Week 13 College Football Best Bets | Afternoon Picks for Alabama vs Auburn, Washington State vs. Washington & More
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Alabama’s Jermaine Burton.
- The Week 13 college football slate rolls on as we turn our attention to the afternoon kickoff window.
- Our staff came through with four NCAAF best bets for Saturday afternoon, including picks for Alabama vs Auburn and Washington State vs Washington.
- Read on for all four college football best bets for Saturday afternoon below.
Saturday Afternoon College Football Best Bets
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Saturday's college football slate rolls on to the afternoon.
After some wonderful noon games, our writers came through with four best bets for Saturday afternoon, including picks for Auburn vs. Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Washington vs. Washington State in the Apple Cup and much more.
Read on for all four of our Saturday afternoon college football best bets — and be sure to take a look at our other top picks for Saturday's early and evening kickoff windows.
Alabama needs to continue to win and do it in a convincing manner if it wants to make a push for the College Football Playoff.
It will need some help along the way, but the first order of operations will require beating Auburn on the road.
After Auburn paid $1.8 million to get stomped by New Mexico State last week, anything short of a resounding victory will likely work against Bama in the eyes of the playoff committee.
In what feels like deja vu, the Crimson Tide are set for yet another crash course with Georgia in the SEC Championship. Behind quarterback Jalen Milroe, Alabama has picked up statement wins in recent weeks and looks to be hitting its stride.
Auburn stands in the way of Alabama’s ultimate goal, and irrespective of record, it has always played Alabama exceptionally well.
This year will be no different, although the Tide have continued to improve as the year has progressed, and after a midseason hiccup at quarterback, Milroe’s second act has Alabama back on track.
Auburn has a very good ground game, ranking 22nd in the nation in rushing offense with an average of 194.3 yards per game. However, the Tigers' passing game has been lackluster at best, ranking 121st in the nation, contributing 162.9 yards per game.
This is more than 30 yards less than they get from the ground game and spells big trouble when matching up against a Tide offense that averages 36.5 points per game.
Auburn clearly has issues gaining yards through the air and subsequently translating the passing game into points, so it’s likely it will continue to focus on the run. The problem is that it will be met by the seventh-ranked rush defense in the nation, per PFF.
Alabama is giving up an average of 117.9 yards per game on the ground, and its top-ranked secondary should have no issue shutting down Auburn quarterback Payton Thorne. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Auburn puts up enough points to keep this game close.
I like backing Alabama on the road, as it still has a lot to prove as it makes a case for being included in the coveted group of four.
Perhaps in years past, the Tide have looked past the Iron Bowl and been caught, but I don’t think that will be the case for this go-around. Look for Milroe to pick apart Auburn and cover in this game.
I do think it's important to get this line at under 14. Current markets are actionable at 13, and I think this presents solid value as Alabama goes head-to-head with the 12th-ranked scoring offense in the SEC.
Pick: Alabama -13 (Play to -13.5)
No team in college football has had a better turnaround than Northwestern, which reached bowl eligibility with its win over Purdue this past weekend. The Wildcats have a great chance to get to seven wins when they travel to Champaign for an in-state rivalry with Illinois for their regular-season finale.
Northwestern quarterback Ben Bryant has been really impressive the last two games since returning from injury. He averaged over 8.5 yards per attempt against Wisconsin and Purdue while coming through a +10.59 EPA in those two games as well.
That will be big against an Illinois secondary that has been bad against the pass this season.
The Illini got a break last week facing one of the worst passing attacks in the country, but on the season, the Illini rank 96th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 81st in EPA/Pass Allowed.
Even though Northwestern hasn't moved the ball very effectively this season, it's been really good at finishing off scoring drives. The Wildcats are averaging 4.4 Points per Scoring Opportunity, which ranks 29th in the country.
They've also scored points on 90.2% of their red-zone trips.
Illinois quarterback Luke Altmyer was apparently healthy enough to play against Iowa, but John Paddock will now be the starting quarterback against Northwestern after his 500-yard passing performance against Indiana two weeks ago.
Paddock came back down to earth against Iowa, going 22-for-47 for only 215 yards, and will have another tough matchup against a Northwestern secondary that's top-40 in both Passing Success Rate and EPA/Pass allowed.
Illinois is going to be forced to methodically move the ball in this game because Northwestern simply doesn't allow big plays. The Wildcats are eighth in the nation in explosiveness allowed, while the Illinois offense ranks 111th in explosiveness.
This line is inflated because Northwestern is already bowl-eligible and Illinois needs a win to reach bowl eligibility. However, this is a rare scenario in which I don't think inflating the line for the team that needs to win is warranted.
First, Northwestern has so much positive momentum going with David Braun that I highly doubt it's going to rest on its laurels. Secondly, this is a rivalry game, so I would expect Northwestern to try to keep Illinois from reaching bowl eligibility.
Pick: Northwestern +6 (Play to +5)
By Brett Pund
After the big victory on the road last week with College GameDay in attendance, I’m going to continue to back one of the hottest teams in the country in Appalachian State.
One key advantage for the Mountaineers is going to be with their passing attack. Over the last four weeks, App State ranks in the top five among Group of Five programs in pass success, PPA and explosiveness.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have struggled over this period at defending the pass. Georgia Southern is in the bottom 15 in Defensive Pass Success.
Another stat that tilts this matchup toward the home team is Finishing Drives, where GSU is 122nd on defense. Appalachian State ranks in the top 10 offensively among the G5 in this metric in the last four games.
On the other side of the ball, Georgia State needs to be able to pass the ball to get the Air Raid system to work. However, App State ranks in the top 50 in Pass Success on defense and 16th in the Pro Football Focus coverage ratings.
The last point is how bad the Eagles have played on the road this season. GSU lost by 28 at James Madison and 21 at Texas State and Wisconsin.
This is also the same squad who fell to defeat at Marshall, which was on a five-game losing streak coming into that game. The Herd also scored 38 points after combining for 48 in the previous four contests.
With a trip to the Sun Belt Championship game on the line, I expect Appalachian State to secure another big win on Saturday.
Pick: Appalachian State -9 (Play to -10)
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This is a play on the situational spot in the last Pac-12 edition of the Apple Cup.
Washington heads home after a physically and emotionally draining victory over Oregon State with the Pac-12 title game looming next week.
Meanwhile, the Cougars dominated Colorado last Friday and now head to Seattle with this game basically serving as their Super Bowl.
Wazzu would qualify for a bowl game with a win and would love nothing more than to hand its in-state rival its first loss of the season.
Cameron Ward is one of the best quarterbacks in the country that nobody talks about, and he should be able to have plenty of success against a Husky defense that is very mediocre.
Yes, Michael Penix Jr. and the Washington offense will get theirs, but I think Ward and company are more than capable of hanging around in what will likely be a shootout.
Give me the Cougars to stay inside the number and put a scare into the undefeated Huskies.