During the college football season, the Stadium staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice in this roundtable. Here are our thoughts on the Week 12 slate.
Note: Ben and Nate will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Wyoming (+6) over Utah State.
Utah State’s turnaround in year one of Blake Anderson’s tenure has been remarkable, and after ripping off five straight wins, the Aggies are the Mountain Division leaders and primed to make their second Mountain West title game appearance in program history. While it’s been a great story, the Aggies haven’t exactly played a murderers’ row of defenses during this current run as none of their victims rank in the top 50 in scoring defense in FBS.
That’s why I’m backing Wyoming in Logan this week. The Cowboys’ defense allows just 5.9 yards per pass attempt, while the offense does its best to run the ball, move the chains and keep the clock moving. In what projects to be a relatively low-scoring game, I’m happy to take six points with Wyoming.
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: UCLA (-3) over USC.
On our Sharp Lessons podcast, we’ve been lucky to have a good feel for UCLA this season. So I’ll stand here today and say I like them covering against a beat-up USC team. It’s simply been a season from hell for the Trojans (a head coach firing while losing both QB Kedon Slovis and star receiver Drake London). Eventually, the team just got worn down by everything. On top of that, UCLA is a run-heavy team and USC ranks 81st in the country in run defense. Give me the Bruins with a rivalry win.
Kate Constable, Stadium Host & Digital Producer: UCLA (-3) over USC.
On paper, these two teams match up evenly, but I like UCLA to cover the small spread on the road. USC has been exposed by competent teams and their only wins this year have come over San Jose State, Washington State, Colorado and Arizona (who only have one win in the last two years). The Trojans have also committed the 18th-most turnovers in college football with 14, and UCLA ranks 24th in turnovers forced. Not to mention, USC freshman QB Jaxson Dart is getting his first career start in a huge Southern California Crosstown Cup rivalry game.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Kanas State (-1) over Baylor.
When I saw the Baylor student section storming the field after the team’s upset win over Oklahoma last Saturday afternoon, I quickly pulled out my phone and was excited to see they would soon be traveling to Kansas State. I knew the Bears’ next game could be a letdown spot and a team like Kansas State is the perfect program to bet on because they are well-coached and have been playing with a lot of confidence on their current four-game winning streak.
Having to travel from Waco, TX to Manhattan, KS makes the task even tougher for a Baylor team that I’ve never been a believer in this season. It’s purely a situational play against Baylor, but it’s a strong enough angle to make it my favorite college bet of the week.
2. What is another bet you like?
AS: SMU (+11.5) over Cincinnati.
I’m a little scared to go against Cincinnati, but scared money don’t make money, so I’m going to fake it and hope it works out!
The playoff pressure and “style points” discussion ratchets up each week for Cincinnati as we get closer to the final CFP selection show, and while the Bearcats are 10-0 they haven’t covered a spread since Oct. 16. Pressure bursts pipes, and I’m going to bank on another ATS loss for the Bearcats in this spot against SMU.
BW: North Texas (-10) over FIU.
We’re really digging deep into the bag of games for this one, but I think this might be a big blowout. FIU is a program in peril. Head coach Butch Davis is leaving the team after this season, saying the school was sabotaging the program. On top of that, FIU has been very bad — going 3-7 ATS and 1-4 ATS at home. Give me the Mean Green to win big against a program in shambles.
KC: Under 64.5 in Vanderbilt-Ole Miss.
Vanderbilt’s offense is atrocious. They’re barely averaging 15 points per game this season and their passing game hasn’t surpassed 200 yards in four of their last five games. Ole Miss’ offense ranks third in the FBS in total yards, so the Rebels will undoubtedly put some points on the board. However, they haven’t surpassed 31 points in any of their last five games.
You could also consider this somewhat of an underwhelming sandwich spot for Ole Miss, coming off of a big win over Texas A&M and looking ahead to Mississippi State and the Egg Bowl next week.
NJ: Oregon State (+3) over Arizona State.
Last week, Arizona State went to the Pacific Northwest and needed a dramatic comeback in the fourth quarter to sneak past a Washington team that had a suspended head coach who was ultimately fired the next day. Now the Sun Devils go back to that region to face Oregon State in a late start where the temperature is expected to drop into the high-30s. I already wanted to fade Arizona State after their uninspiring performance last week, and this is the perfect spot to back the home team.
3. Which underdog of +200 or more on the moneyline has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: Virginia Tech (+245) over Miami.
