pac-12 and Big 12 Conferences can't afford for their top teams to be beaten again before the Championship Games are played. It is going to be interesting viewing across the Thanksgiving weekend to say the least.

A narrow winning record in Week 13 is welcome as it makes it four straight weeks in College Football that I have returned a positive return. One more solid week will give me some momentum to take into the shortened Week 15 and the Championship Games that are going to be played before College Football takes a short break prior to the Bowl Games beginning in the middle of December. The College Football Semi Final Games are played on Saturday 28th December and we should have a clearer picture of what the top four could potentially look like by the end of Week 14.

Boise State Broncos @ Colorado State Rams Pick: The Mountain West Championship Game is set to go next week as the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will take on the Boise State Broncos, but the Mountain Division Champions have to complete their Conference play in Week 14. You could understand that some will wonder how much effort the Broncos want to put into this game knowing another big one is coming up in a weeks time, but Boise State are targeting an unbeaten Conference record in 2019 and that should keep the focused.

They head to the Colorado State Rams who have surpassed the three wins earned in 2018, but who are going to have a second losing season in a row under Mike Bobo. There is some pressure building on Bobo with suggestions the Rams will be moving on from the Head Coach before the 2020 season is played, but a win over the visiting Broncos could be a boost for Bobo heading into another off-season without a Bowl Game.

Colorado State have lost two games in a row, but this is a team who have been competitive so the immediate reaction might be to think this is a very big number for them to be given. However the Rams lost a rivalry game and there has to be some motivational issues if they believe their Head Coach is on the hot seat.

The visitors are using the chance to finish the regular season unbeaten within the Conference as a big motivational tool considering Boise State have not managed to do that since moving to the Mountain West Conference. Even using a third string Quarter Back has not been a problem for the Broncos and they will feel they can deal with the expected cold conditions in Colorado on Friday.

With snow potentially a problem, the key for both teams is going to be able to run the ball and that is where the Boise State Offensive Line looks to be the dominant one in the trenches. The Broncos should be able to establish the run, while Colorado State have struggled to do the same in recent weeks and now have to face a Defensive Line which is giving up less than three yards per carry.

Being unable to run the ball puts pressure on the Rams to throw and while they have some decent numbers I do have to worry about how they are going to deal with the Boise State pass rush. In perfect conditions you may think Patrick O'Brien can make some plays throwing the ball, but that might not be the case on Friday with the weather that is being forecast and I like the Boise State Broncos to earn a statement win on the road to show they are ready for the Championship Game in Week 15.

The Broncos have covered in their last four visits to Fort Collins and I will back them to do that here.

Georgia Bulldogs @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick: A place in the SEC Championship Game has already been secured by the Georgia Bulldogs, but they have one terrible loss on the resume which is yet to have an impact on their College Football PlayOff Ranking. Another loss in the next couple of weeks will be hard to ignore for the Committee so there is a pressure on the Bulldogs, but I honestly think they will struggle to make the PlayOffs even as the SEC Champion if they are beating by rivals Georgia Tech in Week 14.

The only loss suffered by the Bulldogs has come against a team with a losing record in the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers face them in Week 14. One loss like that can be forgiven, but Georgia will be punished by the Committee if they fall to a second team with a losing record and one who have lost by 28 points to the Tigers and were blown out here by Virginia Tech two weeks ago.

It has been a difficult season for the Yellow Jackets, but most expected that as they were moving on from Paul Johnson's triple option Offense and installing a pro Offense under Geoff Collins in his first season as Head Coach. For the third time in five seasons Georgia Tech are going to finish up with a losing record, but there have been some positive signs and the school know they are going to have some teething problems with the massive change in Offensive schemes while previously recruiting players who would be suited to Johnson's system.

James Graham and the Offense produced the most yards of the season in the win over NC State in Week 13 to underline the progress made by the Yellow Jackets, but the Georgia Defense is one of the best in the nation. Graham has been able to rely on Jordan Mason when it comes to running the ball, but the Georgia Tech Offensive Line is not going to get much change out of this Bulldogs Defensive Line which has held teams to 1.7 yards per carry in their last three games against SEC opponents.

That will only mean more for Graham to do at Quarter Back which looks like a difficult task for an inexperienced player. This Bulldogs Secondary has held up against every opponent they have faced and they should be able to close the holes that Graham wants to throw into which could lead to turnovers and drives being stalled quicker than the Yellow Jackets would want.

Georgia's Defensive unit is as good as any in College Football, but the Offense has not really matched them despite Jake Fromm being a Quarter Back that is expected to take the step to the next level. My concern for the Bulldogs is that they are not going to have enough Offense to win games, but they have managed to get through their schedule as it is although this is a chance for Fromm to impress.

