Thanksgiving is a time for gratefulness, then remembering your team plays its nemesis during college football’s rivalry week. As the folks at the Solid Verbal podcast point out, this is a week to throw the records out for each team.
While it may seem cliche, if ever there was a week to take underdogs against the spread it is rivalry week. There are going to be blowouts this weekend, but you are going to see a lot of games that are closer than expected given the magnitude of each matchup. It happens every year as teams with little to play for end up playing their best game against their rival.
With that in mind, four of my five picks for this week involve taking a double-digit underdog to cover the spread. All odds listed are courtesy of OddsShark, and are subject to change. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @JonDAdams for additional college football picks.
Here’s a look at the best college football picks against the spread for Week 13.
No. 1 Ole Miss Covers +15 Spread Over Mississippi State
Ole Miss would not be confused for a good team this season, but there is a lot on the line in this rivalry matchup. Ole Miss has won two of the last three Egg Bowls. Over the last month of the season, Ole Miss has played their SEC competitors close. The Rebels lost to Texas A&M by seven points, defeated Kentucky by three points and lost to Arkansas by a point.
Mississippi State is a good, but not great team. While I expect Mississippi State to be victorious, the Bulldogs will be in a fight for the whole game as Ole Miss keeps it close, and covers the spread.
No. 2 West Virginia Covers +22.5 Spread Over Oklahoma
Baker Mayfield will not start against the Mountaineers, after grabbing his crotch and yelling obscenities at a Kansas player last week. It remains to be seen how long Oklahoma will leave Mayfield on the sideline, but it would be surprising if he is held out for more than a series or two, given the Sooners are fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Vegas is oddly favoring the Sooners by more than three touchdowns, despite West Virginia coming into the matchup a respectable 7-4. The Mountaineers have not lost by more than 14 points this season.
Oklahoma wins this game, but not by the wide margin Vegas expects. The OddsShark computer projects the Sooners to win, while West Virginia covers the spread. I expect the same, and like West Virginia against the spread.
No. 3 Washington State Covers +10 Spread Against Washington
Washington lost to arguably the two best teams on their schedule (Arizona State and Stanford), and will be in for a battle in this year’s Apple Cup. Washington State comes in a bit more tested with a more difficult schedule. The Cougs have wins over Stanford, USC and Boise State. Washington State has admittedly not played its best football over the last month of the season, but will have no problem getting up for the Apple Cup.
Luke Falk has an opportunity to pick apart a hurting Washington defense. Washington State is 7-4 against the spread this season, and have a good chance to keep this game closer than the double-digit matchup Vegas expects. Washington should still win this rivalry game, but Washington State keeps it much closer than expected to cover the spread.
No. 4 South Carolina Covers +14 Spread Against Clemson
Clemson is already headed to the ACC Championship to square off with Miami. While I don’t think Clemson is going to overlook a rival, they could have one eye on Charlotte. South Carolina may win ugly, but this is a solid football team. The Gamecocks are 8-3 this season with wins over NC State, Tennessee and Florida. Their only double-digit loss came against Georgia by 14 points. The Gamecocks have one of the best young wide receivers in college football in Bryan Edwards.
Kelly Bryant has taken a step back over the last few games, throwing for less than 200 yards in two of Clemson’s last three games. For months, it has been clear this game is the biggest game on South Carolina’s schedule, while Clemson is looking to return to the College Football Playoff. Clemson will pull out a win, but not before South Carolina gives them a real scare as they cover the spread.
No. 5 SMU Covers -8 Spread Against Tulane
The Mustangs are one of the more overlooked Group of Five teams. SMU is bowl eligible, but has endured a brutal month of scheduling. SMU lost to No. 15 UCF by seven points, the closest of any opponent on their schedule. After UCF, they faced Navy and Memphis two of the other top teams in the AAC.
Tulane is getting a bit of a bump from Vegas after their win over Houston. The Green Wave is not a bad team, but SMU belongs among the top tier AAC programs. The Mustangs have arguably had the toughest November schedule of anyone in the conference, and will look to take out their frustration on Tulane. Look for SMU to win comfortably, and cover the spread.