Week 14 College Football Picks From WhatIfSports.com image

Week 14 College Football Picks

NCAA football predictions for every FBS game
By Eric Schmoldt, WhatIfSports.com
November 30th, 2009

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Each Monday morning, we will preview every college football DI FBS game of the upcoming week. All of our college football content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here.

The inputs to the 10,000 simulations of these games are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.




Game of the Week: #1 Florida 26 vs. #3 Alabama 21
The game will decide the conference champion. It will go a long way in helping determine a national champion.

We've been officially awaiting the Florida-Alabama SEC Championship for a couple of weeks. Unofficially, the wait has listed much longer than that. Now the battle between two top-three teams for one spot in the national title game is here.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow led the Gators to another undefeated regular season, closing it out with an impressive 37-10 victory over rival Florida State on Saturday. Since a narrow three-point win over Arkansas on Oct. 17, the Gators each of their next six by at least 10 points and three of their last four by at least 24.

Behind Tim Tebow and Jeffrey Demps - each with at least 700 yards on the ground - Florida has one of the top rushing offenses in the country. The Gators are one of 15 teams in the country averaging more than five yards per carry, picking up 5.60 yards per touch on the ground. Floridaís passing attack may not look that devastating in terms of yards per game, but in terms of yards per play. Only nine teams in the nation average more yards per pass attempt than the Gatorsí 8.79. Together, the balanced attack leads the Gators to a top-10 offense overall. The Gators rank seventh in the nation, averaging 6.77 yards per offensive play.

Florida's defense is just as, if not more, impressive. Just 12 teams in the country give up less than three yards per carry and the Gators are one of them, giving up just 2.90 yards per touch on the ground. They're tops in the country in terms of passing yards allowed per game and rank third in yards per attempt, giving up just 5.16 yards per toss. All together, those numbers give them one of the top four defenses in the nation. Just four teams give up less than four yards per play and Florida ranks fourth amongst them - behind only TCU, Alabama and Texas.

Yes, you read that right, that list includes the Crimson Tide, giving this game two of the premier defenses in the nation. Tebow and Co. will likely see their stiffest challenge of the season as Alabama brings the #2 defense in terms of yards per play - 3.87. How'd they get to that number? Well, the Tide hasn't had that much trouble. They rank second in the country in terms of rushing yards per game and fourth in terms of yards per rush, giving up just 2.62 yards per carry on the ground. Against the pass, Bama is even better. Best in the country, perhaps, and they have the numbers - they're giving up a nation's best 5.06 yards per attempt - to prove it.

Offensively, Alabama hasn't been quite as consistent, but it still has one of the best offenses in the nation. It scored just 12 points and had to squeak out a victory over Tennessee last month and last week had to avoid the upset bug again, holding off Auburn with a late drive by just five points. With Heisman candidate Make Ingram at running back - and he's expected to play this week - the Tide are also in the group of 15 teams averaging more than five yards per carry. Quarterback Greg McElroy hasnít always turned heads - see most of the Auburn game - but his numbers, 2,200 yards, 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions, are pretty darn good. The Tideís passing numbers arenít as great as Florida, but they mimic the Gators' in that the yards per game leave Bama with a much lower-ranked passing attack in terms of yards per game, but in terms of yards per pass attempt - 7.39 - it does just fine. Combined, the Tide still averages more than six yards per play, but will need to pick it up from their performance last week to stand a chance against Florida.

Speaking of that chance, our computers give Alabama a 38.6% shot at taking down the nation's longest winning streak. In 10,000 simulations of the SEC Championship Game, the Gators win 61.4% of the time, but by less than a touchdown at an average score of 26-21.

Other Notable Games in Week 14
It's all about earning a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

Nobody is giving Nebraska much of a chance to keep Texas from likely joining the SEC champion in the national title game and the computer doesn't like the Huskers very much, either. The Longhorns go to 13-0 and virtually ensure a Pasadena spot 85.7% of the time, doubling up the Huskers.

Will Boise State join TCU, giving mid-majors two spots in the BCS? The Broncos' game with New Mexico State likely won't make a difference in that argument unless the Aggies pull the upset of the year. And that's highly unlikely - try about a 5% chance.

In the Pac-10, it's Oregon and Oregon State deciding who will join Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The rivalry game is decided by a touchdown as the Ducks join the BCS party 69.1% of the time with a 28-20 home victory.

In the Big East, Pittsburgh lost last week but can still steal a spot in the BCS by beating undefeated Cincinnati. The Bearcats have to travel to Pitt, but still remain undefeated nearly 70% of the time, though it's by just five points.

And both Georgia Tech and Clemson lost last week as well, perhaps overlooking those games with this one on the horizon. They'll still get to play for their spot in the BCS and it's the Yellow Jackets winning on the road more than 68% of the time, but by just four points.

To see other picks like our Upset of the Week and Lock of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.


College Football Week 14
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets68.130
vs Clemson Tigers31.926
South Florida Bulls31.920
@ Connecticut Huskies68.130
Cincinnati Bearcats68.135
@ Pittsburgh Panthers31.930
West Virginia Mountaineers76.528
@ Rutgers Scarlet Knights23.520
Fresno State Bulldogs67.334
@ Illinois Fighting Illini32.729
Ohio Bobcats25.114
vs Central Michigan Chippewas74.924
Arizona Wildcats27.920
@ USC Trojans72.130
Oregon State Beavers30.920
@ Oregon Ducks69.128
California Golden Bears95.035
@ Washington Huskies 5.017
Alabama Crimson Tide38.621
vs Florida Gators61.426
New Mexico State Aggies 5.010
@ Boise State Broncos95.059
San Jose State Spartans12.012
@ Louisiana Tech Bulldogs88.030
Wisconsin Badgers82.135
@ Hawaii Warriors17.924
Army Black Knights16.313
vs Navy Midshipmen*83.728
Arkansas State Red Wolves86.126
@ Western Kentucky Hilltoppers13.913
Nebraska Cornhuskers14.313
vs Texas Longhorns85.726
East Carolina Pirates26.323
vs Houston Cougars73.731
Florida Atlantic Owls76.127
@ Florida International Golden Panthers23.917

*Game played 12/12/09.

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Eric Schmoldt is a writer for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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