Handicapping is a complex art form week in and week out, but there are a lot of factors to keep in mind when it comes to betting on college football in the month of November. More specifically, Week 12 and beyond. It isn’t just about the teams and the matchups. It’s about what is at stake for these respective programs.
Whether a kid goes to Alabama, Iowa State, UAB, or Appalachian State, the goal is always the same. Play the games under the brightest lights in hopes of getting noticed or in hopes of creating a legacy or a memory. Maybe Alabama’s stakes are a lot higher with the College Football Playoff in mind, but winning a Big 12 title at Iowa State or winning yet another conference title still means something to the kids and coaches at those respective schools.
With that in mind, I thought it would be good this week and next week to put together a little bit of a handicapping guide to put everything all in one place to see where things stand with teams vying for bowl eligibility or those looking for division or conference titles.
We obviously know what’s at stake for teams like Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and the like. That’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for teams that may fly under the radar a little bit regarding the goals that are attainable for them.
Keep in mind that you may see some inflated lines this week and next on teams that are in “must-win” situations and that just because a team has to win doesn’t mean that they are going to.
Now that the Sun Belt and Big 12 have championship games, the only other Week 14 games are postponement make-up games for East Carolina vs. NC State, Akron vs. South Carolina, Incarnate Word vs. Iowa State, and Norfolk State vs. Liberty. Liberty is a transitioning FBS member, so the Flames cannot go to a bowl. East Carolina is mathematically eliminated from a bowl. NC State is already bowl-eligible and South Carolina plays Chattanooga this week. Akron could have a chance at a bowl, so that could be a potential factor, but they will be outgunned and be a 3+ TD underdog.
So, the weeks in question are Weeks 12 and 13. Here is a handy guide for Week 12:
Teams with 5 Wins (remaining opponents)
Tulane (@ Houston; Navy)
Wake Forest (Pitt; @ Duke)
Miami FL (@ Virginia Tech; Pitt)
Baylor (TCU; Texas Tech (N – Arlington))
Texas Tech (@ Kansas State; Baylor (N – Arlington))
Oklahoma State (WVU; @ TCU)
Maryland (Ohio State; @ Penn State)
Indiana (@ Michigan; Purdue)
Purdue (Wisconsin; @ Indiana)
Minnesota (Northwestern; @ Indiana)
FAU (@ North Texas; Charlotte)
BYU (New Mexico State; @ Utah)
Toledo (@ Kent State; Central Michigan)
Arizona (@ Washington State; Arizona State)
USC (@ UCLA; Notre Dame)
Colorado (Utah; @ Cal)
South Carolina (Chattanooga; @ Clemson; Akron)
Tennessee (Missouri; @ Vanderbilt)
Coastal Carolina (Georgia Southern; @ South Alabama)
Louisiana (South Alabama; @ UL Monroe)
Ole Miss has five wins, but the NCAA upheld the bowl ban for 2018, so they will not be going to one.
These kids aren’t stupid. Sometimes their decisions between the white lines may beg to differ, but they know what’s at stake and they know if they absolutely need to win this week or can get a better crack at it the following week. It can be a factor. Once again, just because it’s a “must-win” spot doesn’t mean that team will win. Those teams in must-win spots are usually in them because they aren’t very good.
Teams with 4 Wins
Florida State (Boston College; Florida)
Virginia Tech (Miami FL; Virginia)
TCU (@ Baylor; Oklahoma State)
Kansas State (Texas Tech; @ Iowa State)
Illinois (Iowa; @ Northwestern)
Charlotte (FIU; @ FAU)
Southern Miss (Louisiana Tech; @ UTEP)
Miami OH (@ Northern Illinois; Ball State)
Akron (Bowling Green; @ Ohio; @ South Carolina)
Wyoming (Air Force; @ New Mexico)
Air Force (@ Wyoming; Colorado State)
Vanderbilt (Ole Miss; Tennessee)
UMass has four wins, but only one game remaining.
Having two winnable games left on the schedule is always nice, but it’s not a luxury for everybody. For example, Wyoming and Air Force play a bowl eligibility elimination game this week. Illinois is highly unlikely to beat both Iowa and Northwestern, so bowl eligibility isn’t even a consideration for the most part.
