Week 12 officially marks the three-quarter pole of the College Football season. Last week bought us some incredibly exciting matchups, as the contest for the 4 lucrative playoff spots heats up. Several season-defining fixtures await us again this week, as #3 ranked Notre Dame play host to #13 ranked Syracuse and #2 ranked Clemson play host to Duke. Michigan will also be looking to hold on to a top 4 ranking as they welcome Indiana to town. As the season begins to wind down, let’s take a look at our 7 best bets on the board and our favourite multi of the week.
SMU VS Memphis, Saturday 1:00 pm
The Mustangs enter this matchup at 5-5 after consecutive victories over Houston and UConn. It was an excellent rushing attack that led the way for SMU last week, totalling 315 yards and a whopping 6 touchdowns on just 39 attempts. QB Ben Hicks also had a good afternoon passing the ball, throwing for 276 yards and a score as he averaged 9.5 yards per attempt. Defensively, the Mustangs will need to improve from the 50 points they allowed against UConn. They were run through on the ground to the tune of 368 yards and 4 touchdowns. If that wasn’t bad enough, they also allowed a further 4 scores through the air. If the offence struggles to put up points here, they could be in for a world of hurt.
The 6-4 Tigers make the trip to SMU off the back of consecutive wins over East Carolina and Tulsa. It was another excellent display from the rushing attack that got the job done, totalling 297 yards and 3 scores on 55 attempts. QB Brady White also had his deep ball working, completing 70% of his passes and throwing for 2 scores. It was a controlled performance from the Tigers defence, as they held Tulsa to just 2.7 yards per attempt. They also contained Tulsa QB Seth Boomer well, limiting him to just 140 yards on 5.4 yards per attempt.
Prediction: Memphis -8.5
I think Memphis are the significantly better team in this one. Their offence has a very strong advantage over the SMU defence and I see them putting up big rushing numbers here. Similarly, I expect their pass defence to make enough plays to bring home this cover.
The 5-5 Terrapins enter this big Conference matchup off the back of consecutive losses to Michigan State and Indiana. QB Tyrell Pigrome stepped up big time after Kasim Hill’s injury, going 10/13 for 146 yards and a touchdown. The offence was well and truly led by RB Anthony McFarland, who went for 210 yards on the ground. On defence, the Terrapins just couldn’t do enough to contain the Hoosiers offence. They allowed two touchdowns both on the ground and through the air and couldn’t recover any of their forced fumbles. Against a dynamic Buckeyes offence, they’ll have to be on their game this week.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Those who tailed last week would’ve seen the 9-1 Buckeyes comfortably dismantle Michigan State on the road 26-6. QB Dwayne Haskins has very much impressed me with his play so far this season, throwing for 33 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions whilst completing 69% of his passes. He is capably supported by RB Mike Weber, who is averaging a strong 5.6 yards per carry so far. Defensively, Ohio State were truly dominant last week. They completely shut down the Spartans rushing attack, allowing 54 yards all afternoon. This put a ton of pressure on their struggling passing offence, which could only average 4.6 yards on a whopping 48 attempts.
Prediction: Ohio State -17
With their bid for the College Football playoff still well and truly alive, I expect a professional performance from the Buckeyes on the road here. Their strong defence should contain Maryland comfortably here, whilst Haskins continues his excellent play to bring home the cover.
The 3-7 Cornhuskers enter this one having won 3 of their past 4 games. RB Devine Ozigbo led the way on offence in last week’s win over Illinois, totalling 198 yards from scrimmage and 3 touchdowns. QB Adrian Martinez has also played better of late, passing for 290 yards and 3 scores in this one. The Cornhuskers defence has been largely terrible all season. Despite limiting the Illinois passing attack, they allowed an astounding 383 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Against a Michigan State attack that looks to run the ball at every opportunity, this will simply have to improve here.
Michigan State Spartans
The 6-4 Spartans travel to Nebraska off what was a deflating home loss against Ohio State last week. QB Brian Lewerke has struggled immensely in recent weeks and was actually benched for his poor display against the Buckeyes. The fact that Spartans Running Backs combined for just 6 carries in this one is ridiculous and should definitely be rectified. Defensively, Michigan State have actually been very strong this season. They held Ohio State under 3 yards per carry and 6 yards per pass last week and are definitely the strongest unit in this game.
Prediction: Michigan State -1.5
I think recent performances have made the Spartans undervalued here. Their defence should shut down Nebraska in this one, and I expect either Lewerke or backup Ricky Lombardi to do enough to win it on offence. Spartans in a close one.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The 10-0 Irish enter this one as the #3 ranked team in the country after last week’s big win over Florida State. This was even more impressive considering it was done without star QB Ian Book, who has been one of the best players in all of college football this season. The punishing Irish rushing attack led the way, enjoying 365 yards and 2 touchdowns on the afternoon. Defensively, Notre Dame continued their very strong start to the campaign. They completely shut down the Florida State rushing attack, before limiting them to just 4.5 yards per pass attempt.
