Best bets, picks for Week 13 college football
Welcome to Week 13 of the college football season.
Each week, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on select games.
We had a terrific 8-4 showing in Week 12, and we’re looking to ride that wave into Week 13. Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night. Go to VSiN.com for Betting Splits and live odds across the college football market.
Season record: 58-59-1
Friday, 3 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Arizona’s players probably have a long memory when it comes to the Territorial Cup. This is the Wildcats’ best shot at knocking off their in-state rivals after losing 38-15 last season and 70-7 two years ago. Arizona State has won five straight in this rivalry, but this may be Arizona’s best chance in a while to have the upper hand.
Arizona State got a temporary bump when Herm Edwards was fired, but that excitement has dwindled, and a lot of changes are coming after the season. Meanwhile, Arizona is building in a positive direction under Jedd Fisch, and you know that the team would like to punctuate the season in a big way at home. The Wildcats failed to follow up their big win against UCLA with a good performance, but they outgained Washington State 441-354 in last week’s 31-20 loss. The problem was that Jayden de Laura threw four interceptions, including a pick-six.
With bowl eligibility off of the table, this is like a bowl game for both teams, but Arizona is the better team and likely the more invested team with a whole lot of revenge on their minds.
Pick: Arizona -4
Friday, 3:30 ET
Tim Murray: Last week, my favorite bet was Arkansas +2.5 against Ole Miss. Sam Pittman and the Hogs took care of business, winning 42-27. The Razorbacks led 35-6 at halftime and were up 42-6 after three quarters. QB KJ Jefferson returned from injury and threw for three touchdowns in the victory. RB Raheim Sanders rushed for 232 yards and three scores. Sam Pittman improved to 14-6 ATS as an underdog at Arkansas, and he was ready to celebrate following the victory on Senior Night in Fayetteville.
While Friday afternoon is a rivalry game (The Battle Line Rivalry), this could be a let down spot for the Razorbacks. Arkansas just dominated nationally ranked Ole Miss and clinched bowl eligibility in the process. Now the Razorbacks need to travel on short rest and play Missouri. The Tigers cruised past New Mexico St. last week, 45-14. There is no doubt Missouri spent time last week throwing in some wrinkles to prepare for Arkansas. In year three of the Eli Drinkwitz era, Missouri would clinch a bowl berth for a third consecutive year with a win.
In addition to playing for bowl eligibility, Missouri’s defense has proven to be more than capable this season, especially at home. This season, the Tigers led Georgia in the fourth quarter this season before ultimately falling, 26-22 and held Auburn to just 82 rushing yards. Missouri has averaged 195.6 rushing yards per game and used that ground game to cruise past South Carolina, 23-10, at home.
The Tigers are 36th nationally in rushing defense. Missouri will have its hands full against the Arkansas rushing attack, but I expect Missouri to be the more motivated team on Friday afternoon in Columbia. The Tigers will also look to avenge last year’s 34-17 loss to Arkansas.
Pick: Missouri +3
Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: Last week the Gators went to Vanderbilt and not only failed to cover as 14-point favorites, but also lost outright. Meanwhile, the Seminoles have won and covered four straight games and are now ranked 16th in the country. Nevertheless, the talent on these two rosters is very equal and this line has risen too high.
Florida actually outgained Vanderbilt 445-283 last week. The Gators fumbled a punt into their own end zone for a Vanderbilt touchdown, plus had an interception in their own territory that led to a one-play Vandy touchdown drive.
Florida State has won and covered four straight but have done so against Georgia Tech, at Miami, at Syracuse, and vs. Louisiana. The first two games on this winning streak were against backup quarterbacks, and then the Seminoles won at Syracuse, who was on a three-game losing streak at the time. The last game was against Louisiana, where current Gators coach Billy Napier was the head coach until the last offseason.
This is the classic “buy low, sell high” spot.
Pick: Florida +10
Friday, 10 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Much like Boise State in the above game, Fresno State doesn’t have anything to play for this week. They have already clinched a spot in the MWC Championship Game and will face Boise State. However, one player seems to have a lot to play for this week—quarterback Jake Haener. The senior talked earlier in the week about how emotional it will be to play his final game as a Bulldog and how much the program means to him.
Another senior who will be leaving is Jalen Moreno-Cropper, who has an NFL future ahead of him. He has caught 72 passes for 971 yards this season but has only found the end zone five times. Four have come in the last three games, and he has had 200 receiving yards in the last two games. While Fresno State won’t be reckless with the two best players on the team, those guys will want to play in their final home game, and my guess is that Jeff Tedford will let them play about a half if they have a lead.
Wyoming has to be deflated after last week’s loss to Boise State, which could have won them the Mountain Division. Instead, they’ll have to settle for whichever bowl game comes their way. I think Fresno State looks to start fast here and let Haener put on one last show for the hometown crowd while the Cowboys have some issues getting off the mat.
Pick: Fresno State 1H -7.5
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: James Madison has had a terrific first season in FBS but because it is its first season in FBS, the Dukes are ineligible to play in the postseason. One would have to think that JMU is treating this one as its ex-officio bowl game. It is also Senior Day in Harrisonburg. Senior Day is, more often than not, a melancholy and sad day, but it might be inspiring for a senior class that has led the transition from FCS to FBS for the Dukes program.
This game would be for a spot in the Sun Belt Championship Game, but Coastal Carolina is already locked into the game as the East Division’s representative.
Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall, the two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year, is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. McCall set an FBS record last season for passing efficiency with a 207.6 rating, surpassing a record set by Alabama’s Mac Jones in the 2020 season.
