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Friday, 6 December 2019

College Football Week 15 Picks 2019 (December 6-7)

The Championship Week in College Football begins on Friday 6th December and will be completed on Saturday 7th December and it is a big moment for those teams chasing a spot in the College Football PlayOffs.

Four teams are firmly in control of their own destiny- the Ohio State Buckeyes and Clemson Tigers are huge favourites to win the Big Ten and ACC Championship Games respectively and I do think any upset could potentially knock them out of the top four. The Tigers are more vulnerable to that as they don't have a very good schedule, but I would be very surprised if either team was to lose on Saturday.

The LSU Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs also know a win will get them in... The difference between those two teams and the first two I mentioned is simple- the Tigers and Bulldogs meet for the SEC Championship in Atlanta this week. Out of the two teams I would hazard a guess that LSU can afford a loss a little more, but even then they would be left vulnerable, while I think a lot of things would need to break Georgia's way to be invited into the top four as a non-Champion with two losses on the record.

A defeat for Georgia is what the likes of the Utah Utes, Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears will be hoping to see as long as they can win their own Championship. Utah are up first in the Pac-12 Championship Game against the Oregon Ducks, while Baylor and Oklahoma will meet in Dallas knowing the Big 12 Champion will be a one loss Champion. I would hazard a guess that the winner of the Big 12 would be moved above Utah even if both are Champions and that they are more likely to be the beneficiary of a Georgia loss.

Things would certainly get more cloudy if Georgia were to beat LSU and win the SEC Championship. In that case I think my feeling is that the Tigers would edge out the Pac-12 and Big 12 Champion even without a SEC Championship to their name with the Tigers schedule looking stronger than the other teams involved.

At this moment I think Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia all winning would present the most problems for the PlayOff Committee to deal with so they must be all hoping for a Tigers win this week. If that happens the most troubling decision would likely be a straight shoot out between the Pac-12 Champion and Big 12 Champion, although a Utah loss on Friday night will only make things easier for them.

Personally I can't really second guess the Committee with any confidence, but if Oregon and LSU are to win this weekend I would think the Big 12 Champion (with only one loss on their resume) would be edging out a two loss Georgia for a top four place.

And then it will be the Seeding that is going to be argued with a likely blockbuster 'Semi Final' between two of Ohio State, Clemson and LSU being set.

Four straight winning weeks came to an end in the College Football Picks as I went 4-5 in Week 14.

That isn't how I wanted to finish the regular season and it has erased some of the positive numbers I had built for the season in that winning run. There is still Week 15 to get through to try and position a solid return to at least have some positive momentum to take into the Bowl Season which begins later this month and that has to be the target through the Championship Games coming up.

Oregon Ducks vs Utah Utes Pick: Two weeks ago this might have been seen as a potential Championship Game that could decide one of the College Football PlayOff places. The Oregon Ducks were upset by the Arizona State Sun Devils and finished the regular season with an unconvincing win over their rivals Oregon State Beavers to earn a 10-2 record in 2019.

For the most part that is a very healthy record for the Ducks who have made it back to the Pac-12 Championship Game, but the two losses means they are not going to be considered for the College Football PlayOffs win or lose on Friday evening. That doesn't mean motivation will be any less as teams don't have a lot of chances to win a Conference Championship, but it is not the play-in game they would have wanted and what it looked like being before the loss at Arizona State.

There is more than a potential Championship on the line for the Utah Utes who will believe they have a chance of pushing into the top four with a win. My feeling is they are going to have to impress to edge out any Big 12 Champion and so there is some added pressure on the Utes even if they are going to try and focus on what they can control which is this Pac-12 Championship Game.

Utah have experience having lost the Pac-12 Championship Game in 2018 when going down to the Washington Huskies in a low-scoring game. However they were banged up twelve months ago and I think Utah come into this game in much better shape and it is no surprise they are favoured, even if the number looks a touch on the high side as far as I am concerned.

The Utes have been pummelling opponents since losing their one game to the USC Trojans and they have finished the season with an 11-1 record. One concern I would have for the Utes is that they have not really played too many teams with winning records this season and the Pac-12 has largely been a weak Conference and, while the same can be labelled at Oregon, this is the toughest team for each team to face.

