College football Week 14 betting primer: What’s the best play in Alabama vs. LSU?

Sam Cooper
·5 min read

Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone and the longest college football regular season ever carries on into the month of December.

In a normal year, this would be conference championship week. But because of the pandemic, there are still two more full weekends of the regular season before the conference title games — and a bunch of season finales — are played on Dec. 19.

And as long as there are games, there will be picks. Though it feels like I’m treading water at this point. I went 2-3 last week, an underwhelming effort that puts me at 34-29 on the year. That’s a 54% clip.

Let’s see if I’ve got more winners this time around, and let’s hope none of the games I pick get wiped from the schedule.

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

Air Force at Utah State

Time: 9:30 p.m. (Thursday) | TV: CBSSN | Line: Air Force -10.5 | Total: 50.5

After an 0-4 start, Utah State got its first win of the year behind an excellent performance from Andrew Peasley in his first career start. He threw for 239 yards, rushed for 118 more and had four combined touchdowns against New Mexico. Peasley’s performance gives me enough confidence that the Aggies will be able to put some points on the board against Air Force.

Air Force will score plenty. Utah State’s defense has been allowing over five yards per rush this season, which is not a good recipe against Air Force’s option attack. On top of that, Air Force is going to want to crank the offense up a notch with just one game remaining after this on the schedule. That’s a showdown with Army with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy on the line.

Pick: Over 50.5

Memphis at Tulane

Time: Noon | TV: ESPN+ | Line: Tulane -1.5 | Total: 63.5

Memphis has a 6-2 record, but I don’t think that record accurately reflects the quality of this team. The Tigers barely beat a bad Temple team, lost by 39 to Cincinnati, needed a dramatic comeback to beat a bad USF team, were only up by six at halftime against Stephen F. Austin and then scored only 10 points last week against Navy.

Though Memphis has a pretty strong rush defense, I think Tulane is the right side here and a good value at such a small number. Tulane’s last game was that brutal double-overtime loss to Tulsa, but the Green Wave have typically bounced back well under Willie Fritz. In the last three seasons, Tulane is 12-4 against the spread after a loss. And since 2016, Memphis is 1-7 ATS as a single-digit road underdog.

Pick: Tulane -1.5

West Virginia at No. 9 Iowa State

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Iowa State -7 | Total: 49.5

Iowa State is coming off a huge win over Texas that pretty much guaranteed the Cyclones a spot in the Big 12 title game. ISU is now in the top 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings and have to be feeling pretty good about themselves.

This feels like a prime letdown spot, but I don’t trust West Virginia’s offense enough to pick WVU to cover here. I think the under is the smarter play. WVU’s defense is strong against the run, so ISU will likely have to string a few long drives together to put touchdowns on the board. WVU has lost to ISU pretty convincingly the past two seasons, so I think the Mountaineers will be motivated in this spot.

Pick: Under 49.5

Iowa State running back Breece Hall (28) celebrates the team's win over Texas in an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Iowa State running back Breece Hall (28) celebrates the team's win over Texas in an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Colorado at Arizona

Time: 7 p.m. | TV: FS1 | Line: Colorado -6 | Total: 59.5

I’m not sure people are aware of how bad Arizona has been under Kevin Sumlin. The Wildcats are now 9-18 under Sumlin with a current 10-game losing streak dating back to last season. Nine of those losses during the streak have come by double digits.

Entering Saturday’s game against Colorado, Arizona’s QB situation is in flux with Grant Gunnell potentially sidelined with an injury and true freshman Will Plummer next in line. Even with Gunnell, the offense has been underwhelming. And with Colorado will be content to run the ball a ton, I like the under here. The Buffs lead the Pac-12 in rushing attempts per game and time of possession.

Pick: Under 59.5

No. 1 Alabama at LSU

Time: 8 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: Alabama -28.5 | Total: 68.5

Alabama has kicked it into high gear over the last month and has just been destroying teams. Why wouldn’t it do the same to LSU? The Tigers knocked the Tide from the top spot in the SEC West last year. Sure, this year’s LSU team is dramatically different, but I still expect Alabama to lay a beatdown when it has the chance.

And with the state of LSU’s offense — especially with star receiver Terrace Marshall deciding to opt out — I don’t really envision the Tigers being able to keep this one close.

Pick: Alabama -28.5

Note: This post originally included a play on Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina but it was removed because Liberty is unable to play in the game. Coastal Carolina subsequently scheduled BYU.

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