This is James Madison’s opportunity to make a statement that they are here to be THE program in the Sun Belt going forward.
Pick: James Madison -14
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Indiana really impressed me last week. Michigan State had five wins and seemed to have a handle on bowl eligibility with a 24-7 lead at halftime, but Shaun Shivers went 79 yards to give Indiana life on their first possession of the second half. Eventually, Indiana won 38-31 in double overtime to keep Sparty from getting to the magic number of six.
Indiana certainly hasn’t quit on the season and now draws a rivalry game matchup against a Purdue team that doesn’t deserve to be this big of a favorite. The Boilermakers need a win and an Iowa loss to represent the Big Ten West against the winner of Ohio State vs. Michigan, but Purdue has had some fortunate wins and unimpressive losses recently. My line on the game is Purdue -5, even though I’ve been pretty low on Indiana for most of the season. Purdue’s only win by 11 or more points came against FCS Indiana State back on Sept. 10. This team plays a ton of close games, and another one wouldn’t shock me here.
Pick: Indiana +10.5
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: A game sure to be on everybody’s radar is the Sun Belt clash between Southern Miss and UL Monroe. The Golden Eagles are one of 16 teams with five wins heading into this week’s games, so bowl eligibility is on the board for the road favorites. However, I don’t see a reason to believe in Southern Miss.
Over the last seven games, Southern Miss has averaged just 4.46 yards per play. For the season, this is a team with just 4.64 yards per play against FBS opponents. Louisiana-Monroe does have a questionable defense that has allowed 6.12 yards per play, but those numbers are skewed by facing Texas and Alabama. Against Sun Belt foes, the Warhawks have only allowed 5.8 yards per play. That isn’t that far off from the 5.63 YPP Southern Miss has allowed in seven conference games.
Offensively, the Warhawks have gained 1.2 more yards per play in conference action than the Golden Eagles. Ultimately, aside from Southern Miss vying for bowl eligibility—something they’ve failed to get in each of the last three games after starting 5-3—there isn’t a whole lot separating these two teams, so why is Southern Miss laying over a field goal on the road? Terry Bowden is doing a hell of a job in Monroe, and I think he adds another upset to finish the season.
Pick: Louisiana-Monroe +3 (with a moneyline sprinkle)
Saturday, 3:30 ET
Tim Murray: Last year, UTSA entered the final week of the regular season ranked #22 in the country with a perfect 11-0 record. The Roadrunners had also clinched home-field advantage in the C-USA Championship game. UTSA opened as a 13-point favorite at 5-6 North Texas and closed -8.5. A motivated North Texas squad, playing for bowl eligibility, steamrolled UTSA, 45-23. The Roadrunners did not play a handful of starters the majority of the game, and the following week, UTSA won the C-USA Championship game. Fast forward to Saturday.
For a second straight year, UTSA has clinched the C-USA regular season crown and will host the C-USA Championship game. The Roadrunners locked up the regular season championship following last week’s 41-7 win over Rice. UTEP enters the game with a 5-6 record. If the Miners upset the Roadrunners, UTEP would reach a bowl in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2004-05. “This is a big game; a win would be outstanding and tremendous,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “It would take us to a bowl game. It’s a great opportunity, a great setting, and I love playing big games on Thanksgiving weekend.”
A concern for UTEP entering this game is the health of starting QB Gavin Hardison. On Monday, Coach Dimel told the media that Hardison practiced and was considered “day-to-day.” Dimel also said the unknown status of Hardison could benefit the Miners. “I’m being honest. It’s an advantage for us if the opponent doesn’t know who we’ll play.”
Blindly betting on teams trying to reach bowl eligibility would not be a winning proposition. It’s a case-by-case basis, but Saturday in San Antonio seems like a spot to back a hungry dog. Additionally, Jeff Traylor has a short week to prepare his team for the C-USA Championship next Friday. Win or lose, nothing changes for UTSA on Saturday while a whole lot is on the line for the Miners. The Roadrunners set a precedent in a similar spot last year so I will take the points with the Miners.
Pick: UTEP +17
Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: TCU continues to live dangerously for the College Football Playoff, where they remain in the No. 4 spot. The Horned Frogs are already locked into the Big XII Championship Game, but this week is a different kind of pressure. Surely TCU is motivated to have an undefeated regular season in Sonny Dykes’ first season in Fort Worth. However, this is their 10th game in 10 weeks and they have won so many close games (the blowout win over Oklahoma is the lone exception) that you wonder how many times TCU can pull the rabbit, or frog, out of the hat?
Injuries are also starting to take their toll as quarterback Max Duggan, running back Keandre Miller, and starting receivers Darius Davis and Quentin Johnston have all been banged up in recent weeks.
It has been a disappointing season in Ames for 4-7 Iowa State. Matt Campbell was at one time the hottest coaching candidate in the country but now everyone, perhaps including Campbell, is wondering if he stayed too long at the fair? While disappointing, the Cyclones are better than their record and have lost every close game this season except in Week 2 at Iowa in the CyHawk Game. Iowa State has lost six games in Big XII play by seven points or less.
Iowa State has the nation’s seventh-best defense in yards allowed per game (264.6 YPG) and eighth-best in points allowed (16.5 PPG). This will be the best defense that TCU has faced all season.
This is a battle of one of the nation’s most fortunate teams (TCU) and one of the nation’s unluckiest teams (Iowa State). Most will look at this spread and think this should be higher. However, we have seen zero line movement towards the TCU side. Furthermore, this is a good situation for Iowa State as Matt Campbell has a 14-3 ATS (82.4%) record as a double-digit underdog.
Pick: Iowa State +10