We have reached the final full college football slate of the year.
That’s a tough sentence to spit out, if I’m being honest. While we still have an abundance of picks to make for conference championship games, bowl games and the College Football Playoff, our options will soon be limited.
When it comes to our picks against the spread, it’s been one heck of a run. Week 12, however, wasn’t exactly stellar, and we stumbled into a losing record. It wasn’t horrible, though it certainly wasn’t good.
As for the season, we’re still in stellar shape. Entering Week 13, we’re 63-46-4 ATS. Still, we need a strong close to set up a strong bowl season.
Before we get to the Week 13 picks, here’s what went right and wrong last weekend.
The Good: Baylor (+2.5) vs. TCU
It never felt like a sure thing, even until the very end. Betting against TCU will do that. Though Baylor was unable to pull off the upset, it still felt good covering a game with such a bizarre point spread.
The Bad: SMU (+3.5) vs. Tulane
This bet felt like a loser in about 11 minutes. SMU essentially made every mistake a football team can make, and Tulane absolutely blasted the Mustangs. No excuses. This one was just an enormous whiff.
Here are this week’s picks. Also, have a wonderful holiday week and weekend.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings and accurate as of Wednesday.
Clemson (-14.5) vs. South Carolina
First and foremost, kudos to South Carolina.
Last weekend’s win over Tennessee was one of the more stunning results we’ll see all season. Spencer Rattler was superb, and Shane Beamer once again found some magic.
A week later, and the oddsmakers don’t exactly envision an encore. Neither do I. Given how mixed the public perception has been this year regarding Clemson, the Gamecocks should have plenty of betting support.
Yes, South Carolina was brilliant. But the game was at home, and the Tennessee defense was a mess. That is not taking away anything from Rattler or the South Carolina offense; it was in a wonderful rhythm. But this Clemson defense is likely to present a much different challenge.
I would prefer to get the Tigers as a 14-point home favorite, though I will bet them even with the hook. Dabo Swinney’s team inches closer to the playoff with a convincing win over a hot team.
Oregon State (+3) vs. Oregon
Amid a slew of meaningful rivalry games, please don’t lose sight of this gem.
Oregon and Oregon State are both relevant, and that will contribute to a fascinating matchup between two capable teams.
For the Ducks, it starts with Bo Nix. The transfer quarterback played last week after rumors swirled that he was likely to miss the game with an injury. He started, though he was clearly in a great deal of discomfort by the end.
I refuse to play doctor or guess on the status of a player, though I feel safe saying Nix likely won’t be 100 percent in this matchup. (That is if he plays.)
Regardless, Oregon State is a force. The Beavers have covered the spread in their last five games, and they have not lost a game against the spread at home.
That theme continues another week at just the right time.
LSU (-10) vs. Texas A&M
Normally, I would be all over Texas A&M.
Regular readers of this weekly piece know how much we appreciate underdogs in these types of games. It is normally our blueprint, and it has been largely successful.
This week, however, I’m siding with the public.
The masses will line up to bet against the Aggies, and I will be at their side. I simply cannot back this program right now—not after it struggled against woeful UMass and a stadium normally full of life was empty by halftime.
A&M is in desperate need of an offseason. And while LSU might be focusing on Georgia, it won’t matter. Jimbo Fisher’s football program has reached rock-bottom, and I cannot envision it finding life this week.
It goes against my contrarian betting style, and I am at peace with it.
LSU wins this game by double digits. Let’s not overthink it.
Texas Tech (+2) vs. Oklahoma
The Sooners were good to us last week, and we are appreciative of it.
Oklahoma jumped out to a 28-0 lead against Oklahoma State, and it felt like a lopsided game was to follow. From there, the Sooners offense hit a lull, and we had to hang on to a cover at the very end.
That game (and second half) serves as a solid backdrop for this week, and a frisky Texas Tech squad is waiting.
The Red Raiders have won two straight, and they’ll head home for their final regular season game. In front of their own fans this year, Texas Tech is 4-2 against the spread.
For Oklahoma, it’s an interesting spot. It’s been an underwhelming year for Brent Venables in his debut season, and this feels like a potential letdown spot after a rivalry win.
The motivation—or specifically the lack of—is one of a handful of factors that push me toward Texas Tech. Well, that and the fact that the Red Raiders might be a better team right now.
James Madison vs. Coastal Carolina (Over 53.5)
This point spread, which is robust, has had me baffled all week. James Madison is nearly a two-touchdown favorite over a solid Coastal Carolina squad, and I have wrestled with my opinion on that.
What I haven’t wrestled with is this simple philosophy: There will be points.
James Madison is ranked in the top 20 in scoring offense, and Coastal Carolina, which ranks No. 44, can certainly score as well.
Plus, neither defense is ranked in the top 35, which means we could see a fair number of touchdowns.
If I were leaning one way, I would lean toward James Madison. The offense is more potent, and Coastal Carolina might struggle on that front.
Regardless, I believe there will be enough offense for this over, which feels lower than it should be, to cash.
Other Games On the Card
Missouri (+3) vs. Arkansas
This could be an incredibly fun SEC game, and the Tigers feel live. While Arkansas is coming off a convincing win over Ole Miss, Missouri has been a tougher team at home. Just ask Georgia. Mizzou covers and wins outright.
Arizona vs. Arizona State (Over 65.5)
Both teams have flashed this year, especially on the offensive side. Defensively, Arizona and Arizona State are a wreck. The Wildcats rank No. 125 in scoring defense; the Sun Devils rank No. 107. That is exactly what we seek in an over.
SMU (-4.5) vs. Memphis
SMU, you owe us. That is not a gambling strategy, but it is where I stand emotionally. More than that, however, I expect the Mustangs to deliver a strong response at home. Memphis hasn’t been on the road since Week 8, and the awakening will be rude.
Kentucky (-3) vs. Louisville
It’s been a tale of two seasons for these teams. Louisville, which started poorly, has really come on. Kentucky, which started strong, has faded. Still, the Wildcats defense played well against Georgia, and it should do enough to beat its rival to close the year.
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