2012 College Football Week 12 Preview: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota and More

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After a thrilling Week 11 that featured several marquee games and top 25 matchups, this week has a very subpar and strange lineup of games on the docket. There are only two matchups of ranked teams, #24 Oklahoma St vs #23 Texas Tech (the Red Raiders are still ranked?) and #13 Stanford at #2 Oregon.

After producing several weeks of pivotal, entertaining games, majority of the Southeastern conference will partake in what I call the “SEC-FCS Challenge” and what most FCS schools refer to as “payday”. Seven SEC teams will take on FCS cupcakes this week, featuring headline matchups like Alabama vs West Carolina, Florida vs Jacksonville St, and South Carolina vs Wofford. At least the Auburn-Alabama A&M game could be semi-competitive. Judging from Auburn’s recent performances, I think if Alabama A&M came into the game wearing Alabama or Texas A&M uniforms, they would get the Tigers to raise the white flag and give them the win.

Even though this week is lacking in significant, marquee games, there are still many opportunities for bettors to take advantage of. As I mention every week, it is important to remember that these trends and stats are only one piece of the puzzle when trying to figure out which team to place a wager on. They shouldn’t be followed blindly, but instead they should be considered and factored into the broader context and reasoning for selecting a side. So without further ado, let’s kick it off for week 12.

Betting on College Football – Week 12 Quick Hitters

(All point spreads and totals are as of noon CST on Thursday)

May the Force be with you. Air Force’s 3rd ranked rushing attack has a favorable matchup against a porous Hawaii defense on Friday night. The Warriors rank #115 in rushing yards allowed. They aren’t any better offensively either, ranking 2nd to last in yards per play. Look for the Falcons to run option right and option left all night on Friday. You can read more on this game at Sides and Totals to consider. (Line = AF -21.5, 61).

Urban Legend. It’s no secret amongst the betting community that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is usually a buzz-saw against the spread. However, some may not know that he has an even more impressive ATS record following a bye. Meyer is an outstanding 18-3 ATS in his career as a head coach following a week off. Ohio State had their bye week last Saturday, and they will take on Wisconsin this weekend. (Line = Wisc -2.5, 52.5).

Runaway train in Lincoln this Saturday. Minnesota has struggled defending the run all season. Against running teams (Iowa, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan), the Gophers have given up an average of 220 yards per game and almost 6.0 yards per carry. Nebraska ranks 7th overall in rushing yards per game and 6th in yards per carry this season. The Huskers shouldn’t need another second half comeback to get the victory this weekend. (Line = Neb -20, 53).

Pros vs Joes: Week 12 edition. Last week, when the sharp (wiseguy) handicappers disagreed with the public, they went 3-3-1 overall. However, the sharps took UConn over the most publicly backed team of the week, Pittsburgh. As I said in this segment last week, I usually don’t put too much stock into sharp money vs public money if I feel I have an accurate read on a game, but sometimes I will take a closer look at a matchup to see why the wiseguys are leaning heavy on one side. Here are some of the games the wiseguys like despite the public taking the other side at 70% or higher rate (wiseguy pick is listed first):

Virginia (+3) vs North Carolina (Thursday): Virginia has improved over the past two weeks, gaining momentum in a blow-out win vs NC State and a final minute miracle against Miami last week. On the other hand, UNC got thumped by Georgia Tech in what many people had mistaken for a basketball score on Saturday (66-50). UNC has struggled immensely on the road this season, and the wiseguys are banking on them to do so again this Thursday. Our ACC handicapper, Jimmyshivers, agrees with the wiseguys selection of UVA. His write-up can be found here.

NCState (+16.5) @ Clemson: This may be the Wiseguy play of the week. 72% of the money has backed Clemson thus far, yet the point spread has dropped anywhere from 1 to 2 points in favor of the Tigers. The Wiseguys have been fading Clemson for majority of the season, and I can personally recall them picking against the Tigers as large favorites over Wake Forest, Duke, and Boston College earlier in the season. Clemson has been proving the sharps wrong, as they have covered in every conference game so far. However, the Wiseguys are still counting on them slipping up. Jimmyshivers also agrees with this wiseguy pick of NC State. His write-up can be found here. Pezgordo is also on the Wolfpack; his pick can be found here.

