Wilson: My 9 Favorite College Football Betting Picks for Week 13

Wilson: My 9 Favorite College Football Betting Picks for Week 13 article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dexter Williams and Jake Browning

  • Collin Wilson is back with his favorite bets for Week 13's college football slate.
  • He's got three Friday games and six on Saturday, including picks for Michigan-Ohio State and Alabama-Auburn, among other rivalry games.

The regular season comes to a close for most FBS teams in Week 13, with plenty of them motivated to make the postseason, which I touched on in the Sunday Morning Coffee column.

This is also the first weekend where the hierarchy of the College Football Playoff will be threatened in quite some time. Ohio State and Michigan are playing for their national title hopes, while the Iron Bowl starts a potential four-game stretch against quality competition for Alabama.

This is a short week for half the teams in FBS with so many Friday games, so let’s get straight to some Week 13 winners!

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

As mentioned, be sure to check out my Sunday Morning Coffee column for our Week 14 projected spreads.


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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 13

Buffalo at Bowling Green

  • Spread: Bowling Green +14
  • Over/Under: 59
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET (Friday)
  • TV channel: ESPNU

Don’t look now, but Bowling Green has won two straight. The Falcons fired head coach Mike Jinks and coordinator Carl Pelini took over to finish the season.

After the late October bye week, Bowling Green played Kent State close and had straight-up victories as an underdog over Central Michigan and Akron.

Buffalo only needs a victory to make the MAC Championship Game. Head coach Lance Leipold made mention of “finding out what is left in the tank” for Buffalo.

The Bulls will be on back-to-back travel at Bowling Green on a short week, and have lost six of their last 12 games on the road. Buffalo has only played a strength of schedule ranked 124th on the season.

Sign me up for any situation where a Pelini has motivation!

Play On: Bowling Green +14.5

Oklahoma at West Virginia

  • Spread: West Virginia -1.5
  • Over/Under: 81.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)
  • TV channel: ESPN

West Virginia opened as a 2.5-point underdog and is a 1.5-point favorite as of Tuesday morning. Early money indicates West Virginia is going to win this ball game, and if so, it will be required to score non-stop.

WVU has scored at least 41 points in four games since its bye week. It is going to be a wild scene in Morgantown, and expect lots of points.

Oklahoma is first in offensive S&P+, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Kyler Murray. This may be Murray’s last chance to make a statement for the voters. Oklahoma has a knack for avoiding third downs, ranking first in the nation is achieving first down on first or second down, which always leads to more points. The Sooners have scored at least 48 in all five games since their bye week.

The Oklahoma pass defense should help get this total over, since it ranks 125th in pass efficiency and 102nd against completion rate.  Will Grier should have a tremendous success rate against the Sooners. Kick your feet up for this shootout, as the loser will most likely be left out of the Big 12 Championship Game.

Play On: over 81.5

Washington at Washington State

  • Spread: Washington State -3
  • Over/Under: 53
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET (Friday)
  • TV channel: Fox

Washington State obliterated Arizona this past weekend, scoring 55 points by halftime. Gardner Minshew threw for seven touchdowns and 473 yards. The ground game chipped in more than 100 yards and a couple of touchdowns in the blowout.

When Sunday Morning Coffee was published, I was a bit surprised myself to see this game slated as a pick’em. S&P+ agrees with that notion, also making the game in Pullman a pick. The highlights for Washington State are fantastic for a team that is ranked 14th in S&P+ offensively, but Washington may hold the keys to stop Gardner Minshew.

The Huskies have the ninth-ranked S&P+ defense, but more importantly carry the the 29th ranked havoc unit in the secondary. There is also a large discrepancy in red zone defense, with Washington ranking 12th in finishing drives and Washington State ranking 117th in red zone defense.

Washington was dominating the Apple Cup even before Chris Petersen arrived, covering the spread seven of the last eight games in this series.

Play On: Washington +3

Florida at Florida State

  • Spread: Florida State +5
  • Over/Under: 53
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
  • TV channel: ABC

The Gators have covered this series just once in the past five tries, but these are two new head coaches for 2018. At five wins, Florida State has a 36-year bowl season streak on the line after a climactic 22-21 victory over Boston College.

As you can see from the clip above, Deondre Francois and the Florida State offense have shown signs of life after an abysmal start to the season. The offensive line is now 29th in sack rate during passing downs. Surprisingly, Florida State is 10th in standard downs explosiveness, which falls in line with Willie Taggart’s offensive scheme. The defense has been solid for the Seminoles, ranking 30th in rush efficiency and 39th in pass efficiency.

The Gators have also had a solid season at eight wins, forcing at least a push for many of the season win total tickets from early summer. Florida has lived off havoc in most games, ranking 18th overall.

If this game was played two months ago, it would have been a blowout thanks to a porous Seminoles offensive line. While we should see great performances from two solid defenses, expect the Noles to keep it close with some explosive play calling.

I think this line gets to +6, so I’m waiting to play it myself, but would take +5.5, as well.

Play On: Florida State +5.5

Michigan at Ohio State

  • Spread: Ohio State +4
  • Over/Under: 57.5
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
  • TV channel: Fox

The Michigan bandwagon has grown exponentially since the loss to Notre Dame. National title odds were set at 50-1 on the Wolverines after the loss to the Irish, which seemed improbable knowing Michigan had to win out.

