These are some very important times in the college football world, as all 130 teams find themselves in different spots heading into Week 12. Some teams are just playing out the string of the season with no goals left to achieve. Others are striving for a spot in the illustrious College Football Playoff. Others need to win out to get to a bowl game and others still need just one more win to play in the postseason.
Motivation isn’t quite the factor it is for bowl season at this time of the year, but it can still be a factor in terms of isolating teams to play on or against. That will be something you want to look at and consider as you narrow your focus for the Week 12 betting card.
For now, we’ll just take a look at the opening odds and the initial moves so that you can see what the sharp number-grabbers are looking at and how the big games stack up.
This is your Week 12 Opening Line Report:
Buffalo (-1.5) at Ohio – With no line out for Tuesday night’s Western Michigan vs. Ball State tilt, we start on Wednesday night with a MAC East contest in Athens. Buffalo can lock up a trip to Detroit for the MAC Championship Game with a win. A win from the Bobcats would give them life, but after last week’s semi-surprising home loss to Miami of Ohio, the climb is straight uphill for OU. Buffalo has bounced between -1 and -2, but we haven’t hit or crossed any key numbers yet.
Miami of Ohio at Northern Illinois (-6) – We’re anywhere from -7 to -6 for the other MACtion game on Wednesday, as NIU hosts Miami of Ohio. With the win over Toledo last week, the Huskies opened up a two-game lead of their own in the MAC West. Western Michigan could still win the MAC West with a win over Ball State and then a win over NIU after a Huskies loss to the RedHawks this week, but, like Ohio, that seems like a big ask. NIU did open -7 at some shops and initial money at those places is on the visitors.
Florida Atlantic at North Texas (-2.5) – You’ll see this one in our college football situational article, as North Texas has double revenge from last season against the Owls. FAU beat North Texas badly in the regular season and again in the Conference USA title game. We haven’t seen this line tick up to -3 as of yet, but the Owls are down a lot from last year’s group. UAB already clinched the C-USA West division and FAU already has three losses, so they can’t win the East. The Owls do need a win for a bowl, but that probably doesn’t outweigh the double revenge angle, which will likely drive this line up to and through -3.
Boise State (-20) at New Mexico – Off of the big Friday Night Lights win over Fresno State, the Broncos aren’t getting much love as they head to Albuquerque to take on the Lobos. The Broncos should win, but covering may not be in the cards, as next week’s showdown with Utah State should decide the Mountain Division. That could be a factor in the line move we’ve seen down from -21 or -21.5 to -20 at most books.
Northwestern (-3) at Minnesota – This will be an important line to watch. Minnesota throttled Purdue last week in one of the most stunning results of Week 11. The Wildcats are locked into the Big Ten Championship Game, so they don’t have much left to concern themselves with. The Gophers need a win for bowl eligibility. We’ve seen this line come down from 3.5 to 3 pretty much market-wide. If we get enough Minnesota love to push down to 2.5, that will be a move that you want to pay attention to.
UMass at Georgia (-43.5) – BetOnline initially opened this game at 45, but we’re down to 43.5 basically across the board. The SEC is having its annual bye week before the rivalry games and the last conference games of the season, so a lot of their lines are skewed for Week 12. Georgia probably won’t put too much study into UMass with Georgia Tech in the rivalry game on deck and then Alabama in Atlanta.
Georgia Southern (-6.5) at Coastal Carolina – It seems like the betting market isn’t ready to give up on Georgia Southern yet. This number opened in the dead zone between 4 and 6 and the Eagles were the preferred side after open. Coastal Carolina has really fallen apart in recent weeks, especially on defense, which is likely the catalyst for this move.
Ohio State (-17) at Maryland – We’ll probably end up seeing this number come down throughout the week. There are some 17.5s in the marketplace but Ohio State hasn’t looked like a team capable of blowing anybody out for the last five weeks. A couple shops are down to 16.5, but this is probably the calm before the storm. After all, Ohio State has a fairly big game on deck against TTUN.
Cincinnati at UCF (-7.5) – College Gameday is in Orlando this week for a huge AAC tilt between Cincinnati and UCF. The winner will be in the driver’s seat for the AAC East title. UCF has an outside shot at the College Football Playoff, depending on how much chaos we get over the next three weeks, but this has been one-sided in Cincinnati’s favor since opening. BetOnline actually popped Cincinnati at +10, but several limit bets on their $250 openers drove that number down and the rest of the market opened around 8. We’ve got a couple of 7s out there, but mostly 7.5. This could set up as a public vs. sharp game, as Cincinnati has had a great season, but UCF hasn’t lost since 2016.
