Wilson: My 9 Favorite College Football Betting Picks for Week 12

Wilson: My 9 Favorite College Football Betting Picks for Week 12 article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyrell Pigrome and Taylor Cornelius

  • Collin Wilson is searching for value in the penultimate week of the college football regular season, which he's expecting to be more chaotic than you might think.
  • This week, he's focused on a few home dogs and a handful of totals.

Penultimate is one of my favorite words. I first heard it long ago when Breaking Bad was peaking and the episode ‘Half Measures’ was released.

About an hour into the viewing, Walter White was plowing over two drug dealers for Jesse Pinkman and teaching me to never underestimate the week before the season finale.

WARNING: Breaking Bad spoilers and touch of violence below

The College Football season needs a ‘Half Measures’ episode. My love affair with the sport spans 365 days per year, and the chaos usually associated is missing from the 2018 season.

The College Football Playoff selection committee released Week 12 rankings on Tuesday, and to no one’s surprise, there were no changes to the top 10.

We can’t expect The Citadel, UMass or Duke to produce rankings pandemonium in Week 12. However, a few existing spots with No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 9 West Virginia and No. 10 Ohio State may have a Breaking Bad-style penultimate moment. It is the last weekend to get the chess board aligned before a fantastic regular season ending Week 13.

Let’s get to some Week 12 winners!

This column will leverage The Action Network power ratings and plenty of advanced stats from Football Outsiders.

Be sure to check out my Sunday Morning Coffee column for our Week 12 projected spreads. Let’s get to the picks!

YTD: 49-49-1

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All data below as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network app to get real-time odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.

College Football Betting Picks, Week 12

Ohio State at Maryland

  • Spread: Maryland +14.5
  • Over/Under: 58.5
  • Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ABC

Ohio State has been an easy team to cap for most of the season. If an opponent has advantages in the explosiveness department, the Buckeyes will have issues stopping it. Purdue beat Ohio State 49-20 thanks to Boilermakers wide receiver Rondale Moore. Currently, the Buckeyes rank 115th overall in defensive IsoPPP.

The Buckeyes find themselves in a sandwich situation after a win against Michigan State with overlook to their biggest rival in Michigan. Maryland comes to town after a dramatic two weeks off the field with DJ Durkin getting fired and losing quarterback Kasim Hill for the season. But Maryland may have one of the most explosive backup quarterbacks in the nation with Tyrrell Pigrome.

Piggy has been around for a few years and taking over at quarterback should not affect Maryland’s quest for six wins and a bowl game. Ohio State is 105th in defending rush explosiveness, while Pigrome is averaging 6.3 yards per carry in 32 rushes this season.

Play On: Maryland +14.5

Northwestern at Minnesota

  • Spread: Minnesota -2
  • Over/Under: 47.5
  • Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: Big Ten Network

As I said in my Sunday Morning Coffee piece, Minnesota may be in the best spot of the year. Northwestern is celebrating a Big Ten West title. All the conversation within the team and media is about the trip to Indianapolis to play for the conference championship, but nobody is discussing a trip to TCF Bank Stadium.

Minnesota also fired defensive coordinator Robb Smith, which had immediate results against Purdue.

Minnesota now has five wins and plenty of motivation to get to a bowl in head coach PJ Fleck’s second season. The Gophers played tremendous defense against an explosive Purdue offense. The Boilermakers were limited to no plays over 20 yards, an average of 2.9 yards per carry, and sacked three times.

The Northwestern offense should not be confused with Purdue, ranking 109th in offensive S&P+. We’ll get Minnesota’s best effort against a Northwestern team that may have its feet kicked up until Indianapolis.

Play On: Minnesota -2

Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss

  • Spread: Southern Miss +1
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: Stadium

Southern Miss has played great defense in recent weeks, limiting its last four opponents (UAB, Marshall, Charlotte, UTSA) to 225 total yards or fewer. That has given the over in this game some value. The Action Network totals projection have this game at 55.

The run rates of both teams is what should drive this game total into the 50’s. Louisiana Tech’s run rate ranks are 75th in standard downs and 113th in passing downs, so the clock will be stopped often.

The Bulldogs also rank top 25 in red zone points per attempt (5.37). Even with a lower adjusted pace, Southern Miss loves to target Quez Watkins as much as possible — he’s got nine touchdowns and over 700 receiving yards on the year.

Southern Miss runs even less frequently than Louisiana Tech, ranking 116th in standard downs and 100th in passing downs. In last week’s loss to UAB, not one rusher for the the Golden Eagles had more than nine attempts on the ground.

Expect both sides to throw early and often, which will lead to plenty of clock stoppage.

Play On: Over 47

West Virginia at Oklahoma State

  • Spread: Oklahoma State +5
  • Over/Under: 72
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ABC

Bedlam was the most entertaining game in Week 11 and proved Oklahoma State can hang with any team in the Big 12. Since a mid-October bye week, the Pokes have beaten Texas and lost to Baylor and Oklahoma by a combined five points.

If you can go to Norman and have the chance to upset the Sooners on the last play of the game, surely you can cover points at home against West Virginia.

West Virginia comes to Stillwater at No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but its strength of schedule sits at 91st. The Mountaineers’ last three road games haven’t been easy with a last second, 2-point conversion to beat Texas, a loss at Iowa State, and a one score victory over Texas Tech, which had three turnovers.

