Thanksgiving week is always one of the most exciting in college football, as many of the sport’s most intense rivalries are played this week. The “Civil War,” “Iron Bowl,” “Egg Bowl,” and “Apple Cup” are just a few of the most intense intrastate rivalries, but perhaps the most anticipated rivalry of all is the annual Ohio State-Michigan game. These two teams will play in a potential College Football Playoff elimination game, while other teams around the country will be fighting for bowl eligibility or building their playoff resumes.
How will things unfold in the last full week of regular season games?
Here are my top plays for Week 13 in college football.
Best Bets for Week 13: College Football
(Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Last Season: 35-22 (+9.5 units)
YTD: 25-17 (+5.5 units)
Iowa at Nebraska: O/U 41
Though the Nebraska Cornhuskers fired four offensive coaches earlier this month, the team has not lost its competitive spirit. The team continues to battle each week, though they seemingly find new ways to lose close games. Just one of their eight losses has come by more than one possession, and that was a nine-point home loss to Ohio State, which looks more impressive after the Buckeyes won their next two games after the Nebraska game by a combined 115-38.
Despite Nebraska losing their fifth consecutive game against Wisconsin last week, their offensive performance was the most eye-popping. The Badgers had held opponents to an average of 7.3 PPG the six weeks prior, but the Cornhuskers totaled 452 yards and 28 points in a spirited effort. However, Cornhuskers quarterback Adrian Martinez has been ruled out this week, leaving the quarterback duties to either freshman Logan Smothers or Heinrich Haarberg. Iowa ranks ninth in the country in scoring defense, allowing 16.9 PPG, and will turn in another dominant defensive performance while they await their fate for a possible Big Ten Championship berth.
PICK: UNDER 41
Cincinnati (-14) at East Carolina
With Oregon’s loss to Utah, that may have been just enough “chaos” for the Cincinnati Bearcats to become the first Group of Five team to be included in the College Football Playoff. For most of the last two months, Cincinnati has seemingly been pressing to secure the most dominant win possible to bolster their CFP resume. However, now that they may no longer need style points, we believe they will have a sense of complacency in this regular season finale, with one eye to next week in an AAC Championship matchup against Houston.
The Bearcats should not be too complacent this week, as they were nearly upset in their last trip to East Carolina. In that game, the Pirates led by 12 points with nine minutes left, and the Bearcats needed a last-second field goal to escape with a win. Thus, East Carolina will not fear the Bearcats, and they have been a bettor’s delight in this spot.
The Pirates are 5-0-1 ATS in their last six games as underdogs and are 8-1 ATS in their last nine conference games. Meanwhile, the Bearcats have covered the spread in just one of their previous five games as favorites, and they are vulnerable in a trap spot this week.
PICK: East Carolina +14
Notre Dame (-19) at Stanford
After being left for dead from a CFP standpoint after their home loss to Cincinnati, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are suddenly knocking on the door for inclusion as one of the four playoff teams. In last week’s win over Georgia Tech, one could sense their urgency to bolster their playoff resume, never taking their foot off the gas and cruising to a 55-0 victory.
The Fighting Irish have held their last three opponents to nine total points. While they benefited from facing backup quarterbacks from Virginia and Georgia Tech, the three-game stretch is nevertheless impressive, especially as their last three opponents (Navy included) play such a different style of football. There is no doubt that the defense has made tremendous strides all season under coordinator Marcus Freeman. The unit took pride in their dominance, as they have played without their best defender, safety Kyle Hamilton, for an extended period.
Notre Dame travels to Palo Alto to take on a 3-8 Stanford team that has lost six consecutive games. Stanford’s offense has topped 14 points just once in that stretch, and they are the second-to-worst total offense in the Pac-12.
Without a conference championship game to impress the CFP committee, Notre Dame has this one last chance to make a statement. But, no matter what the offense does, the defense will do their part in dominating the Cardinal this week.
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