The 2019 college football regular season has flown by, and Week 14 marks the conclusion for most teams. It is also a major rivalry week, and I will look to finish strong with my picks.
The climate surrounding the football program has changed greatly in Austin over the last few months. After Texas defeated Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, the Longhorns entered their 2019 campaign with a top 10 ranking and huge expectations for Tom Hermann’s third season. Texas has massively underperformed, however, and must win the season finale to get to 7-5.
The road team has covered the last five games in this series, and Texas should not be favored by this many points. Texas Tech played TCU and Kansas State to the wire the last two weeks, and the Red Raiders are averaging 32.7 points per game since early October. They may put up 50 on a Texas defense that ranks 121st against the pass.
Texas averaged more than 40 points per game in its first seven contests, but the Longhorns have reversed course and scored only 31 combined points in their last two (both losses). Hermann is feeling the heat in Austin, and I will fade the declining Longhorns.
Pick: Texas Tech +9.5
Ohio State looked unbeatable earlier this season, but the Buckeyes did not play with the same intensity in their home finale last week against Penn State and head to Ann Arbor to play a surging rival under adverse conditions (snow and rain predicted). Defense remains a staple for Ohio State, but quarterback Justin Fields took a surprising number of hits and lost a pair of fumbles last week. Did the Buckeyes peak too early this season?
Michigan has elevated its level of play significantly in recent weeks. The Wolverines bring it defensively and have posted dominant performances against Notre Dame, Maryland, Michigan State and Indiana. Michigan also appears much improved on offense and has averaged 41.5 points per game over its last four games. The Wolverines can keep Ohio State honest with a balanced attack, and I expect a close game.
Pick: Michigan +9
After three straight losses to their in-state rival, the Tar Heels should smash NC State. North Carolina needs to win to clinch bowl eligibility and is the only team with any offense in this matchup.
Arguably the worst team in the ACC, NC State lacks a passing offense, with one of most pitiful quarterback situations in the FBS. The Wolfpack doesn’t run the ball effectively, either, with 139.1 rushing yards per game (ranked 90th). The Wolfpack has failed to cover eight of its last nine games. NC State was fortunate to win one conference game against a hapless Syracuse squad, and opponents are outscoring the Wolfpack by a 23.2-point average since.
UNC has played every ACC foe tough, including Clemson, and the Tar Heels will lay a whupping on NC State.
Pick: North Carolina -10
Oklahoma has failed to cover in four straight, and anybody who thinks the Sooners are playing at the same level as earlier this season is delirious. After watching the Sooners score only seven points in the second half against TCU last week, I am stunned to see them favored by double digits.
Give me the points, and don’t be surprised if Oklahoma State finishes the regular season with an upset. The Cowboys have won four straight, and running back Chuba Hubbard (who leads college football with 1,832 rushing yards) is could gain 200 yards or more on a leaky Oklahoma defense.
OU quarterback Jalen Hurts had a pair of turnovers and completed only 11 of his 21 passes last week, and TCU had a chance to tie (or win with a two-point conversion) late in fourth quarter, even though the Horned Frogs gained only 204 yards. Oklahoma State has the firepower to give its rival all it can handle.
Pick: Oklahoma State +13
Ranked sixth by the College Football Playoff committee, Utah can still make the top four and has taken care of business for bettors since late September with seven straight covers. The Utes have been particularly dynamite at home, where they’ve won four Pac-12 games by a 31-point average, and opponents must throw effectively to keep it close against the nation’s No. 1-ranked run defense (58.1 rushing yards per game).
Colorado’s low-scoring offense relies on the ground game, with 207 and 172 rushing yards, respectively, the last two weeks. When held to 88 rushing yards three games ago, the Buffaloes lost to UCLA, 31-14. Quarterback Steven Montez has thrown 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this year, and Colorado has scored more than 20 points only once in its last six games.
Since Utah lost its Pac-12 opener to USC in September, the Utes have averaged 37.5 points per game and will continue to impress pollsters in their season finale.