10 best predictions for this week’s college football slate. What games appear to be the best bets and best picks for the Week 12 games?
10 Best College Football Predictions: Week 12
Results So Far: 67-55-1
A few weeks left and then it’s bowl time, and then I’ll crank it up for NFL – which I’ve shockingly been stronger at this year – and maybe college basketball.
The theme for this week is a simple one that could come back to embarrass me in a big, big way.
My Power Five snobbery is coming out in full force.
I have NOTHING against the Group of Five programs. I love them all. I’m knee-deep in the Mountain West for a variety of reasons, and no one enjoys MACtion more than I do.
Here’s the problem. Now, more than ever, it’s just so hard for the Group of Five programs to hang with the Power Fives thanks to expansion – that’s going to gut the Gof5er conferences over the next few years – the transfer portal, and the difference in resources.
That doesn’t mean we won’t get the occasional Marshall over Notre Dame or Eastern Michigan over Arizona State or Georgia Southern over Nebraska. However, when it comes to picking games between the Power Fives vs. the Group of Fives, the big programs win a whole lot more than you think.
And then there’s this time of year.
It’s one thing when the Group of Fives come up with a stunner early in the season. But at this point it’s a wee bit easier to figure it all out – at least in theory.
Some Power Five programs use the Group of Five game for Senior Day – a paycheck game to make all the fans happy in the final home game. Some need this to improve bowl position, or to get ready for the big rivalry game coming up, or to get shot to stretch the legs a little in a supposedly winnable matchup.
Am I going with all the Power Fives over Group of Fives? I’m not touching Virginia Tech vs Liberty, but you’ll get the idea with the other picks.
But first we start with a tried and true bit that worked out just fine last week.
Click on each game for the game preview
10. USC at UCLA
POINT TOTAL 76.5
If you’ve been a part of the program from the start you know what I”m going to say, but for those new to the bit …
If the world gives you a college football total of 70 or more, you say “thank you,” take the under, and move on.
It’s SO hard to get there – any number of things could happen – and over the long haul you’ll hit more than you’ll miss. If it goes over you tip your hat and enjoy the show of offense.
Do I always buy into the bullspit I’m slinging? Obviously not since the pick on the site predicts a shootout, but again, do the same thing every time and you should – if all goes right – be ahead.
Need proof? Welcome to last week. I thought all four of these could’ve and should’ve blown past the total, but …
Arizona vs UCLA. The total was 77.5. Final score: Arizona 34-28 (62 total).
North Carolina and Wake Forest should’ve been a wild and crazy firefight. Point total: 78.5. Final score: North Carolina 36-34 (70).
Washington and Oregon was a terrific offensive thriller – Washington 37-34 (71). The point total was 72.5. And finally …
SMU vs USF. It was 72.5, and everyone wanted in after the historic 77-63 SMU win over Houston the week before.
SMU 41, USF 23 (64).
Four games with 70+ point totals, four unders.
75.5 is a TON of points or the Trojans and Bruins. Root for the over as a fan, even if it doesn’t happen.
Now to the Power Five vs Group of Five theme. Fully prepared to eat it if this doesn’t go right – but it’s not like you’ll be able to hammer me on Twitter for it … maybe.
LINE Auburn -5.5
Warning: I’m getting way too cute here.
The theory? Auburn is having a bad year, it’s having fun under interim head coach Cadillac Williams, and it’s going to bust it in the final home game of the season with a chance to make it two wins in a row before going to Alabama.
And yeah, there’s still a shot at getting bowl eligible by winning the final two games.
Auburn struggled at home against San Jose State 24-16, but as it turns out, that team from the Mountain West is pretty good. It rocked Mercer 42-16, and that was it for the easy games.
WKU lost to a horrible Indiana 33-30 in the one Power Five meeting. It’s run defense has suddenly become porous, it’s 1-3 against the four likely bowl-bound teams on the slate, and the Auburn pass defense is okay.
And it’s the SEC at home against a Group of Five program. To continue the snob-fest …
LINE Texas A&M -32.5
PICK Texas A&M
Normally I wouldn’t touch this.
The highly favored SEC team would go through the motions, make sure no one is hurt, get the 2s and 3s out there, and cruise to get ready for the showdown against LSU.
But Texas A&M REALLY, REALLY, REALLY needs a cathartic blowout win.
