College football expert betting picks for Week 13
Wes Reynolds is on VSiN Tonight (9 p.m.-12 a.m. ET / 6-9 p.m. PT) and will be posting his weekly college football and NFL best bets for us. He is also one of the hosts of our Long Shots golf betting podcast. He also writes weekly golf previews
(odds as of November 23, 10:35 p.m. PT)
The Toledo Rockets are headed to the MAC Championship Game in Detroit next week to face Miami (OH). Meanwhile, Central Michigan is 5-6 and looking to clinch bowl eligibility.
Perhaps the Rockets, who were 10-point favorites, were already looking ahead last week as they had to rally from 28-10 down at Bowling Green to win 32-31 with the go-ahead score in the final two minutes of play.
Last year, Toledo was in a similar situation having clinched a spot in the MAC Championship Game and lost outright as 8.5-point favorites at 4-7 Western Michigan who were only playing for pride on their Senior Day.
While the Rockets have been the class of the MAC this season, they do have five one-possession wins during this ten-game win streak.
They also could be fairly vanilla here and potentially pull starters like they did with quarterback DeQuan Finn in the aforementioned finale last year.
Bet: Central Michigan +10.5 (Play to +10)
The Hawkeyes will be in next week’s Big Ten Championship Game in Detroit as the sacrificial lamb for the winner of Ohio State-Michigan. Despite ranking No. 121 in scoring offense and No. 130 in total offense with just 245.4 yards per game, Iowa won the Big Ten West.
On the other hand, Nebraska is trying to reach a bowl game for the first time since 2016 and should certainly be motivated to do so in Matt Rhule’s first season and win the Heroes Game over the Hawkeyes.
Other than the blowout vs. Michigan, the Huskers have been competitive in every conference game but have lost four of those games by seven points or less (including three games by three points). They come in on a three-game losing streak (by three at Michigan State, by three vs. Maryland, and by seven at Wisconsin in OT).
Nebraska’s luck has been the complete opposite of Iowa’s as the Hawkeyes were outgained in four of their six Big Ten victories.
The Huskers rank No. 5 nationally in rushing defense, so can Iowa move the ball through the air with QB Deacon Hill, who is completing less than 50 percent of his passes and only throwing for 119 yards per game as a starter?
Now Nebraska has had plenty of its own poor QB play, but Chubba Purdy has seemingly given this offense some energy with 169 passing yards and 105 on the ground in his first start last week at Wisconsin.
Points will be at a premium for both sides here as the total is 24.5, the lowest over/under in FBS history.
The luck finally swings Nebraska’s way in a close game here.
Bet: Nebraska -135 ML
The Sooners are in a must-win to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive in what is their last season in the conference before bolting to the SEC.
Meanwhile, TCU was in the National Championship Game last season and now fighting for bowl eligibility.
The Horned Frogs season started in an inauspicious manner as they lost at home to Colorado as nearly three-touchdown favorites. However, TCU has been playing its best football of the season in the last three games with close losses to Texas Tech and Texas and a blowout victory over Baylor last week.
Freshman QB Josh Hoover has thrown for over 300 yards in each of the last three games including 412 vs. Baylor last week.
Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel and second-leading receiver Jalil Farooq suffered injuries last weekend as the Sooners were life and death to win at BYU last weekend. If one or both of them go, then you will get a better number before kickoff, but the Horned Frogs have seemingly found something, and this Oklahoma secondary still gives up its fair share of big plays.
Bet: TCU +10
Speaking of teams bolting the Big XII for the SEC, Texas is joining its Red River rival Oklahoma next year in doing just that.
Texas is also in that "must-win" situation to keep its hope alive to make the Big XII Championship Game. However, we all know that must-win does not necessarily equal must-cover.
Red Raiders QB Behren Morton has returned from injury and has led Texas Tech to three straight victories (vs. TCU, at Kansas, and vs. UCF) to get his team bowl-eligible.
Texas Tech is likely to treat this one as its bowl game as they would love nothing better than to spoil any chance for Texas to reach the Big XII Championship Game and even potentially the College Football Playoff.
Bet: Texas Tech +14 (Play to +13)
Similar situation as the above Big XII games as Oregon is off to the Big Ten next year and "little brother" Oregon State is left behind.
While Washington has already clinched a spot in the final Pac-12 Championship Game, Oregon is in the "must-win" spot here against their rivals.
Oregon State held that same Washington team scoreless in the second half last week but could not overcome three turnovers and taking a safety on a bad punt step that ended up being the points that decided the game. The Beavers’ three losses this season have come by a combined eight points.
