NCAAF Odds, Predictions: Stuckey’s Afternoon Betting Spots for Utah vs. Arizona, NMSU vs Auburn & More (November 18)
Alex Slitz/Getty Images. Pictured: Hugh Freeze and the Auburn Tigers.
Week 12 of the college football season is here, and I have a number of afternoon spots to take a look at for Saturday.
I hope to simply share a few key angles, notable matchups, regression signals and injury situations for each game that hopefully help you make more informed wagers.
All lines referenced are current as of the time of writing, which I bet and logged on the Action App. For your convenience, I included what number I'd play each to in case the market has moved a bit or you read this later in the week.
For full reference of all my spots for Week 12, here's the full piece.
- 2022: 45-20-1 +22.82 units (69.2%)
- 2023: 46-39-0 +2.13 units (54.1%)
- Overall: 91-59-1 +24.95 units (60.7%)
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|2:30 p.m.||Arizona +1.5|
|4 p.m.||Houston +7|
|4 p.m.||Auburn -23|
Arizona +1.5 vs. Utah
2:30 p.m. ET ⋅ Pac-12 Network
Arizona finally didn't get to the window for us last week, primarily due to Colorado's dominance in the field position department.
However, that certainly won't scare me off from going back to the well with my beloved Wildcats.
Believe it or not, both teams head into the weekend still with a chance of making it to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Championship.
However, Arizona has a much likelier path, needing to win out and needing an Oregon State victory over Oregon. Conversely, the Utes need extreme chaos to unfold over the final two weeks of the regular season, as they only get in with a five-way tie for second place.
That's not happening, so Utah has a much greater chance of coming into Tucson a bit deflated after a max effort at Washington that came up just short.
Not only do I believe the market still doesn't give Arizona enough respect, but I also think Utah remains overvalued.
Not only has Kyle Whittingham's bunch lost a number of key starters to season-ending injuries, but it's also benefited from an extremely favorable schedule of opposing quarterback situations, including:
- Almost lost at Baylor with a backup quarterback making his first career start.
- Freshman Dante Moore made his first career in a truly hostile environment in Salt Lake City.
- Graham Mertz was making his first start at Florida in a brand-new offensive system.
- Cal freshman Fernando Mendoza made his first career start in Rice-Eccles Stadium before leaving with an injury.
- Atrocious Arizona State fourth-string quarterback Jacob Conover started behind a decimated offensive line.
My conclusion is Utah's defensive numbers are a bit inflated. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Bryson Barnes has not performed too well on the road this season with just two big-time throws compared to five turnover-worthy plays.
Overall, Barnes, who has been forced into action due to Cam Rising still being sidelined with an injury, has 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions in 2023 despite a 4:9 big-time throw to turnover-worthy play ratio.
Barnes certainly hasn't received any help from an offense that has lost important skill position pieces.
Consequently, it's been all about the ground game for the Utes, who received a boost from two-way freak Sione Vaki. However, Whittingham has cut back his workload of late, wanting him to take the majority of snaps at his natural safety position.
With less Vaki, the rushing attack isn't as explosive, which doesn't bode well for Saturday against an extremely formidable Arizona run defense that has allowed only 3.2 yards per carry on the season to rank 16th among all FBS teams.
I see this game playing out very similar to Arizona's home victory over UCLA a few weeks ago. The Utes won't be able to solely rely on the run and just don't have the personnel to take advantage of Arizona's coverage unit, specifically over the middle of the field.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats' elite pass-blocking offensive line can hold up against another dominant defensive line to give freshman phenom Noah Fifita enough time to exploit the Utah cornerbacks on the outside with Tetairoa McMillan and Jacob Cowing, who should be good to go after leaving last weeks' game.
The extremely balanced Wildcats also have a very respectable rushing attack that will keep the Utah defense honest.
Pick: Arizona +1.5 (Play to -1)
Arizona owns an absurd 22-10-1 ATS (68.8%) record at home vs. ranked opponents since 2005, covering by over 7.5 points per game.
Only Auburn has been more profitable in that role since 2005. That includes a silly 19-6-1 (76%) ATS mark as an underdog.
Houston +7 vs. Oklahoma State
4 p.m. ET ⋅ ESPN2
It's always painful to back the Cougars because you never really know what you're going to get on a weekly basis with a Dana Holgersen team. Sometimes they show up, and other times they look like they've never played football before.
