- As heavy underdogs in their final games of the season, Wake Forest and Rutgers—yes, Rutgers—stand among this week's best bets.
A precious few college football games remain on this season's schedule, but there are plenty of opportunities left to make some money. Here are our experts' best bets for Week 13.
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Iowa Hawkeyes (-9)
Fri. 11/23, 12:00 p.m. ET
Pick: Iowa -9
After Iowa started the season 6-1, a three-game losing streak to Penn State, Purdue and Northwestern sent the Hawkeyes' season off the rails. It's easy to imagine what could have been—Iowa lost those three games by only 12 total points, and could be eyeing a spot in the Big Ten championship game if a few breaks had gone the other way. The Hawkeyes took their frustrations out on poor Illinois last week, bashing the Illini 63-0 in Champaign to annihilate a 16-point spread. Iowa also has wins of 17 points or more over conference opponents Minnesota, Indiana and Maryland this season, and a 10-point win over in-state rival Iowa State.
Iowa will finish up its regular season at home with a visit from Nebraska, which has won four of its last five games after losing its first six to start the season. The Cornhuskers' most recent victory was their most impressive, a 9-6 home win over a Michigan State team with an elite defense and an anemic offense.
The Hawkeyes defense is nearly as good as the Spartans', with Iowa actually allowing fewer yards per play to opponents (4.44 YPP, seventh in FBS) than MSU (4.66, 14th). Iowa could very well limit the Huskers to a single-digit scoring output, as well. And while Iowa's offense isn't a top-tier unit, it is leagues better than MSU's, which hasn't scored 63 points in its last four games combined. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley ranks third in the Big Ten with 21 touchdown passes, and has two Mackey Award finalists as targets in tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. Against a Nebraska defense allowing 31.3 points per game (89th in FBS), expect an explosion from a Hawkeyes team that isn't yet done blowing off steam. — Sam Chase
Florida Gators (-5) at Florida State Seminoles
Sat. 11/24, 12:00 p.m. ET
Pick: Florida -5
Florida has lost in five straight and seven of its past eight meetings with Florida State, but the Gators have a great shot to put that all behind them here. Under head coach Dan Mullen, Florida is playing much better offensively than it did a year ago. Despite being hamstrung by inconsistent play at the quarterback position, Florida is up to 30th in the nation in points per game (33.9) after ranking 109th last season. Plus, the Gators are still capable of shutting down their opponents in most weeks. They’re not as reliable week in and week out as they have been in recent years on defense, but they should have no trouble taking care of a miserable Seminoles offense. Despite bringing in an offensive-minded coach in Willie Taggart, Florida State is averaging only 22.6 points per game on the year (114th in FBS). Part of the reason for that is a weak offensive line—which the Gators will be looking to exploit—but the other is the careless play of starting quarterback Deondre Francois. The senior has already been picked off 10 times this season, and he hasn’t faced defenses that will show him as many looks as this Gators unit will. Overall, Florida will simply be too good all over the field. The Gators should win this thing by double digits. — Zachary Cohen
Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Duke Blue Devils (-13)
Sat. 11/24, 12:30 p.m. ET
Pick: Wake Forest +13
These ACC rivals tend to play tightly contested games, as only once in the past dozen meetings between these teams since the start of 2006 has the final margin been more than 11 points. The road team has excelled in recent seasons, going 5-1 both straight up and against the spread in this series since the start of 2012. Wake Forest is 7-1 straight up over its past eight games played at Duke.
The Demon Deacons are 2-0 both straight up and against the spread as a road underdog over the past month, winning outright as a three-point underdog at Louisville on Oct. 27 before pulling off a 27-23 victory as an 18.5-point underdog at NC State on Nov. 8. Duke, meanwhile, has gone 2-2 straight up and 0-4 against the spread in home games since a season-opening home win over Army on the final day of August, which includes a 1-2 straight-up mark in conference home games despite being favored by more than six points in all three games. Duke is now 1-6 straight up and 0-7 against the spread over its past seven games as a home favorite against ACC opponents dating back to Halloween 2015, and that’s despite having been favored by more than six points in all but one of the seven games. With Wake Forest having delivered against a +800 moneyline earlier this month on a short trip down tobacco road at NC State, a case could certainly be made for a moneyline wager here on Wake Forest at anything north of +350. — Scott Gramling
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan State Spartans (-27)
Sat. 11/24, 4:00 p.m. ET
Pick: Rutgers +27
Yes, Rutgers must be a sorry crew for Michigan State—the same Michigan State that just scored six points for the second consecutive week—to be laying 27. And with a 1-10 record on the season, the Scarlet Knights most certainly they are. But this line gives Michigan State far too much credit in what has been an extremely underwhelming season. The Spartans haven’t even scored 27 points in a game since September, and they rank 113th out of 130 FBS teams in total offense in averaging 346 yards per game. From play-calling to personnel to execution, there is something rotten in East Lansing. Not as rotten as what’s in Piscataway, of course, but in what amounts to Rutgers’ Super Bowl, look for Michigan native Giovanni Rescigno to play his most inspired football of the season behind center for the Scarlet Knights. In their last six games as a home favorite of 23 points or more, the Spartans are 6-0 straight up—but 0-6 against the spread. — Ed McGrogan