Saturday's Rivalry Weekend Top Value College Football Picks

Darin Zank

Saturday, November 29, 2014 2:52 PM GMT

This capper tries not to base free college football picks on emotion, but sometimes it's inevitable. College football is an emotional game. But emotion can work both ways; it can help a team, or hurt it. Three picks for Saturday incorporate emotion, in one way or another.

Cal -4/73 vs. BYU
The Golden Bears, one win away from bowl-eligibility, host the Cougars for what should be an entertaining contest Saturday afternoon in Berkeley.

After going 1-11 last year Cal figured to improve this season, although bowl-eligibility seemed a bridge just a little to far. But the Bears started 4-1, and that could have been 5-0, had they not blown that game against Arizona. Unfortunately, as the schedule has gotten a little tougher, Cal has lost five of its last six games.

BYU, meanwhile, has played two seasons this year; the 4-0 start with Taysom Hill at quarterback, and the struggles since he was lost for the season to that nasty leg injury. But the Cougars have won their last three games with back-up QB Christian Stewart improving his play.

This is a spot where bettors would be wise to be careful. As a fan of neither team, but of college football in general, it would be easy to back the Bears, just because we might like to see them get that sixth victory. But that line of thinking can get bettors in trouble.

As mentioned above, emotion can sometimes work against a team. Needing that one victory might put a little extra pressure on Cal. BYU, on the other hand, has nothing to lose, and should be good and loose. We get the feeling that's what might happen here. So we're going to fade the Bears, and we don't even need the college football odds points.

Free College Football Pick: BYU at +155 at BetUS

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Oregon -19/66 vs. Oregon State
The Ducks, looking to secure a spot in this year's college football championship playoff, and the Beavers, losers of five of their last six games, meet for the 118th edition of the Civil War, Saturday afternoon in Corvallis.

Oregon is already in next week's Pac-12 championship game, and is also still in the running for a playoff berth. Since getting upset by Arizona (who they'll play in that conference championship game) the Ducks have reeled off six straight win/covers

Oregon State, on the other hand, has been a disappointment, losing five of its last six games, and still needs one more win to become bowl-eligible. The way the Beavers have been playing they don't deserve to go to a bowl, and don't look like they will.

Even though this is a big rivalry game we have to take a step back and observe that this is really a bit of a mismatch, with the better team playing on the road, where the pointspread is a bit more manageable. If this game were being played in Eugene the Ducks might be favored by 27 points. Oregon State may have the home-field advantage, but if the Beavers fall behind, an unhappy home crowd could work against them.

In this spot we like the better team, on the road, with more at stake.

Free College Football Pick: Oregon -18.5 at Heritage

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Alabama -9/54 vs. Auburn
After the epic Iron Bowl of last year we wonder what the Tide and Tigers have cooked up for us for Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide stumbled against Ole Miss back in October, but can still win the SEC West with a victory today. Win the West, then win the SEC championship game, and 'Bama makes the college footbal championship playoff. Heck, even if they lose Saturday or next week they might make it.

But the Tide is also just 3-8 ATS on the season, because it's been favored by so much. Seven times already this season Alabama has won games but come up short in covering the spread.

Auburn, meanwhile, started 7-1 this season, but has lost two of its last three to fall out of contention for a conference championship repeat.

These teams played one for the ages last season, won by Auburn on that crazy return of a missed field on the final play of the game.

When making your college football picks keep in mind that 'Bama is probably thinking revenge for today's game, and a lot of bettors might be thinking the same thing. As of Saturday morning the betting lines listed the Tide at right around -9, but we wonder if that number won't go to -10 or even higher by the time kickoff rolls around. And if it does the value on that spread would reside with the underdog Tigers. So while Auburn might not win this game, we do like the points.

Free College Football Pick: Tigers +9 at 5Dimes

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