College football best bets for Week 13
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Nothing about Matt Rhule’s first season at Nebraska has been pretty. The veteran coach with a reputation for rebuilding programs overnight is not working any miracles or quick fixes. Still, he’s one win from qualifying for a bowl, so that means something.
The hurdle between the Cornhuskers and their bowl goal is Iowa, which clinched the Big Ten West and will play in the league championship game on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis.
The Cornhuskers let one get away last week at Wisconsin, racing to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before falling 24-17 in overtime. The bright side of the story was the fast start and the unexpected playmaking of Chubba Purdy, who had a 55-yard touchdown run and a 58-yard touchdown pass. The quarterback position has been chaotic all season, but maybe Rhule found a spark from the brother of the San Francisco 49ers’ Brock Purdy.
The Hawkeyes are the masters of winning ugly games, somehow piling up a 9-2 record with a comically bad offense. Iowa has scored more than 15 points only once in its past five games.
In another ugly one with a total that has dipped as low as 25.5, most of the motivational angles favor the Cornhuskers, who have lost three consecutive one-score games. I would not advise watching Friday’s defensive slugfest and don’t want to lay even one point, so I’ll play the moneyline instead of -2.
Pick: Nebraska -130
Last week’s plays in this column went 3-3 to put the season record at 39-33-3. Here are four more best bets for Thanksgiving week (home team in CAPS):
Playing the spoiler role in this rivalry will mean a lot to the Red Raiders, who have won three in a row behind running back Tahj Brooks and quarterback Behren Morton. Brooks has rushed for 100 yards or more in eight of the past nine games. The Longhorns’ hopes to win the Big 12 and reach the four-team playoff are alive, but they have been walking a tightrope with little margin for error while winning their past three games against Kansas State, TCU and Iowa State by an average margin of 5.3 points.
The Wolverines have flipped the script in this rivalry with back-to-back wins and are favored against the Buckeyes for the first time since 2018. Michigan is using coach Jim Harbaugh’s three-game suspension as motivation, and his presence is not missed much on the sideline. The Wolverines are stronger on the offensive and defensive lines and have the edge at quarterback with junior J.J. McCarthy. With South Point moving this line to -3, while most books are sitting at 3.5, it’s a buy-low opportunity on the home favorite. Don’t lay the hook.
As I predicted in the preseason, the Cardinals (10-1) are headed for the ACC title game, and they celebrated accordingly after winning at Miami a week ago. This could be an emotional flat spot for Louisville, which will get Kentucky’s best shot. The Wildcats, led by running back Ray Davis, have enough firepower to win this game.
The Rams (5-6) are 0-3 on the road in the Mountain West and need this win to qualify for a bowl. The Warriors, who upset Air Force as a 20-point underdog on Nov. 11, will put up a fight. Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager has 25 touchdown passes and triggers an offense that makes the home ’dog dangerous on Saturday night in Honolulu.