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Spread Options: Week 14

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
In what's become a tradition, the winner of the SEC title game will advance to the BCS National Championship Game. (US Presswire)

Every Monday in Spread Options, Eye On College Football blogger Tom Fornelli takes a look at the betting lines for five of the coming week's most important games. By looking at recent trends for both schools involved, along with their coaches, he'll try to get an early read on what the best bet is for you to make, or if it's a game you should just stay away from.

I head into my final week of Spread Options coming off a 2-2 record last week that improved my overall mark this season to 38-21. Not a bad record if I say so myself, which I just did. Deal with it.

Now I look to end the regular season with a bang, as we take a look at five conference championship games this week -- sorry, Conference USA and the Big East, but you don't make the cut -- and try to figure out how to bet each game. Because gambling is the only thing keeping the American economy afloat.*

*Statement might not be true

Game One: Kent State vs Northern Illinois (-5), Over/Under: 60
Friday 7 p.m. (All times Eastern) ESPN2

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 15-9Overall: 15-11
Neutral: 0-0Neutral: 2-2
vs. MAC: 12-4vs. MAC: 11-5
Over/Under: 13-11Over/Under: 11-13
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 15-9Overall: 15-11
Neutral: 0-0Neutral: 2-2
vs. MAC: 12-4vs. MAC: 11-5
Last Five Meetings
2011: Northern Illinois 40, Kent St. 10
2008: Northern Illinois 42, Kent St. 14
2007: Northern Illinois 27, Kent St. 20
2005: Northern Illinois 34, Kent St. 3
2002: Northern Illinois 13, Kent St. 6

Is it wrong that, aside from the SEC title game, I'm probably looking forward to this one more than any other? And it's not just because I have an unhealthy infatuation with the MAC, but because this game features two ranked teams that I don't think get nearly as much respect as they deserve.

VERDICT: It's hard to make a call in this game because, numbers-wise, these two teams are incredibly similar. Also, between the two of them, they went 14-2 against the spread in conference play this season. When forced to make a decision, though, I'm going with Northern Illinois -5.

The reasons for this are that I think Jordan Lynch is the best player on either team, and Northern Illinois' run defense is the best in the MAC. Kent State is not a team that can be counted on to pass all that effectively, so I see the Huskies keeping Kent State's ground attack in check and, therefore, keeping the Flashes in check.

Game Two: Florida State (-14) vs Georgia Tech, Over/Under: 61
Saturday 8 p.m. ESPN

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 11-13Overall: 11-12-2
Neutral: 1-0Neutral: 0-1
vs. ACC: 8-8vs. ACC: 6-7-2
Over/Under: 11-11-1Over/Under: 15-8-1
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 19-19Overall: 32-28-2
Neutral: 2-1Neutral: 1-4
vs. ACC: 12-13vs. ACC: 22-17-2
Last Five Meetings
2009: Georgia Tech 49, Florida State 44
2008: Georgia Tech 31, Florida State 28
2003: Florida State 14, Georgia Tech 13
2002: Florida State 21, Georgia Tech 13
2001: Florida State 28, Georgia Tech 17

Another classic ACC Championship Game. I mean, you can buy a ticket to this game for $4. Though I suppose it could be worse. It could be the 2006 ACC Championship Game that saw Wake Forest knock off Georgia Tech 9-6 in a game for the ages.

VERDICT: I'm only conflicted on this one because I can't decide between Florida State -14 or the Under 61. The two things that worry me are that Georgia Tech's defense is so terrible that Florida State could wind up with 45 points or, more easily, if it keeps its foot on the gas. I'm going to go with Florida State -14, though.

The reasoning is I'm more comfortable with the idea of Florida State's defense struggling with the option for a bit and allowing Georgia Tech some early success before pulling away. The Seminoles are just too strong and fast on defense for Georgia Tech.

