Undefeated Hawkeyes Battle Spartans as Big Ten Betting Underdogs

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A coveted berth in the College Football Playoff will be on the line in Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game, with the Michigan State Spartans facing the undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium as 3.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

After entering last weekend’s action at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings the Spartans handed the Penn State Nittany Lions a 55-16 beating, extending their straight-up win streak to three games while improving their overall record to 11-1 SU.

It has been a slow steady climb up the national rankings for the 12-0 Hawkeyes, who finally reached No. 4 in the CFP rankings last week and solidified their position with a 28-20 victory over Nebraska on Friday.

But Iowa has struggled at the sportsbooks, entering Saturday night’s Spartans vs. Hawkeyes betting matchup in Indianapolis with just three ATS wins in their last seven outings despite averaging 34.7 points per game during that stretch.

The Spartans have also held the edge in recent meetings between these rivals, posting SU and ATS wins in two of their last three matchups.

The nation’s other undefeated squad, Clemson, will also look to nail down a CFP berth when they battle the North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC Championship Game as 5-point betting favorites on Saturday.

Perched atop the national rankings since Week 10, the 12-0 Tigers escaped with a slim 37-32 win over South Carolina last weekend, failing to cover as 20.5-point favorites.

It was the fourth straight ATS loss for the Tigers, who have produced just 32.5 points per game over their last four games after averaging almost 48 points over their four previous contests.

The Tar Heels have built an 11-game SU win streak since posting a 17-13 loss to the Gamecocks in Week 1, going 8-3 ATS during that stretch, pegged as favorites in each.

Last week’s 45-34 win over North Carolina State will certainly boost North Carolina in the CFP rankings from their position at No. 14 for this week. However, they will need a big win over Clemson on Saturday plus possibly upset losses by other higher-ranked teams to climb into a top-four position.

North Carolina will also have to overcome a dismal record against the Tigers, which has seen them go 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS in their last six meetings according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

In other Week 14 college football betting action the Stanford Cardinal are favored by 4.5 points over the USC Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship Game, while the Alabama Crimson Tide are massive 17-point chalk in their SEC Championship Game matchup with the Florida Gators.

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”