Best bets, picks for Week 12 college football


Welcome to Week 12 of the college football season.

Each week, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on select games.


We had a 5-1 showing in Week 11 and we’re looking to get on the plus side in Week 12. Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night. Go to for Betting Splits and live odds across the college football market.

Season record: 50-54-1

Navy Midshipmen at UCF Knights (-16.5, 53)

Saturday, 11:00 a.m. ET

Wes Reynolds: At 3-7, Navy is going to miss a bowl game for the third straight season. Nevertheless, as we saw last week, the Midshipmen do not quit. Navy was down 35-13 to Notre Dame and then proceeded to outscore the Fighting Irish 19-0 in the second half in a 35-32 defeat. The near comeback was not without cost, as junior QB Xavier Arline injured his ankle and did not return in the fourth quarter. Senior Maasai Maynor took over for the rest of the game. Arline is more of the traditional triple-option QB for the Naval Academy and Maynor is more of the passer. UCF will have to prepare for both. 

UCF won on the road at Tulane last week and has placed itself in the driver’s seat to make the AAC Championship Game as it owns tiebreakers both over Cincinnati and Tulane, who are also 5-1 in the conference. Off that huge win, UCF now has to get back up for an 11 a.m. kickoff in the “Bounce House” against a triple-option team that is 5-0 ATS on the road this season. That is not the easiest spot for sure, particularly off the biggest win of the season and with a rivalry game on deck against USF. 

Knights QB John Rhys Plumlee returned last week, throwing for 132 yards and a touchdown and also rushing for 176 yards and two TDs. Plumlee is the better fit for Gus Malzahn’s offense, but Navy is tough against the run, only allowing 85.8 yards/game. UCF will certainly gain substantially more, but the Midshipmen rank ninth nationally in terms of yards per carry. Last week, Navy held Notre Dame to just 66 yards on the ground. Earlier in the season, they held Cincinnati to 55 and Air Force, the nation’s leading rushing attack, to just 200 yards rushing. 

With the early morning kick, there is a possibility that UCF could be asleep early on, so it may be prudent to split the first half and full game.

Pick: Navy +9.5 1H/+16.5 Game

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns at Florida State Seminoles (-24, 52)

Saturday, Noon ET

Adam Burke: There are plenty of quirky games this week, but this one is pretty high on the list. Florida State has Florida on deck in the annual rivalry game and the Gators have won three straight, including a 41-14 romp in Tallahassee back in 2018 – the last time the teams played at Doak Campbell Stadium because COVID-19 canceled the 2020 game. That 27-point win tied for the largest margin of victory for the Gators since 2009.

So, it stands to reason that the Seminoles would be peeking ahead to that game. Louisiana needs a win to become bowl eligible, something that likely happens the following week against Texas State, but a crack at a top-25 opponent on the road feels like a bowl game for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who have played better the last two weeks. Three of Louisiana’s five losses have come in games decided by six or fewer points and most of its games have been lower-scoring. They just don’t have the profile of a team that gets blown out often.

This also feels like a game where Florida State could ease off the throttle with a lead, which could mean benching Jordan Travis in the process. Backup Tate Rodemaker is just 17-of-30 for 209 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions this season. This feels like a win-and-get-out kind of game for Florida State, which makes Louisiana’s 24-point head start pretty intriguing.

Pick: Louisiana +24

Florida Gators (-14, 57.5) at Vanderbilt Commodores

Saturday, 12:00 p.m.

Wes Reynolds: Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea is in his second year as the head coach at Vanderbilt, the toughest gig in the SEC by a country mile. Lea snapped a 26-game SEC losing streak last weekend with a 24-21 victory at 24th-ranked Kentucky. The win was not a fluke either as Vanderbilt outgained Kentucky 448-322, sacked first-round prospect Will Levis four times and held him to just 109 passing yards. 

