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2020 College Football Picks: Week Fifteen


Sam Howell, UNC

Current Picks Record: 38-17 (3-6 Upset)

(#17) North Carolina Tar Heels @ (#10) Miami Hurricanes

Line: Miami -3

Over/Under: 67

Although neither UNC nor Miami will get a chance to play for the ACC Championship in 2020, this game has still New Year's Six implications. Both of these teams have explosive offenses, led by the quarterback position. On the Miami side, D'Eriq King has been exactly what they hoped he would be after transferring from Houston, compiling 24 total touchdowns on the season. The big question is whether the rest of the Hurricane offense will be able to provide enough support. The ground game has had its moments but remains fairly inconsistent, while you never know what is going to come from the Miami receivers. Tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory are dominant in the red zone, but can they make enough plays in the open field to get them there? The good news is that the Tar Heel defense is far from an elite group. It's a defense that can pressure the quarterback and force turnovers, but big plays have often killed them this season. The Hurricane offense is one able to create those types of big plays, and they should be able to have success.

A shootout is a high possibility when we consider that the UNC offense ranks fifth in total yardage per game, putting up 534.5 YPG. Not only do the Heels have a star quarterback in Sam Howell, but they also have a potent 1-2 punch at running back in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter. Howell gives them an opportunity in every game they play in, and the Miami defense is susceptible. Williams & Carter should be able to find success against a decent Miami rush defense, while Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome challenge them over the top. I will say, the big advantage the Hurricane defense has is their pass rush. Led by former transfers Jaelen Phillips and Quincy Roche, they do a great job getting opposing offenses out of their comfort zone. The UNC O-Line is decent, but whether they're up for the challenge remains to be seen.

I was surprised to see the over/under number at just 67, which I think these two should be able to eclipse with relative ease. That isn't to say these defenses are terrible by any means, but it has more to do with how strong these individual offenses are. The difference may end up being the turnover battle; I trust Miami to be able to turn over UNC, but yet I still like the Tar Heels in this one. I trust their entire offense a little bit more than Miami at this point, and I also think they have an advantage on the sidelines. It should be a fun one, but I'm taking the Heels.

The Picks: North Carolina, 38 Miami, 34

(#9) Georgia Bulldogs @ (#25) Missouri Tigers

Line: Georgia -13

Over/Under: 54

Another game that might not have major SEC East implications at this point in the season, but Georgia and Missouri still have an opportunity to gain momentum before the postseason. The Bulldogs are starting to play much better after a midseason lull, thanks in large part to new QB J.T. Daniels. In his two starts, Daniels has gone for 540 yards in two seasons along with six touchdowns to just one interception. His play has not only elevated the UGA passing attack, it has also allowed the ground game to flourish because defenses must stay honest now. Zamir White and James Cook have played well down the stretch, while Kendall Milton also offers a nice change of pace. The passing game has always had the potential to be very dangerous, and they're starting to hit their stride. Kearis Jackson, Jermaine Burton, and George Pickens are a very effective trio when they're all healthy and have a QB that can get them the ball. Missouri has a decent defense, but their secondary could be in store for a tough game. UGA also has an advantage on the line of scrimmage that you best believe Kirby Smart will utilize early and often here. 

The Missouri offense has been a streaky one most of 2020, but they appear to also be heating up at the right time, totaling 91 points in the past two games. Their 50-point performance against Arkansas last weekend was incredibly impressive when you consider what the Razorback defense has played like this fall. Connor Bazelak won the QB competition to begin the year and has played really well, fresh off a 380-yard showing. He leads an offense that also includes workhorse tailback Larry Rountree III, who isn't much of a speedster but finds ways to rack up yardage. The receiver group is fairly "no-name" but they should still provide enough of a supporting cast needed. It will be interesting to see how the Bulldog defense fares. At the beginning of the year, it was a group playing as well as anybody in the country but it has begun trailing off down the stretch. What's really shocking is how bad their defensive front has been, a group with a bunch of depth and talent. I think they have an advantage in the trenches once again, but will it actually show up here? Eli Drinkwitz and Missouri do an excellent job disguising some of their deficiencies up front and still finding ways to move the ball.

It's not crazy to say that these two teams might be playing their best football right now, as they cap off their 2020 regular seasons here. Georgia has a major talent advantage roster-wise, but to think that they will run away with this one doesn't give enough credit to what Missouri has done in the debut season for Drinkwitz. Playing on their homefield should also give Mizzou an opportunity at potentially pulling an upset here, but I still lean Bulldogs. Daniels has been the addition they needed offensively, and the defense should be playing better than they are. I'm taking the Tigers to cover, but I'll take UGA in the victory column.

The Pick: Georgia, 31 Missouri, 24

(#1) Alabama Crimson Tide @ Arkansas Razorbacks

Line: Alabama -31

Over/Under: 68.5

Fresh off an absolute destruction of LSU, Alabama looks nearly unstoppable at this point in the season. But, can Arkansas catch them off guard looking ahead to the SEC Championship? In order to have any shot at coming away with a massive upset, the Razorbacks need their defense to show up after a down couple weeks. That's easier said than done when they have to square off against a Tide offense with a Heisman frontrunner (Mac Jones) and the Biletnikoff Award favorite (DeVonta Smith). Smith in particular has been unbelievably good over the course of the 2020 season and while Arkansas is solid in the secondary, they definitely don't have anyone that can match up against him for sixty minutes. The Alabama ground game is not very fun to play against either, with Najee Harris and Brian Robinson leading the charge. I feel more confident about Arkansas ability to stop the run than the pass considering what they have at linebacker, but Alabama should still be able to move the ball. The offense is an absolute buzzsaw destroying everything in its path, and even a quality defensive group like Arkansas won't be able to contain it.

Any upset of Alabama would also rely on a tremendous performance from Feleipe Franks. In fact, the veteran QB would probably need the game of his life for them to have any shot. The Tide secondary has been susceptible at times in 2020, and the Razorbacks do have some interesting pieces on the perimeter, so perhaps there's a chance, even if it's slim. The big problem for Arkansas is that they're going to struggle to run the ball against this vaunted Tide front. It has its usual cast of future NFL contributors leading the way, but it has been the young guys that have really stepped up defensively. The crazy amount of depth 'Bama has every single season has never been more obvious than this defense, which has also been trending up at the right moment. 

Arkansas has been one of the best stories of 2020 for the SEC, as they've gone from the doormat of the conference to a respectable, competitive SEC West foe. Yet, as I mentioned previewing the LSU-Alabama game last week, the Tide are basically unstoppable right now. There's a very short list of teams that can beat them right now, and I don't think any of them are in the SEC. I do think the Razorbacks may be able to keep things tight deeper into the second half than most would expect, but coming out with the win outright? I just don't see it happening this week.

The Pick: Alabama, 42 Arkansas, 17

Other Picks

Wisconsin @ (#16) Iowa: Iowa, 24 Wisconsin, 21

(#15) USC @ UCLA: USC, 35 UCLA, 27

San Diego State @ (#18) BYU: BYU, 34 San Diego State, 21

LSU @ (#6) Florida: Florida, 45 LSU, 24

Upset: Baylor, 33 Oklahoma State, 30

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