I got a 35-1 national title future down on Michigan prior to the Wisconsin game, knowing that only the Ohio State hurdle would keep the Maize and Blue out of the playoff. The love is well deserved, as Michigan ranks second in S&P+ defense, 15th in special teams S&P+ and fourth overall. Still, this is a 12.5 point adjustment from the game of the year at Caesars from Oct. 14.

The theme of 2018 for the Buckeyes has been defending big plays. Or the inability to do it.

Ohio State is 122nd overall in IsoPPP+, specifically 125th against the rush and 130th in passing downs defense. Teams like TCU, Purdue and Maryland exposed the Buckeyes with big plays.

While Michigan is putting up fantastic offensive numbers, ranking 25th in rush S&P+ and seventh in passing S&P+, the Wolverines are not as explosive as the opponents mentioned above. Shea Patterson leads an air attack that is 60th in passing downs explosiveness, while Karan Higdon leads the a rush unit that is 35th in explosiveness on the ground.

In the futures market, I am riding with the Maize and Blue. Michigan has the defensive numbers that would give Alabama plenty of issues in the playoff, but in this Ohio State game, the point spread has been adjusted too much.

The Buckeyes are still one of the most efficient offenses in the nation and can trade punches. Any Ohio State cover and Michigan straight-up victory will be a perfect scenario.

Play On: Ohio State +4

Pitt at Miami

  • Spread: Miami -5
  • Over/Under: 50.5
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ESPN

This is a fantastic spot for the Hurricanes, who are on revenge from their 2017 loss, while Pitt has won the ACC Coastal Division, sending it to the title game next week against Clemson. Miami snapped a four-game losing streak against Virginia Tech with freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry going for two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The key matchup will be the Hurricanes defense against the Pitt rushing offense. Miami is top 10 in the nation in defensive stuff rate and opportunity rate. The Hurricanes should control the trench against a Pitt attack that is 11th in rushing S&P+.

Miami is also first in the nation in overall havoc, specifically third on the defensive line. That should be enough to control the game against a Pitt team that could be looking ahead to Clemson in the ACC title game.

Play On: Miami -5

Auburn at Alabama

  • Spread: Alabama -24.5
  • Over/Under: 53
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

The Citadel had the chance to take the lead early in the third quarter against Alabama before a missed field goal. Alabama did take control of the game, covering the second half line of -28.5, but The Citadel twitter account lived in the glory for as long as possible.

Could there be issues with Alabama that have been masked by a strength of schedule ranked 48th according to S&P+? The Crimson Tide are 68th in defending rush explosiveness, something The Citadel, Arkansas and Louisiana Lafayette exposed.

Let’s be clear — Auburn should not be a threat to win this game, but there are not a lot of differences between the Tigers defense compared to Mississippi State and LSU, which the Tide didn’t blow out. Auburn and Mississippi State are also ranked well ahead of LSU S&P+ offense.

Auburn should limit quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the passing game, as it ranks 16th against passing completion rate and 13th in passing down explosiveness.

Even though this is a rivalry game in the Iron Bowl, will there be overlook to the SEC Championship Game? Alabama could struggle or even drop this game and its status for the College Football Playoff would be unchanged. Auburn has everything to play for in one of college football’s biggest rivalries, but Alabama is looking to get a victory and stay healthy for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Play On: Auburn +24.5

Notre Dame at USC

  • Spread: USC +10
  • Over/Under: 54.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
  • TV channel: ABC

It’s safe to say the buzzards are circling Clay Helton at USC. After a loss to cross town rival UCLA, plenty of Trojan faithful feel that the rest of the Pac-12 South may pass the Trojans by over the next few years with Helton at the helm.

Notre Dame had no issues putting away Syracuse at Yankee Stadium during Week 12. Only a fourth quarter field goal kept the Orange from getting shutout. The Irish almost doubled Syracuse’s total yards thanks to three interceptions.

The advanced stats aren’t pretty for USC in this matchup. The Trojans are outside the top 100 in turnover margin, penalty yards and total first downs. Notre Dame’s defense is ranked third in S&P+, specifically 20th in defensive line havoc rate.

There will be eight days between this game and when the selection committee makes its decision, and I expect Notre Dame to leave a impression when it comes time for seeding the College Football Playoff.

Play On: Notre Dame -10

BYU at Utah

  • Spread: Utah -13
  • Over/Under: 44
  • Time: 10 p.m. ET (Saturday)
  • TV channel: Fox Sports 1

This is a tough situational spot for Utah. The Utes have rallied to win the Pac-12 South, granting them a short week with a Friday night game against the winner of Washington-Washington State in Week 14. The conference championship game will place a team in the Rose Bowl, making me wonder if Utah is all-in for the Holy War or focused on bigger goals for the season.

BYU is first in the nation at defending explosiveness. Combined with an adjusted pace rank of 107th, the game against Utah could be light on points.

Utah is 61st in adjusted pace, and it would not be surprising for head coach Kyle Whittingham to lean on a standard downs run rate rank of 28th to keep things moving. That should give plenty of value on the points with BYU.

Play On: BYU +13

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