Wilson: My 6 Favorite College Football Bets for Week 12
Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Fred Holly III
Before we get to my favorite bets for Week 12, let’s reflect on last week.
LSU and Minnesota pulled off not only the biggest upsets in Week 11, but possibly the biggest upsets in the last decade for their respective programs.
The Tigers broke a drought against Alabama, never trailing in a game that cemented Joe Burrow as the Heisman frontrunner. There may not be a defense in the nation that can stop the No. 1 overall passing success attack coached by Joe Brady, but the defense is susceptible to big passing plays.
As for Minnesota and Penn State, it was a game that could be summed up by the double Spiderman pointing gif. The Gophers had not beaten a single noteworthy team, while the Penn State defense had feasted on teams that did not have an explosive passing attack and then got exposed. Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan had a beautiful box score, going 18 for 20 with there touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Gophers are now No. 4 in passing success rate and 10th in explosiveness through the air. They will be an underdog this week at Iowa and later to Wisconsin as oddsmakers give the Gophers little shot to win the national title. Circa Sports has undefeated Minnesota at 150-1 odds to win it all.
Now, all four parties — LSU, Alabama, PSU and Minnesota — must escape hangover in Week 12.
Minnesota travels to Kinnick Stadium, a venue known for taking down title contenders. Alabama must regroup against Mississippi State and later Auburn to have a shot at the playoff. Penn State gets an Indiana team that is top 15 in passing success rate, while LSU travels to an Ole Miss team that is 21st in pass explosiveness.
Be sure and follow me in The Action Network App to get all my bets on Week 12 games, plus the Week 13 opening lines I bet on Sunday.
College Football Best Bets for Week 11
Odds as of Thursday night and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Alabama vs. Mississippi State
- Spread: Mississippi State +17.5
- Over/Under: 61
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
Tua Tagovailoa has spent Week 12 practices dressed in full pads watching from the sidelines. It is a catch-22 for the Crimson Tide, as the absence of the Heisman contender hurts Alabama on Saturday, but playing Tagovailoa could result in further injury that will keep him out of the Iron Bowl.
Whether Alabama has Tua or Mac Jones under center, the skill position players for Alabama are the best in the country. DeVonta Smith had over 200 yards receiving against two of the best cornerbacks in the nation for LSU.
— The Sideline Report (@SidelineReport_) November 10, 2019
But there would be a steep drop-off with Mac Jones, as Alabama would no longer thrive with fly, post and corner routes. Jones would have to settle for plenty of flat, comeback and curl patterns against Mississippi State.
While the Bulldogs are 114th in defensive passing success rate, there is hope of containing the explosiveness.
When Mississippi State has the ball, there is reason to think the ground game can have success against a young Alabama defense. The Bulldogs are 13th in Line Yards and 20th in Stuff Rate.
This suggests Joe Moorhead’s team will have success on the ground and possibly limit possessions from the Alabama offense.
With the Jefferson Pilot 11 a.m. local time slot, this game is a perfect candidate for Alabama to struggle after a grueling loss to LSU. Cowbell may be just good enough on the ground to keep this one close with Tua sidelined.
Pick: Mississippi State +17.5 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Florida vs. Missouri
- Spread: Missouri +7
- Over/Under: 50.5
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
We could get an all-out effort scenario from Missouri here. This will be the first home game for the Tigers since Oct. 12, where they haven’t lost since Kentucky’s one-point victory 13 months ago.
The return of quarterback Kelly Bryant is also key after he missed the Georgia game with a hamstring injury, a 27-0 loss to the Bulldogs.
Barry Odom said Kelly Bryant is as close to 100 percent as he's seen in recent weeks. He reiterates that he anticipates Bryant playing against Florida and playing well. #Mizzou
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) November 13, 2019
With an underwhelming record of 5-4 and little hope for the NCAA to reverse a postseason ban, this may be head coach Barry Odom’s last chance to prove 2019 was not a waste.
The Tigers also have games remaining against Tennessee and Arkansas, but neither will grab the attention of a fan base or athletic director like beating Florida.
Our Action Network projection makes this game Florida -5.5, but plenty of defensive statistics point to Missouri keeping this close. The Gators have been one dimensional on offense, with almost no ground game to speak of.
Dan Mullen is sure to have his roster fired up after two straight losses to Missouri, but a kickoff forecast calls for 31 degree temperatures.
In yet another Jefferson Pilot time slot, the defenses should keep this close. Expect a motivated and healthy Missouri squad to challenge a Florida team just looking to get into its bye week.
Pick: Missouri +7 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Coastal Carolina vs. Arkansas State
- Spread: Arkansas State -13
- Over/Under: 52.5
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN+
Don’t tell coach Jamey Chadwell that Coastal Carolina is out of the hunt for bowl game. The Chants were embarrassed by the class of the Sun Belt with a 48-7 loss to UL-Lafayette in Week 11.
Now at 4-5, Coastal Carolina more than likely needs a sweep of remaining games to become bowl eligible. Arkansas State, which comes off a bye week, may present an easier challenge defensively.
The Red Wolves have had their share of high scoring games thanks to a defense that ranks outside the top 100 in plenty of categories.
The Power Success and Stuff Rate numbers above tell us Coastal should put up plenty of rushing yards and control the tempo on offense.
