College football Week 14 features rivalry clashes that could significantly impact the College Football Playoff picture. Covers checks in on the opening odds and early action for four games.
No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 16 Auburn Tigers (+3.5)
Alabama won’t have Tua Tagovailoa the rest of the season, after a nasty hip injury suffered against Mississippi State, but Nick Saban’s troops are still certainly in the CFP discussion. In Week 13, Mac Jones and the Crimson Tide (10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS) practically had a bye, wiping out Western Carolina 66-3 as eye-popping 58.5-point home favorites.
Auburn’s CFP hopes fell by the wayside with three losses in a very difficult five-week stretch of Southeastern Conference play. Like ‘Bama, the Tigers (8-3 SU and ATS) also faced an FCS foe in Week 13, hammering Samford 52-0 as 45.5-point home faves.
“This line, which opened Alabama -3.5, would’ve likely been around 8 with a healthy Tua,” Chaprales said. “So a pretty sizable adjustment with Jones at the helm. The first move was to 4, though, so the market still seems to like ‘Bama in a road ‘dog spot.”
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 11 Michigan Wolverines (+9)
Ohio State was a spread-covering machine in Games 2-9, but hasn’t cashed the past two weeks, though it’s still right on track for a CFP bid. The Buckeyes (11-0 SU, 8-3 ATS) went off as 18-point home favorites against Penn State in Week 13, but let a 21-0 third-quarter lead tighten to 21-17 before going on to a 28-17 victory.
Michigan has no shot at the CFP, but would love to play spoiler against its archrival. The Wolverines (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) have won four in a row SU and five in a row ATS, downing Indiana 39-14 as 10-point road favorites in Week 13.
“The market appears to have finally caught up to Ohio State the past few weeks, while Michigan has been an ATM since around mid-October,” Chaprales said. “The first few bets have actually been on the Wolverines, pushing an opener of 9 down to 8, but it likely won’t be long before we see some Ohio State money start to come in.”
Indeed, the Buckeyes ticked up to -8.5 by Monday afternoon.
No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners at No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (+12)
Oklahoma could still find its way into the CFP, but must keep winning and might need some help along the way. The Sooners (10-1 SU, 4-7 ATS) were tested in each of their last four games, beginning with a loss at Kansas State. Last weekend, Oklahoma blew a 21-0 second-quarter lead against Texas Christian, but escaped with a 28-24 home win laying 19 points.
Oklahoma State would love nothing more than to win the annual Bedlam game and foil the Sooners’ CFP hopes. The Cowboys (8-3 SU, 8-2-1 ATS) are the No. 2 spread-covering team in the nation, though they’re coming off a push as 7-point favorites in a 20-13 win at West Virginia.
“Another game, another double-digit number for the Sooners, who have seemingly flirted with disaster on a weekly basis in similar spots,” Chaprales said. “That said, the public has continued to ride them, so it will be interesting to see if last week’s result finally turns the tables.”
Early action pushed the Sooners up to -12.5.
No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers at No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers (+2)
Minnesota is not out of the CFP conversation yet, but surely needs to win this week as a home ‘dog, then beat Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. And even that might not be enough. The Golden Gophers (10-1 SU, 7-3-1 ATS) rebounded from a loss at Iowa by topping Northwestern 38-22 giving 15.5 points on the road.
Wisconsin can not only upend a rival and win Paul Bunyan’s Axe this week, but would also claim the Big Ten West and a spot in the conference title game. The Badgers (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS) beat Purdue 45-24 in Week 13, falling short of the cash as 24.5-point home favorites.
“Wisconsin has been more of a bet-on team than Minnesota, and the first few bets have laid the short number,” Chaprales said of bettors playing Wisconsin -2. “So I wouldn’t be surprised if the line inches closer to 3.”
In fact, the number ticked up to Badgers -2.5 by Monday afternoon.