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Best Under the Radar College Football Bets: Week 12 (2021)

by November 18, 2021
Rutgers

We had another great week, but I’d like to open this week’s piece with an announcement: the Cincinnati Bearcats do not deserve to make the College Football Playoff.

How can you not cover against a South Florida team with no defense whatsoever? Do the Bearcats understand they have no margin for error as a Group of Five program trying to make the Playoff? What happened to the team I fell in love with last year and this year in wins over Indiana and Notre Dame?

Fortunately, Cincinnati got to 45 points, clearing their team total of 40.5. But still, not covering against low-level AAC opponents is not what the committee needs to see.

On the positive side, I’d also like to thank Greg Schiano and Rutgers for not only covering but dominating Indiana and preserving our under bet. Let’s keep the winning weeks coming as we enter the homestretch of the regular season!

  • Week 11 record: 4-1
  • 2021 season record: 24-13

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Connecticut Huskies +30.5 at Central Florida Knights, Total 56.5

Who’s ready to lay some lumber in the Civil conFLICT? Yes, the Civil conFLICT is a made-up rivalry game between UConn and UCF in 2013, when UConn was a member of the American Athletic Conference. But the teams haven’t played since 2016, so it’ll be great to see this “rivalry” renewed!

A lot has changed for the Huskies since then. They’re no longer a member of the AAC and are one of the worst programs in the country.

UConn just covered as 41-point dogs against Clemson! So maybe there’s room for optimism? Not really. The Huskies had just 99 yards of total offense, including -17 rushing yards. They opened the game with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown but didn’t score again. The Huskies were fortunate to cover against a lousy Clemson team, by their standards.

Frankly, I’m not sure Clemson is 10 points better than UCF, who will be looking to get some frustration out after a 55-28 loss to SMU the week prior.

UCF has undergone an identity change after coach Gus Malzahn replaced Josh Heupel. The Knights emphasized running the ball and should have no trouble gaining chunk yards against a UConn defense, giving up 4.29 yards per carry.

This has the makings of becoming a rout, not a conFLICT.

Pick: UCF -30.5

UCLA Bruins -3 at USC Trojans, Total 65.5 

Another rivalry game with just a bit more history than the one mentioned above. The underdog Trojans have won the last two meetings and five of the last six. But aside from making it to a lackluster bowl game, the Trojans have nothing to play for. The program will be bringing in a new head coach after the season, and I’m sure many players are pondering their options via the transfer portal.

Motivation aside, this feels like a great matchup for UCLA’s offense too. The Bruins rank 22nd in the country in rushing offense while USC ranks 82nd in rushing defense. While I am concerned about USC’s passing attack against UCLA’s 113th-ranked pass defense. But without star receiver Drake London, the USC offense isn’t as threatening.

I’m trusting Chip Kelly’s Bruins to get the job done against a USC team that’s lost three of five, with their wins coming against Arizona and Colorado, two of the worst Power Five teams in the country. The Trojans are also 0-4 ATS in their last four outings. I don’t think the Trojans care.

Pick: UCLA -3

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights +17.5 at Penn State Nittany Lions, Total 46.5

Speaking of teams that might’ve packed it in for the season, look no further than Penn State. The Nittany Lions blew a 17-14 lead late in the fourth to Michigan last week. It was a devastating loss that encapsulated Penn State’s free fall and might’ve served as the unofficial death blow to their season.

Penn State went from almost assuredly playing in a bowl game in Florida around New Year’s to being projected for games like the Music City Bowl and Pinstripe Bowl, with the Outback Bowl serving as the best-case scenario.

Now, Penn State has to get off the mat for a noon kickoff against a Rutgers team that has everything to play for. As you know, if you read last week’s piece, the Scarlet Knights are coming off an emphatic victory over Indiana. And this matchup could play into their hands too.

Defensively, Rutgers is prone to the running game, ranking 72nd in rush defense. However, Penn State can’t run the ball whatsoever, ranking 119th in rushing offense. Penn State QB Sean Clifford could struggle to move the ball through the air against a Rutgers pass defense, giving up just 218 yards per game through the air.

The Rutgers offense is far from a juggernaut, ranking 103rd in scoring offense and 113th in total offense. But the Penn State defense has shown some cracks recently and might not be as dominant as once perceived.

But again, motivation could be a factor here. Did you know that in the 107 seasons Rutgers has played football, they’ve only made ten bowl games? And did you know Rutgers hasn’t made a bowl game since 2014? A win over Penn State would push them into bowl eligibility, and you know Schiano will have his team prepared and motivated.

Meanwhile, James Franklin’s attention seems to be elsewhere, as he refuses to shoot down rumors about the USC or LSU openings. This might be the week his team quits on him. Plus, we saw Penn State lose embarrassingly as 24.5-point home favorites against Illinois just a few weeks ago.

This has the makings of an ugly Big Ten East battle where the underdog is more live than oddsmakers think. I won’t make it one of my official recommendations, but you can expect me to put a few bucks on Rutgers winning outright.

Picks: Rutgers +17.5, Under 46.5

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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