D'Andre Swift is another player who is set to take a step into the next level, and the Running Back might find more spaces in this game to aid Fromm. Swift and the Bulldogs have had some issues establishing the run against SEC Defensive Lines, but the Georgia Tech Defensive Line is not of those level and we should see Swift and company establishing the run very effectively.

Jake Fromm will then be given a chance to at least sling the ball around and have one of his better games from a statistical point of view at least. The Bulldogs are only averaging 215 passing yards per game in 2019, but Fromm should be able to make some big throws while his team are running the ball well and I do think Georgia can pull away for a blow out win.

The Bulldogs won by 31 points when they last played here in 2017 and they have covered in their last nine games in this part of Atlanta. The road team has been dominant against the spread in this rivalry series and I think the Georgia Bulldogs will be looking for a big win ahead of the SEC Championship Game to keep themselves firmly in the PlayOff Committee's thoughts.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons @ Syracuse Orange Pick: Three weeks ago it looked like the Wake Forest Demon Deacons were not only about to have a fourth straight winning record in a row under Dave Clawson, but the team were very much involved in a race to reach the Championship Game in the ACC. Back to back losses including a blow out to the National Champions Clemson have ended those dreams, but Wake Forest were back to winning ways against the Duke Blue Devils in Week 13.

Another win in Week 14 will see Wake Forest surpass the previous best of eight wins in a season under Clawson and will also set them up for a rare double digit winning year.

Those have to motivating factors as Wake Forest look to finish up the regular season with consecutive wins in what has been a surprisingly strong season for the Demon Deacons. However outside of the Clemson Tigers this entire Division has felt like teams that were supposed to be good have underachieved and those that were perhaps going to have difficulties have excelled.

Wake Forest are one example of that, but their hosts the Syracuse Orange are another as they have slipped from finishing 10-3 in 2018 to having a 4-7 record in 2019 with Bowl eligibility looking unlikely. There are enough teams struggling to reach the six win mark which may give Syracuse a backdoor into the Bowl season if they can win this game at finish up at 5-7, but Dino Babers will be disappointed as he looks to avoid finishing with just four wins in three of his four seasons as the Head Coach here.

There is an opportunity for Syracuse in this game and I do think they will be motivated with the final home game of the season and the final game for some of their Senior players. It looks like a good match up for them Offensively with Syracuse showing they can run the ball very well and the Demon Deacons Defensive Line not being able to contain teams on the ground.

It is very important for Syracuse to be able to run the ball as they can control the clock and also make things easier for Tommy DeVito who has struggled for consistency at Quarter Back. Being in third and manageable rather than second and long is key for DeVito considering his lack of consistency when dropping back to throw and I do think he can be successful if the Orange are running the ball like they should be able to do.

In that situation DeVito will be throwing against a Wake Forest Secondary which has allowed some big numbers throughout the 2019 season and it will also ease the pass rush pressure that the Demon Deacons can generate.

Wake Forest will believe in their own Offensive strengths to make sure they can stay with Syracuse and I do think they have a little better balance than the Orange. Jamie Newman has shown he is very much a dual-threat Quarter Back and that will make things a little more difficult for Syracuse who have struggled up front to clamp down on the run.

The Demon Deacons Offensive Line have not opened up big holes, but they should have success like everyone else seemingly have had against Syracuse when it comes to pounding the ball. With a Quarter Back like Newman I do think Wake Forest will be confident in their abilities to make some big plays Offensively, although the Quarter Back will have to be close to his best considering the improvements the Orange Secondary have made in recent games.

Turnovers feel like they are going to have as big an impact as they can in any game in this one. As well as Jamie Newman has played, I do think he has made a couple of mistakes which Syracuse will look to capitalise on and this has the makings of a game that could come down to which of these teams hold the ball last.

The Demon Deacons are playing with revenge having lost at home to Syracuse in the 2018 season, but this is a team who are not completely at ease on the road and also coming off wins when it comes to covering spreads. This has been a difficult season for Syracuse and you do wonder if they can motivate themselves for this game, but I think trying to finish the season at home with a fifth win that may yet be good enough for a Bowl is enough to keep them competitive.

With that in mind I will take the points in this game.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Stanford Cardinal Pick: If the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had just one loss on the season and that was the one against the Georgia Bulldogs I think they would be in the mix for a spot in the College Football PlayOff even in their position as an Independent school. Unfortunately another loss to the Michigan Wolverines is not as strong as the one to the Bulldogs and the Fighting Irish know that being a two loss team without a Championship Game is simply not going to be good enough for the Committee deciding the PlayOff top four.

