Every Wednesday during the college football season, we will give “Stanford Steve” Coughlin of ESPN Radio and the “SVP & Russillo” show and Chris Fallica of ESPN Stats & Information and “College GameDay” their shot at picking the weekend’s top college football games.
Here are their against-the-spread picks (in bold) for Week 13, along with a confidence level of 1-10 (1 is lowest, 10 highest) for each:
Note: All odds courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Ole Miss Rebels (-3.5) at Arkansas Razorbacks
Fallica: Let’s make one thing clear before we start this week: This is the worst slate of games I can ever recall this late in the season. Anyway, I still have a job to do and a service to provide! This should be a real good test for an Ole Miss offense devoid of its best weapon. The Hogs have been salty in Arkansas, holding Alabama to 14 points and shutting out LSU, holding them to 350 yards combined. Last week’s win will go down as a turning point for the Hogs under Bret Bielema.
ATS pick: Arkansas 23, Ole Miss 21 (confidence: 4)
Coughlin: A very interesting game in the SEC West, as it puts a top-10 team on the road vs. a team who won its first conference game in two years, and the line is only 3.5. Try to figure that one out. The biggest question to me is how the Rebels’ offense looks in its first SEC game without wide receiver and All-American candidate Laquon Treadwell, who was injured against Auburn three weeks ago.
Could Ole Miss be looking ahead to the Egg Bowl matchup against No. 4 Mississippi State next week? I don’t think so, as the Razorbacks should have Hugh Freeze’s team’s full focus, coming in off a dominant win over then-ranked LSU. Another big question in this game will be how the Hogs’ offense, which averages 34 points a game, matches up with the Rebels’ defense (only giving up only 11.9 points a game). I think Bo Wallace & Co. have enough offense to get the job done.
ATS pick: Ole Miss 23, Arkansas 17 (confidence: 3)
USC Trojans at UCLA Bruins (-3.5)
Over/under: 61 (via Pinnacle)
Fallica: I don’t have a strong opinion on the winner in this one, as Cody Kessler has put together a fabulous season for the Trojans while Brett Hundley has been playing his best football of the season lately (zero interceptions in the past three games). I do think it will be a high-scoring game, as the Bruins have put up 35 and 38 points the past two years on USC, while the Trojans have scored at least 31 points seven times this year.
Pick: Over the total (confidence: 5)
Coughlin: This is one of my favorite rivalry games to watch every year. USC players have to shake their heads every time they look back at this season. Besides the pummeling the Trojans took at Boston College, their other losses have come down to the final play — as have a couple of wins. The public and the College Football Playoff selection committee seem to think the Bruins have this thing figured out, but I tend to disagree. I think their schedule has eased up and they caught Arizona at the perfect time.
USC is just a flat-out better team, plus UCLA will not be able to block Leonard Williams up front. I know the game is in Pasadena, but I don’t think that matters. I trust Steve Sarkisian more than Jim Mora too, so give me the Men of Troy.
ATS pick: USC 35, UCLA 24 (confidence: 5)
Stanford Cardinal (-5.5) at California Golden Bears
Fallica: Cal has been a scrappy team all season, going 6-1 ATS as an underdog (three outright wins), with the one loss coming by half a point against Oregon. This series has been one-sided in Stanford’s favor, but I don’t like Stanford’s offense, which outside of games vs. Oregon State and Washington State, has been nonexistent. In six games against Power 5 teams (other than OSU/WSU), Stanford has eight touchdowns and 10 turnovers in 70 drives during regulation. Cal can get bowl eligible with a win, and will.
ATS pick: Cal 27, Stanford 21 (confidence: 3)
Coughlin: As a former Cardinal player, all season I have had my eyes on this game. No matter where you go on the Stanford campus, the words “Beat Cal” show up, and now it’s here. For the first time in six years, this should — and will — be a competitive game. I have nailed every Stanford game I have picked so far this year and it pains me to say this, but this is the most positive I have been about them.
There just seems to be a vibe that Stanford has maxed out. The Cardinal’s tremendous defense has just been done in time and time again by their way-below-average offense, led by quarterback Kevin Hogan. I am hoping I am wrong about this game, but nothing I have seen from Stanford gives me any confidence to pick them, plus you add in what could be some extra motivation from the Bears as they look to get to a bowl game. I think The Axe goes back to Berkeley.
ATS pick: Cal 27, Stanford 24 (confidence: 9)
Boise State Broncos (-13) at Wyoming Cowboys
Fallica: Craig Bohl’s team has shown defensive improvement in his first year, as the Cowboys have allowed a touchdown per game less than last year, despite playing Michigan State, Oregon and Colorado State all on the road. Boise State has been far from a lock away from home, allowing 49 points to 3-7 New Mexico, allowing 46 points at Nevada and losing at Air Force. Expect another road struggle for the Broncos.
ATS pick: Boise State 38, Wyoming 35 (confidence: 4)
Marshall Thundering Herd (-20) at UAB Blazers
Fallica: For the ninth time this year the Herd are laying at least 20 points. They are facing a team that kept things respectable against Mississippi State, gaining 548 yards in that game. Marshall will score — a lot — but so will UAB and keep it within the big number.
ATS pick: Marshall 42, UAB 31 (confidence: 5)
Coughlin: It seems Notre Dame has turned toxic in just a couple of weeks, as it has lost three of its past four games. One thing I trust is Brian Kelly in this situation. He’ll have his team ready to go here, as the only thing that has stopped the Fighting Irish offense is turnovers the past couple of weeks. When you look at the other side of the field, I know people love Bobby Petrino as an offensive mind. But with the news that quarterback Will Gardner is out for the season with a knee injury, I see Louisville’s offense struggling in South Bend. Freshman Reggie Bonnafon will start his fourth game of the year, but he hasn’t done anything to impress me in those starts, and I see him having his hands full in South Bend.
ATS pick: Notre Dame 27, Louisville 17 (confidence: 6)
O/U: 55.5 (via Pinnacle)
Coughlin: With such a brutal slate of games, we have to slide down the page to find something that sticks out. So here we are in what seems to be just a gorgeous 20-degree night in wonderful East Hartford, Connecticut, as the Bearcats take on the Huskies. If I were to rank the games this week in order of unwatchable to watchable, this is a definite top-five matchup. I’m just hoping it’s as ugly as I expect it to be.
I have seen both of these teams play plenty of times this year (and I won’t bother you with the details as to why). We have one team with a bad offense and an average defense and then we have the other team that has a good offense and a bad defense. With those traits, one would say take the over, but we’ll say take the under.
Pick: Under the total (confidence: 5)
Fallica: 35-26 ATS (57.4 percent)
Last week: 4-2
Coughlin: 40-19-1 ATS (66.7 percent)
Last week: 3-2
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