Start with this. UMass might not score, and if it does, it’s probably not coming up with more than ten.
This is the first game this year against a Power Five program for the Minutemen. It lost by 45 to Toledo and 32 against Tulane, and now it’s about to deal with a team that needs a rainbow.
Texas A&M took it relatively easy in a 31-0 win over Sam Houston State, and it lost to Appalachian State 17-14. After losing six straight, though, look out.
Speaking of beating UMass by double-digits, like New Mexico State did …
LINE Missouri -28.5
ATS PICK Missouri
38-0. That’s what Minnesota did to the Aggies in Week 1.
66-7. The Wisconsin thing isn’t working against anyone, but it sure as shoot was just fine in the win over them in mid-September.
New Mexico State hasn’t been awful, and it’s actually coming into this on a three game winning streak. Insanely enough, if it beats Missouri and beats Liberty, it’ll be bowl eligible.
Okay, so Mizzou’s 52-24 win over Louisiana Tech was a little worrisome, and only beating Abilene Christian 34-17 isn’t right, but the team is coming off a two game losing streak. It needs this and has to beat Arkansas next week to get to a bowl game.
The D will pitch a gem.
And finally …
6. UAB at LSU
LINE LSU -14.5
ATS PICK LSU
I’ll admit that I’m getting a bit theoretical here than dealing with anything concrete.
As a team, LSU is going to block out the noise, focus on the game at hand, and deal with Texas A&M next week and Georgia the week after for the SEC Championship. However, trust me, they’re hearing it about the College Football Playoff and the possibilities if it wins out.
As is it’s going to be an uphill climb just to win the last two games to be in the discussion. Even if LSU does that, it still needs to look the part – this can’t be a squeaker at this point.
Here’s why to like this.
1. Night game. LSU is a different football program after dark.
2. UAB has been very good at times … at home. It’s 5-1 in Birmingham and 0-4 on the road.
3. Liberty. UTSA. Maybe WKU. Those are the best teams UAB has faced so far – it has yet to deal with a Power Five program.
No one has beaten the Blazers by more than seven, but this is where the snob kicks in. If LSU is good enough to win the SEC West, it should be good enough to win this by more than two touchdowns.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against the Spread No. 5: Texas at Kansas
LINE Texas -9.5
I’m not entirely sure what the world is seeing in Texas that I’m not.
The betting public LOVES its Longhorns. The College Football Playoff committee would seemingly like nothing more than to cuddle with Texas and put it to bed in a warm cozy blanket – at least before last week.
Everyone saw the Alabama game, and everyone saw the first few minutes of the blowout over Oklahoma. It’s a good team and it puts out a fine product, but did it show much of anything in the road loss to Oklahoma State? Yeah the O was good, but whatever.
Did it shock the world with that win at Kansas State? Great win, but it was by seven. After that the offense was held to a dead stop at TCU in a 17-10 loss.
As I’m writing this it’s a rainy-but-not-bad 55 degrees in Austin, Texas. It’s 17 degrees in Lawrence, Kansas and it’s supposed to be around 25 and very, very windy by game time.
Texas is bowl eligible. Does this strike you as a badass team that’s going to come out snorting fire to maybe have a shot at a better bowl?
It’s the final home game of the year for the Jayhawks, they’re 4-1 in Lawrence, and the one loss was to TCU by seven.
Maybe Texas rises up and out-talents the team on the other side. Maybe it really does want payback after last year’s embarrassing shootout loss.
It should win, but 9.5 is still too much.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against the Spread No. 4: Iowa at Minnesota
POINT TOTAL 32.5
ATS PICK Over
No one knows better than I do what Minneapolis can be in late November. My knees are very, very aware of what 18 degrees feels like.
I’m also aware that Minnesota starting QB Tanner Morgan might be out, in which case this already obnoxious point total might dip even lower.
Along with my silly – yet shockingly accurate more often than not – belief that you take the under when the world sets the total at 70, 32.5 – even for an Iowa game – is just too low not to go with.
Last year’s game? 27-22 Iowa.
2020? 35-7 Iowa.
2019 23-19, 2018 48-31, both Iowa.
I’m not saying this can’t happen. Iowa won 17-10 in 2017 and 14-7 in 2016.
It won at Purdue a few weeks ago 24-3 and lost at Illinois 9-6. It was famous for playing brutally low-scoring games early in the season, but last week the offense didn’t do a thing against Wisconsin and it still won 24-10.
