Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
Welcome to rivalry week, everybody!
We’ve reached the final weekend of the regular season and there’s so much on the line. Teams are fighting for bowl eligibility, division races are to be decided and the top teams in the country are fighting to reach the College Football Playoff. On top of that, some of the most heated rivalries in the sport are on the schedule this weekend.
It’s going to be a ton of fun.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: 7:30 p.m. (Thurs) | TV: ESPN | Line: MSU -1.5 | Total: 63.5
The Egg Bowl is a Thanksgiving tradition unlike any other. With bragging rights in the state of Mississippi on the line, it’s one of the most heated rivalries in college football. And this year, both teams are quite good. Ole Miss is 9-2 overall and 5-2 in conference play in Lane Kiffin’s second season in Oxford. With a win, the Rebels will finish second in the SEC West and get to 10 regular season wins for the first time in program history.
Mississippi State, meanwhile, is 7-4 (4-3 SEC) and can lock up second in the division if it beats its biggest rival. The Bulldogs, in Year 2 under Mike Leach, have won four of their last five games and have seemed to hit their stride in Leach’s Air Raid offense. Second-year quarterback Will Rogers leads the way for that unit, while the MSU defense excels at stopping the run. Ole Miss has a potential Heisman finalist at QB in Matt Corral, but the Rebels actually run the ball nearly 57% of the time.
Sam: Ole Miss +1.5, Nick: Ole Miss +1.5
Time: Noon | TV: Fox | Line: OSU -8.5 | Total: 64.5
It’s hard to imagine bigger stakes for a regular season game. The winner wins the Big Ten East and moves on to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. A win there would almost guarantee a place in the four-team College Football Playoff.
Ohio State is in its typical role of the favorite. The Buckeyes have won four consecutive Big Ten titles and have reached the CFP each of the last two seasons. They have also defeated Michigan eight consecutive times and in 17 of their last 19 meetings. This iteration of Ohio State is peaking at the right time. The Buckeyes trounced No. 7 Michigan State 56-7 last weekend and moved up to No. 2 in the CFP rankings.
Michigan lost to Michigan State back on Oct. 30 but has had a stellar season otherwise. The calling card for the Wolverines has been a punishing ground attack with an efficient passing game and a ferocious pass rush led by two potential first-round picks at defensive end, Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Will those two be able to disrupt C.J. Stroud and the mighty Ohio State passing game? That’s the biggest matchup to watch in this pivotal showdown.
Sam: Ohio State -8.5, Nick: Ohio State -8.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: Alabama -19.5 | Total: 55.5
Alabama is just a week away from its highly-anticipated meeting with No. 1 Georgia in the SEC title game. If the Tide (who have already clinched the SEC West) upset UGA, they will lock up a playoff spot. But that scenario cannot come to fruition without a win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Alabama has had close calls throughout the season, including last week’s 42-35 home win over Arkansas. Bryce Young threw for a program record 559 yards in the win, but the secondary had troubles containing an Arkansas offense not exactly known to have a prolific passing attack.
Earlier this month, Auburn was 6-2 and ranked No. 13 in the country. Since then, the Tigers have lost three straight games and starting QB Bo Nix to a season-ending injury. Nix is the sort of player that can add an exciting element of chaos to a big game. Will his backup, LSU transfer TJ Finley, muster up some magic of his own? It is the Iron Bowl, after all. Strange things tend to happen — especially when it’s played at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Sam: Auburn +19.5, Nick: Alabama -19.5
Time: 4 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: UW -6.5 | Total: 38.5
Wisconsin has rallied from a brutal 1-3 start to be on the brink of a Big Ten West title and a trip to the Big Ten title game. The Badgers (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten) have won seven consecutive games and can capture their fifth division title in the past eight seasons simply by beating Minnesota on the road on Saturday. Wisconsin’s defense has been there all year long, but the emergence of freshman running back Braelon Allen has helped turn the season around.
Minnesota, sitting at 7-4 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play, can still win the West as well. Obviously, the Gophers will need to upset the Badgers and recapture possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe. But they will need help too. Minnesota wins the division with a win over Wisconsin, a Nebraska win over Iowa and a Purdue win over Indiana. Got all that? It’s not completely unfeasible and brings an added element to one of the more underrated rivalries in the sport.
Sam: Minnesota +6.5, Nick: Wisconsin -6.5
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: OSU -4 | Total: 50.5
Oklahoma State has already locked up a spot in the Big 12 title game, but there is plenty of other business to attend to. At No. 7 in the CFP rankings, the Cowboys are legitimate playoff threats but cannot get there without beating their biggest rival, Oklahoma. That has not come easily. OU has won six straight and 16 of the last 18 in the series. This year, though, OSU is the favorite. Mike Gundy’s team is 10-1, boasts one of the nation’s top defenses and has the chance to win the Big 12 for the first time since 2011.
On the other side, Oklahoma is also 10-1 but is ranked No. 10 thanks to a slew of close victories and an ugly loss to Baylor. The Sooners, though, have won six consecutive Big 12 titles and can get back to the conference championship game with a win in Stillwater. And with OU headed to the SEC, there may not be many more trips to Stillwater in the future. If OU does pull out a win here, the Sooners and Cowboys will then have a rematch in the Big 12 title game. And if OU posts back-to-back wins over OSU, there’s a chance it could jump into the top four.
Sam: Oklahoma +4, Nick: Oklahoma State -4
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 34-26, Nick: 27-33
Week 13 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 0-3, Overall: 19-17)
No. 2 Ohio State (-8.5) at No. 5 Michigan: The Wolverines seem to match up much better with the Buckeyes than Michigan State. I think Michigan’s offense will be relatively successful at shortening the game and the defensive line could get some pressure. While I still think Ohio State covers, I’m not bullish on this game’s chances of going over. Pick: Under 64.5
Army at Liberty (-3.5): The strength of the Liberty defense is against the pass. That bodes well for an Army team that hardly passes and rushes for over 300 yards per game. While Army is just 5-5 against the spread this year, I think the Black Knights can win this game outright and get to 8-3 ahead of a game against Navy to finish the season. Pick: Army +3.5
No. 13 BYU (-7) at USC: The Cougars are a top-15 team while USC is just playing out the string. This is a Trojans team that somehow turned a 10-0 lead against rival UCLA into a 62-33 loss a week ago. BYU can get into a New Year’s Six bowl with a few losses by teams ahead of it in the CFP rankings. This should be an easy win for the Cougars. Pick: BYU -7
Sam Cooper (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 19-16-1)
Kansas State at Texas (-3): There are quarterback injuries on both sides in this game, but I trust the Kansas State side much more. Chris Klieman’s team is steady and the K-State defense is playing really well. Texas is just a mess. I’ll take the points. Pick: Kansas State +3
Navy (-12.5) at Temple: Temple has completely quit. The Owls have lost six straight and the combined score in those games is 261-35. There’s no chance Temple is going to want to deal with the triple option for four quarters. Pick: Navy -12.5
No. 6 Notre Dame (-18.5) at Stanford: Over its last three games, Stanford has allowed more than 1,000 rushing yards. The offense has been terrible, too. Notre Dame is going to cruise to another blowout victory. Pick: Notre Dame -18.5
For other Week 13 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
For Week 13 picks from Dan Wetzel, Pete Thamel and Pat Forde, subscribe to the College Football Enquirer podcast.