College football Week 12 underdog plays: Minnesota stays undefeated
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Each week of the college football season, we'll highlight some of the best underdog bets, including ones that could net sizable moneyline profits.

Last week, we struck gold: all three of our underdog plays cashed as outright dogs, including Nevada (+17) and Illinois (+14.5) on the road. Can we find the magic again this week? Here are our best bets for Week 12.

No. 8 Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa

Opening line: Iowa -3

What if Minnesota is actually, like, good? That's the question voters had to ask themselves after the Golden Gophers, then ranked 17th, bounced No. 4 Penn State at home to stay unbeaten. It was also coach P.J. Fleck's fifth straight outright win as an underdog and pushed his record to 24-12-2 against the spread when getting points.

The Hawkeyes have hung around in the Big Ten race, but they've mostly feasted on bad teams. They've lost three straight games against teams with winning records, and their offense hasn't topped 26 points since Week 5 - which may be a problem if they're to keep up with a Minnesota team averaging nearly 40 points per game.

Top-10 teams are riding a five-game ATS win streak as road 'dogs, and Fleck's crew is well-suited to continue the trend in Iowa City. Take the better team outright.

Indiana (+14) at Penn State

Opening line: Penn State -14

Indiana has been straight cash for bettors as of late, riding a 5-0-1 ATS streak - with a 2-0 record as an underdog - into Saturday's test in Happy Valley. Fortunately for the Hoosiers, they catch Penn State at the perfect time to trip up a lethargic giant.

Since 2015, the Nittany Lions are 1-9-2 ATS under James Franklin following an outright loss. The hangover effect is real after stumbling last week at undefeated Minnesota, effectively crushing any hopes of a national championship run.

This also plays into one of my favorite trends late in the year: since 2016, teams that suffer their first loss in Week 9 or later are 9-20-1 ATS in their following game. When the title dream dies, so too does the effort, so Penn State could be in for a major letdown on Saturday.

Massachusetts (+40) at Northwestern

Opening line: Northwestern -38.5

This is the ultimate case of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object: Massachusetts has lost nine of its last 10 games ATS, while Northwestern is riding a seven-game ATS losing streak as favorites. Something's gotta give between two one-win teams, and the gaudy point spread favors the road team.

This is a historic spot for Northwestern to try to cover in. Since 1980, no eight-loss team has given 31 points or more. So let's move the goalposts a bit: teams with at least eight losses and one or fewer wins are 5-13 ATS as double-digit favorites and 0-3 ATS when giving more than 21 points.

Northwestern has just two 40-point wins in the last 40 years and is 2-4 ATS under coach Pat Fitzgerald when giving four or more touchdowns. Hold your nose and take the points...or don't, because nobody wants to watch this game. Just don't bet Northwestern.

C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.

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College football Week 12 underdog plays: Minnesota stays undefeated
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