College Football Moneyline Underdogs: Our Top Two Picks for Week 12

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Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tyger Goslin.

  • Florida Atlantic travels to face Bailey Zappe and Western Kentucky as a heavy underdog.
  • Meanwhile, Navy faces off against East Carolina in an AAC clash.
  • Stuckey and Collin Wilson break down why they potentially like these two teams to win straight up.

For the past four seasons on our college football betting podcast (now Big Bets on Campus), Collin Wilson and I pick our two favorite moneyline underdogs for each Saturday’s slate.

We should’ve had a second straight sweep last week with Florida State and Tulane, but the Green Wave missed a would-be, game-winning 26-yard field goal in regulation before they inevitably lost in overtime. Oh, so close but OT is where dogs go to die.

Time to shake that off and move on to Week 12 where we’re rolling with one large road underdog and a short home pup.

  • 2018-20: 39-67 +5.1 units
  • 2021: 9-13 -0.4 units

If you’re feeling lucky, a parlay of both pays just over 10-1 odds.

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Wilson: Florida Atlantic +330

  • Spread: Western Kentucky -10.5
  • Over/Under: 64
  • Date: Saturday, Nov. 20
  • Time: Noon ET
  • TV: Stadium
  • Location: Bowling Green, KY

As a former quarterback and head coach of Western Kentucky, this is a big game for current Florida Atlantic head coach Willie Taggart, who helped get the Hilltoppers back to postseason play in the 2012 Little Caesars Bowl before taking off for the same head coaching position at South Florida. Now Taggart returns to his alma mater’s campus, looking to get his newest team to bowl eligibility with a sixth win on the season.

After a bad loss to Old Dominion last week, I expect a fully focused effort here from the Owls. Meanwhile, WKU could get caught peeking ahead a bit to a showdown with Marshall next week that will likely decide the division — even if it loses this game.

Western Kentucky boasts one of the hottest passing offense in the nation, posting more than 40 points in six of its past seven games. The Hilltoppers air raid offense is led by Houston Baptist transfer Bailey Zappe, who leads the nation in Passing Success Rate. Passing downs have been the bread and butter of this offense, which ranks second in Success Rate and 25th in explosiveness in those situations. The go-to man on the outside is Jerreth Sterns, who has 111 catches on the season. Yes, 111.

WKU’s offense is no doubt electric, but Florida Atlantic at least has the talent in the secondary to slow it down a bit. The Owls rank seventh in Coverage and possess a top-20 defensive passing success rate. Florida Atlantic also has held up quite well after teams do move the ball, ranking 10th in defensive Finishing Drives. That could make a major difference here.

If the Owls can force a few punts and field goals, running back Johnny Ford can take care of the rest against a soft WKU defense that ranks dead last in defensive Stuff Rate. The Hilltoppers have struggled against opponents that can move the chains on the ground, which also keeps their offense on the sidelines.

This is a good matchup and spot for a potential large upset I’m willing to take a shot with.

Stuckey: Navy +160

  • Spread: East Carolina -4
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Date: Saturday, Nov. 20
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBSSN
  • Location: Annapolis, MD

The Pirates could lay an egg after an overtime victory against Memphis to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. ECU must now bounce back in its second straight road game just six days before hosting Cincinnati. Tough spot.

Plus, ECU has one single win over a bowl-eligible team, which came in miraculous fashion against Marshall. After trailing 38-21 midway through the fourth quarter, it scored three consecutive touchdowns with an onsides kick recovery mixed in. Marshall also helped out with a missed field goal and a turnover on downs on its final two drives. It was one of the luckiest victories of the season.

Here are the other ECU wins:

  • Charleston Southern (by 3)
  • Tulane
  • USF
  • Memphis (by 1 in OT)
  • Temple

Not exactly a murderer’s row.

Meanwhile, you can always count on Navy to show up. Plus, the Mids should be well-rested after a bye last week. They’ve also played much better since a Week 3 bye, especially at home with a win over UCF and close losses against Cincinnati and SMU. They also won at Tulsa and stayed within one possession against Houston on the road.

Navy has also had the much tougher schedule this season, which has contributed to its poor record. I have Navy with a top-25 strength of schedule so far, while ECU sits outside the top 75.

From a matchup perspective, Navy’s triple-option attack should present a plethora of problems for an ECU defense that has allowed 4.4 yards per rush (92nd). Navy should have some success moving the ball and controlling the clock here.

Lastly, I’d imagine the last thing a team wants to do in a bad situational spot is face a triple-option. I think Navy get its sixth straight win in this series.

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