NCAAF Week 13 Picks Against the Spread
We are entering the holiday season and for college football fans and bettors, this is the best time of year. In a few weeks, we will be treated to a non-stop slate of college football that will allow bettors the opportunity to build their bankroll.
In addition to conference championships, the College Football Playoff picture will become clearer after the results are in from this coming weekend. This is the time of the year for upsets and if teams are not focused, they could lose which could knock them out of national championship contention.
Here are some games that caught my attention this week:
Pitt vs. Virginia Tech (-4)
Pitt has won 3 of the last 5 games in the series and has won those by an average margin of victory of 13.0 ppg. Last year, the Panthers won by a score of 52-22. Pitt is 7-3 ATS in 2019 and is 4-0 ATS (3-1 SU) on the road in games against Penn State, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Duke. Virginia Tech is 5-5 ATS in 2019 and is 2-4 ATS at home in Lane Stadium this season. The Hokies have won three of their last four games and are 4-0 ATS during that span.
Both teams enter this contest with a 7-3 overall record and fighting for an ACC Coastal crown. Pittsburgh is coming off a solid overtime win over North Carolina 34-27 (4.5-point favorite) while the Hokies dominated Georgia Tech with a convincing 45-0 road win (VT 6.0-point favorite).
Pitt is averaging 131 rushing ypg and is passing for 260 ypg with quarterback Kenny Pickett heading into this contest. Pickett has completed 60 of his passes for 2,311 yards with 10 TD’s and 8 INT’s and has progressed this season in reading coverage. The Panthers will look to attack Virginia Tech defense that has allowed 124 rushing ypg and 241 passing ypg to opposing offenses this season.
Pitt will look to start fast to dictate the tempo of this game and rely on their defense to carry them to the road win. The Panthers are giving up 90 rushing ypg and 201 passing ypg this season and have limited big plays this season. Pitt has allowed 909 total rushing allowing 2.7 ypc and 9 TD’s in 2019.
The matchup to watch will be the front seven of the Panthers that has recorded 45 total sacks going up against a Hokies offensive line that has surrendered 19 sacks this year.
Pitt has played very well on third downs holding opposing offenses to 30% on their conversions this year. Look for the unit to force mistakes against Hokies quarterback Hendon Hooker who has completed 60% of his passes for 981 yards with 8 TD’s and no interceptions. The Panthers have held their last four opponents (Syracuse, Miami, Georgia Tech and North Carolina) to 15 of 58 attempts or 21%.
In my opinion, the wrong team is favorite in this contest as Virginia Tech has played two FCS schools Furman and Rhode Island to pad their 7-3 record. Their five FBS wins have come against opponents with a combined overall record of 20-30 or .400%.
Look for the Panthers to win this game on the “inside” with their line play in this contest.
Pick: Pitt +4 & ML
Liberty vs. Virginia (-17)
Liberty is 6-4 straight up and 5-5 ATS in 2019. The Flames are 2-3 ATS on the road or on a neutral field this year. Liberty has won 2 straight games ATS heading into this contest. Virginia is 7-3 overall and is 4-5-1 ATS in 2019. The Cavaliers are 5-0 straight up at home and 2-2-1 ATS this season. Last year, the Cavaliers won this game 45-24 at home in Charlottesville as a 24-point favorite. The Cavaliers are 1-3 as a double-digit favorite in 2019.
Both teams are coming out of a bye week and have an extra week of preparation entering week 13. Virginia is sitting atop the ACC Coastal division with a season-ending game with Virginia Tech looming in week 14.
One way to look at this game is to say that the Cavaliers will overlook the Flames and come out flat in this contest. However, I do not expect that to be the case with this game. As teams are fighting for division crowns, you want to be playing your best football at the end of the regular season. The fact that Virginia has played down to the level of competition earlier in the season, has me thinking that the team will come out focused after the bye week looking to start this game fast. The ability for Virginia to build an early lead will allow head coach Bronco Mendenhall to res starters in the fourth quarter.
Virginia’s defense will be the key to the victory. The Cavaliers are allowing 122 rushing ypg and 3.4 ypc in 2019. The front seven has recorded 34 total sacks and will look to force turnovers playing at home in this game. Liberty is 6-4 overall in 2019 with two of those wins coming against FCS opponents Howard and Maine. The 4 FBS wins against Buffalo, New Mexico, New Mexico State and UMASS have a combined overall record of 9-32 or .280%.
Pick: Virginia -17
Boston College vs. Notre Dame (-19.5)
Notre Dame has won 6 straight games against Boston College and have won those six games by an average margin of victory of 11.8 ppg. Teams last played in 2017 with Notre Dame winning by a score of 49-20. Notre Dame is 8-2 straight up and 6-4 ATS in 2019. The Irish are 4-2 ATS at home this season. Boston College is 5-5 straight up in 2019 and the Eagles are 6-4 ATS this season. Boston College is 3-1 ATS on the road this season.