FIU (-5.5) at Charlotte – This is a game that caught my eye. I’ve got some power ratings value on FIU, but the market seems opposed to my stance. FIU dropped from 6.5 to 5.5 for this visit to Charlotte, as the 49ers need to win out for bowl eligibility. FIU is in the catbird’s seat because wins over Charlotte and Marshall would give them the C-USA East crown. MTSU’s only conference loss was against FIU. The Panthers have every reason to play well here, but the line has ticked down a point. We’ll have to watch this one this week.
Air Force at Wyoming (-3) – It has been one-sided action on the home team in this one, as Air Force takes its triple option attack to Laramie. BetOnline actually opened up the offshore market with AFA as a one-point favorite, but the rest of the market opened Wyoming -2 or thereabouts. We’re up to 3 now. There are a couple of 3 flats out there as well. With the Cowboys off of the bye and with the ground game running well, that does appear to be the sharp side this week.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame (-9.5) – Ian Book is expected to give it a go this week for Notre Dame, which turned my 7.5 projection into a -10 projection. The line is sitting -9.5 market-wide for this neutral-site game in the Bronx. Considering the mess that is USC, this could very well be the College Football Playoff elimination game for the Fighting Irish. Even without a conference affiliation, Notre Dame won’t be kept out of the playoff at 12-0. We haven’t seen much in the way of movement here yet, but my sneaking suspicion is that Syracuse gets that money.
West Virginia (-5) at Oklahoma State – This is a fascinating game in Stillwater. After last week’s Bedlam heartbreak, it’s fair to wonder what Oklahoma State’s mindset is going into this game. Will they have enough in the tank to play spoiler for West Virginia? The Big 12 is very intriguing right now. None of the teams appear to have a playoff-worthy resume, but there is a chance that WVU and Oklahoma play next week to end the regular season and then again the following week for the Big 12 title. West Virginia has the tiebreaker over Texas, but not Iowa State. Oklahoma’s only loss is to Texas.
Louisiana Tech (-2.5) at Southern Miss – Any time we move off of a key number early in this week, it gets your attention. Louisiana Tech’s body of work hasn’t really stood out a whole lot. The Bulldogs are 7-3 with a +21 point differential. Meanwhile, Southern Miss is 4-5 with a +37 point differential. Is that a factor in the line move this week? Perhaps a little bit, but LA Tech’s uninspiring win over Rice is more of a factor.
Kansas at Oklahoma (-36) – Both teams are in tricky spot this week, but early-week bettors prefer Oklahoma here. No numbers are key in the 30s, but we’ve blown through 35 and up to 36. Kansas is off of yet another loss in the Sunflower Showdown and Oklahoma is off of a win that could be deemed fortunate against Oklahoma State. It looks like Oklahoma can name the score here per the market.
Miami (FL) (-3.5) at Virginia Tech – Maybe we should start calling them the Miami Browns. No matter the situation, the market is betting the Hurricanes. Money drove Miami to a pick ‘em against Georgia Tech in a losing effort and money hit the board two weeks ago against Duke in an outright upset loss for Mark Richt’s team. Here Miami is taking money again, as we’ve moved off of 3 and up to 3.5. We’ll see if bettors get burned again.
Iowa State at Texas (-3) – This is a Big 12 Title Elimination Game. Both Iowa State and Texas are sitting at 5-2 in conference play. The winner will move to 6-2 and will have a chance to backdoor into the championship game because Oklahoma and West Virginia play next week. As mentioned above, Iowa State has the tiebreaker over WVU and Texas has it over Oklahoma, so there is a lot on the line here. We haven’t moved from 3 as of yet, but this line should get some play. My inclination is a sharp vs. public split, as pros prefer Iowa State and Matt Campbell as a dog over Tom Herman and Texas as a favorite and the public goes the other way.
USC (-3.5) at UCLA – Chip Kelly’s first season has been full of ups and downs, but a win in the Los Angeles rivalry over USC would be huge for morale. UCLA can’t go to a bowl game, so this is their Super Bowl. USC still needs one more win to go to a bowl, which is a GD disgrace this far into the season. Clay Helton is a dead man walking with the Trojans. We’ll see if the Trojans respond. The market says that they won’t, as this line opened 5 and has fallen down.
San Diego State at Fresno State (-15) – If this line holds, it will be the biggest underdog role in a conference game for the Aztecs since November 3, 2012 against Boise State. The Aztecs won that game outright. Fresno State is off of a loss, but it wasn’t a crippling loss to the Broncos, as the Bulldogs still control their own destiny in the Mountain West Conference West Division.