What are Andy Staples and Ross Dellenger's top SEC bets on the board in Week 12? Which ACC underdog does Joan Niesen think has a strong chance of covering? All of our best bets for this weekend are here.
We continued our November hot streak by posting a 5-3 record last week, and SI's college football staff has eight more best bets in Week 12's action.
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (-2.5)
Ole Miss is ineligible to play in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions. The Rebels are in the middle of a frustrating three-game losing streak. They also must turn around and play a much more psychologically important game (The Egg Bowl against Mississippi State) on Thanksgiving night. This sounds like a recipe for a Vanderbilt cover. Lay the points with the Commodores. — Andy Staples
UAB (+17) at Texas A&M
Three years ago, the Blazers didn't have a football program. Now they're 9-1, ranked in the Coaches Poll for the first time in more than a decade and third nationally in total defense (260.8 points a game). Jimbo Fisher has the Aggies playing a more physical brand of football, but Bill Clark's UAB team could give them just enough fits to cover the 17. — Ross Dellenger
No. 12 Syracuse at No. 3 Notre Dame (-10.5)
The favored Irish may win this one, but I don't think they'll cover the 10.5-point spread against a very good Syracuse team in a neutral-site game. Yes, Notre Dame played like gangbusters last week against Florida State at home—but this is the worst Seminoles team this century, and Syracuse, in a breakout year, has a ton to prove against Notre Dame. The Orange certainly have the offense to keep pace. This one will be decided by one score. — Joan Niesen
Miami at Virginia Tech: UNDER 51.5 Points
Neither of these teams has scored more than 30 points since September. Someone has to win this clash of the two most prominent victims of ACC Coastal malaise, but whoever it is probably will do it with defense. Mark Richt's puzzling handling of the quarterback situation has hijacked the conversation in Coral Gables, but the Hurricanes still have one of the best top-to-bottom defenses in the nation, leading the FBS with 10 tackles for loss per game and second only to Michigan in passing yards allowed. Depth concerns have caught up with the Hokies down the stretch, but these final two games in Lane Stadium with the nation's second-longest bowl streak hanging in the balance could be an opportunity to circle the wagons. — Eric Single
No. 10 Ohio State (-14.5) at Maryland
Ohio State has its special teams to thank, especially punter Drue Chrisman, for its win over Michigan State last week. Chrisman pinned the Spartans inside their own 10-yard line six times—once inside the 1—and that helped push MSU to its demise. The Buckeyes once had the nation’s most prolific scoring offense, but defenses have recently held them in check. This week they face Maryland, which boasts one of the country’s top pass defenses (181.8 yards per game) and leads the way with 17 interceptions. The unit faces the nation’s No. 3 passer in Dwayne Haskins, who has thrown for 3,280 yards and 33 touchdowns with just six picks. Over the past two weeks against Nebraska and Michigan State, however, Haskins has been held below 300 yards passing (even though OSU has won those games). Can Maryland make him uncomfortable and keep up with the trend?
The Buckeyes defense has many deficiencies to overcome if this team is going to beat Michigan, win the Big Ten and make the College Football Playoff. But it should catch a break this week. Maryland QB Kasim Hill (ACL) and senior running back Ty Johnson both suffered injuries in last week’s loss to Indiana. Tyrrell Pigrome, a redshirt sophomore, will be the new starter, and he has thrown one touchdown and one interception this season. As for the running game, the Terps still have redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland (rushed for 210 yards vs. IU) and will have to rely on youth there.
Ohio State is running out of time to prove itself as a playoff contender, and the Michigan game is right around the corner. If the Buckeyes can snap out of the lull they’ve been in since losing to Purdue, the Bucks should be in good shape as a 14.5-point favorite against a banged-up Terps team. — Laken Litman
Stanford at Cal (+2)
This is a reputation-based line, and because of that, there is some juicy value on the home underdog. Cal, despite beating Washington and USC over the past three weeks, is still the most underrated team in the Pac-12 nationally. The other game in that span was losing by six on the road to top-10 Washington State. People are still assuming this is the same Stanford team that has been a beacon of consistency in college football over the past decade, and the Cardinal aren’t. They are a one-trick pony for the most part on offense, relying on jump balls and deep throws to their tall pass-catchers. Stanford's offensive line and defense have both been major disappointments, and Cal’s defense should easily win in the trenches. The Golden Bears have held Washington, Washington State and USC to a combined 43 points over the last three games, and I expect another shutdown performance by Cal. Give me the Bears to win the Big Game for the first time since 2009. — Max Meyer
Kansas at No. 6 Oklahoma: OVER 69 Points
Yes, Kansas is horrible. But so is Oklahoma’s defense. And yes, Kansas fired a coach in the middle of the season, even though David Beaty will stay until the end of this campaign. So did Oklahoma, although it was its defensive coordinator.
A few things that are going against Kansas: Oklahoma has won 15 straight games in November, has beaten the Jayhawks 13 straight times in the series and face the nation’s top offense that has scored at least 48 points in four straight games.
Oklahoma is also the only team in the nation with 30 or more passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns apiece.
With all of that going on offensively, there is still no faith in the Sooners defense.
The unit gave up season-high totals of 501 passing yards and 640 total yards in a 48-47 win over Oklahoma State. And while Kansas hasn’t gained more than 350 yards in a game in six weeks, the Jayhawks still will move the ball against this defense.
Even though Oklahoma is 6-3-1 ATS in its last 10 home games, the smart play here is to bet the over, which the Sooners have cashed in nine of their 10 games in 2018. — Scooby Axson
Bonus: Group of Five
South Florida (+13.5) at Temple
The Bulls are in a funk (three-game losing streak). The Owls are on a roll (won four of the last five). Against the spread, USF has lost four of five, and Temple has won seven of eight. Everything points to a Temple cover. So we're going the opposite direction. Pick the Bulls and cross your fingers. — Ross Dellenger