Fortunately, I've had a fairly good read overall on Houston this year — although my approach isn't really rocket science, as I just look to avoid the Coogs as favorites and pick my spots when they're catching points.
Well, I actually think this sets up as a decent opportunity to jump in on Houston, which needs to win out to reach bowl eligibility.
This will also almost serve as its Super Bowl on Senior Day with a chance to ruin Oklahoma State's Big 12 title hopes.
From a matchup perspective, the Houston defense is much stronger against the run, especially since defensive coordinator Doug Belk expanded the rotation of his defensive line. That's critical against explosive Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon II.
The Cougars also got healthier up front — although I'm a bit worried about the status of stud nose tackle Chidozie Nwankwo, who's such a key cog in the interior.
However, even if he can't go, Houston has enough bodies to hold up against Oklahoma State's ground game without having to worry too much about Alan Bowman and a very underwhelming group of wide receivers exploiting its major coverage issues on the back end.
Additionally, I have no problems fading the Pokes for a second straight week even after their blowout loss to UCF at the Bounce House last Saturday, as I still show value in this number.
Plus, keep in mind that they benefited from playing four games in Stillwater during their five-game winning streak while receiving extremely good fortune with opponents going 1-for-12 on fourth down with a -8 turnover margin that led to multiple non-offensive scores and short fields.
Oklahoma State's only road conference win came at West Virginia in a game that ended up pretty even statistically but turned late on several mistakes by the Mountaineers, who led heading into the final frame.
This defense remains vulnerable, and Houston quarterback Donovan Smith can take full advantage, assuming we get the good version.
To continue the regression theme, Oklahoma State's opponents have amazingly converted only 3-of-20 fourth-down attempts for an FBS-low 15% conversion rate.
Meanwhile, the Houston offense, which is a bit more aggressive than most, has one of the nation's lowest conversion rates, having only succeeded on 4-of-20 (20%).
Don't be surprised if Houston converts a number of key fourth downs on Saturday.
Pick: Houston +7 or Better
Oklahoma State lost by 42 last week to UCF. Conference favorites of seven or more points following a straight-up loss of more than five touchdowns have gone just 24-44-4 (35.3%) ATS since 2005, including 0-8 when those teams are ranked.
Auburn -23 vs. New Mexico State
4 p.m. ET ⋅ SEC Network
I've gone on record many times stating that this New Mexico State team is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme that the general betting public will soon realize.
I have to tip my cap to head coach Jerry Kill for getting this roster to the CUSA Championship. Even in one of the worst leagues we've ever seen from top to bottom, getting to eight wins is quite an accomplishment.
However, this is a massive step up in class for an Aggies squad that has played absolutely nobody all season.
If you go by Sagarin's strength of schedule rankings, which include FCS teams, New Mexico State sits at 150th in the country in schedule difficulty. For reference, Southern Utah has had a harder schedule, while Liberty has the next easiest among FBS teams at 133.
Meanwhile, Auburn has a top-30 schedule difficulty with three losses to teams ranked inside the top 30. In comparison, New Mexico State has losses to Hawaii, Liberty and a UMass team that lost by 45 earlier this season in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Additionally, NMSU quarterback Diego Pavia, whose legs are so important to everything this offense does, is questionable with an injury.
It's hard to imagine Kill playing any of his even remotely injured players, especially his starting quarterback, against an SEC defense with a bowl bid and spot in the conference title game already locked up.
Although, if he does give it a go, Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze still has plenty of familiarity with Pavia and this offense from his time with Liberty last season. I also can't imagine Pavia plays too deep into the game once NMSU falls behind by a wide margin if he does suit up.
The talent mismatch in this game is massive, which should lead to a complete blowout, especially since Auburn's offense has finally made strides under Freeze as most expected to happen as the season progressed.
For what it's worth, Auburn does have the Iron Bowl on deck, but it has played a Group of Five or FCS team in this spot five times over the past seven years, winning each by at least 24 points each time with an average margin of victory of more than 42. That includes two contests against current CUSA schools.
Pick: Auburn -23 (Play to -24)
Since 2005, Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze has gone 26-12-1 ATS (73.3%) as a favorite of more than 14 points against FBS teams, which makes him the most profitable among over 200 coaches in that role.