Oregon and Utah are both going to be leaning on their Defensive units to make the big plays in the Championship Game and conditions at Levi's Stadium should double down on that. Wind and rain is expected which may make throwing the ball very difficult despite the two Quarter Backs in the game and that means the team that shows most desire in the trenches on both sides of the ball is going to be the one that has the edge in this one.

It should be fun to watch when Utah have the ball as they have thrived on being able to pound the rock through Zack Moss who has cracked 1000 rushing yards for the third season in a row. The Utes Offensive Line has opened holes for 5 yards per carry on the season, but this Oregon Defensive Line has been much improved compared with even the strong standards of 2018.

They have remained consistently tough to run against and Oregon will likely be playing closer to the Line of Scrimmage knowing that Tyler Huntley is expected to be a threat running the ball rather than throwing in the conditions. Huntley at Quarter Back and Moss at Running Back can both have some success on the ground behind this Utah Offensive Line which has surprised some by how strong they have been in run blocking.

Even then it may be asking too much for Utah to have consistent success against the Oregon Defensive Line which has been the strength of this team on this side of the ball. Tyler Huntley could throw with some successes too, but I don't think the conditions will be ideal to exploit this Ducks Secondary and it could be a day of making sure you play field position without making a big mistake or two.

Justin Herbert would love to be able to showcase his talents to the watching nation on Friday, but the Quarter Back who is expected to be taken in the First Round of the NFL Draft will have to take what he can get in this Pac-12 Championship Game. Like Tyler Huntley, the conditions do not favour a big passing day from either Quarter Back, but it might not be the worst thing for the Ducks considering how the last two weeks have gone for Herbert.

Like the Utah Utes, Oregon are going to find it very difficult to establish the run against a Defensive Line that is about as good as any in the Conference. The Utes have been able to clamp down on Running Backs, but many expected Oregon to have the best Offensive Line in the Pac-12 and this is a team who have been abel to open some big running lanes.

The similarities between the teams can't be ignored and I really do think this game is going to come down to one or two big plays which decides the outcome. I would not want to be throwing or kicking in the expected conditions so the game could turn on a mistake or two as both Offensive Lines look to impose themselves against two tough Defensive Lines.

There is pressure on Utah who are looking to impress the PlayOff Committee, but any win will ultimately put some pressure on those who will decide the final four in College Football this season.

Utah have been a covering machines since losing to the Trojans and that has to be respected. I also have to take note of Oregon's poor record as an underdog, but this feels like having all the potential of being a low-scoring, tough, grind it out game with very little separating the teams. With that in mind it does make the amount of points being given to the Oregon Ducks look very appealing and that is going to be my play from the opening Championship Game being played in Week 15.

Baylor Bears vs Oklahoma Sooners Pick: The Big 12 Champion is going to have one loss on the record and whoever wins will be putting themselves in a very strong position to earn a spot in the College Football PlayOff too. The Baylor Bears have lost just one game this season and have a chance to redeem that in this Championship Game, while the Oklahoma Sooners can erase the memory of the loss to the Kansas State Wildcats by beating the Ranked Baylor Bears twice in very quick succession.

Whoever wins will also have a close eye on the SEC Championship Game which is going to begin after this Big 12 Championship Game is concluded and the winner will likely be looking for a Georgia loss to have a chance to edging into the PlayOff top four. Things might be even clearer if the Utah Utes have been beaten in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday evening, but Lincoln Riley and Matt Rhule will be urging the players to ignore outside distractions and bring home a Championship.

Playing in the Championship Game has become very familiar for the Oklahoma Sooners who are taking part again having played in each of the previous two since the Conference decided to give their Champion a boost in the eyes of the PlayOff Committee. That is not the case for the Baylor Bears who had been just 8-17 in the previous two years under this Head Coach, although they did leap from one win in Rhule's first season to seven wins in 2018.