Notre Dame has played very well in back to back wins against Duke and Navy heading into this game. The Irish have outscored the Blue Devils by a total of 90-27 or 31.5 ppg. Notre Dame covered both of those games and will be looking to make it three in row against the Eagles this Saturday. However, this game could be closer than fans think. Boston College has had an extra week of preparation for this game and has been running the football more consistently in games against Syracuse and Florida State.
The Eagles rushed for 496 yards against the Orange and pounding the rock for 283 yards against the Seminole. Boston College will be looking to challenge a Notre Dame defense that is allowing 167 rushing ypg entering this contest. Boston College running back A.J Dillon leads the team with 1,435 yards averaging 5.3 ypc with 13 rushing touchdowns this year. Boston College will look to sustain drives which will keep Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book on the sidelines. The Eagles are converting 45% on third downs and their offensive line has only allowed 6 sacks all season.
The one characteristic that travels well in a tough environment is the ability to run the football and create turnovers. The Eagles enter this game +4 in turnover margin and should be in this game from start to finish against the Irish.
Pick: Boston College +19.5
TCU vs. Oklahoma (-19)
Oklahoma has covered 5 straight games over TCU by an average margin of victory of 14.8 ppg. The Sooners won last year in Fort Worth by a score of 52-27. The Sooners are 9-1 straight up in 2019 and 4-6 ATS in 2019. Oklahoma is 5-0 straight up at home and 2-3 ATS this year. Oklahoma has failed to cover in 5 of the last 6 games this year. TCU is 5-5 straight up in 2019 and 3-7 ATS. The Horned Frogs are 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS on the road or on a neutral field this season.
TCU won a very close game against Texas Tech in which they built a 24-7 lead before needing a fourth quarter come back to win the game 33-31. Oklahoma struggled against Baylor in Waco trailing in the first half 28-3 before rallying in the fourth quarter to win the game 34-31. Three turnovers plagued the team in allowing the Bears to build the 25-point lead. Entering this weekend, the Sooners realize there is no margin for error if they are to crack the College Football Playoff. Expect Oklahoma to start fast in this contest in putting the pressure on TCU quarterback Max Duggan to match them score for score. Duggan is completing 56% of his passes for 1,868 yards with 15 TD’s and 7 INT’s this year.
The Sooners are averaging 47 ppg and are rushing for 247 ypg and are passing for 333 ypg in 2019. Jalen Hurts played inconsistent in the first half against Baylor but still threw for 295 yards with 4 TD’s and 1 INT while rushing for over 100 yards against the Bears. TCU is playing back to back road games and allowed Texas Tech quarterback Jet Duffey to break contain last week which sustained drives. The Horned Frogs have only recorded 19 sacks in 2019 and will have a tough time getting pressure on Hurts in this contest. Hurts will challenge the Horned Frogs on every play and look for the Sooners to win this game convincingly by 24 points or more Saturday night in Norman. Hurts has completed 72% of his passes for 3,037 yards with 28 TD’s and 5 INT’s this year.
Pick: OU -19.0
UCLA vs. USC (-13.5)
USC has won 3 of the last 4 games in the series by an average margin of victory of 15.3 ppg. The Trojans are 7-4 straight up in 2019 and 5-5-1 ATS this season. USC is 3-2 ATS at home this year. UCLA won last year’s game in the Rose Bowl by a score of 34-27. UCLA is 4-6 straight up in 2019 and is 4-5-1 ATS this year. The Bruins are 2-2-1 on the road this season.
UCLA was playing very well heading into Salt Lake City last Saturday. However, the Bruins were crushed by the Utah Utes 49-3 and will be looking to rebound against their arch-rival this Saturday. The Bruins are averaging 158 rushing ypg and are passing for 23 ypg with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson at the helm. DTR has completed 59% of his passes for 2.056 yards with 17 TD’s and 10 INT’s this season.
The Bruins will need to win their last two games of the regular season to become bowl eligible and expect their best effort against the Trojans. UCLA will look to run the football with running back Joshua Kelly (939 yards, 10 TD’s in 2019) to keep USC quarterback Kedon Slovis (72%, 2,727 yards, 27 TD’s) and the high-octane Trojans offense on the sidelines.
USC is allowing 167 rushing ypg and has not been consistent in stopping the run this year. UCLA will look to methodically work down the field and run the Trojans defense sideline to sideline to wear them down. The Trojans have been very undisciplined this year, being penalized 7.3 times per game for 74 yards per game. That could be a deciding factor in allowing UCLA the ability to sustain drives in this contest.
The Bruins defense has recorded 15 sacks over the past 4 games (Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah) and will look to put pressure on USC’s offense line that has allowed 21 sacks this season. With the Bruins fighting for a bowl berth and having the slight coaching edge (Kelly vs. Helton) take the points with UCLA striking the upset in the Coliseum.
Pick: UCLA +13.5 & ML