The 2019 season for Notre Dame has been a lot better than the one that the Stanford Cardinal have suffered through with injuries being a big reason they are at 4-7 for the season. This is going to be the first losing record Stanford have experienced since 2008 and they had never won fewer than eight games during David Shaw's time as Head Coach.

There are some suggestions that Shaw may decide to move on at the end of this season, but Stanford won't be pushing the Head Coach who has guided them to the Pac-12 Championship Game in two of the previous four seasons.

Injuries on both sides of the ball have hurt Stanford and they are going to be in for a very difficult game Offensively in this one. Davis Mills will continue to play the Quarter Back position in place of KJ Costello, but he has played well enough for the Stanford Offense to have faith in him, although they have not played a team with the kind of Defensive unit as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

With struggles to run the ball with any consistency, Stanford are going to lean on the Mills arm but he is facing a Secondary which has been strong all season. The pass rush pressure up front should be able to rush Mills and bring him down a couple of times and Notre Dame might also be able to set him up for a couple of Interceptions.

I expect a lot better balance from the Notre Dame Offense during the game as they should be able to move the ball with both the ground and pound and throws from the Quarter Back. Injuries have hurt Stanford on this side of the ball too and the Defensive Line is not as strong as the one they had in 2018 so the Fighting Irish should always be ahead of the chains as long as they avoid big time Penalties.

Ian Book had a very good game against the Boston College Eagles in Week 13 and I think he can pick up from where he left off. All season the Stanford Secondary has struggled, but they have allowed 330 passing yards per game in their last three and I do think Book is going to be able to have his way with them in this game too.

The Quarter Back is well protected by his Offensive Line so he should have time to dissect the Cardinal Secondary and I think Notre Dame will be able to cover the number with the better Offense showing up on the day.

Notre Dame have some strong trends from recent games while Stanford are 2-8 against the spread in their last ten games. The Fighting Irish are 7-3 against the spread in their last ten games here too and I will back them to get the better of a big number in Week 14.

Oregon State Beavers @ Oregon Ducks Pick: Mario Cristobal has already guided the Oregon Ducks to nine wins in 2019 to match the number he achieved in his first year as Head Coach in Eugene. However the Ducks have likely lost their chance of making the College Football PlayOff after losing to the Arizona State Sun Devils in Week 13 to drop to 9-2 for the season, although they have confirmed their spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game to be played next week.

It is up to Cristobal to pick his players up after the upset to the Sun Devils but being ready to take on the Civil War against the Oregon State Beavers should be enough to motivate the home team. Some of the players will be upset that the Ducks have likely lost their chance of playing in the PlayOffs, but Oregon can win a Championship and be involved in a big Bowl Game later this year while also securing a strong end of year Ranking spot.

There is going to be plenty of motivation on the other side of the field too as the Oregon State Beavers chase the win they need to be Bowl eligible. Like Oregon, the Beavers have to pick themselves up from a devastating loss in Week 13 when they were beaten by a single point by Washington State that leaves them at 5-6 for the season.

Jonathan Smith is helping the team progress in his second year as Head Coach having more than doubled the two wins earned in 2018 and he is looking to snap their two game losing run to the Oregon Ducks.

It won't be easy for the Beavers to do that although I have to respect they have largely been competitive throughout the 2019 season. A blow out loss to the Utah Utes is the one bad result on the schedule for Oregon State, but that was in October and they are playing well behind Jake Luton at Quarter Back.

Luton is going to need to have a big game for Oregon State to earn the road upset in this Week 14 game and that is largely because the Beavers have not been able to run the ball with any consistency to ease pressure on the Quarter Back. The Offensive Line is unlikely to open too many big holes against this Oregon Defensive Line which has held teams to 3.2 yards per carry in 2019.

However the better news for Jake Luton has to be the recent play of the Ducks Secondary which has seen them give up some big plays through the air. There is still a significant pass rush that Oregon can put together which could force Luton to throw the ball quicker than he would like, and he has to be careful of avoiding Interceptions as extra possessions are going to tip the edge to Oregon by a significant margin.

Things should be a little more comfortable for Oregon when they have the ball in their hands as they have some top skill players that can make the difference for them. CJ Verdell is getting closer to cracking the 1000 yard mark on the ground and he should be able to reach the 87 yards he needs in this game and go beyond the landmark number.

Running the ball has opened things up for Justin Herbert who will be wanting to put some more good Football on the tape as scouts begin to narrow down those players they want their teams to pick up in the next NFL Draft. Herbert should be able to have a huge game against the Oregon State Secondary which has given up some massive yards throughout the season.

Interceptions have kept the Beavers from being blown out though and that is going to be the key for them in this one if they are going to upset the odds, but Oregon have been the stronger team when these teams have headed to the field in recent seasons. I do think they are the better team in this one too and Oregon will be looking to make a statement to keep themselves in with some hopes of impressing the College Football PlayOff Committee.