Syracuse Orange Men
The 8-2 Orange Men travel to Notre Dame as the #13 team in the country off the back of 4 straight victories. It was a strong rushing attack that was the key in this one, putting up 326 yards and 5 scores on the ground. QB Eric Dungey also delivered in a game manger role, going for 192 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, the Orange Men did a good job stifling the Louisville offence. They managed 6 huge sacks and forced 4 turnovers in a complete team display. Against this strong Notre Dame side, a similar level of performance is needed here.
Prediction: Notre Dame -9.5
With Ian Book likely returning in this one, I think Notre Dame are the much better team here. They are complete on both sides of the ball with experienced and veteran talent. I expect them to make enough plays on offence to seal this one comfortably.
The Bruins enter this local rivalry at 2-8, in what has been a dismal campaign so far. QB Wilton Speight delivered his best performance of the year in last week’s loss to Arizona State, throwing for 335 yards and 2 scores. RB Joshua Kelley has been an offensive bright spot for this Bruins side, averaging 5.4 yards per attempt and enjoying 8 touchdowns so far. The UCLA rushing defence was again poor last week, allowing a whopping 281 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. They were also susceptible to the deep-threat passing attack, allowing 9 yards per attempt as they failed to generate reliable pass rush.
USC enter this one at 5-5 after a disappointing 1-point loss to Cal last week. Freshman QB JT Daniels has had an inconsistent first campaign, throwing for 11 touchdowns compared to 8 picks so far. RB Aca’Cedric Ware has been the leader of this offensive unit so far, averaging a shade under 7 yards per carry on his first 104 attempts. Defensively, the Trojans were very good last week. They limited Cal to just 3.6 yards per offensive play in what was very much a defensive style of game. Against a struggling UCLA offence, they have the opportunity for a big afternoon here.
Prediction: USC -3.5
For me, USC is simply the much better team here. I think Wilton Speight is an overrated QB who will struggle against this Trojans defence. Offensively, I expect a big night from the USC rushing attack to propel them to victory.
California Golden Bears
Cal enter this one at 6-4 after a hard-fought road victory over USC last week. This was despite a poor performance from freshman QB Chase Garbers, who threw for just 93 yards on his 26 attempts. Even the usually strong rushing attack struggled to get going, averaging just 3.6 yards per attempt. It was defensively where Cal really stepped up in this one, holding the USC offence under 300 yards and forcing 2 turnovers. Their dominant pass rush was on full display last week, which they’ll be looking to replicate at home against Stanford.
Stanford travel to Cal 3rd place in the Pac 12 North with a 6-4 record after last week’s big win over Oregon State. QB K.J. Costello led the way on offence, throwing for 342 yards and 4 touchdowns on 10.4 yards per attempt. This was balanced by a strong Cardinal rushing attack, which totalled 244 yards and 3 scores. Defensively, Stanford have largely struggled for much of the season. They’ve given up at least 38 points in 3 of their 4 losses, the lack of a pass rush becoming a big problem. Against a struggling Cal passing attack, they’ll look to right the ship here.
Prediction: Stanford -2
Stanford’s offence is definitely the best unit in this contest. I expect them to put up points on this weak Cal defence, whilst their defence makes enough plays to limit Cal’s passing offence.
The Longhorns enter this one at 7-3 after a bounce-back win over Texas Tech last week. QB Sam Ehlinger delivered a near flawless performance, throwing for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns. RB Keaontay Ingram continued his strong freshman campaign, rushing for 83 yards and a score on a shade under 6 yards per carry. However, the pass defence was very poor. They allowed over 450 yards and 4 touchdowns in what was very much a shootout. To build on their current ranking of #19, the Longhorns will need to do a better job of getting to the Quarterback here.
Iowa State Cyclones
The 6-3 Cyclones enter this one as the #22 ranked team in the country off the back of 5 consecutive victories. Freshman QB Brock Purdy has been very strong since taking over as a starter, going 5-0 and throwing 13 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. Defensively, the Cyclones have also improved a lot of late, holding their opponent to 14 points or less in 3 of their last 4. At the centre of this has been a very strong rush defence that has caused opposing offences to become one dimensional.
Prediction: Texas -3
Whilst Brock Purdy has started his career strongly, I don’t think he has the ability to outduel Sam Ehlinger. I expect a big afternoon from the Longhorns gunslinger, whilst the defence makes enough plays to bring home this cover.
Another week of College Football, another great multi opportunity. Each of these teams have a significant talent advantage and need a win here to boost their post-season aspirations. 4-leg multis are never routine, but at $2.05 this one is hard to pass up.