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College Football Picks and Preview: Championship Week

College football

It’s been a roller-coaster type of year in college football, but we have made it through the twists and turns that coronavirus laid out and have finally landed on championship week.

Nine of the top-10 teams are playing this weekend, with most still in contention for the final four spots. Will Alabama keep rolling? Can Notre Dame knock off Clemson once again? We will soon find out. This week’s slate will definitely make for an exciting prelude to the holiday rush, and ultimately the College Football Playoff, which starts on Jan 1st.

In the meantime, here are some gifts for our loyal readers to unwrap just in time for a cheerful weekend.

Oklahoma vs. Iowa State

AT&T Stadium

Arlington, TX

Noon, EST

College Football

Iowa State took down mighty Oklahoma early in the season. The upset was part of a two-game skid for the Sooners. Lincoln Riley’s young team opened conference play learning on the fly. Since the loss in Ames, IA, Oklahoma has rattled off six straight wins, covering the spread in five of those contests.

Coming of Age

The Sooners’ quarterback, Spencer Rattler, is six games older and wiser. The electric freshman fits the mold for Riley’s offense. Rattler has thrown for over 2500 yards and 24 touchdowns. The budding star is completing 68.5 percent of his passes and averaging 9.7 yards per attempt. Iowa State will have to account for Rattler’s ability to carve up the secondary. The Cyclones are allowing opponents to complete pass attempts 62 percent of the time.

One of the biggest benefactors of Rattler’s success is fellow rookie Marvin Mims. During Oklahoma’s winning streak, the freshman receiver has caught 18 passes for 338 yards. Averaging 16.6 yards per catch, Mims remains a constant threat to score from anywhere on the field. He has seven touchdowns on the year.

Improved Run Game

Another area where Oklahoma has improved is the rushing attack. The Sooners averaged just 3.4 yards on the ground in Ames. In their last four games, the Okies are putting up 4.7 while toting the rock. And that’s with a lazy performance against Baylor in the mix.

Look for Rhamondre Stevenson to be a difference-maker for the Oklahoma ground game. The senior did not play in the contest at Ames. In just four games this season, Stephenson has 557 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns. He is averaging 5.9 yards per carry. The Sooners will need efficiency out of the backfield going against a stout Iowa State defense allowing just 3.1 yards per rush attempt.

The Grinch, A Mean One

Perhaps the biggest leap for the Sooners has come from the other side of the ball. Alex Grinch’s defense has been superb since getting blasted through the first three conference games. Since giving up 45 points in a shootout against Texas, Oklahoma’s defense was allowed 15.6 points per contest. While Jerry’s World is a far cry from Whoville, look for the defensive coordinator to be stealing from Brock Purdy, and Iowa State’s offense. 11 of Oklahoma’s 13 turnovers have come in the last six games.

The first match between these two programs was an even exchange. Each had the same number of penalties (9), turnovers (1), and nearly the same amount of yards (Oklahoma-414, Iowa State-417). The line for that game favored the Sooners by a touchdown or more (-7.5). We’ll take a lower line (-5) at a neutral site and watch Rattler shake up the Cyclones defense while Grinch steals State’s championship joy.

Oklahoma -5

Other Bundles of Joy

Texas A&M (-13.5) over Tennessee: The Aggies are on the outside of the CFP looking in. Jimbo Fisher will make sure they do their due diligence and leave no doubt in the eyes of the council if one or two teams get bounced. This is a well-rounded A&M squad with a ton to play for. The offense is averaging 6.4 yards per play, while the defense is giving up just 329 yards per game. Fisher’s Aggie teams are a perfect 5-0 against the spread as road favorites. Jeremy Pruitt is 3-6 as a home dog.

Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, Texas A&M All Win

The line on some of these conference title games are hard to gauge. But I think Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson all win convincingly. As mentioned, Texas A&M will go for style points. The debate between the Aggies and the Irish will be a heated one in the days leading up to the final CFP rankings. Go ahead and lock these four in as a parlay. You can get this 4-teamer for around (-136) @fanduel.