College football picks and predictions Week 12

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

November 16, 2023 12:25 PM

Week 12 best bets for Rutgers/Penn State, UCLA/USC

The second-to-last week of the college football regular season has arrived. Next week will be loaded with rivalry games and big matchups before the conference championship weekend. So, this is a week full of situational spots and other things to consider that aren’t exactly quantifiable. Some coaches have been fired and interims are in place. Other coaches have announced their intentions to leave. Others are on very hot seats and their teams are very aware.

In other words, there is a lot happening this week beyond the X’s and O’s and the stats that we have to try and account for, whether that means getting pushed onto a game or getting pushed off of it. It’s a lot to think about for sure.

College Football Odds | Coll​ege Football Betting Splits | College Football Week 12 Hub

(odds as of November 16, 11:00 a.m. PT)

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Penn State Nittany Lions (-20.5, 41)

Penn State is really good in the bully role, as they tend to perform at a high level against inferior competition and can’t really beat any equal or superior squad. Rutgers is not an equal, but Rutgers is also not a team likely to get pushed around by Penn State. The Nittany Lions just fired OC Mike Yurcich, which was likely deserved given how bad the offense has been with some very high-level talent, but it just leads to a lot of questions this late in the year.

Rutgers has only seven points over the last six quarters and was also held to seven points by Michigan, so this is an offense that could just be bad enough to allow Penn State to cover, but this is a Scarlet Knights crew that ranks 10th in yards per play allowed. Penn State’s offense has managed just 4.51 yards per play in Big Ten action.

If we can get seven or 10 points out of Rutgers here, I think they’re safe getting nearly three touchdowns. That certainly would bring the Under 41 into place as well, but with an early kickoff in Unhappy Valley after losing to Michigan and Ohio State again, I don’t think we get much out of the heavy home favorite.

Pick: Rutgers +20.5

UCLA Bruins at USC Trojans (-6.5, 65.5)

Unconfirmed reports are swirling that Chip Kelly will be fired after this week’s game against USC. This is actually the final game of the regular season for USC and the final game that Caleb Williams will play as a Trojan. It would be a major stunner if Williams suits up in whatever bowl game the Trojans get. Brett McMurphy from The Action Network projects them to the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State, while Yahoo has them at the Las Vegas Bowl against Minnesota and Jerry Palm of CBS has them in Sin City against Illinois.

Williams has had a lot of emotional moments this season, but he won’t want his collegiate career to finish with a three-game losing streak and a loss to UCLA. I don’t think his teammates want to send him out that way either.

There is a lot more to this handicap than the unquantifiable factors, though. The Bruins grade very well for the season on defense, but they have allowed 5.7 yards per play to the three ranked opponents that they have faced. While USC is not ranked, this offense is still among the best in the nation. The three ranked foes are Utah, Washington State, and Oregon State, so not even the upper echelon of the Pac-12.

UCLA’s offense has also gotten worse by month, averaging just 4.76 YPP this month after having 5.58 in October. They took advantage of a very weak non-conference schedule to prop up their yardage totals, as they had 8.6 YPP against Coastal Carolina, San Diego State, and NC Central.

Kelly will be fired. UCLA is trending down. Williams is playing his final game. Add it all up and I’ll lay the 6.5 here.

Pick: USC -6.5

Boise State Broncos (-3.5, 64.5) at Utah State Aggies

Boise State just fired head coach Andy Avalos after a 28-point win over New Mexico. The Broncos are still alive for a spot in the Mountain West Championship Game, though they need a lot of help and a win over Air Force to get there. We’ll see how much pride the Broncos have in themselves and the program, as Boise State is 5-5 and hasn’t had a losing season since 1997.

The focus is clearly on next season for Boise State. Rumors circulated that the locker room was pretty toxic under Avalos and the transfer portal gets going the first week of December, so time is of the essence. Furthermore, the team still has a shot in the conference as DC Spencer Danielson takes over. It’s a good job with good resources and a solid athletic department, so it will be a sought-after gig.

As for the players right now, I’m not sure what the mindset is going into this week. Utah State, on the other hand, is playing for a bowl game under a coach that has been pretty universally loved and respected during his career in Blake Anderson. The offense improved with Cooper Legas back at QB. The Aggies have only missed a bowl game once (2016) dating back to 2011 outside of the COVID year where they went 1-5 and fired Gary Andersen.

Boise State ranks 111th in yards per play allowed and the gap between the two teams offensively isn’t very big. Utah State’s defense has been better. I’ll take them getting points here.

Pick: Utah State +3.5

Click here for more expert college football best bets.

back to news

Live On Air

Streaming Now: Sunday Bet Prep

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


The Lombardi Line: If you like Brock Purdy to win NFL MVP, Sunday's Eagles-49ers game is a high leverage spot. The number could get drastically shorts in San Francisco wins. View more tips.

Wes Reynolds: Packers (+5.5) vs Chiefs. View more picks.