While Coastal Carolina has struggled in the secondary all season, the defensive line has a sack rate of 48th.
Arkansas State quarterback Layne Hatcher has been explosive since taking over for Logan Bonner, but a Chants rank of 14th in opponent pass explosiveness will limit the Arkansas State air attack.
Pick: Coastal Carolina +13 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Hawai’i vs. UNLV
- Spread: UNLV +7
- Over/Under: 73
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- TV: Facebook
In 2007, Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan had a swollen right ankle as a result of ‘screwing around’ in practice. Five total touchdowns later and Hawaii was well on its way to an eventual berth in the Sugar Bowl.
Why mention this? The 2007 game against UNLV is the only time Hawaii has won in Las Vegas in eight tries since 1995.
As Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich looks to win the Mountain West’s West division, Tony Sanchez is firmly on the hot seat with a 2-7 record. The UNLV athletic director was specific about bowl eligibility after last season, a goal that is now unattainable in 2019.
A victory for the massive Ninth Island Trophy is certainly something that Sanchez would like to put on his resume.
— UNLV Athletics (@UNLVathletics) November 5, 2017
While UNLV could not have looked worse against Colorado State, there may be a path to victory in Week 12. CSU holds one of the most explosive passing offenses in the country, and UNLV ranks 121st in preventing big passing plays.
The Rebels covered against better running teams like Vanderbilt and San Diego State.
Both the Aztecs and Commodores have an explosive passing rank outside the top 100, similar to Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors have a bit of a quarterback controversy, with Cole McDonald once again being lifted for Chevan Cordeiro. No matter the starter, Hawaii has a high rank in rush and pass success rate with a low rank in explosiveness.
Hawaii got in a 42-40 shootout with San Jose State last week, and fatigue may set in for Nick Rolovich’s roster, as this is their fifth trip to the mainland in less than nine weeks.
UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers entered last week questionable, but should be ready for action this week. The Rebels ground attack should run wild against a Hawaii defense that ranks 118th in opponent rushing success and explosiveness.
Pick: UNLV +7 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Wyoming vs. Utah State
- Spread: Utah State -5.5
- Over/Under: 50
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNU
Jordan Love had his toughest game of 2018 against the Wyoming defense. The final score of 24-16 was not indicative of how low scoring the affair was as a 99-yard kick return touchdown and opponent red zone fumbles and interceptions resulted in a misleading boxscore.
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl was masterful in his game plan for Love by slowing down the game last season.
Bohl said in the lead up to the game this year not to read too much into Love being “off.” But Wyoming’s head coach is being cordial, as the Utah State quarterback has had an off season, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns in 2019.
With a passing success rate dip to 62nd and an explosiveness rank outside the top 100, the Wyoming defense may dictate the game.
This is not a bad throw by Jordan Love, this is perfect coverage by LSU's Derek Stingley Jr.
This was a back-shoulder throw, but a true freshman DB read it, located the ball and high-pointed it better than the WR who knew it was coming. Incredible. pic.twitter.com/Sj2utLHDi8
— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) October 5, 2019
Wyoming is 21st in defense havoc, led by a top 15 ranking in passes defensed. While my bet below is centered on the first half, there are plenty of reasons to love the full game under and Utah State team total under.
The Aggies are dead last in FBS in red zone touchdown conversions, while Wyoming is top 10 in opponent red zone conversions allowed. On paper, Utah State may have a better chance scoring from beyond the Wyoming 20-yard line than from inside it.
The Wyoming defense is also No. 7 in opponent rushing success rate, No. 4 in opportunity rate and 20th in stuff rate.
Wyoming has allowed 16 first half points over its last four game. While I like the under in every fashion with this game, I will focus on the first half by trusting the Cowboys defense. We can only hope special teams show up and do their job to keep the scoring down.
Pick: Under 24.5 1st Half [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Air Force vs. Colorado State
- Spread: Colorado State +10.5
- Over/Under: 42
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
Only twice in my son’s life have I ever had to whip out this phrase, so when Toledo ran for 436 yards against Colorado State, CSU head coach Mike Bobo sounded like a parent.
The Rams head coach described a ‘come to Jesus‘ meeting with his defensive staff and players after the loss to the Rockets in late September. Changes have been made to the defensive alignment and pulling coaches from the field to the press box.
There has been significant improvement to the defense rushing statistics for Colorado State since.
Colorado State is now on a three-game winning and cover streak. The Rams have limited UNLV and San Diego State to under 110 rushing yards.
Frankly, being ranked in the top 100 in defense rushing success rate and explosiveness is a major win for their 2019 campaign. The defense will need to bring everything it has against an Air Force offense that dominates on the ground.
Yesterday was another big day for @_22duval finishing with a new career-high 155 yards and a trip to the endzone!
He is the first fullback in program history to have four consecutive 100+ yard rushing games 🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/rxHHrxaRs8
— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) November 4, 2019
The key statistic to Colorado State earning a fourth consecutive victory is the air attack led by quarterback Patrick O’Brien. The junior signal caller has almost 2,000 yards on the season with 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
More importantly, Colorado State should have no issue exposing an Air Force defense that is 99th in opponent passing success rate.
Look for O’Brien to lead an explosive Rams air barrage that should stay ahead of the Air Force ground attack.
Pick: Colorado State +10.5 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]