You may be familiar with the cliché “dead-cat bounce” but if you aren’t, the premise is simple: a declining stock makes a brief recovery before meeting its ultimate demise. In sports betting the related principle is the “dead-coach bounce” and I’m hopeful it applies here with the Hokies.
Despite parting ways with Justin Fuente this week, VT is 5-5 and can still clinch bowl eligibility with a win against a Miami team whose coach is on his own hot seat. I’m hoping to catch the Hokies on the upswing against the Hurricanes before their ultimate demise in the Commonwealth Cup against Virginia. This worked a few weeks ago for Nate when he played the TCU moneyline against Baylor after Gary Patterson’s ouster.
BW: Indiana (+245) over Minnesota.
I picked Rutgers to upset IU as a long underdog last week — which hit — so now I have to go back and make amends. I will say this: IU is bad this year. Really bad. But recent history has shown us that when IU is a long underdog at home, they can surprise people.
At this point, Indiana has nothing left to lose. They’ve battled significant injuries and the defense has been a mess in what has been one of the more embarrassing seasons for the football program. This is a good ol’ throw-the-kitchen-sink game for the Hoosiers. Maybe this weekend we’ll actually see a glimpse of what people expected them to be?
KC: Nebraska (+280) over Wisconsin.
Nebraska has nothing to lose on Saturday, as they’re already out of bowl contention. Their coaching uncertainty has also been worked out with Scott Frost getting another year. Teams playing with nothing to lose can be scary.
Sure, the Huskers’ record is terrible, but they’ve remained competitive all season and have kept games close, with all seven of their losses coming by nine points or fewer. Their run defense has been solid, and their offense leads the Big Ten in yards per completion. It will take a near perfect game, but an upset win would sure help Nebraska close out the season on a high note.
NJ: Nebraska (+280) over Wisconsin.
Nebraska isn’t bowl eligible for the fifth-straight season, but they are much better than their 3-7 record indicates. I also like the fact that they are coming off a bye week. Nebraska has two ranked opponents ahead of them in Wisconsin and Iowa, so I expect them to be focused in the final two games to see where they stack up against the best teams in the Big Ten West.
The total for this game is 42, so that’s asking a lot of Wisconsin’s offense to cover that number. Nebraska’s best effort would keep them within the point spread of +9.5, and they have enough talent to win a game like this.
4. What is one bet you are tempted to make this week, but know you probably shouldn’t?
AS: Auburn (-7.5) over South Carolina.
If Bo Nix wasn’t out indefinitely with an ankle injury I would hammer the Tigers in this spot, but he IS out and I’m going to have to pass. Despite their 3-3 SEC record, Auburn is still mathematically alive for the SEC West crown, and I expect the Tigers to do everything they can to erase the taste of giving up a 28-3 lead and 40 unanswered points to Mississippi State last week. South Carolina’s 40-17 win over Florida a few weeks back is the outlier, and I find it hard to believe the Gamecocks will be able to put up much of a fight against Auburn’s defense to keep this within single digits.
BW: Ohio State (-19) over Michigan State.
I know it’s possible that OSU can blow Sparty out of the water, but MSU’s red-zone defense is one of the reasons I can’t force myself to back the Buckeyes. I think MSU can stay with Ohio State enough to possibly cover this spread. And I know Ohio State can blow out teams — we saw them do it to Purdue last week — but it’s a perfect look-ahead spot for an OSU team that will be wanting to escape healthy and ready for Michigan next week.
KC: Michigan (-14.5) over Maryland.
This is a massive sandwich spot for the Wolverines. They’re coming off of a tough win over Penn State and have a huge matchup against Ohio State next week. “The Game” against Ohio State is always the biggest matchup of the year for Michigan, and depending on what happens this weekend between OSU and Michigan State, it could decide who wins the Big Ten East.
Against Maryland, Michigan is by far the superior team and I’d be comfortable laying -14.5 if this were a few weeks ago. But since the Wolverines have such a big game next week against the Buckeyes, I have to wonder how focused they’ll be on the road against the Terps.
NJ: Utah (-3) over Oregon.
I was really hoping this line would open at a pick’em. Instead, the No. 23 team in the latest College Football Playoff rankings is a solid field goal favorite against the No. 3 team. That tells you that Oregon is currently over-hyped (personally, I don’t want to see them play in one of the semifinals).
Utah’s offense has been impressive this season, and they have a strong home-field advantage with this game being a 5:30 local kickoff in the thin air of Salt Lake City. I really like the situation for Utah, but many of the reasons to bet on the Utes are already built into this number.