A HALF FROM HELL
Western Carolina won't have to face Tua Tagovailoa this week – but that's about the only positive the Catamounts can take into this one as they prepare to face the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. And everything is pointing toward a positively one-sided first half: not only have the Catamounts surrendered 40+ points six times already this season to teams decidedly less talented than their Saturday opponent, the Crimson Tide rank second in the nation in first-half scoring vs. FBS teams (27.6) and will be looking to lay an early beating on their FCS foe before giving their starters a second-half breather.
It might be difficult to find props for this game given the sheer size of the spread, but if you're able to track down a first-half line, we recommend taking the home team minus whatever points you need to give up.
BULLDOGS LACKING BITE
The Georgia Bulldogs remain in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth – but they'd love to get their offense on track as they welcome the Texas A&M Aggies to Sanford Stadium on Saturday. The Bulldogs have reeled off four straight victories since their lone defeat of 2019 against South Carolina, but they've scored 27 or fewer points in five consecutive games to drop out of the top 40 in scoring offense. And while quarterback Jake Fromm has taken care of the football (his only three INTs of the season came vs. the Gamecocks), he has completed less than 55 percent of his attempts in three of his past five games.
With the Aggies holding four straight quarterbacks below 50 percent completion while allowing zero TDs in three of those games, we see them doing enough on defense to cover in a difficult road matchup.
A DEVIL OF A SLUMP
There's going out in style – and then there's whatever the Duke Blue Devils are doing as they look to halt an ugly four-game losing skid against host Wake Forest. The Blue Devils have been outscored by a whopping 111 points over the course of their losing streak, including an unfathomable 49-6 loss to Syracuse last time out as a 9-point favorite. What's more, they have had all sorts of hanging onto the football, having committed 13 turnovers during their skid and racking up 22 turnovers in their six losses this season. Wake Forest, by comparison, has a +6 turnover margin despite coming in off back-to-back losses.
The hosts have fallen on hard times, but were tasked with facing two elite defenses in Virginia Tech and Georgia – and Duke is most certainly not in the same category. We recommend the Over on the Deacons' team total.
LIGHT ‘EM UP
The Oregon State Beavers and Washington State Cougars have given Under bettors plenty of ulcers in their recent head-to-head meetings, and they're on track to do it all again Saturday as they face off in Pullman. The Beavers and Cougars come in having converted six consecutive Overs, while combining for 70+ points in five of those games. And there's little to suggest this year will be any different: Oregon State is scoring and allowing roughly 31 points per game so far in 2019, while Washington State owns the No. 9 scoring offence in the nation at 40.3 points per contest.
Both teams need one more victory in order to qualify for bowl game consideration, so both offenses will be firing in this one. We're avoiding the indigestion of an Under sweat and taking the Over instead.
SPARTANS SEE A SIZABLE SPREAD
The Michigan State Spartans might not be playing like it, but oddsmakers have them as an enormous favorite for Saturday's Big Ten showdown with host Rutgers. Not only do the Spartans come into the game on a five-game losing streak, they've scored more than 10 points just once in that span while losing four of them by 20+ points. Their fortunes might very well change this weekend against a Rutgers unit that has lost eight of nine while ranking 127th in scoring offence (15.3) and 126th in points allowed (38.6).
That said, MSU needed everything it had to pull out a 14-10 home victory in last year's meeting. Nothing in their recent history suggests the Spartans should be three-touchdown road favorites against any FBS team – not even Rutgers. We like the home team and the points.
RUNNING THE SHOW
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish might not have enough time to make it to a New Year's Six bowl game, but they're still in great position to finish strong as they host the Boston College Eagles on Saturday. The Fighting Irish have bounced back with three consecutive wins since that one-sided loss to Michigan – and their run defense has been particularly solid, having held Navy (4.8 yards per carry), Duke (3.2) and Virginia Tech (2.8) well below their season rushing averages.
Extending that run will be pivotal against a Boston College team that ranks fifth in the nation in rushing (281.7 yards per game). Expect host Notre Dame to make life difficult for A.J. Dillon and the rest of the Eagles' rush attack – and with Boston College struggling mightily in the passing game, we favor the Under on their team total.