Syracuse (+5) @ Missouri: This pick is somewhat surprising in my opinion. I thought the public would be all over Syracuse fresh off their upset of #10 Louisville last week. However, 72% of the money has been placed on Missouri this week as the home favorite. Syracuse usually struggles on the road, as they have only been 1-8 ATS away from home in the past two years. That lone cover came on a last second touchdown against South Florida earlier this year. Despite that, the Wiseguys are still liking the ‘Cuse to cover.

Wisconsin (-3) vs Ohio State: Are the Buckeye’s the pick of the week or a sucker bet? The Wiseguys seem to like Wisconsin at home in this one, but I’m not really sure why. Ohio State is a top ten, undefeated team and they are an underdog to an unranked opponent following their bye week? Something is fishy with this one. Ohio State seemingly has the talent and coaching edge. This could be a close game, but it’s pretty hard to justify the Badgers being favored in this matchup. GoSooners addresses this in his write-up and pick of the game here. Pezgordo also likes the Buckeyes, his rationale can be found here.

Sharp and public consensus picks. Wiseguy handicappers don’t always fade the public bet. In some weeks they actually side with the public more than they disagree. This happens to be one of those weeks. The following list is comprised of teams that the public and sharps both favor strongly going into the weekend (consensus pick is listed first):

Buffalo (-11) @ UMass: It is really difficult to lay points with this subpar Buffalo team, but the Bulls have been getting better from week to week. On the other hand, UMass surprisingly picked up their first win of the season at Akron last Saturday. Did the Minutemen put everything they had into getting their first victory, or have they really turned over a new leaf? I would advise against putting money on UMass until we actually have an answer to that question.

Nevada (-10) @ New Mexico: New Mexico has really been struggling in recent weeks, as they are coming off a thrashing at UNLV and a home loss against Wyoming. The sharps and public expect that trend to continue against a Nevada team that is in a bounce-back position following their loss to Fresno State last week.

Nebraska (-20) vs Minnesota: The public is all over Nebraska this week, and the wiseguys agree, mostly due to reasons I stated above. The spread has moved up three points since opening at Neb -17.

Virginia Tech (-10) @ Boston College: The public and wiseguys agree on another team laying points on the road. Virginia Tech looked somewhat impressive (despite losing) against Florida State on national TV on Thursday. Meanwhile, Boston College (and their offense in particular) looked pretty sluggish against Notre Dame in prime-time on Saturday night. Virginia Tech has been horrible on the road this season, but BC will be the easiest test away from home for the Hokies this season. Our ACC expert, Jimmyshivers, likes Virginia Tech in this spot as well. His write-up can be found here.

Mississippi State (-6) vs Arkansas: The Bulldogs are a perfect 5-0 ATS as a home favorite in conference play over the past two seasons. They will try to keep that streak going against an Arkansas team that has yet to turn the corner after their slow start to the season.

Florida Atlantic (-2) vs Florida International (on Friday): If you read “Quick Hitters” last week, you would have already known that Florida Atlantic is one of the best teams against the spread this year. Their outright win at Western Kentucky last week has given them a well-deserved amount of legitimacy as one of the most improved teams in the country.

BYU’s bounce-back /  letdown roller coaster. This season, BYU is a perfect 4-0 ATS when they are bouncing back from a loss in their previous game. However, the Cougars are 0-5 ATS following a straight up victory. BYU beat Idaho last week, so it will be interesting to see if the Cougars can buck that trend as road favorites over a San Jose State team that boasts a top ten passing attack. (Line = BYU -3, 48)

Falcons flying “under” the radar. Bowling Green has hit the unders in every game this season (9-0). This week they will take on a Kent State team that has been very effective running the ball all year. Bowling Green’s top 15 rushing defense will need to hold up against the Golden Flashes top ten rushing attack if they want to keep this game low-scoring, which would ultimately give themselves the best chance at a victory. (Line = Kent St +3, 47).

Featured Game of the Week: Utah State (-3) @ Louisiana Tech. My featured games are 6-0 on the year, as last week I had Oregon State covering the 4.5 over Stanford. You can get the full breakdown and pick of this game and check past results of featured games at my CFB Blog.

For more relevant college football information and picks, follow me on twitter @OpeningLine

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