College Football Odds Week 12: Picks, Score Predictions for Top 25 Teams

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 15, 2018

Texas' Sam Ehlinger (11) looks to pass the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)
Brad Tollefson/Associated Press

Week 12 of the 2018 college football season features several squads fighting for conference supremacy.

All eyes in the Big 12 will be focused on the Iowa State-Texas and West Virginia-Oklahoma State collisions, both of which could shape the conference championship picture. Ohio State needs a win at Maryland to stay in the Big Ten East hunt. Pittsburgh can claim the ACC Coastal Division title with a victory at Wake Forest.

The stakes are high, adding an extra layer of intrigue to what's always an enjoyable pastime of outsmarting the college football oddsmakers.

We'll spotlight three games with major conference implications, then provide predictions for each contest involving a Top 25 team.


No. 10 Ohio State (-14.5) at Maryland

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

After being embarrassed by Purdue and narrowly avoiding a second straight upset against Nebraska, Ohio State appeared to right the ship last Saturday with a convincing 26-6 win at Michigan State.

The effort was more workmanlike than wondrous, as the Buckeyes led just 7-3 at intermission and 9-6 after three quarters. But a defensive score early in the fourth quarter finally opened the floodgates, and Ohio State rolled to a game-clinching 17-0 advantage in the period.

Maryland is not Michigan State. The Terrapins have lost two in a row and three of their last four, managing a combined three points in losses at Iowa and home against Michigan State.

When these teams met last season, it was a bloodbath for the Buckeyes. They not only held serve with a 62-14 blowout victory on their home field, they outgained the Terps by a preposterous 584-66.

Granted, that outcome has no bearing on this matchup—J.T. Barrett quarterbacked Ohio State for most of that contest, after all—but it did highlight the Buckeyes' overwhelming advantages in terms of skill and athleticism.

Considering Maryland was wobbling even before losing quarterback Kasim Hill to a torn ACL, Ohio State shouldn't have problems keeping itself on track and in Big Ten contention.

Prediction: Ohio State 45, Maryland 23


No. 9 West Virginia (-4.5) at Oklahoma State

Michael Thomas/Associated Press

On paper, this looks like a game the Mountaineers should handle with relative ease.

They've stumbled just once all season—a 30-14 road loss at Iowa State on Oct. 13—and carry a three-game winning streak into Stillwater. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are reeling, having sandwiched a pair of two-game losing skids around their Oct. 27 triumph over Texas.

But the point spread doesn't lie; this game could be closer than you'd think.

Oklahoma State boasts an explosive offense. Just ask Oklahoma, which surrendered 47 points and 640 yards of total offense to the Cowboys last Saturday. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius leads the Big 12 with 3,123 passing yards, running back Justice Hill sits second with 930 rushing yards and wide receiver Tylan Wallace holds top-three rankings in receiving yards (1,272, second) and touchdowns (nine, tied for third).

That said, West Virginia counters with a defense ranked among the nation's 20 best in yards allowed (3,188, 19th). And if this game does become a shootout, the Mountaineers have the weaponry to sprint with the best of them. Senior quarterback Will Grier has tallied 31 touchdown tosses against eight interceptions, and three different receivers have at least 37 catches for 600-plus yards.

Look for Oklahoma State to keep things tight, but West Virginia to pull away late on the strength of Grier's arm.

Prediction: West Virginia 41, Oklahoma State 30


No. 16 Iowa State at No. 15 Texas (-3)

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 10: Running back David Montgomery #32 of the Iowa State Cyclones rushes for yards in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Ames, Iowa. The Iowa State Cyclones won 28-14 over the Baylor Bears. (Photo by Da
David K Purdy/Getty Images

If you aren't familiar with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, the NFL is already ahead of you.

"Lincoln Riley is the hottest name, right, but Matty [Campbell] is the next one you hear about a lot," a former NFL general manager told Bleacher Report's Matt Miller. "Everyone you talk to raves about his character, his energy and how his players respond to him."

This is only Campbell's third season in Ames, and he's already transformed this team from a Big 12 afterthought into a legitimate contender. The Cyclones won just three games in his first year, eight in the next and already have six this season—including wins over then-ranked Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

Iowa State pairs the country's 22nd-best scoring defense (20.4 points allowed per game) with an offense featuring NFL prospects at running back (David Montgomery) and wide receiver (Hakeem Butler), plus an electric option at quarterback in freshman Brock Purdy, who's 5-0 since taking over early in the Oklahoma State game.

But only two of those weapons will be available for the first half of this outing. Montgomery—the fourth-ranked running back in the 2019 NFL draft class, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper—is suspended for the first half of this game after an altercation with Baylor defensive end Greg Roberts last Saturday.

The Longhorns aren't great against the run (143.9 yards allowed per game, 47th), but they might not have to be as long as Montgomery is sitting. And who knows, maybe Texas' offense can mitigate Montgomery's second half return by pulling ahead early.

Longhorns sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger has this group clicking on all cylinders. He hasn't thrown an interception since the season opener—he has 20 touchdown throws against just two picks—and has helped this club score at least 35 points in three straight weeks.

And Ehlinger is far from a solo act. Massive wide receivers Lil'Jordan Humphrey (6'4", 225 pounds) and Collin Johnson (6'6", 220 pounds) tower over nearly every defensive back they face. Together, the duo has collected 113 receptions for 1,622 yards and 12 touchdowns.

This feels like a coin flip, which might normally nudge prognosticators toward the home team. But there's something special about the Purdy-led Cyclones, who own a massive 173-104 scoring edge since making the quarterback change.

Prediction: Iowa State 38, Texas 34


Remaining Top 25 Predictions

No. 1 Alabama (-51) 55, The Citadel 6

No. 2 Clemson (-28.5) 52, Duke 20

No. 3 Notre Dame (-10.5) 38, No. 12 Syracuse 24

No. 4 Michigan (-28.5) 51, Indiana 17

No. 5 Georgia (-41.5) 55, Massachusetts 10

No. 6 Oklahoma (-36) 59, Kansas 17

No. 7 LSU (-42.5) 45, Rice 0

No. 8 Washington State (-9.5) 38, Arizona 24

No. 11 UCF (-7) 38, No. 24 Cincinnati 33

No. 13 Florida (-40) 42, Idaho 10

No. 14 Penn State (-28) 38, Rutgers 7

No. 17 Kentucky (-16) 31, Middle Tennessee 21

No. 18 Washington (-33.5) 48, Oregon State 9

No. 19 Utah (-7) 34, Colorado 27

Florida State 23, No. 20 Boston College (-1.5) 20

No. 21 Mississippi State (-21) 38, Arkansas 16

Minnesota (-1) 24, No. 22 Northwestern 21

No. 23 Utah State (-28) 41, Colorado State 14

No. 25 Boise State (-19.5) 42, New Mexico 17


Odds used courtesy of OddsShark.