Once again they had a bounce as the Bears produced a 11-1 record in 2019, but the Head Coach won't be looking for things to end here and he will also be confident the Bears can earn some revenge for the regular season loss to the Sooners. That defeat came in a game where the Bears blew a huge lead, but they also were the beneficiary of a number of turnovers and it is a factor that really can't be worked out before the game with the bounce of the ball always requiring a bit of luck.

I do think we are going to see a high-scoring game and both Baylor and Oklahoma should have plenty of success when it comes to running the ball. Neither Defensive Line has looked like it capable of clamping down on the Running Backs playing this game and I think that will see both teams move the chains, while the Head Coaches will be preaching a penalty-free game.

That looks to be especially important for Baylor whose players don't have the same type of experience as the Sooners. The latter are playing in a third Big 12 Championship Game in a row, but they also transferred in a Quarter Back in Jalen Hurts who has won a National Championship before.

Out of the two teams Oklahoma look to have a Secondary that can make one or two more plays and that might limit what Charlie Brewer is able to do in this game. I still think Brewer can have similar success to the first game between these teams when he threw two Touchdown passes and ran for two more, but he can't rely on being given some short fields like he was, while the second half collapse was as much to do with the Offensive unit getting stuck in neutral as it was the Defensive unit failing to make key stops.

I don't think Oklahoma will have a huge passing game, but Hurts has shown he can make the big plays at the right time. If the Sooners are running the ball like they can then I do think the Baylor pass rush can be slowed down enough to give the favourites the edge here.

Baylor have to be respected in what has been a very good season and one that has seen one or two teams perhaps looking at Matt Rhule as a potential Head Coach in a bigger job. However I do think the Sooners will play a better game overall and I don't think they will lose the ball as much as they did when these teams first met.

The Sooners have also covered in both Big 12 Championship Game victories and I think they will do that again here.

LSU Tigers vs Georgia Bulldogs Pick: The winner of the SEC Championship Game is going to go on and play in the College Football PlayOff, but neither the LSU Tigers nor the Georgia Bulldogs are thinking of anything but winning this Championship. The Tigers have been the bigger surprise in 2019 having produced a 12-0 record in the regular season which includes a win at the Alabama Crimson Tide and it is going to be very difficult for them to slip out of the top four even in a loss.

Playing for the National Championship will be seen as a by-product of winning the SEC Championship so the Tigers main focus is heading to Atlanta and underline the progress they have made.

The Georgia Bulldogs are much more accustomed to being involved at this time of the season as they play for the SEC Championship for the third season in a row. A late collapse prevented Georgia from winning back to back Championships last season, but they head into the game with one of the top Defensive units in the nation and having a 10-1 record in the regular season.

Injuries on the Offensive side of the ball are going to be a problem for the Bulldogs as they will need to at least match the kind of production LSU are likely going to produce even against the much vaunted Georgia Defense.

D'Andre Swift is banged up at best and there is some suggestion that his fumbling issues might have something to do with that. He didn't even finish the game against rivals Georgia Tech in Week 14 and Georgia know they need their best skill player if they are going to have a chance in this one.

Swift is that player and that was underlined as soon as Lawrence Cager was lost for the season. Jake Fromm is not being helped by the suspension that George Pickens is going to have to deal with in the first half of this game too and it is not going to be easy for an inconsistent Georgia team to hurt the LSU Defensive unit that stepped up their play in the win over Texas A&M Aggies in Week 14.

Over the course of the season there has been a question mark about the LSU Defense which has struggled to stop the run and allowed some big plays through the air. However they look to be rounding into form judging by their more recent performances and I do think the inconsistent Bulldogs Offense is going to have a tough outing especially with injuries and suspensions building up.

Jake Fromm will have to look after the ball and at least play field position and make sure the Georgia Defense are given every chance to be successful.

In recent years the SEC team with the better Defensive unit have been able to come through and win the Championship, but the Georgia Defense are facing an extremely high-powered LSU Offensive unit. They have found a really good balance on the Offensive side of the ball and that balance is going to be important to challenge a Bulldogs team whose Defensive Line has been very stout which has also helped the Secondary hold teams to less than 200 passing yards per game in the last three games.