Game Three: Nebraska (-2 ½) vs. Wisconsin, Over/Under: 48
Saturday 8:17 p.m. Fox

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 10-13-1Overall: 13-13
Neutral: 0-1Neutral: 1-2
vs. B1G: 6-8-2vs. B1G: 10-7
Over/Under: 11-12-1Over/Under: 14-8-1
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 33-31-2Overall: 45-41-1
Neutral: 4-2Neutral: 5-4
vs. B1G: 6-8-2vs. B1G: 25-26

These two teams began their conference schedules against one another, and now they'll end them the same way. Though this time, the winner gets a trip to Pasadena.

VERDICT: Nebraska won the first meeting between these teams 30-27, with the Cornhuskers racking up 440 yards of offense. This was also Joel Stave's first start outside of Madison, and the Badgers found some success on offense against this Nebraska defense.

Which is why that Over 48 looks pretty damn good to me. I'm expecting there to be quite a few touchdowns put on the board between these two in a game that won't quite resemble a Big Ten contest.

Game Four: UCLA at Stanford (-9), Over/Under: 52
Friday 8 p.m. Fox

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 19-6Overall: 12-14
Home: 8-5Road: 5-7
Home Fav: 7-5Road Dog: 3-5
vs. Pac-12: 13-5vs. Pac-12: 9-10
Over/Under: 10-14Over/Under: 13-12
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 19-6Overall: 7-5
Home: 8-5Road: 3-2
Home Fav: 7-5Road Dog: 1-0
vs. Pac-12: 13-5vs. Pac-12: 4-5
Last Five Meetings
2012: Stanford 35, UCLA 17
2011: Stanford 45, UCLA 19
2010: Stanford 35, UCLA 0
2009: Stanford 24, UCLA 16
2008: UCLA 23, Stanford 20

I liked this matchup so much last week that I decided to include it in Spread Options again. Plus this was a STAY AWAY game last week, so I feel as though I owe you a pick.

VERDICT: I don't know that Jim Mora and UCLA showed us everything they can do on offense against Stanford last week with nothing to gain, and that leaves some variables we have to consider. That being said, no matter what UCLA did on offense, its defense showed me it has quite a bit of trouble with Stepfan Taylor and that Stanford offensive line.

Because of that I'm going to take Stanford -9 in this game. While UCLA is a team that has definitely improved in 2012, I still don't think it's on the same level as a Stanford team that has proven this season that its system works no matter the quarterback.

Game Five: Alabama (-7 ½) vs Georgia, Over/Under: 50 ½
Saturday 4 p.m. CBS

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 15-10Overall: 14-11-1
Neutral: 2-0Neutral: 2-3
vs. SEC: 12-5vs. SEC: 10-6-1
Over/Under: 12-11-1Over/Under: 11-14
Under Current Head Coaches*
Overall: 44-32-1Overall: 69-65-4
Neutral: 8-3Neutral: 13-12-1
vs. SEC: 29-21-1vs. SEC: 45-44-3
Last Five Meetings
2008: Alabama 41, Georgia 30
2007: Georgia 26, Alabama 23 OT
2003: Georgia 37, Alabama 23
2002: Georgia 27, Alabama 25
1995: Alabama 31, Georgia 0

*Mark Richt since 2002

Am I the only one who can't get over the fact that these two teams have only met five times since 1995? That's insane for two teams that are in the same conference. Though I suppose you could argue that at least they make the games count, as the winner of this rare matchup on Saturday gets to play for a national title.

VERDICT: Georgia got off to a rather slow start to the season, culminating in an embarrassing loss at South Carolina on Oct. 6. Since then, however, Georgia has been playing pretty good football, beating Florida and outscoring opponents 208-67 in their six-game win streak.

Of course, Georgia hasn't run into any team quite the caliber of Alabama since that Florida win, either. However, I'm still going to take Georgia +7 ½. Alabama is not nearly as unbeatable as it has been in the past. It needed a last-minute drive to win at LSU, and it lost at home to Texas A&M.

Georgia has a balanced offense that's ranked in the top 40 in both rushing and passing. I feel like that kind of attack against this Alabama defense will at the very least keep Georgia within range.

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