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College football picks and predictions against the spread for Week 14

Conference Championship weekend is here as we take a closer look at our picks and predictions for college football's Week 14.

It’s Conference Championship week in college football. That means the regular season is over. Only a few teams have a regular-season game left, while 20 other clubs have conference championships to conclude. The season flew by, so let’s make the most of it while we still can with our early college football picks and predictions for Week 14.

College football predictions, picks, and odds for Week 14

Here are the lines for all the action as of Monday, November 29 at 3 PM ET.

Friday

  • Conference USA Championship: Western Kentucky vs. UTSA (+1)
  • Pac-12 Championship: Oregon vs. Utah (-3)

Saturday

  • Big 12 Championship: Baylor vs. Oklahoma State (-5)
  • MAC Championship: Kent State vs. Northern Illinois (+2.5)
  • Mountain West Championship: Utah State vs. San Diego State (-5)
  • Sun Belt Championship: Appalachian State vs. Louisiana (+2.5)
  • American Athletic Championship: Houston vs. Cincinnati (-10.5)
  • SEC Championship: Georgia vs. Alabama (+6.5)
  • B1G Championship: Iowa vs. Michigan (-10.5)
  • ACC Championship: Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh (-3)
  • USC vs. Cal (-4)

Early Week 14 college football picks and predictions

During Conference Championship weekend, it’s imperative to find value and discuss which games actually present opportunities. Some of these teams have met before, while others are playing for the first time in 2021.

Here’s what I like for our early college football picks and predictions in Week 14.

Western Kentucky (-1) vs. UTSA

Time: Friday, December 3, 7 PM ET

The Hilltoppers aren’t your normal Conference USA team. In fact, they’re not even your normal college football team. Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe is just 8 touchdown passes away from tying Joe Burrow’s record of 60 touchdown passes in a season. The incredible thing is, if he does tie or break Burrow’s record, he’d do it in one fewer game. Burrow accomplished 60 touchdowns in 15 games while Zappe could do it in 14.

Zappe has an incredibly talented cast of receivers, none bigger than Jerreth Sterns. Currently, Sterns is second in the country with 1,539 receiving yards. He’s first in the nation with a whopping 127 receptions — no other receiver has more than 100 this season. Sterns is must-watch television.

UTSA is solid in coverage, but following a thorough beatdown from North Texas in Week 13, this line has moved from the Roadrunners being favored to listed as the betting underdogs. Despite an 11-1 record, their offense isn’t built to play from behind.

They’ll need an overachieving performance from Sincere McCormick and their offensive line to keep WKU’s offense off the field. Even still, the Hilltoppers can score at will on any team.

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State (-5)

Time: Saturday, December 4, 12 PM ET

Cowboys and Bears, oh my! It was only two months ago that these two teams met, but it certainly feels like ages ago. The Bears are slightly different from their October 2 team that lost to Oklahoma State, 24-14.

They’ve lost Gerry Bohanon and have had to make things work with freshman Blake Shapen at quarterback. Shapen has been good, not great, throwing his first 2 touchdowns against Texas Tech a week ago.

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Oklahoma State is a different animal — in a good way. They’ve lost one game (by just 3 points) this season, and their defense has been as good as ever. In fact, their defense limits what Baylor’s offense tries to achieve incredibly well. The Cowboys’ defense is stacked at every level, but Brock Martin should have an advantage with his speed and skills up and down the defensive line.

Oklahoma State also has distant College Football Playoff hopes still intact, and a dominant outing will help their cause immensely. They shouldn’t take their foot off the gas pedal, and head coach Mike Gundy knows it.

Houston (+10.5) vs. Cincinnati

Time: Saturday, December 4, 4 PM ET

Cincinnati, we have a problem — a Cougar-sized problem. Houston hasn’t lost a game since Week 1 when they struggled to find an identity against Texas Tech. The Cougars have also turned it up defensively in their last three games, limiting opponents to just 38 points over those outings. They’ve outscored the competition 465-238. Houston has also scored at least 31 points in all but two games this season.

Cincinnati’s defense is good, but can they stack up against Houston’s potent offense? The quartet of Cincinnati defenders playing at the Senior Bowl will have to be on their “A” game. Coby Bryant and Bryan Cook in the secondary must stick with their receivers in coverage while Ahmad Gardner locks down one side.

Houston has a bevy of players who can stretch the field, including leading receivers Nathaniel Dell and Jeremy Singleton — they average 14.5 yards per catch or more. The Cougars may not have the strength or depth to win the game against Cincinnati, but crushing dreams brings something else out of players. Houston can keep their future Big 12 rivals out of the College Football Playoffs with a win or maybe even a close game.

The Playoff Committee would be the ones with the problem at that point, not Houston.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. He is also the co-host of Between the Hashes, a college football and NFL draft podcast. You can find his writing here. Follow him on Twitter @CamMellor

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