During the college football season, Stadium’s staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice. Here are our thoughts on the Week 13 slate:
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Marshall (-6.5) over Charlotte. I don’t like much on the board this week, so I’m going to be a company man and pick the Wendy’s Game of the Week on Stadium’s Facebook (to be fair this is the only game I’ve bet so far on this card). Marshall leads Conference USA’s East division and has the 3rd-best run defense in the league (3.6 yds/rush attempt). Why does Marshall’s rush defense matter? Because Charlotte is incredibly one-dimensional: The 49ers lead the conference with 202.8 rush yards per game but attempt just 26 passes per contest (3rd-lowest in C-USA). Charlotte RB Benny LeMay (Achilles) is doubtful for this matchup, so I’m laying the points with the Thundering Herd.
Dan Vasta, Stadium “Stats Guru”: Michigan (-9) over Indiana. Death, taxes and Michigan over Indiana. Michigan has won 23 straight over the Hoosiers with an average margin of victory at 17 points. While this is one of Indiana’s better teams, I would argue that this current Wolverines squad is pretty impressive, too. Don’t count on this reenergized Michigan program getting caught in a “trap” before their rivalry showdown with Ohio State.
Andy Wittry, Stadium College Sports Writer: Indiana (+9) vs. Michigan. The Hoosiers were competitive on the road against Penn State last week and the Wolverines’ trip to Bloomington is the perfect trap spot between Michigan’s rivalry games against Michigan State and Ohio State. It’s often low-hanging fruit to suggest that a team could be overlooking an opponent before a big rivalry game but Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson provided that soundbite himself. The SP+ rankings see Michigan as roughly five points better, not accounting for the game being at Indiana.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Texas (+5.5) over Baylor. I like this game for two reasons. The first is Tom Herman’s strong record in the underdog role. The Longhorns are 10-3 against the spread as underdogs of a field goal or more since Herman took over in 2017. It’s also a good spot to fade Baylor after their undefeated season ended when they squandered a 25-point lead to Oklahoma last week. Baylor still has a shot at winning the conference, but I can see a slow start coming off their really tough loss.
2. What is your favorite total (over/under)?
AS: Because our editors won’t let me skip this question, I’m going with under 45.5 in Texas A&M-Georgia. Kirby Smart has made it clear that he’d like to win games 2-0 every week, and while that’s obviously a bit of an exaggeration I expect the Dawgs to keep things under control at Sanford Stadium on Saturday (the under is 5-0 in Georgia’s FBS home games this season).
DV: Under 46.5 in Pittsburgh-Virginia Tech. This matchup is pivotal in the ACC Coastal, and the winner could end up playing in both the ACC Championship Game and the Orange Bowl. Look for both teams to be a bit conservative — with plenty of punts — in a defensive slugfest.
AW: Under 46.5 in Illinois-Iowa. Last week, a Minnesota team with a top-10 offense was held to 19 points in Iowa City. So how many points do we expect Illinois’ No. 71 offense to score? Maybe 14? 10? It probably won’t take much more than 20 points to win this game.
NJ: Under 45.5 in Texas A&M-Georgia. Georgia has been an under machine this season as eight of their 10 games have gone under the total, including their last five games. In that five-game span, the final score has gone under the total by an average of just over 15 points per game. I expect Georgia’s defense to have success at home against Texas A&M, but I don’t trust their offense to cover a 13-point spread. That leads me to liking the under in this one.
3. Which underdog of six points or more has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: Indiana (+9) over Michigan. The Hoosiers covered in this spot against the Wolverines (at home, a week before Michigan plays Ohio State) in both 2016 and 2018, although both times IU was getting at least 24 points and lost by double digits. That said, this Indiana team feels different: The Hoosier offense is 13th in FBS per SP+ and has not dropped off with Peyton Ramsey filling in for Michael Penix Jr. I’m banking on Michigan coming out flat and a “kitchen sink” game from the Hoosiers, who are still looking for their first nine-win season since 1967.
DV: Oregon State (+11) over Washington State. The Beavers are trying to go bowling this December for the first time since 2013, and they should have a decent shot against an underachieving Cougars team. Wazzu, who was coming off their first ever 11-win season, has been disastrous at times this year. I won’t be shocked if the team that’s playing with a purpose pulls off the stunner.
AW: Duke (+7) over Wake Forest. Look, it’s hard to have much confidence in anyone in the ACC not named Clemson. Wake Forest has not only lost two games in a row — by 19 points at Virginia Tech and by 49 at Clemson — but is now without one of the country’s best receivers in Sage Surratt. Duke has lost four in a row and five of six, so it’s not like the Blue Devils have been playing great football, either, but in a week with a lot of 10-plus point spreads, I’ll take a flyer on Duke.
NJ: Indiana (+9) over Michigan. This is a matchup I circled a few weeks ago as a game to back Indiana. The Hoosiers are 3-0-1 against the spread in their last four meetings against the Wolverines. This season’s Indiana program is better than past teams, and they played Penn State closely last week. I like IU to cover here and possibly win outright with Michigan thinking about “The Game” against Ohio State.
4. What is one bet you are tempted to make this week, but know you probably shouldn’t?
AS: There are a few lines on this week’s board that just don’t make sense to me, but considering how sharp the market is this late in the season I plan to stay away from these sides. NC State (+2.5) at Georgia Tech: SP+ projects NC State to win by five, so why is the Wolfpack an underdog? Minnesota (-13.5) at Northwestern: This line has moved 6.5 points since opening, and even knowing that I still like the Gophers at this number. North Texas (-6.5) at Rice: The Owls have topped 20 points just twice this year, and I don’t see how they keep this within a touchdown.
DV: Arkansas at LSU (-43.5). The Tigers have been scoring 50 against seemingly everyone this season — and the Razorbacks have been giving up 50 to nearly every and anybody. But even then, -43.5 is a lofty number to cover and LSU’s defense hasn’t been as dominant in recent weeks.
AW: Penn State vs. Ohio State (-18.5). Penn State beat Michigan and Indiana by just seven points at home and the Nittany Lions lost at Minnesota. All three of those teams are quality opponents but none represents the machine that is Ohio State. The Buckeyes are No. 1 in the SP+ rankings (and 3.8 points better than No. 2 Alabama) and this is their chance to pick up their biggest win so far this season, clinch the Big Ten East and make an emphatic statement to the selection committee. Suspended defensive end Chase Young will be back for this game, too. But that’s still a lot of points to give a quality Penn State team that has played Ohio State competitively the last several years.
NJ: Minnesota at Northwestern (+13.5). I was hoping to fade Minnesota coming off their loss to Iowa, which ended their unbeaten season. It’s also a tricky spot for the Golden Gophers because they play Wisconsin next week with a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game at stake. However, I can’t back Northwestern in this one due to their inept offense.