Florida State is the most interesting of this group. The Seminoles had to reschedule last year’s game and cut a big check to Louisiana Monroe just to get to a bowl. It looks like the bowl streak ends at 36 this year, barring a couple of huge surprises.
Bowl eligibility isn’t the only factor to consider. There are conference and division races in full swing as well. Let’s take a look at those for some college football betting angles or some games that may have inflation on the spread this week or next.
East: UCF owns the tiebreaker over Temple, but this weekend’s game in Orlando is for the AAC East. If UCF wins, they’re in. If Cincinnati wins, their only loss is to Temple, so the Owls would represent the division with wins over USF and UConn.
West: There is a three-way tie at 4-2 atop the division between SMU, Houston, and Tulane. SMU beat Houston and Tulane, so the Mustangs are in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, the car will probably crash this week against Memphis. Houston plays Tulane this week and Memphis next week. The AAC West is a mess.
Atlanic: Clemson has locked up the Atlantic.
Coastal: Pitt is in control. A win at either Wake Forest or Miami will lock it down. Pitt lost to North Carolina, but holds tiebreakers over Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech, and Duke.
There are no divisions in the Big 12. The top two teams make the title game. Oklahoma and West Virginia currently share the lead at 6-1, but they play each other next week. Texas and Iowa State are tied for second, but they play each other this week. Oklahoma’s only loss is to Texas and West Virginia’s only loss is to Iowa State.
Got all of that? It means that Oklahoma is in with a win over Kansas and a Texas loss. West Virginia is in with a win over Oklahoma State and an Iowa State loss. We’ll worry about next week when we get there, but we could very well have Oklahoma vs. West Virginia for nothing in Week 13 and for everything in Week 14.
East: Assuming Michigan and Ohio State take care of affairs this week against Indiana and Maryland, respectively, all the marbles are on the table on November 24 in Columbus. Not only is that game for the Big Ten East and a crack at Northwestern, but it’s also a College Football Playoff Elimination Game.
West: Northwestern has already won this division.
East: Middle Tennessee State leads the division, but does not control its own destiny. If FIU wins out against Charlotte and Marshall, the Panthers are in the title game. MTSU’s only loss was to FIU. If FIU does not win both, MTSU wins.
West: UAB has already clinched the West.
East: Buffalo is in the driver’s seat and a win over Ohio removes all doubt. If not, a win at Bowling Green next week will do the trick. If Buffalo loses both, Ohio will need to beat Akron at home on November 23.
West: Northern Illinois holds a two-game lead over Western Michigan. If the Huskies lose this week and WMU beats Ball State, the November 20 game in Kalamazoo will decide the MAC West.
Mountain: Utah State and Boise State play next week on the Smurf Turf. If Boise State beats New Mexico, that head-to-head matchup will determine the division winner.
West: Fresno State simply needs to beat either San Diego State or San Jose State to win the West. The Bulldogs hold the tiebreaker over Nevada. If San Diego State pulls the upset this week, things get complicated because Nevada beat SDSU. But, Fresno probably wins this week and none of it matters.
North: Washington State and Washington are the only teams in the running. If both teams win this week as big favorites, the Apple Cup in Seattle will decide the Pac-12 North winner on November 23.
South: Arizona State will win the Pac-12 South with wins at Oregon and Arizona. Utah will win if that does not happen.
East: Georgia has already clinched the SEC East.
West: Alabama has already clinched the SEC West.
East: Assuming Troy beats Texas State and Appalachian State beats Georgia State, the East Division will be decided in Boone, NC on November 24.
West: The West is a mess. UL Monroe leads by a game, but plays Arkansas State this week. Louisiana and UL Monroe play next week after Louisiana (most likely) beats South Alabama. Arkansas State lost to Louisiana, so the Ragin’ Cajuns hold that tiebreaker. Check back next week.
Keep all of these things under consideration for this week and we’ll update this next week and see if we can uncover some betting angles to help you out in Week 13.