However Kirby Smart will be the first to tell you that Georgia have not played too many teams with the Offensive power that the Tigers bring to the table. Joe Burrow has played so well that he has leapt up the Draft Rankings for the NFL and is expected to be the Number 1 Overall Pick in April, while the Tigers have bullied teams with their Offensive Line to open up some big running lanes.

It is clearly going to be the key to the outcome of the game as Georgia have yet to allow more than 20 points this season. You do have to wonder if the Bulldogs can completely shut down the Tigers who have been hanging some big numbers on opponents all season and that then shifts the challenge to Jake Fromm and a banged up Offense to at least score enough points to keep this competitive.

I like the Georgia Bulldogs a lot, but I do think the Offensive unit was going to let them down at some point and I feel that happens this week. An improving Tigers Defense can make some big plays to turn the momentum in their favour and ultimately I believe the Offense scores enough points to take the game away from the underdog.

This is an interesting line and if you look around one or two 6.5 lines have popped up. That is the one that I am looking to get involved in as I back LSU to win and cover in the SEC Championship Game and I am happy to take some juice off the price to do that.

Clemson Tigers vs Virginia Cavaliers Pick: Dabo Swinney is far from a dummy and his statements about the lack of respect his Clemson Tigers team are getting from the PlayOff Committee are easy to read through. No one is disputing how good the defending National Champions are, but the Tigers have been playing in the weak ACC which has meant the Committee have taken time to finally place Clemson in a position they are expecting to be in.

Only a defeat would have cost the Tigers a spot in the top four, but only once this season have they even toyed with that idea. The single point win over North Carolina was not impressive, but Clemson have been playing with a chip on their shoulder in recent weeks and that has led to some crushing wins.

You know Swinney is trying to keep his team fired up by declaring how desperate the Committee are to drop Clemson out and bring Georgia in. Ultimately only a fool would believe the Tigers are going to miss the PlayOffs as ACC Champion and Swinney is far from that as he takes his team to a fifth straight ACC Championship Game.

The last two have been blow out wins for the Tigers and they are huge favourites to beat the Virginia Cavaliers who edged out rivals Virginia Tech Hokies to earn their spot in the Championship Game. Bronco Mendenhall deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done as Head Coach of the Cavaliers and they have now improved their number of wins within a single season in all four years under this Head Coach.

Mendenhall has done a fine job with Quarter Back Bryce Perkins who is one of the best dual-threat players in that position in the nation. That is going to give Clemson something to think about, especially as Perkins is a solid thrower and runner and you can't really focus on trying to stop him doing one because he is a lot weaker at the other.

Perkins is going to be challenged too though as Clemson have one of the best Defensive teams in College Football and they have not allowed more than 14 points since the single point win over North Carolina. The pressure is going to build on Perkins because the Clemson Defensive Line have been very difficult to run against and even the improvements of the Virginia Offensive Line are unlikely to make a real difference in this game.

The Tigers get enough out of their pass rush to expect to put Bryce Perkins under pressure if he is throwing from third and long spots, while the Clemson Secondary have held teams to 104 passing yards per game across the last three games.

Simply put it is very difficult to imagine Virginia having a lot of Offensive success in this game and that is going to heap the pressure on their own Defensive unit. For much of the season Virginia have played well on that side of the ball, but the last few games have seen things get tougher for them on that side of the ball and the Cavaliers are facing a top Quarter Back in Trevor Lawrence.

The expectation is that Trevor Lawrence will be the Number 1 Overall Pick in the NFL Draft when he is eligible to be Drafted and his has sixteen Touchdown passes in his last five games. Lawrence has been much more careful with the ball compared with earlier this season, and the Cavaliers have almost allowed 285 passing yards per game over their last three games.

Travis Etienne has given Clemson some real balance on the Offensive unit and I do think he will find some running lanes even against this Cavaliers Defensive Line holding teams to 3.9 yards per carry in recent games. The reasoning for that is that Virginia won't be able to do anything but try and prevent Lawrence from throwing all over them and it might mean the pass opens up the run for Etienne who can have a big game here.

