CFB Week 12 betting preview: Big games for division supremacy
Our hero of the season, Jayden de Laura, saved a push in the wee hours of Sunday. While it doesn't forgive Penn State giving up a long touchdown for Michigan's win and cover, or Oklahoma's offensive horror show, at least Week 11's damage was limited to 2-3-1. And we're still profitable at 25-18-2 in our early look ahead to the big games in college football.
It seems like every other week we're talking about a top-five matchup where the perennial powerhouse is a three-touchdown favorite over the school that's "not supposed to be there." Last week, Ohio State's offense exploded to crush Purdue.
Michigan State likely won't be able to stop the Buckeyes, either. But this is a classic situation where the Spartans' hope is that their Heisman candidate, Kenneth Walker, can help limit the total possessions. He'll live up to the hype this week, and Michigan State will limit the careless mistakes Purdue made.
Pick: Michigan State +19
Alabama's road to Atlanta is now thoroughly paved, as it'd take two losses for the Crimson Tide to miss out on the SEC title game. They won't lose this one, but they might get a scare.
Arkansas edged LSU in Death Valley last week, and it wasn't pretty. That said, the Razorbacks have the run game and high-level talent to create the explosive offensive plays they'll need to stay attached to the Tide. Defensively, there are enough playmakers for Arkansas to make this game look a lot like Alabama's matchup with LSU a couple of weeks ago, where Bryce Young didn't have much room to work.
Pick: Arkansas +20.5 (wait and look for +21)
The Coastal Division is up for grabs in Pittsburgh. This line is high, which tells me that star quarterback Brennan Armstrong won't be in the lineup again for Virginia. Without him, one of the nation's top offenses was impotent against Notre Dame last week, so don't bet on this game if he's forced to sit. However, if Armstrong makes a heroic return and this line doesn't get adjusted below +10, the Cavaliers are the play here, no matter how much we expect Kenny Pickett to shred Virginia's defense.
Pick: Cavaliers +14.5 (only if Armstrong plays, play down to +10.5)
The buzz is palpable ahead of the battle for Conference USA's western division. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but UTSA still lingers as one of three undefeated teams in the country. The Roadrunners believe a New Years' Six bowl game is possible should Cincinnati slip up, so everything is on the line for them in this game.
If UTSA is the giant, UAB is the designated giant killer as the conference's second-best team. I'd back the Blazers at home, or if they were laying points against any other team in the conference. However, I believe in the Frank Harris/Sincere McCormick combination to come up big in their last tough test before the potential conference championship game rematch with Western Kentucky.
Pick: UTSA -4.5
Sometimes the line just tells you what you're supposed to play. That's the case here, as Oregon's chances for the College Football Playoff hang in the balance with a trip to Salt Lake City, a place where Pac-12 hopes go to die.
The Ducks' defense has given up more points than you'd expect from a team that prioritizes that side of the ball, and Cameron Rising will have enough success that this game will come down to whether Utah can stop Oregon's ground game. The fact the Utes are favored tells me the market thinks there's a good chance of that happening, which would force Anthony Brown to make the necessary throws. That's problematic for Oregon and the Pac-12's chances at a playoff spot.
Pick: Utah -3 (wait to try to get -2.5)
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.