Expect the Beavers to be run-heavy and play ball control here to keep current Heisman favorite Bo Nix on the sidelines as much as possible.
Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith is 14-6 ATS as a road underdog, but this is his first game in the role this season.
Bet: Oregon State +14 (Play to +13)
The Badgers’ 24-17 overtime victory vs. Nebraska last weekend extended their bowl game streak to 22 straight seasons (Only Georgia at 27 and Oklahoma at 25 have longer streaks).
Now the banged-up Badgers (QB Tanner Mordecai and RB Braelon Allen are playing but nowhere near 100%) travel to face Minnesota for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.
While Wisconsin stopped a three-game losing streak last weekend, the Gophers have a three-game skid of their own and are fighting for their own bowl eligibility.
Some in the Twin Cities are starting to openly wonder whether PJ Fleck is the guy. Maybe he is and maybe he is not, but he has split his six meetings with Wisconsin and is 6-2 ATS as an underdog in season finales.
Row the Boat. Or at least paddle it.
Bet: Minnesota +3
This is the ultimate buy-low spot with Auburn in the Iron Bowl after losing at home to New Mexico State and hosting its archrival who is on its way to yet another SEC Championship Game and still has some outside College Football Playoff aspirations.
The Tigers were obviously looking ahead to the Crimson Tide but should have the full focus here.
Alabama has struggled on the road at Jordan-Hare Stadium going 2-7 ATS in its last nine trips to the plain, losing five of those games outright.
Hugh Freeze is 28-14 ATS in his career as an underdog including a 4-1 ATS mark against Nick Saban while Freeze was at Ole Miss.
Bet: Auburn +13.5 (Play to +13)
Like Oregon State, Washington State is another "little brother" being left behind as its archrival moves on to greener pastures.
Despite Michael Penix Jr.’s worst game of the season, Washington won by two points at Oregon State and moved up to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff standings for the first time this season. With that move upwards obviously comes more pressure.
Washington is on a 3-13 ATS run as favorites of 13 or more points in Pac-12 games and are just 1-3 in the role this season.
As for Washington State, the Cougars got off to a 4-0 start and then proceeded to lose six straight games after their bye week before crushing Colorado last week.
This Apple Cup rivalry got renewed for a few more years, but the Cougars, who are trying to get bowl-eligible, should let it all hang out here against a Washington team that has everything in front of them with a rematch against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Bet: Washington State +16.5 (Play to +14.5)
New Mexico State pulled off an upset at Auburn last week as nearly four-touchdown underdogs.
The Aggies are in the Conference USA Championship Game next week at Liberty where Jacksonville State feels that they should be but cannot be since the Gamecocks are not eligible due to the NCAA’s outdated rule regarding programs transitioning from FCS to FBS.
Jacksonville State may also not be able to participate in a bowl game if there are enough eligible teams, so this is essentially its bowl game for now.
Bet: Jacksonville State – 140 ML
Cal is another team that is 5-6 and fighting for bowl eligibility and get a UCLA team off beating rival USC.
The Golden Bears have won two straight (vs. Washington State, at Stanford) behind Jaydn Ott’s 333 yards on the ground over the last two games. Now comes the test for Cal on the ground against UCLA’s No. 1 nationally-ranked rushing defense.
Perhaps Chip Kelly’s seat is a little less warm having beaten the Trojans last week, but UCLA is moving to the Pac-12 next year, and expectations are high in Westwood. The Bruins are just 1-2 ATS as home favorites this year and barely covered its victory over Washington State despite outgaining the Cougars by 255 yards. They could not cover against a flailing Colorado team and got beat outright two weeks ago against a rebuilding Arizona State club.
Cal coach Justin Wilcox called a bowl berth a "Big deal. Real big deal." It is clear that Cal should be highly motivated here.
Bet: California +10 (Play to +9)
Two weeks ago, Fresno State controlled its own destiny to host the Mountain West Championship Game. Now they are coming off a home loss as three-touchdown favorites to New Mexico.
However, Fresno will be going bowling, and 3-8 San Diego State will not.
Aztecs head coach Brady Hoke will be retiring after this game.
There is no doubt that it has been a disappointing season for the Aztecs, and they are not good, but they have lost four games by one possession. They have also played a tough schedule which included games vs. Oregon State and UCLA.
San Diego State will likely treat this as its bowl game in Hoke’s swan song, and the coach has been good as a conference underdog going 11-4 as an underdog of three or more.
Bet: San Diego State +5.5 (Play to +4.5)