College football Week 12 betting primer: What's the best play in Wisconsin vs. Northwestern?

Sam Cooper
·4 min read

Other than the continuing struggles of Penn State and Michigan, Week 11 of the college football season did not provide much drama.

There were no games between ranked teams on the schedule, and the only ranked team to lose to an unranked opponent, SMU, was actually an underdog on the road against Tulsa. So it wasn’t an upset.

There was nearly as much attention paid to the high number of games (15) called off due to COVID-19. Luckily, none of the six games I picked last week were affected. And it was a good week, too. I went 5-1 to improve to 30-23 on the year.

Let’s see if my picking prowess can carry over to Week 12 — a week of games with several high-profile games.

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

Florida International at Western Kentucky

Time: 2 p.m. | TV: ESPN3 | Line: WKU -7 | Total: 43.5

Last week, the total in Western Kentucky’s game against Southern Miss was 49.5. The game finished with 17 points. The week before, the total in WKU’s game against Florida Atlantic was a measly 38. The game finished with 16 points. Two weeks before that, the total in WKU’s game against Chattanooga was 53.5. The game finished with 23 points. You see where I’m going with this?

WKU hosts winless Florida International this week. These teams have the two worst offenses in Conference USA. FIU’s depth is trending in a positive direction after being decimated by COVID-19, but it is still a bad team going against a good WKU defense. Take the under.

Pick: Under 43.5

No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 19 Northwestern

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Wisconsin -7.5 | Total: 45.5

Wisconsin and Northwestern play a pretty similar brand of football, I just think Wisconsin plays it better. Northwestern’s defense has been great so far this season, but I think this physical style of play lends itself better to Paul Chryst’s team over the course of four quarters. Wisconsin’s defense should be able to shut down a Northwestern offense that averages just 4.7 yards per play.

Wisconsin has been very strong on the road during Chryst’s tenure. Overall, the Badgers are 15-5 against the spread as a road favorite under Chryst, including 8-3 ATS as a road favorite of seven points or more.

Pick: Wisconsin -7.5

No. 7 Cincinnati at UCF

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Cincinnati -5.5 | Total: 62.5

Cincinnati has gained the reputation of a physical, defense-first team under Luke Fickell. The Bearcats certainly are physical, and they certainly have a strong defense. But this team can really score. You might be surprised to learn that Cincy ranks No. 13 in the country in scoring offense, putting up an average of 41.6 points per game.

That is just two spots behind this week’s opponent, UCF. The Knights average 44 points per game while leading the nation in total offense (619 yards per game). UCF’s defense, though, is pretty bad. The Knights play in a lot of high-scoring games. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t another one.

Pick: Over 62.5

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder carries the ball during an NCAA college football game against Houston, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati won 38-10. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder has thrown for 1,483 yards, rushed for 469 yards and scored a combined 23 TDs this season. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

San Diego State at Nevada

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: SDSU -1.5 | Total: 45.5

San Diego State has the Mountain West’s best defense by a significant margin, but it hasn’t faced a team with the offensive power that Nevada has. SDSU beat a UNLV team with a first-year coach, a terrible Utah State team that already fired its coach, lost to a San Jose State team playing its backup quarterback and then beat a Hawaii team with a first-year coach.

The Aztecs are a good team, but I think Nevada’s passing attack will be tough to slow down over the course of 60 minutes. The unbeaten Wolf Pack currently have the nation’s second-ranked passing offense, featuring the combination of QB Carson Strong and WR Romeo Doubs. I think Nevada wins the game, but I’m more comfortable taking the over when the total is this low.

Pick: Over 45.5

UCLA at No. 11 Oregon

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN2 | Line: Oregon -13 | Total: 66.5

UCLA had a good win over Cal on Sunday morning, but I think the Bruins are getting a bit too much credit from the oddsmakers for it. Cal’s entire defensive line had just come back from a 14-day quarantine, and the whole team predictably looked very rusty. On the road against Oregon, UCLA will face a far more physically imposing challenge — especially from the Ducks defense.

In last week’s 43-29 road win over Washington State, Oregon fell behind early thanks to three turnovers. Joe Moorhead’s offense kicked it into high gear in the second half, though, and the Ducks pulled away for a two-score victory. If Oregon avoids the turnovers, it will win by even more against UCLA.

Pick: Oregon -13

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