The final week of the college football regular season has arrived and what a ride it has been. Hopefully my weekly power ratings article and the ratings updates from my colleague Steve Makinen have given you some idea of how to create your own spreads, along with refraining from overreactions about teams on a weekly basis. There are a lot of changes I will be making to my process and what I consider to be important going into next season, but there will be plenty of time to ponder those adjustments.
For now, we’re looking at one last round of games with a lot of different factors in play. Some teams are vying for bowl eligibility. Some are looking for division or conference titles. Some have no stakes, other than personal pride, going out a winner or to send off respected seniors with a victory. Some teams won’t really show up at all. Each game has to be looked at individually for these elements.
The lines are going to be the lines, though. The oddsmakers aren’t interested in how bettors might approach a game. They’re going to trust their numbers, see what influential minds and money have to say and then try to get to the right number as fast as possible, much like they do every week. Just because all of these external handicapping factors are present doesn’t mean any of them are built into the line.
With a lot of intangibles to think about that can’t really be quantified, I use my power ratings less this week than any other week, but they still have a place in my process.
Here are my Week 13 Power Ratings:
Here are the Week 13 adjustments:
Up: Bowling Green +3, Eastern Michigan +2, Western Michigan +2, Florida State +3, Penn State +1.5, South Carolina +3, Duke +2.5, Indiana +2, Virginia Tech +3.5, Maryland +2, Illinois +2, Kentucky +2, Houston +3, Navy +4, App State +2, Georgia State +2, Auburn +4, Georgia Tech +3, UMass +2, UTSA +2, Washington State +2, Oregon State +3, Cal +1.5, Washington +2.5, Vanderbilt +2.5, Arkansas +2, Southern Miss +2, Charlotte +2, Marshall +2.5, Hawaii +3, San Diego State +2, Notre Dame +2, Clemson +1.5
Down: Toledo -3.5, Kent State -4, Central Michigan -3, Northern Illinois -2, Tulsa -2, New Mexico -2, Louisiana -2, Rutgers -3, Tennessee -9 (Hooker inj, downgrade), Pitt -2, Michigan State -2, Liberty -4, Miami (FL) -4, Ohio State -2, Michigan -1.5, Purdue -2, Georgia -1, East Carolina -2.5, UCF -3, Old Dominion -2.5, Minnesota -3, North Carolina -2.5, Texas A&M -3, Rice -2.5, Arizona -1.5, Arizona State -2.5, Colorado -2.5, TCU -2.5, Wisconsin -2, UL Monroe -3, Louisiana Tech -2, FIU -4, Arkansas State -2, Boise State -2.5, Nevada -2, South Alabama -3, San Jose State -2, Alabama -1.5, USC -2, Louisville -2
Injury: Toledo -6 (if Finn out), Tulsa -4 (if Brin out), Louisville -6 (if Cunningham out), Akron -6 (if Irons out), Kent State -5 (if Schlee out)
A few notes on the biggest movers:
Tennessee -9: Hendon Hooker didn’t get hurt until the game against South Carolina was basically over, but Tennessee’s College Football Playoff hopes are gone and replacing a Heisman Trophy contender is not easy at all. Based on the line against Vanderbilt, this is a fairly accurate adjustment, but time will tell if it is enough.
Auburn +4: Cadillac Williams isn’t going to get the job, but he sure as hell is making a case to stay on the staff. The Tigers played a rather uninspired first half against Western Kentucky, but dominated the second half en route to a blowout win.
Navy +4: The Middies are really putting together a fine end of the season. It’s too late for them to become bowl eligible, but that was a strong win over UCF on the heels of really good efforts against Notre Dame and Cincinnati. They’re off until Army/Navy on Dec. 10.
FIU -4: I was a little bit too excited about what FIU did in the middle of the season with solid wins over Charlotte and Louisiana Tech. They’ve lost the last three games by a combined score of 144-27 and limp into the season finale against Middle Tennessee with no hopes of bowling.
Liberty -4: I’m not sure if the writing is just on the wall about Hugh Freeze bolting back to a Power Five job or what, but the Flames are more like the Liberty Embers right now after losses to UConn and Virginia Tech. They should roll New Mexico State this week, but they’re going in the wrong direction.
Kent State -4: The Golden Flashes would get downgraded even more if Collin Schlee can’t go this week, but this has been a disappointing end to the season and Kent State won’t be going bowling.
Virginia Tech +3.5: This isn’t a very good team, but Brent Pry has them fighting to the bitter end and I respect that. They’ve had some really close calls late in the season with losses by one to NC State and Georgia Tech, but got one back against Liberty this past week.
Here are my Week 13 game spreads:
A few games to consider:
Indiana +10 (+5) vs. Purdue: The weather hasn’t helped Purdue lately, and the Boilermakers need a win and an Iowa loss to win the Big Ten West Division, but this is not a team I’d want to back laying big numbers. I thought Indiana would get run off the field last week, but the Hoosiers rallied on the road against a team with everything to lose. I’ll take a 10-point head start in a game that probably ends up lower-scoring.
Pitt -6.5 (-9) at Miami (FL): Get this one below a touchdown because it’s probably going to 7 and maybe 7.5. Pitt doesn’t have a ton of market support, but how awful has Miami been this season? They’re getting atrocious QB play and you have to wonder how many guys have already quit on the season. Miami needs a win for a bowl game, but I’m not sure the players even want to be in one and deal with more practices.
Stanford +6.5 (+1.5) vs. BYU: I don’t get the continued love for BYU. The Cougars got rolled by a Liberty team tumbling down my power ratings. They lost to an East Carolina team that just lost 42-3 to Houston. Now they’re going to lay almost a touchdown in Palo Alto? I realize Stanford isn’t very good either, but this is a big ask of BYU.
USC -5.5 (-10) vs. Notre Dame: I fully understand that USC’s defense is bad. Notre Dame also hasn’t faced a prolific offense in a long time. If the Trojans move the ball, which I expect to them to do, is Notre Dame going to be able to keep up with an extremely limited passing attack? Maybe their physicality is enough to hurt USC, but the Irish haven’t faced a good QB since September 24 and he had 301 yards and five touchdowns on just 17 completions. I know I’m high on USC, but I’m also still a little low on Notre Dame.
LSU -9.5 (-14) at Texas A&M: The Aggies are just bad. That performance against UMass was embarrassing and it wasn't their only embarrassing performance in recent weeks. All LSU has to do is beat Georgia to make the College Football Playoff, but a statement against Texas A&M would go a long way from a recruiting standpoint for the Bayou Bengals and you know Brian Kelly knows that, too.
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