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We've talked a lot about situational spots the past few weeks. Now that we are a week away from championship week and teams solidifying their bowl status, motivation is the most important situational spot this week. You want to bet teams that are striving for a playoff spot or bowl eligibility, and I've got two games that exemplify max motivation.
KANSAS STATE -11.5
The Kansas Jayhawks will visit their in-state rivals the Kansas State Wildcats this Saturday in their regular season finale. Kansas has had one of their best seasons in recent memory but there is a key number for me in this game and it’s the win total. Kansas has already reached bowl eligibility status with six wins on the season. This is key because achieving bowl eligibility status has and will zap their motivation. After securing that sixth win, Kansas has been blown out the past two weeks. Kansas State, on the other hand, has everything to play for as they have a trip to the Big 12 championship game on the line in this one. Kansas State is already the better team here and with quarterback Will Howard giving a jolt to their passing offense, they are in the best form they’ve been in all year. Kansas ranks 90th in coverage and 104th in run defense so they will have a tough time as usual slowing down an offense of this caliber. Kansas is reeling down the stretch and Kansas State will certainly want to score early and often in this one to leave nothing in doubt. Kansas State, in my opinion, will be Big 12 champions next week and Kansas is just another team in their way. Give me Kansas State to cover the -11.5.
OHIO STATE -7
The Michigan Wolverines will travel to Columbus, Ohio on Saturday to battle their long-time rival the Ohio State Buckeyes. These two teams have both had incredible seasons up to this point. Both teams rank top 20 in most categories, defensively. It is the offense on the Michigan side that I believe will be the real difference in this one. The majority of Michigan’s success comes on the ground as they have the top ranked rush offense in the nation. The problem is Ohio State is the third ranked run defense. Ohio State is going to force J.J. McCarthy to beat them through the air and I just don’t think he has the ability to do so. The difference in this game is mostly statistical but motivation is much more on the Ohio State side here as well. Ohio State has been steaming over last year's loss in Ann Arbor for a full year now and they’ve been planning revenge ever since. With Michigan’s best weapon Blake Corum not 100% or possibly even sidelined and the motivation that the more talented team will have in this game, give me Ohio State -7 in this one. If you do not want to buy the half point, I still feel comfortable at 7.5.
OREGON STATE +3.5
Road game Bo Nix has been a crapshoot and I have been a huge backer of this Oregon State team all year. Oregon will always get the publicity, but Oregon State plays well on both sides of the ball while Oregon struggles on defense. Oregon State is a tough place to play and their motivation will be to steal Oregon’s big bowl invite away from them. Give me Oregon State +3.5 and I also dabbled on the moneyline here as well.
WEST VIRGINIA/OKLAHOMA STATE UNDER 65.5
West Virginia is a different team when they take to the road. West Virginia has only scored 10 and 14 points in their last two road games. Oklahoma State on the other hand has also not been the same since quarterback Spencer Sanders went down with an injury and he's not been the same quarterback since his return. With West Virginia just not as explosive on the road and the Oklahoma State offense still struggling to get back on track, I am on the under 65.5 here. I would play down to 64.
LSU has just so much more to play for as the only way they get in the playoff is taking care of Texas A&M and beating Georgia in the SEC championship game. LSU has the 12th best rushing offense compared to Texas A&M’s 125th run defense. LSU should be able to gash them on the ground and control the game. Texas A&M has a tough time scoring, and once down, LSU should be able to force them into mistakes. Texas A&M has absolutely no motivation for this game and barely got up enough for UMass to beat them 20-3 at home last week. Just for perspective, UMass is the 130th ranked team out of 131 in my power rankings. If LSU shows up motivated the way they should, this game should not be close. LSU might want to put some style points up here as well. Give me LSU -9.5.
By Brandon Kenyon
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