During the college football season, Stadium’s staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice. Here are our thoughts on the Week 12 slate:
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Dan Vasta, Stadium “Stats Guru”: Alabama (-18.5) at Mississippi State. I love Oregon this weekend, but I think the Crimson Tide will be blowing the doors off the Bulldogs at high noon. Starkvegas could be rocking for a quarter or so, but Alabama is tied for the lowest spot (No. 5) that they’ve ever had in the College Football Playoff rankings and will be motivated. When’s the last time they had that ranking? It was 2017, a season in which they ended up winning it all. Expect for Alabama to come out swinging as the Bulldogs will not be able to keep up.
Andy Wittry, Stadium College Sports Writer: Wake Forest (+34.5) over Clemson. The Tigers debuted at No. 5 in the first CFP rankings of the season, which should’ve provided Dabo Swinney with enough motivation to keep his team in check, and I don’t doubt that Clemson might feel pressure to run up the score in the rest of its games to leave no doubt with the selection committee. But 34.5 points is a big number to cover. SP+ sees Clemson as 23.1 points better, not 34.5.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Auburn (+3) over Georgia. My favorite college bet of the weekend is taking the Iowa moneyline, but with that spread up to Iowa -3, I’m going with my other favorite bet for this question — Auburn +3 at home. The line is inflated because Georgia is No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but they haven’t played well enough this season to justify being a field goal favorite in one of the toughest road environments. I like the Tigers’ chances of containing the Bulldogs’ running game, and Auburn quarterback Bo Nix making enough big plays.
2. What is your favorite total (over/under)?
DV: Over 68.5 in Memphis-Houston. Bank on the Tigers hanging a 50-burger on Saturday. Memphis needs to keep passing the eye test in order to stay in the CFP rankings, and posting video-game numbers in this game certainly will not hurt. The Tigers are looking more and more like a potential Cotton Bowl participant.
AW: Under 56 in UMass-Northwestern. Northwestern’s offense ranks No. 126 in SP+, and UMass’ defense ranks No. 130, so we’ll find out what happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object on Saturday. Plus, the Wildcats’ defense still ranks No. 20 despite Northwestern’s 1-8 record, so I don’t know how many points Northwestern will score, and I definitely don’t know how many UMass will put up.
NJ: Over 67.5 in Oklahoma-Baylor. You can’t go wrong with a Big 12 over. Especially for two teams that don’t just want to win but put on a show for the playoff committee after both programs dropped a spot in the rankings despite winning last week. I like the full game over at the current number and would also recommend playing the Oklahoma team total over that I’m going to project at 38.5.
3. Which underdog of six points or more has the best chance of an outright upset?
DV: Navy (+7.5) at Notre Dame. Go Navy, beat Army! But before that annual showdown plays out, the Midshipmen will take on the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is a Top 25 team, but only 1-3 against the spread when it’s 10 points or less vs. Navy since 2007.
AW: Texas (+7) over Iowa State. SP+ sees just a 4.3-point gap between Iowa State and Texas — in favor of the Cyclones — and Tom Herman can sell to his players that the Longhorns are still in the Big 12 Championship race since first-place Baylor and second-place Oklahoma play this weekend.
NJ: Nebraska (+14.5) over Wisconsin. Nebraska is coming off the bye, and they know that winning two of their last three games will get them into a bowl, which would be an important step for Scott Frost’s program. Quarterback Adrian Martinez is healthy after missing several Big Ten games in October. While Wisconsin still has the Big Ten West to play for, they’ve been a different team outside of Madison. They are 4-0 in conference at home and 0-2 on the road, including a loss to Illinois. I like Nebraska to keep the game within the number at home and possibly get a huge win for their bowl eligibility.
4. Which team other than Ohio State, LSU and Clemson has the best value to make the College Football Playoff?
DV: No. 6 Oregon (+290). I was the only one last week that declared it, and I’ll say it again: The Oregon Ducks are the best value pick to reach the CFP. They pass the eye test (despite hardly anyone watching them due to their #Pac12AfterDark scheduling) and prove that the Pac-12 is alive and well right now in mid-November.
AW: No. 5 Alabama (+175). I wrote this week about how Alabama’s playoff streak could be in jeopardy, and I believe it might be, but at the end of the day, the selection committee’s job is to select the four best teams and a five-point loss (Alabama says thank you, DeVonta Smith) to LSU doesn’t rule out the Crimson Tide from being one of the four best. Alabama is still No. 2 in the SP+ rankings (although we don’t know if the committee uses that metric and if it does, how much weight it carries), and we’ve seen the Tide get the benefit of the doubt before.
NJ: No. 5 Alabama (+175). Before the second College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday night, I was expecting to make an argument for Oklahoma to be the answer to this question. However, the committee dropped the Sooners from No. 9 to No. 10 this week, and that makes it difficult for the Big 12 to get a team in the playoff. An 11-1 Alabama team would be very much in the playoff hunt, and it looks like they’d get the nod over a 12-1 Pac-12 champion as well.