Oregon State do have a decent record when it comes to the spread in recent visits to Eugene and that has to be respected. I would be expecting a high-scoring game with both teams having successes, but Oregon have the better Defensive unit and I expect them to show up and ultimately help the Pac-12 North Division winners to the cover.

Texas A&M Aggies @ LSU Tigers Pick: At this stage of the season you don't really want to be opposing what looks to be the best of the SEC representatives playing in College Football. However the LSU Tigers are giving up quite a lot of points against the Texas A&M Aggies who are better than their record might suggest.

There is no doubting the Aggies have taken on one of the toughest schedules in College Football this season being a member of the SEC West and also having the National Champions Clemson on their list. Ultimately you can't ignore the fact that the Aggies have come up short, but Jimbo Fisher has made them competitive and it might be difficult for LSU to blow them out despite dominating the majority of opponents they have faced.

The Tigers don't need a flashy win to remain on course for a place in the College Football PlayOffs at the end of this season, but they simply know winning two games in a row will be enough for them. LSU had a much easier day last week than the Texas A&M Aggies who narrowly went down to a defeat to the Georgia Bulldogs, but the Tigers have not covered in their last two games since beating the Alabama Crimson Tide and I do think this could be another competitive performance from the Aggies.

Motivation is with the Tigers who were beaten in a ridiculous game that went into seven Overtimes before Texas A&M came out on top. That is clearly on the minds of the players, but LSU should know they have bigger fish to fry and just need to make sure they get into the SEC Championship Game unbeaten and with their own destiny within their controls.

LSU should be strong enough Offensively to at least have plenty of success in this one and Joe Burrow is almost certainly going as the Number 1 Overall Pick in the next NFL Draft. However this could be a bit of a challenge for the Quarter Back as the Aggies Defensive unit have really stepped up their play down the stretch and Texas A&M are going to want to match the nine wins earned in 2018 which can only happen if they win this game and their upcoming Bowl Game.

Even with the improvement in mind, I do think LSU are going to move the ball Offensively with the kind of balance they have on that side of the ball. As good as the Aggies have been, the Tigers have shown they can move the ball and score points against other top SEC Defenses they have faced and the key to the cover for the road team is going to be their performance when they have the ball in their hands.

Kellen Mond has given the Aggies some balance from the Quarter Back position and I do think the road team can have their own successes in this one. As the competition has stepped up, the Tigers Defensive Line has had one or two issues stopping drives and I do think Texas A&M can run the ball with success which will open up some passing lanes for Mond.

Even the LSU Secondary has allowed almost 275 passing yards per game across their last three games and I will look for Mond and the Aggies to move the ball and at least stay relatively close to the Tigers.

Texas A&M do not have a very good record against the LSU Tigers when it comes to the spread in recent seasons. However they have covered in losses to Clemson and Georgia this season, while only just missing out against the Alabama Crimson Tide and the chance to play spoiler can see the road team keep this one within this spread.

MY PICKS: Boise State Broncos - 14 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 28 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Syracuse Orange + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - 16.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Oregon Ducks - 19.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Texas A&M Aggies + 17 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Kansas State Wildcats + 4.5 Points @ 2.05 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Colorado Buffaloes + 28 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Oklahoma State Cowboys + 12.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)

Week 13: 4-3, + 0.64 Units (7 Units Staked, + 9.14% Yield)
Week 12: 6-3, + 2.53 Units (9 Units Staked, + 28.11% Yield)
Week 11: 5-3, + 1.55 Units (8 Units Staked, + 19.38% Yield)
Week 10: 4-1, + 2.73 Units (5 Units Staked, + 54.60% Yield)
Week 9: 2-5, - 3.18 Units (7 Units Staked, - 45.43% Yield)
Week 8: 4-4-1, - 0.47 Units (9 Units Staked, - 5.22% Yield)
Week 7: 3-3, - 0.24 Units (6 Units Staked, - 4% Yield)
Week 6: 2-5, - 3.18 Units (7 Units Staked, - 45.42% Yield)
Week 5: 6-1, + 4.40 Units (7 Units Staked, + 62.86% Yield)
Week 4: 3-2, + 0.73 Units (5 Units Staked, + 14.60% Yield)
Week 3: 3-5, - 2.18 Units (8 Units Staked, - 27.25% Yield)
Week 2: 5-7, - 2.57 Units (12 Units Staked, - 21.42% Yield)
Week 1: 3-2, + 0.67 Units (5 Units Staked, + 13.40% Yield)

Season 2019: 50-44-1, + 1.43 Units (95 Units Staked, + 1.51% Yield)

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