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Week 14 college football odds: wagering table set for big Championship Weekend

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There are some strong OVER trends in a conference championship game that some are resigned to believing will be more of a coronation for top-ranked Alabama.

Led by Heisman Trophy betting favorite Tua Tagovailoa, the Alabama Crimson Tide are 13-point favorites against the Georgia Bulldogs with a 63-point total ahead of the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Alabama is actually facing its tightest line of the season, but it is 14-0 straight-up over its last 14 games with an average winning margin of 31.71 points. Georgia is 4-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last five games. The total might seem high by SEC standards, but five of Georgia’s last six games have gone OVER, with an average combined score of 58.67. The total has also gone OVER in five of Alabama’s last seven games in December.

Elsewhere on championship weekend:

BUFFALO (10-2) VS. NORTHERN ILLINOIS (7-5)
The Buffalo Bulls are 3.5-point favorites on the college football odds against the Northern Illinois Huskies with a 49.5-point total in the Mid-American Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday. Northern Illinois is 1-8 ATS in its last nine games in Week 14. Buffalo is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games.

NO. 11 WASHINGTON (9-3) VS. NO. 17 UTAH (9-3)
The Washington Huskies are five-point favorites against the Utah Utes with a 44.5-point total in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Friday. Utah is 7-1 straight up (SU) and 6-2 ATS in its last eight games. Washington is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games.

NO. 5 OKLAHOMA (11-1) VS. NO. 14 TEXAS (9-3)
The Oklahoma Sooners are eight-point favorites against the Texas Longhorns with a 77.5-point total in the Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The total has gone UNDER in 19 of Texas’ last 25 games against teams from its conference. Oklahoma is 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games in Week 14.

NO. 6 OHIO STATE (11-1) VS. NO. 21 NORTHWESTERN (8-4)
The Ohio State Buckeyes are 14-point favorites against the Northwestern Wildcats with a 60.5-point total in the Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Northwestern is 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS in its last six games against Ohio State, according to the OddsShark College Football Database, with an average losing margin of 30.8 points. Ohio State covered in its most recent game against Michigan, but it is 0-3 ATS in its last three games after an ATS win.

NO. 2 CLEMSON (12-0) VS. PITT (7-5)
The Clemson Tigers are 27.5-point favorites against the Pitt Panthers with a 52.5-point total in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Pittsburgh is 5-2 SU and ATS in its last seven games in December. Clemson is 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS in its last eight games in December.

NO. 8 UCF (11-0) VS. MEMPHIS (8-4)
The UCF Knights are three-point favorites against the Memphis Tigers with a 64.5-point total in the AAC Championship Game. Memphis is 0-6 SU and ATS in its last six games on the road against Central Florida. The total has gone UNDER in six of UCF’s last seven games against its conference.

UAB (9-3) VS. MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (8-4)
The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders are 1.5-point favorites against the UAB Blazers with a 45-point total in the Conference-USA Championship Game. The total has gone UNDER in seven of UAB’s last 10 games, with an average combined score of 43.1 points. Middle Tennessee is 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in its last seven games at home.

NO. 22 BOISE STATE (10-2) VS. NO. 25 FRESNO STATE (10-2)
The Boise State Broncos are 2.5-point favorites against the Fresno State Bulldogs with a 52.5-point total in the Mountain West Championship Game. Fresno State is 13-4 ATS in its last 17 games. The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Fresno State’s last 11 games on the road, with an average combined score of 38.0 points. Boise State is 0-6 ATS in its last six games at home in December.

APPALACHIAN STATE (9-2) VS. LOUISIANA (7-5)
The Appalachian State Mountaineers are 16.5-point betting favorites against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns with a 58.5-point total in the Sun Belt Championship Game. The total has gone UNDER in four of Louisiana-Lafayette’s last five games against Appalachian State, with an average combined score of 46.2 points. Appalachian State is 9-0 SU in its last nine home games, with a winning margin of 27.89 points.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen adds fourth national trophy honor

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When it’s all said and done, Josh Allen is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet — or at least significantly expand his current one.

Monday, it was announced that the Kentucky senior was named as the 2018 recipient of the Jack Lambert Award. That trophy is handed out annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (OH) and given to the national linebacker of the year.

Previously this awards season, Allen had been named as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award (HERE) and Chuck Bednarik Award (HERE) as well as the recipient of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (HERE). He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors.

Allen’s 14 sacks this season set the football program’s single-season record, while his 28.5 career sacks are the most ever for a member of the Wildcats.

Utah State OC Troy Taylor named head coach at FCS Sacramento State

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For the second time since the 2018 regular season came to an end, Kyle Whittingham has seen one of his assistant coaches leave for a head-coaching job.

Exactly a week ago, Utah State announced that Utah associate head coach Gary Andersen was returning to again lead the Aggies.  Monday, Sacramento State announced that Troy Taylor has been hired as the FCS program’s next head football coach.

Taylor, who spent two seasons as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator, was the starting quarterback at Cal in the late eighties after playing his high school football in the state of California.  He also began his coaching career at the high school level near Sacramento.

“I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State,” Taylor said in a statement. “My family and I are excited to move back home and take on the challenge of building the Hornet Football program into something the city can be very proud. I want to thank President Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity.”

With bowl season left, Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and 67th nationally in scoring 28.7 points per game.  In Taylor’s first season in charge of the offense, they averaged 29.5 ppg.

Whittingham has already replaced Andersen with former Ute football player Sione Po’uha.

Nick Saban says Tua Tagovailoa ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in recovery from ankle surgery

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One of the biggest storylines leading into the 2018 College Football Playoff is the health of this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up.  With Alabama’s date with Oklahoma less than two weeks away, the signs are pointing in a positive direction for Tua Tagovailoa.

The sophomore quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Georgia two weeks ago and underwent surgery shortly thereafter to help aid the healing process.  Monday, Nick Saban sounded decidedly optimistic in giving an update on the status of his starter, who has participated at least partly in all four of the Crimson Tide’s practice session since the title game.

“He’s doing well,” the head coach said by way of ESPN.com. “I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run. …

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

Tagovailoa had been bothered by knee issues for a sizable chunk of the regular season before hurting his left ankle earlier this month.

Top-ranked Alabama will face Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, which this season is serving as one of the two playoff semifinals.  The winner of that game will face the Notre Dame-Clemson in the national championship game next month.

Justin Fields’ family says QB ‘hasn’t made a decision’ to transfer from Georgia

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Maybe the future quarterback situation in Athens isn’t as straightforward and black and white as it seemed earlier in the evening.

Monday night, it was reported that Justin Fields has notified Georgia of his intent to transfer.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Fields is exploring the possibility of transferring, though he hasn’t yet told the Bulldogs’ coaching staff that he’s leaving.”

Additionally, at least one member of Fields’ family told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a decision hasn’t been made one way or the other.

Asked if she could confirm reports that her son intends to transfer from Georgia, Fields’ stepmother said she could not. But she also didn’t deny them.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” Jo Ann Claudrick Fields said via telephone Monday night. “We’re not confirming or denying anything. We haven’t made a decision.

Fields’ mother also told the Journal-Constitution to talk to the quarterback’s father, Ivant Fields, as “[h]e handles everything involving football.”

If the transfer were to come to fruition, ESPN reported that Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma would be potential landing spots.  That website also reports that Fields is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl for the Bulldogs.

Fields was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 1 player regardless of position in the Class of 2018.  He spent his true freshman season as the primary backup to sophomore starter Jake Fromm.