That’s more than 32.5.
Again, winter, injured quarterback, good defenses, rivalry game – a lot of this adds up to a low-scoring uggo.
But even 17-16 goes over. It’s worth the shot.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 3 Boston College at Notre Dame
LINE Notre Dame -20.5
PICK Notre Dame
I liked this when it opened at -21.5 and now the gods have handed me an extra point.
Like we’re all supposed to be scared that Boston College found a way to get by NC State on the road 21-20 last week? Is this the same team that couldn’t handle the Duke offense and lost by ten at UConn?
Here’s the real issue. Boston College really can’t run the ball, and that’s going to matter more than ever this week.
It’s dead last in the nation averaging just 61 yards per game and it’s not about to get rolling now against an Irish D that held down Clemson and Syracuse.
The Eagles continue to have quarterback issues – although Emmett Morehead filled in for an injured Phil Jurkovec and was terrific last week against NC State – the offensive line won’t be able to handle anything the Irish defensive front wants to do, and then there’s a little matter of the weather.
It’s supposed to snow, it’s going to be cold, and the winds are gong to be around 20 miles per hour.
Really, you think Boston College is going to throw in that?
It’ll be a low scoring game, but the Irish should be able to pound their way to at least 200 yards and at least 24 points. That should be enough.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 2 Penn State at Rutgers
LINE Penn State -19.5
PICK Penn State
All that weather that’s screwing up Buffalo and Western New York won’t do anything to New Jersey this weekend. It’s supposed to be a lovely crisp day in the 40s.
That’s fine. The better conditions here favor the better team.
Rutgers is always capable of pulling off something crazy defensively, but it hasn’t done it in a while. Even when it went on a run of eight takeaways in three weeks it went 0-3.
But this is more about Penn State.
Just like I don’t really see what the big whoop is with Texas, I’m not quite sure why everyone isn’t digging this Penn State team.
Yeah it lost to Ohio State – but it was right there in the game until the end. Yeah it got flattened by Michigan, but that’s a terrific team that got into a groove. There hasn’t been any issue against anyone else outside of the opener against Purdue.
On the contrary, all of the other wins were blowouts except for the 17-7 monsoon game against Northwestern.
Rutgers doesn’t score enough – it struggled to get more than two touchdowns a game – Penn State blew out Auburn and Indiana on the road, the running game is working, and the passing attack cranked up 300 yards for three straight games before it didn’t have to against Maryland.
Penn State has won six games by 20 points or more and did it in three of the last four games.
And finally …
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 1 Illinois at Michigan
LINE Michigan -17.5
I know I’m going alone on my journey, and I don’t expect you to follow.
This is not for the faint of heart.
Let me put it this way. Illinois at Michigan has a whole slew of factors in play to potentially be way more of a fight than you think.
First, when it comes to the College Football Playoff chase, this doesn’t actually matter. Win or lose against Illinois, Michigan has to beat Ohio State next week. Take down the Buckeyes in Columbus, win the Big Ten title, go to the CFP. This is just for fun, giggles, and Senior Day.
Second, I’ve been all in on Michigan from the start of the season – I’ll hardly be stunned if this goes 34-10 Wolverines.
This has been one of the most consistently predictable teams with a formula that seems to work every game. Be okay in the first half, let the offensive line grind things down, dominate the second half.
Fine, but what happens if that O line doesn’t take over and the running game doesn’t rock?
Illinois lost two straight, and why? Michigan State and Purdue can throw, and no one else on the slate before that could other than Indiana in a strange early loss. That, as it turns out, was a total outlier.
So here’s the thing. Illinois is amazing against teams that can run and are mediocre at throwing. Michigan is just fine through the air, but it’s struggling lately with JJ McCarthy barely hitting half of his passes over the last three games.
Here’s the other thing – wind. There’s the potential for the weather to be less than ideal, but even if the snow holds off, it’s not going to be a day for the downfield pass.
No one has hit 200 yards rushing on Illinois. Not Wisconsin, not Minnesota, not Iowa. This is by far the best O line and ground game the Illini have faced, but if it can hold up, and if it can keep this a grind, and if the No. 2 defense in the country overall and the No. 1 D at picking off passes can get nasty …
17.5 is a bit too much to give this Illinois defense.