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The Iron Bowl and Bedlam reign over Week 14’s national college football betting lines

The regular season closes up shop with rivalry weekend. Auburn and Oklahoma State look to end the College Football Playoff hopes of Alabama and Oklahoma.

Samford v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 9-4 (5-1 National, 4-3 B1G)

Season ATS: 92-76-4 (43-32-3 National, 49-44-1 B1G)

Momentum is clearly building down the stretch for MC&J. Last week saw us put some more distance on .500 on the strength of our national game picks. The only blemish came because I stupidly trusted Texas. I should’ve known better than to trust anyone that employs Tim Beck. Lesson learned.

National games:

No. 19 Cincinnati v. No. 18 Memphis (-11.5) - Friday 3:30 PM EST - ABC

It feels like Cincinnati comes into this game just barely holding on to their Group of 5 New Year’s Six bowl bid hopes, while Memphis is showing exactly why they deserve a spot in the Cotton Bowl. These two teams could become very familiar with each other over the next couple weeks, as they could meet next week in the AAC Championship Game. If Memphis wins they’ll host the Bearcats again next week. If Cincinnati wins and Navy loses, the Bearcats and Tigers will meet at Nippert Stadium.

Memphis is out there just clubbing folks lately, and had it not been for a 30-28 loss to Temple earlier in the year, the Tigers would be undefeated. Brady White has already thrown 30 touchdowns this year, while running back Kenneth Gainwell has nearly 1,800 total yards and 15 touchdowns.

While I’d love to root for former Buckeye Luke Fickell and the Bearcats to continue to win and make Ohio State’s win over Cincinnati look better, Memphis is just playing to well right now. With three of Cincinnati’s last four wins coming by three points or less, it feels like the Bearcats are running out of gas. The Tigers run away from Cincinnati at home, setting up another battle at the Liberty Bowl between the two teams next week.

Memphis 37, Cincinnati 21

No. 3 Clemson (-27) v. South Carolina - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN

Ever since nearly losing to North Carolina, Clemson has been unstoppable. The Tigers have scored at least 45 points in each of the last six games. Trevor Lawrence has snapped out of his early season sophomore slump, throwing 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in the last four games. As if that wasn’t enough, the Clemson defense is allowing less than 240 yards per game this year.

South Carolina had their moment earlier this year when they upset Georgia, but since then the Gamecocks have been pretty bad, winning just one of their last five games. Clemson isn’t the team you want to be going against when you are struggling. Quarterback Ryan Hilinski could be in for a long afternoon.

Clemson has heard the doubters this year, and now they are making them eat their words a bit. Sure, the competition the Tigers has faced hasn’t been the greatest, but it’s not like South Carolina will present any real threat. Clemson makes it six straight wins against their Palmetto State rival with an easy victory.

Clemson 54, South Carolina 17

No. 5 Alabama (-3) v. No. 15 Auburn - 3:30 PM EST - CBS

If I told you at the beginning of the season Alabama would be on the ropes of missing the College Football Playoff for the first time, and would need their backup quarterback to lead them to victory at Auburn, you would probably think I was crazy. Tua Tagovailoa is out for the rest of the year, meaning Mac Jones is essentially Alabama’s Cardale Jones now. The backup Alabama quarterback made his second start for Alabama last week, getting his feet with with an easy 66-3 win over Western Carolina.

Had a couple of bounces went their way, Auburn very well could be in the College Football Playoff race right now. The Tigers lost to Florida, LSU, and Georgia earlier this season by a combined 21 points. Bo Nix has had an up-and-down freshman year, but with a defense like Auburn has, the Tigers don’t need him to put up huge numbers. As long as Nix doesn’t put the football together and strings together some drives, the Tigers have a chance to win.

This isn’t quite the Alabama team we have become accustomed too. Not only is there questions at quarterback with Jones making just his third start, but the Alabama defense hasn’t been as dominant as in years past. Derrick Brown and the Auburn defensive line make life miserable for Jones, while Nix hits his favorite target Seth Williams for a couple touchdowns as the Tigers end Alabama’s pursuit of a College Football Playoff spot.

Auburn 23, Alabama 20

Oregon State v. No. 14 Oregon (-19.5) - 4:00 PM EST - PAC-12 Network

Oregon saw their College Football Playoff hopes go up in smoke last week in Tempe when they lost to Arizona State. The Ducks still have the PAC-12 Championship Game next week with a spot in the Rose Bowl on the line. Even with all that, you have to figure Oregon will be a little defeated after the loss to the Sun Devils.

I was shocked to see the numbers Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton has put up so far this season. The senior has thrown 28 touchdowns and been picked off just three times. In the last two weeks alone, Luton has thrown nine touchdowns. If Oregon State offered up a little more on defense, the Beavers would be fighting for a little more than bowl eligibility right now.

The Civil War has been lacking in drama lately. The Ducks have absolutely dominated the Beavers, winning the last two meetings by a combined scored of 124-25. Oregon State has made some steps this year under second-year head coach Jonathan Smith. This feels like it could be a fun quarterback battle between Justin Herbert and Luton. Oregon State is a lot more competitive this year and keeps the final score inside the number.

Oregon 45, Oregon State 31

Texas A&M v. No. 2 LSU (-17) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN

In a perfect world, this year’s meeting between the Aggies and Tigers will be a copy of last year’s seven overtime thriller that Texas A&M won 74-72. Imagine watching on Saturday night with LSU’s hopes for the top seed in the College Football Playoff hanging in the balance as they are taken to the limit by Texas A&M.

The Aggies will be playing their fourth opponent this season currently ranked in the top five of the College Football Playoff rankings. Texas A&M wasn’t able to beat Clemson, Alabama, or Georgia, but they did at least cover on the road against the Tigers and Bulldogs. Quarterback Kellen Mond is steady and has played in enough big games where he should be shook by the atmosphere at Tiger Stadium.

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is putting up ridiculous numbers this year, racking up 41 touchdown passes. Overlooked has been how good Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been, as the running back has rushed for 1,146 yards and 15 touchdowns. Imagine how unstoppable the Tigers would be if their defense was close to some of the dominant units they have fielded in the past.

Not that I think LSU is overlooking Texas A&M, but you have to wonder how much attention the Tigers have on Georgia, who they played next week in the SEC Championship Game. With LSU having a leaky defense at times this year, this feels like a game the Aggies can hang around in. There won’t be seven overtimes, but the final score stays within 17.

LSU 38, Texas A&M 28

No. 7 Oklahoma (-13) v. No. 21 Oklahoma State - 8:00 PM EST - FOX

Until Oklahoma can prove they can play even a little bit of defense, I’m going to keep betting against them when they are laying numbers like this. Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma offense is great, but it means nothing since the defense can’t stop anyone. Just ask Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who might have a national title to go along with their Heismans if the Sooners had a pulse on defense.

I have no doubts Oklahoma State will find a way to ruin my pick in this game. Whenever I pick a Cowboys game I end up on the wrong side. Complicating matters it Oklahoma State will be troting out backup quarterback Dru Brown since Spencer Sanders will miss the rest of the season. This would be a little more concerning if Brown and the Cowboys didn’t have running back Chuba Hubbard to lean on.

Last week Hubbard saw his streak of scoring at least one touchdown in every game this season snapped against West Virginia. That definitely won’t be the case on Saturday night at Bedlam. I see a big night for Hubbard against the Sooners. I could easily see Oklahoma State winning this game, so I’ll gladly take 13 points here.

Oklahoma 41, Oklahoma State 38