Back after taking Rivalry Week 13 off because of the Thanksgiving Weekend’s early start. Week 12 would have been really strong if Purdue didn’t nullify their own pick-six with a taunting penalty. Instead it was 3-2, but -0.3 units thanks to the aforementioned non-cover being the best bet. While I’m enthused at the possibility of a CFP without Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State (Oklahoma, the fourth most frequent participant, too, but they could use some good news, so less joy in that), I’m kind of expecting another Utah win over USC in a game that starts within an hour. Saturday offers plenty to win on, and the large underdogs in the SEC and B1G are extra tempting because of the consensus opinion that neither Georgia or Michigan even really needs to win. On to the picks.
Bet 1: Troy -8 (-110) vs. Coastal Carolina (2:30pm CT Sat 12/3, ESPN; all odds via PointsBet)
The Sun Belt leads us off. Grayson McCall was as close to formally out as you’re going to get on Friday afternoon. In the two full games without him they rallied to beat mediocre Southern Miss on the last play at home, then lost by 40 with less than 200 total yards at James Madison. While I’m not in love with Troy’s offense, I think there defense will pounce on their diminished opponent. The school’s first outright Sun Belt title since 2009 is within sight, and they will capitalize.
Bet 2: LSU vs. Georgia over 52 (-110) (2:30pm CT Sat 12/3, CBS)
I guess the best Jimbo Fisher could do to take a bite out the SEC was a Week 13 upset to deflate the stakes of the CCG. LSU was certainly overrated in retrospect at #5 by the committee. There’s a case to be made for both a UGA romp because of how uncharacteristically lacking this SEC West Champ’s resume is, as well as Brian Kelly using the upset to fuel a fire and a motivated underdog against a favorite with nothing other than a 1-seed, and potentially tougher semifinal opponent, to play for. What I don’t see a case for is this to be like the SEC slogs UGA has been able to impose on their divisional opponents the last two seasons. Jayden Daniels will make some plays and Kelly is going to take chances. Even a dominant 42-14 UGA performance gets it done.
Bet 3: UCF +155 moneyline at Tulane (3:00pm CT Sat 12/3, ABC)
I don’t know what the deal is with the AAC still not finding a neutral site for their CCG, but I’ll take the odds boost from UCF having to play a true road game. They already beat Tulane in the same building 4 weeks ago. It’s tough to do it again, but part of the problem for Tulane was how monumental their road upset at Cincinnati was last week. That had a conference championship accomplishment feel to it. And while the same can be said of the OSU-Michigan winner these days, blue chips aren’t falling out of Tulane’s pockets, the margin for error just isn’t there. Worth the risk for Gus Malzahn to rise up with another upset.
Bet 4: Purdue +16.5 (-105) vs. Michigan (7:00pm CT Sat 12/3, FOX)
Definitely some cowardice in not riding the king slayer Brohm outright at +580. Might have to take a little bit of that too. Michigan won’t need to reach the same top level of play that sprung the second half blowout at the Shoe last Saturday, and the confidence boost could easily take off their edge. It wasn’t the case last year as they totally rolled Iowa after getting the OSU monkey off their backs. Purdue is about as different a team as the B1G West can produce however. The second toughest test the Wolverines faced (purely in terms of margin) was a fairly similar Maryland attack. Too many points to not roll with the Boilers.
Best Bet (2 units): Kansas St +105 moneyline vs. TCU (11:00am CT Sat 12/3, ABC)
Nineteen years after Kansas St’s most recent appearance and only win in the B12 CG, the Wildcats are poised to strike a remarkably similar win, though it won’t be nearly as unexpected. It was 3-loss KSU over undefeated Oklahoma that day, and much like TCU, the Sooners had accrued enough equity that the convincing 35-7 KSU win was not enough to push them out of the BCS Championship Game. Sound familiar? It was Darren Sproles then, it’s Deuce Vaughan now. Since appearing in relief of Adrian Martinez full-time three weeks ago, QB Will Howard has done exactly what has been asked of him. They’ve held back some running plays, and look for the full repertoire to be released in an impressive CCG win.
Week 12: 3-2, -0.3. Season: 23-21-1, +3.74 units.