Florida, which defeated Vandy 42-0 in Gainesville last season, just clinched bowl eligibility in Billy Napier’s first season with an easy 38-6 victory against South Carolina. The Gators also have Florida State on deck next week and are just 1-8 ATS as road favorites over the last three seasons. Napier, while he looks to have Florida on the right track in his first year, was just 7-6 ATS as road chalk during his four seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette. 

It is an obvious long shot for 4-6 Vanderbilt to win out against Florida and Tennessee to get bowl eligible, but some of that ‘feel good’ they got last week should carry over here for at least a competitive performance. 

Pick: Vanderbilt +14

TCU Horned Frogs (-2.5, 58) at Baylor Bears

Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET

Wes Reynolds: TCU proved many, including myself, wrong last week with a 17-10 victory at Texas. The Horned Frogs did not win with their No. 12 total offense, but did so with their defense as they held the Longhorns to 171 total yards and 1-for-13 on third downs. 

The Horned Frogs stayed at No. 4 in the CFP rankings on Tuesday and seemingly have control of their playoff destiny. Now they hit the road for a short trip to Waco and only lay -2.5 to a Baylor team that was routed 31-3 at home by Kansas State last Saturday? 

TCU has seemingly played a high-leverage game every week since September 24th against Metroplex rival SMU. Then, they trounced Oklahoma, won on the road at Kansas in a battle of unbeatens, came back from down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to beat Oklahoma State in double OT, rallied from a 28-10 deficit to defeat Kansas State, held on late at West Virginia, rallied to beat Texas Tech after trailing to start the fourth quarter, and then the win at Texas last Saturday. How many times can TCU keep answering the bell?

Sonny Dykes’ club deserves a lot of credit, but to be fair, it has benefited from several breaks (i.e. facing back-up and third-string QBs, fortunate officiating calls, etc). 

Last year, it was TCU that played spoiler and defeated Baylor to keep the Bears out of the College Football Playoff. This week, it’s Baylor’s turn. 

Pick: Baylor +2.5

Tim Murray: Both Wes and I are fading TCU this weekend? What could go wrong? After I bet on TCU as a 6.5-point favorite at Kansas on Oct. 8, the Horned Frogs have become my nemesis. I thought TCU would fall on the road last week at Texas as a seven-point underdog (update: they did not). The Horned Frogs had a tremendous defensive game plan last week and held Texas RB Bijan Robinson to a season-low 29 rushing yards on 12 carries. 

Baylor has been a bit Jekyll and Hyde this season. The Bears got crushed, 31-3, last weekend at home against Kansas St. Baylor has also lost road games at BYU and West Virginia this season. However, Baylor won (and covered) three straight games against Kansas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. In order for Baylor to win, the Bears will need a better performance from QB Blake Shapen. Shapen threw two interceptions and no touchdowns last week against Kansas St.

For weeks, I have been wondering when TCU is going to run out of gas? This Saturday in Waco will be the Horned Frogs ninth straight game. As Wes pointed out above, the majority of TCU’s games have been high leverage spots. The Horned Frogs could play the “underdog” card last week on the road at Texas but now the target is squarely on their back as a road favorite in Waco. Lastly, the pressure is building for the Horned Frogs. If TCU wins its final three games, the Horned Frogs will be headed to the College Football Playoff for the first time in school history. Last year, a 3-5 TCU squad beat No. 12 Baylor in Fort Worth, 30-28. Do the Bears return the favor this year? I think so.

Pick: Baylor +2.5

Boston College Eagles at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-21, 43.5)

Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET

Wes Reynolds: After two straight victories over ranked teams (41-24 at No. 16 Syracuse and 35-14 vs. No. 4 Clemson), Notre Dame failed to cover at Navy after taking a 35-13 lead into the locker room. 

The Irish have been a fairly cut and dry team to handicap during Marcus Freeman’s first season in South Bend. They are 4-0 ATS as an underdog covering at Ohio State, winning outright at North Carolina, at Syracuse, and vs. Clemson. However, Notre Dame is just 1-5 ATS as a favorite including outright losses to Marshall and Stanford, plus failing to cover vs. Cal and UNLV at home. 