The spread is a huge one, you can't deny that, but Clemson have been blowing out teams as they look to make a point to the rest of the College Football competitors that they are ready to defend their National Championship. The Head Coach has been speaking with an attitude of being disrespected and his players have followed, so it is hard to see anything but a big win for Clemson again.

Clemson's last seven wins have come by margins of 31, 35, 52, 45, 45, 49 and 35 points. While there is a chance of a backdoor cover scuppering the selection, the Tigers did win the 2017 ACC Championship Game by 35 points and in 2018 it was a 32 point margin and I am looking for another big win in 2019.

Wisconsin Badgers vs Ohio State Buckeyes Pick: For much of this season the Ohio State Buckeyes have been the consensus Number 1 team in College Football and they are going to earn that Seed in the PlayOffs if they can win the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday. The Buckeyes are going up against the Wisconsin Badgers and these teams are meeting for the second time in 2019 after Ohio State blew them out in the regular season.

Ohio State finished 13-1 last season and they have won the Big Ten Championship in back to back years, but many expected them to take a step back in 2019 with only 4 returning starters Offensively. However transfer Justin Fields has been far better than most expected and that has sparked the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record in the regular season and with a place in the College Football PlayOff in front of them if they can win this Championship Game.

They will have to handle a Wisconsin Badgers team who have won at least ten games for the fourth time in five seasons and are back in the Championship Game thanks to a blow out of the Minnesota Golden Gophers on the road. The Badgers have won four in a row since losing consecutive games to Illinois and Ohio State and they have looked very impressive in the last three albeit against opponents who are not of the same level as the Buckeyes.

Everything the Badgers do Offensively is placed on the foundation of a strong running game and the challenge for them is to impose themselves on the Buckeyes Defensive Line. Jonathan Taylor has had another strong season for Wisconsin, but Ohio State held him firmly in check when beating them in the regular season and it is up to the Badgers to make the adjustments to get him on track.

If the Badgers are not able to run the ball it is going to be very difficult for Jack Coan the rest of the Offensive unit to get on track in this one. The Quarter Back has been well protected, but Coan is not going to see a lot of spaces in the Ohio State Secondary and those spaces will look a lot tighter if trying to make plays from third and long spots and facing the Buckeyes pass rush pressure.

I do think Wisconsin will be better than in the regular season, but it is still very difficult to see them being consistent. The spread might be a big one for a neutral field game, but Ohio State hold the keys to the cover as long as Justin Fields is at least semi-mobile at Quarter Back.

Fields has been really good all season, but he has banged up his knee and may have to play with a brace and that does change the perception of the Quarter Back. JK Dobbins should still have the chance for another big day running the ball for the Buckeyes especially as Wisconsin have shown signs of wear and tear on the Defensive Line. As long as Justin Fields can at least produce a couple of runs it will keep the Badgers honest and allow the Buckeyes to run the ball and keep the team in third and manageable spots in this game.

The big concern for Wisconsin is that they have also been struggling to defend the pass and I really do think the Buckeyes will have consistent success in moving the ball in this game. Even if Fields is not completely at 100%, he showed how good he is in helping the Buckeyes dominate Michigan on the road in Week 14 and I fully expect them to be the stronger force throughout much of this game too.

Beating the same team twice in a single season is not an easy task for any either professionally or in College Football. The Buckeyes do look considerably stronger than Wisconsin though and while they won't match the 31 point from the regular season meeting, Ohio State should have enough to cover this spread. They held Wisconsin to under 200 total yards in the first game and the Buckeyes Defensive unit can step up and make the big plays in this one too.

MY PICKS: Oregon Ducks + 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Oklahoma Sooners - 9 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
LSU Tigers - 6.5 Points @ 1.86 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers - 28.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 15.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Louisiana Rajun Cajuns + 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Florida Atlantic Owls - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Cincinnati Bearcats + 9.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Boise State Broncos - 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

Week 14: 4-5, - 1.22 Units (9 Units Staked, - 13.56% Yield)
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: 54-49-1, + 0.21 Units (104 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)

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