One of the keys to Oklahoma State’s success this weekend will be the passing game. The Cowboys are 31st in passing downs and specifically No. 8 in efficiency. That is important for a team that has a standard downs run rate of 96th, meaning even in running situations, Oklahoma State likes to throw the ball.

The weakness of West Virginia is its defensive S&P+ rank of 80th in passing downs, specifically 112th in efficiency. Oklahoma State should be able to make this another nail biting final with a 2-point conversion to decide the winner.

Play On: Oklahoma State +5

Boston College at Florida State

  • Spread: Florida State +1.5
  • Over/Under: 49
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ESPN2

Fading teams off a loss that crushes hopes of a division title has been money in 2018. Last week, Kentucky couldn’t rebound from a loss to Georgia, as the losing outright to Tennessee. After losing to Georgia in a game that would help determine the SEC East, Florida went on to drop another game to Missouri. Oregon’s loss to Washington State sealed its fate in the Pac-12 North, and now the Ducks have four total losses in conference.

Boston College falls into a similar situation, but this time it may be without quarterback Anthony Brown, who suffered an abdominal injury against Clemson. Star running back AJ Dillon aggravated an existing ankle injury in the fourth quarter, leaving him day-to-day for the Florida State game. Both players practiced this week, but it is unknown if they will be limited if they return to action.

Florida State has an improving rush defense, ranking 45th in rush S&P+. The key part of those statistics is opportunity and stuff rate, where the Seminoles rank 36th and 43rd respectively. That should be enough to get into the Eagles backfield and cause havoc. Boston College has an offensive line that ranks 93rd and 97th in opportunity and stuff rate.

Florida State can take advantage of the Boston College hangover.

Play On: Florida State +1.5

Tulsa at Navy

  • Spread: Navy -6
  • Over/Under: 53
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS Sports Network

When this game hit the board, I could only think of how these might be the two teams with the worst offensive first quarters in all of college football. The box scores show these teams just don’t get off the bus in the first half.

In eight of its nine FBS games, Tulsa has scored 13 points or fewer in the first half. Three times, the Golden Hurricane have produce zero first half points, including last weekend against Memphis.

Navy hasn’t fared much better, scoring 10 or fewer points in the first half in seven of its past eight games. The Midshipmen have scored three total points in the first half of their past three games.

My totals projection for Week 12 have this game at 47 points, giving value to the current number across the board. No first half line is available as of this writing, but there will be an investment on the first quarter and first half under, as well.

As for the side, Navy favored by six points is just too many. The Action Network power ratings dictate this game should be Navy -5, while S&P+ has Navy -1. There isn’t much to write home about the Golden Hurricanes rush defense, or that they have faced the triple option this season, though.

Tulsa is 68th in rush defense S&P+ and sport an unspectacular defensive line havoc rate of 101st. Navy isn’t much better in the same statistics, ranking 98th in rush defense S&P+ and 120th against rush explosiveness.

Look at both teams’ run rate in standard and passing downs, top 20 in the nation, to make this game completely ground-based. That gives value to the under and the underdog with inflated points.

Play On: Under 53 and Tulsa +6

Arizona at Washington State

  • Spread: Washington State -10.5
  • Over/Under: 62.5
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ESPN

This #Pac12AfterDark game will have plenty of meaning if Colorado defeats Utah earlier in the day. The Pac-12 South division has three teams tied atop the standings, with the Utes remaining conference game slated for an early kick against the Buffaloes.

There is plenty for Colorado to play for, as head coach Mike MacIntyre is expected to be fired at the end of the season. If Colorado beats Utah, Arizona can win the South with a victory in Pullman and next week against Arizona State. That is good news for a Wildcats team that has a healthy Khalil Tate under center off a bye week.

The Cougars can lose this game and still win the Pac-12 North, too. The Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State will be played on a short week in Pullman, with the winner representing the division in Santa Clara. A loss here only affects an outside shot at the College Football Playoff for the Cougars.

Backing the Arizona offense is self-explanatory, but it’s the defense that deserves a call out. The Wildcats are 22nd against explosiveness in passing downs, good enough for a defensive back havoc ranking of 33rd.

Wazzu quarterback Gardner Minshew thrives in passing downs and is protected by an offensive line that is ranked first in sack rate. Arizona faced Oregon’s Justin Herbert in October and allowed just 186 yards and a 50% completion rate.

While Arizona should supply points, it’s the back seven of the defense that will get this cover to the window.

Play On: Arizona +10.5

UNLV at Hawaii

  • Spread: Hawaii -6.5
  • Over/Under: 70
  • Time: 11:00 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: Stadium

The stat sheet for these two teams is truly remarkable. Plenty of Mountain West criticism revolves around ‘defense-optional’ teams, and Hawaii and UNLV are going to do their best on the island to prove that theory.

When looking at totals, one of the first places to start is run rate. UNLV has been a mix of both run and pass depending on who is under center, but still boasts an adjusted pace ranking of 27th. Hawaii has no interest in running the ball with rankings of 127th and 107th in standard and passing downs, respectively.

The biggest news for UNLV is the return of quarterback Armani Rogers. The UNLV rushing attack is No. 8 in S&P+ and 22nd in explosiveness, results of Rogers and running back Lexington Thomas. Heavy rush attacks are not favorable to an over wager, but going against Hawaii’s rush defense that ranks 122nd against explosiveness is a safe bet.

Play On: Over 70

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