This week, the Irish host a 3-7 Boston College team who will not be going bowling, but will likely treat this game as its bowl game. The Eagles have disappointed in Jeff Hafley’s third season and injuries have certainly taken their toll. Former Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec has missed the last two games with a variety of injuries including being in the concussion protocol, dealing with a right knee injury, and a rib injury. He is listed as questionable here, but redshirt freshman Emmett Morehead has given the BC offense a shot in the arm. Morehead threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns in his first start, a 38-31 loss vs. Duke. Last week, he led BC to an upset victory in Raleigh against No. 16 NC State by throwing for 330 yards and three touchdowns including the game-winner with 0:14 left in the game. 

Notre Dame has a showdown at USC next week and could take the Eagles, who look to not be giving up on the season despite a tough year, lightly. 

Pick: Boston College +21

Akron Zips at Buffalo Bulls (-14, 46.5)

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: The huge line move we saw on the Browns/Bills under has also taken place on the Zips/Bulls under, but this total still isn’t low enough. QB DJ Irons may be back for Akron, but he left last week’s loss to Eastern Michigan with an injury and won’t be 100%. His injury would be bad enough for the Zips, who have not gotten a touchdown pass from backup Jeff Undercuffler Jr. and have only rushed for 2.6 yards per carry this season. Irons has been sacked 41 times, while Undercuffler has eight sacks against just 42 pass attempts.

The Zips offense really only moves the ball through the air. Irons has also been responsible for 133 of the team’s 311 rushing attempts. Add in heavy snow and blizzard-like conditions with gusty winds and downright chilly temperatures and it’s really hard to see a path to Akron having any offensive success.

Buffalo will be playing in those same conditions with a running game that has managed just 3.65 yards per carry. This total isn’t low enough for this game and these two offenses.

Pick: Under 46.5

Iowa Hawkeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers (-2.5, 32.5)

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: Iowa won 24-10 last week against Wisconsin, but don’t let the final score fool you from that game. Iowa managed 146 yards and just 2.15 yards per play in that victory. The Hawkeyes had a pick-six and their longest scoring drive was 27 yards. Iowa’s 24-3 win over Purdue also deserves an asterisk, as that game was played in extreme windy conditions with a pass-first Boilermakers offense struggling to gain yardage through the air.

Iowa’s defense is really good and leads the nation in yards per play allowed at 3.81, but Minnesota is pretty formidable in that department as well, ranking 16th in the nation at 4.83, right on par with Wisconsin. The Gophers may get Tanner Morgan back, but have been grooming freshman Athan Kaliakmanis for the job, as Morgan’s 12-year career at Minnesota will come to an end this year. Kaliakmanis hasn’t played all that well to this point, but he’s a better runner than Morgan and has the support of Mohamed Ibrahim and friends behind him.

As great as the Iowa defense is, the offense is at the polar opposite end of the spectrum. The Hawkeyes are 128th in the nation in yards per play with 4.19. Minnesota ranks just outside the top 50, so we have the better offense and a pretty similar defense laying just three points at home in this one. I’ll take the Gophers.

Pick: Minnesota -2.5

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Auburn Tigers (-5.5, 53)

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: Interim head coach Cadillac Williams has Auburn playing some inspired football and it should come as no surprise that the former star running back has put a jolt into that unit. Auburn has rushed for 526 yards over the last two games with more running from QB Robby Ashford and some big games from Jarquez Hunter and Tank Bigsby. Western Kentucky boasts a really strong defense by Conference USA standards, but the Hilltoppers have only played one Power Five team (Indiana) and have played one of the weakest schedules in the country.

It seems unlikely that the Hilltoppers defense will find as much success here against Auburn’s speed and athleticism. However, Western Kentucky’s style of play should be conducive to points and yardage as well. Quarterback Auystin Reed owns a strong 31/7 TD/INT ratio with a 68.1% completion percentage. The ‘Toppers have also rushed for five yards per carry, so they’ve managed to achieve a lot of balance.