Their dream of an undefeated season is over, but there's still plenty at stake for the Baylor Bears as they tangle with the visiting Texas Longhorns on Saturday. The Bears have the Big 12 championship in their sights despite watching a 28-3 lead evaporate in last week's stunning 34-31 loss to Oklahoma.
While Baylor is known for having one of the most impressive offenses in the conference, it'll be the defense in the spotlight Saturday as the Bears look to rebound after allowing the Sooners to rack up 525 total yards. Texas has limited opponents to 47 total points in its past two games after allowing 30+ in five straight.
With both teams having something left to play for, and the Under having cashed in six consecutive meetings (with only one of those games exceeding 45 total points), we like the Longhorns and Bears to finish below the total.
HAMLER IN DOUBT FOR SATURDAY
The Penn State Nittany Lions might have to face the powerhouse Ohio State Buckeyes without their top receiver in the lineup. K.J. Hamler's status is very much in doubt has he recovers from an undisclosed injury suffered in the first quarter of last week's victory over the Indiana Hoosiers. Hamler spent time in the medial tent immediately after he was hit on a kick return, and spent the rest of the game on the sidelines. His absence would be a significant loss for the Nittany Lions, with Hamler entering the weekend ranked fourth in the Big Ten Conference in receiving yards (791) and receiving scores (eight).
The line for this game is heavily favored toward the Buckeyes, and the potential absence of Hamler is only going to send more bettors toward Ohio State. We like the Under on Penn State's team total in hostile territory.
WHO'S STARTING IN HAWAII
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors have yet to decide on a starting quarterback for Saturday's Mountain West encounter with the visiting San Diego State Aztecs. Both Cole McDonald and Chevan Cordeiro have been benched for one another in the previous two games, though Hawaii went on to win both games while averaging 31.5 points per game in that span. McDonald leads the conference in passing scores (25) and ranks second in passing yards (3,007) but has also thrown 12 interceptions, second-most in the Mountain West. Cordeiro has thrown for 727 yards with six TDs and three INTs.
It shouldn't matter who starts for the Rainbow Warriors in this one: They've averaged better than 35 points per game this season and will look to keep the pace up against a formidable Aztecs defense. We favor the Over here.
MASON IS (PROBABLY) FINE
North Texas is expected to have quarterback Mason Fine back in action this weekend against Rice. Fine suffered a head injury in a 52-17 loss to Louisiana Tech on Nov. 9, but had an extra week to heal up and has been trending in the right direction heading into Saturday's meeting with the Owls. Fine is having a terrific season with the Mean Green, completing nearly 63 percent of his passes for 2,659 yards (third-most in Conference USA) with 27 touchdowns, five shy of the career high he set last year. Jason Bean would be in line to start if Fine can't go this weekend.
With North Texas needing to win out to be bowl-eligible and Fine also chasing a personal milestone, the Mean Green are in good position to cover against an Owls team that has lost all five of its home games to date.
WHOP UPSIDE THE HEAD
The Indiana Hoosiers might be without one of the top receiving threats in the nation for Saturday's Big 12 encounter with the visiting Michigan Wolverines. Whop Philyor's status is in doubt after the junior wideout suffered a head injury and was forced out of last weekend's loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions. Head coach Tom Allen wouldn't comment on Philyor's status following practice earlier in the week, and he could be headed for a game-time designation. Philyor's absence would be a massive one for the Hoosiers; he ranks second in the Big Ten in receptions (61) and third in receiving yards (863).
Indiana is already behind the 8-ball against the powerhouse Wolverines, and not having Philyor at full strength – or at all – makes Michigan a strong ATS pick.
MOORE TIME OFF?
Purdue has fared well from a cover perspective in Rondale Moore's absence – and they'll probably have to face that reality for at least one more game. Moore has been out since suffering a hamstring injury Sept. 28 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm told reporters he wasn't "truly optimistic" that Moore would return for Saturday's game against the host Wisconsin Badgers. Moore got off to a blistering start to the 2019 season with 24 receptions for 344 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games, but has just five catches for 43 yards since.
Purdue is 5-1 ATS in six games with Moore sidelined, but will likely struggle against a Wisconsin defense that ranks third in the nation in pass defense and sixth in scoring defense. We like the Badgers to keep Purdue below its team point total.
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