When Thanksgiving rolls around, the end of the college football season comes into focus.
Conference championship games are now just weeks away, and the College Football Playoff will be decided in short order.
Enjoy it. All of it.
That message cannot be relayed enough in the weeks ahead. Cherish each and every game—and betting opportunity—because they are dwindling.
As for our CFB picks against the spread, well, we hit a speed bump last week. While we’ve been on fire in recent weeks, our Week 11 performance was not one to remember. For the year, however, we’re still a solid 60-41-4.
This week, we’re getting back on track. Before we do, however, here’s what went right and wrong with the previous picks.
The Good: Oregon State (-14) vs. Cal
The Beavers have been good to us this year, and they were once again. Taking on a feisty Cal team, Oregon State cruised to a 38-10 win. On a Saturday that had very few sure things, this was an exception.
The Bad: Baylor (-3) vs. Kansas State
Dreadful. Not much else to say. Baylor was crushed by Kansas State at home. The oddsmakers took a bath on this one, and so did I. It was so bad that I’ve decided to give Baylor another shot. More on that in a moment.
Here are this week’s picks.
All odds courtesy of DraftKings and accurate as of Wednesday.
Baylor (+2.5) vs. TCU
This could be a very bad idea. Let’s get that disclaimer out of the way right now.
I faded TCU last week, and it did not go well. In fact, fading TCU this year has been a not-so-sound strategy. The Horned Frogs have lost only once against the spread all season.
So, why do this?
For starters, the public is going to be all over TCU this week. Coming off a win against Texas, there's now a real chance that the Horned Frogs could make the playoff. The average gambler is going to look at this line and think to themselves “FREE MONEY.”
Heck, they might not be wrong. Although let's hope they are.
The other piece of this equation is the performance Baylor delivered last week. The Bears lost to Kansas State 31-3 at home, never putting up much of a fight. It was a lackluster performance, which we stated above.
Still, Baylor is much better than advertised. And while TCU deserves credit for overcoming Texas, the offensive line in that game was nothing short of a mess. Having to travel for a second consecutive week could present an interesting challenge.
This one pains me. I would very much like to see TCU make the playoff, but I can’t shy away from one of the more fascinating spreads we will see all year.
Arizona State (+8) vs. Oregon State
Speaking of fascinating point spreads, here’s another.
The Beavers were one of the few teams that won us money last week, which we appreciate. At the same time, this feels like a delicate road game at just the right time.
Arizona State has had a peculiar season. At 3-7, there has been much more bad than good. But one of those three wins came against Washington at home. Given the Huskies’ win against Oregon this past weekend, that result has aged quite nicely.
The Sun Devils’ schedule has certainly been a challenge, and it doesn’t get much easier this week. Oregon State has been solid at 7-3, although the Beavers have yet to beat a top-tier team. (They were close against USC back in Week 4.)
However, timing is everything. With a matchup against Oregon looming, this feels like a potential lookahead game for Oregon State.
Although the Beavers will find a way to win, the ultimate result could wind up being far closer than expected.
Liberty (-9.5) vs. Virginia Tech
Last week was not kind to Liberty. Coming off a win over Arkansas, Hugh Freeze’s team responded with an outright loss to UConn as roughly a two-touchdown favorite.
Also, shoutout to Jim Mora Jr. and those Huskies.
For the Flames, this was a setback. They won six straight heading into that matchup, although it was not to be. A week later, and I expect things to get fully on track.
It is odd seeing Virginia Tech as a double-digit underdog in a game like this, although it isn't wrong. The Hokies have lost seven games in a row, and they haven’t exactly played a gauntlet of unbeatable teams. A program that was so incredibly stable for so long has fallen on hard times, and it will show here.
Granted, it's a lot of points to lay against an ACC team. Many will see it as too much.
But with the Arkansas win and the UConn letdown in the rearview, Liberty gets back on track with a massive win.
SMU (+3.5) vs. Tulane
At the moment, this SMU offense is on fire.
Sure, the Mustangs endured a rough stretch in the heart of the season, but the schedule did them no favors. SMU’s losses this year came against Maryland, TCU, UCF and Cincinnati. Not too shabby.
Entering this week, the Mustangs have won three consecutive games, covering the spread in all three. During that time, they’ve scored 163 points. The 77-point outing against Houston helped boost those numbers.
From a matchup standpoint, all of those points could present an issue for Tulane. The Green Wave were unable to keep pace with UCF last weekend, losing by a touchdown as a short favorite. It wouldn’t shock me to see the same type of game unfold here.
Even coming off a loss, Tulane has lost only twice outright and against the spread this season. It’s been a magical year.
After Thursday night, it will be slightly less magical (although still darned good). SMU covers and pulls the mild upset.
Oklahoma (-7) vs. Oklahoma State
It’s hard to recall a year when Bedlam, one of the greatest rivalries in college football—albeit one that is historically lopsided—has been as understated as this. It isn't a mystery as to why.
Oklahoma has lost five games, which it doesn't do all that often. Oklahoma State, which began the season with a ton of promise, has dropped two of its last three games. (Still, the Pokes are ranked once again.)
Despite their five losses, the Sooners are still a sizable favorite in this game. While that might seem illogical considering Oklahoma just lost to Baylor and West Virginia in back-to-back weeks, it isn’t scaring me.
Quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who wasn’t superb a week ago, should be much better here. And while the Sooners haven't been anywhere close to what we thought they might be, this feels like an opportunity to provide a little joy in an otherwise down year.
Despite last year’s loss, Oklahoma still leads this series 90-19-7. The Sooners add another win to an impressive all-time mark.
Other Games on the Card
Army (-10.5) vs. UConn
We rode the UConn wave last week against Liberty, which was very good to us. This week, we’re backing Army, which is second in the nation in rushing yards. On the other side, the Huskies are allowing 4.2 yards per carry.
Iowa State (-3.5) vs. Texas Tech
Yes, the Cyclones have lost six of their last seven games. However, the fact that the oddsmakers feel strongly about them here is noteworthy. The high temperature on Saturday is forecasted to be 20 degrees, and a team from Texas might not like that.
Pittsburgh (-7.5) vs. Duke
The Pitt defense has allowed only 16 points in the past two weeks, and it will now head back home for Duke. Pittsburgh is simply more explosive, which will ultimately show here.
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