This isn’t an offensive scheme that Auburn sees much and this random, one-off, non-conference game right before facing Alabama may not get the team or the defense’s full attention. I definitely think we could see some points in this game with good playing conditions and clear strengths for both offenses.

Pick: Over 52.5 (widely available)

No. 14 Ole Miss Rebels (-2.5, 64) at Arkansas Razorbacks

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Tim Murray: Trailing by six with less than a minute to play in Oxford last weekend, Ole Miss had the ball inside the red zone with a chance to beat No. 9 Alabama. On third down, Rebels QB Jaxson Dart was sacked; on fourth down, Dart’s pass to the end zone fell incomplete. With the loss, Ole Miss was eliminated from SEC West contention. As the head coach of the Rebels, Lane Kiffin is now 0-3 against his former boss Nick Saban. Kiffin is not looking for any “moral” victories anymore against Saban.

This is Kiffin’s third season at Ole Miss. It is a very small sample size but the Rebels have played Arkansas the past two years following their loss to Alabama and Ole Miss is 0-2 ATS. Last year, Arkansas (+5) scored a touchdown as time expired but did not convert the two-point conversion and lost 52-51.

Arkansas covered against LSU last week but lost 13-10. QB KJ Jefferson was sidelined but has practiced all week and is expected to be back. The Razorbacks will also welcome back Dalton Wagner, who was out last week due to injury. The return of Jefferson is massive for the Hogs, as Arkansas was held to just 249 yards last week. Defensively, after trailing 21-3 at halftime against Liberty two weeks ago, Arkansas has allowed just 13 points over the last six quarters. Head coach Sam Pittman said this week it is the best the defense is playing this season.

Saturday night will be the first night game of the season for Arkansas. It will be a chilly night as well, with temps expected in the upper 20s. The Razorbacks thrive as underdogs under Sam Pittman. Arkansas is 13-6 ATS as an underdog under Pittman. It is also senior night in Fayetteville and the Razorbacks are one win away from bowl eligibility. Arkansas will ratchet up the physicality and with an Ole Miss team in a letdown spot following last week’s loss to Alabama, I expect the Hogs to be live on Saturday night.

Pick: Arkansas +2.5

Colorado Buffaloes at Washington Huskies (-31, 64)

Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET

Wes Reynolds: Washington finds itself in an odd point spread spot this weekend. For only the seventh time since 1980, a team that was a double-digit underdog the previous week is a 30+ point favorite the following week. 

The Huskies knocked off Oregon last week in Eugene and have rival Washington State in the Apple Cup game. Washington can still find its way into the Pac-12 Championship Game with some help. Speaking of help, Colorado needs it in a hurry. The 1-9 Buffaloes have been defeated by a combined score of 104-27 in games vs. Oregon and at USC. 

Colorado is arguably the worst team in the Power 5 this season, but this price is a tad high for what can be a leaky defense off a monster win with its rivalry game on deck. 

Pick: Colorado +31

San Jose State Spartans (-1, 51) at Utah State Aggies

Saturday, 9:45 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: There is a convergence of factors this week as to why Utah State is a good bet. Let’s start with the weather, as the temperature will be between 15-20 degrees at kickoff in Logan, Utah, something that the kids from San Jose State are not going to love. This is also a Spartans team that has to throw the football to succeed and that’s much harder to do with cold hands and a cold ball. The Spartans have only played outside of California twice this season and now do so with miserable conditions. They have averaged 2.97 yards per carry this season.

San Jose State beat Colorado State a couple weeks ago to secure bowl eligibility to take a positive from what had been a very difficult two-week stretch with the tragic death of a teammate and a couple of emotional home games that followed. Utah State is vying for bowl eligibility this week with a head coach that knows tragedy all too well in Blake Anderson. With Boise State on the road next week and wins in four of the last five, the Aggies should be fully focused and invested in this Senior Day matchup.

Pick: Utah State +1