Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck and linebacker Jonathan Celestin
- Our 10 college football experts give their favorite betting picks for Week 12 of the 2018 season.
- You'll find a few favorites, some underdogs and even an moneyline underdog to back in this week's selections.
Tin horn weekend has arrived! And while nobody is dreaming of a potential FCS upset over one of the FBS teams, a few pretty significant FCS underdogs have pulled off the rare feat in the past, including these seven since 2007:
- Liberty (+34) won at Baylor in 2017
- Howard (+45.5) won at UNLV in 2017
- Citadel (+22) won at South Carolina in 2015
- Georgia Southern (+28.5) won at Florida in 2013
- Jacksonville State (+29) won at Ole Miss in 2010
- James Madison (+33) won at Virginia Tech in 2010
- And of course, Appalachian State (+33) won at Michigan in 2007
You just never know. Always expect the unexpected in college football. Regardless, bettors don’t need the marquee matchups to get excited about a college football Saturday in November.
To help narrow down your final bets, we asked ten of our staffers for their one favorite Saturday pick for Week 12. Hopefully, the supporting information can help guide you to a winner or two that wasn’t on your radar.
We will get things started with two noon kicks and then work our way into a few late afternoon games before finishing up with two of the most highly-anticipated games of Week 12 in primetime. And as always, don’t forget about the quick grabs at the end, where you will find two additional sides and an underdog moneyline shot.
We hope you at least pick up one key nugget of information that can help you make a more informed wagering decision. I think you’ll find plenty. Let’s jump in.
In case you’re curious, our staff’s favorite college football bets are 65-63-2 +1.85 units on the season
Collin Wilson: Minnesota -2 (vs. Northwestern)
12 p.m. ET on BTN
Minnesota may be in its best spot of the year. Northwestern is celebrating a Big Ten West division title, so all of the conversation within the team and media is about the trip to Indianapolis to play for the conference, but nobody is discussing a trip to TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota 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 last weekend. The Boilermakers didn’t have a play that went for more than 20 yards, averaged of 2.9 yards per carry, and allowed three sacks.
Northwestern’s offense hasn’t put up the numbers Purdue has, ranking 109th in offensive S&P+. This will be Minnesota’s best effort against a Northwestern team that may have its feet kicked up.
Stuckey: Minnesota -2 (vs. Northwestern)
12 p.m. ET on BTN
If you listened to either one of our podcast episodes this week, you know both Collin and I have no shortage of love for the Gophers this weekend. I just don’t see how head coach Pat Fitzgerald will have his team up for this meaningless noon kick against a motivated Minnesota team. Situational dream.
Even if Minnesota’s defensive performance last week was more of a fluke, Northwestern is not the team that will expose its prior issues with defending explosiveness. The Wildcats rank 125th in the nation in IsoPPP+ (S&P adjusted measure of explosiveness).
Lastly, don’t forget about the special teams unit, which has been dreadful for Northwestern all season, while Minnesota has excelled in that third phase all season. Per S&P+, Northwestern’s special teams unit ranks 125th nationally, while Minnesota ranks 15th.
Danny Donahue: Mississippi State -21.5 (vs. Arkansas)
Noon ET on ESPN
My reason for laying the points with the Bulldogs here is twofold: I think bettors are underrating Mississippi State, and overreacting to Arkansas’ seven-point loss to No. 7 LSU last week.
When the public decides to fade a home favorite, betting that favorite has been a profitable move. According to our Bet Labs data, when the point spread is between four and 30 points, the contrarian favorite has gone 54-32-0 (63%) against the spread since 2005.
Over that same span, when the public backs an unranked squad coming off an impressive performance against a top-10 team (judged by keeping a double digit spread to a margin of a touchdown or less), that team has gone 21-41-2 (33%) ATS in its next game.