College Football Week 13 Friday Best Bets: Expert Picks and Predictions

Get college football best bets for the Friday 11/24/23 slate. This article features an analysis of Iowa at Nebraska, UTSA at Tulane, Texas Tech at Texas, Penn State at Michigan State, Oregon State at Oregon, and Miami at Boston College.C

College Football Week 13 Best Bets – Friday Slate (11/24/23)

It’s rivalry week in the world of college football, and that means we have a loaded Black Friday slate of games as we nurse our turkey hangovers. In this article, find analysis of our staff’s favorite bets of the day. Check out the Lineups YouTube page for further discussion of these games and all of the biggest matchups offered by the Week 13 slate. Let’s get to work.

Jacob Wayne’s Record: 22-23-1 (-1.4 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 12-14 (-3.4 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 22-7-1 (+14.5 units)

Iowa at Nebraska

The final week of the college football season is all about handicapping motivation, and this is a spot where I’m excited to buy Nebraska. In Matt Rhule’s first season as the head coach, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, but the Corn Huskers are one win away from reaching a bowl game for the first time since 2016.

First, Nebraska hosts an Iowa team that clinched the Big Ten West last week. In the final year of divisions in the conference, the Hawkeyes have punched their ticket to Indianapolis where they’ll meet the winner of the game between Ohio State and Michigan on Saturday. The look ahead factor is obvious, and for a team that has dealt with injuries all year, it wouldn’t be shocking to see several key players rest in this game.

Nebraska seemed to have found an answer at quarterback last week with Chubba Purdy, the younger brother of the 49ers’ starting passer Brock. In his first career start, Purdy showed off his wheels on a long rushing touchdown and became Nebraska’s first 100-yard rusher of the year. He finished with 169 passing yards, 125 rushing yards, and two total touchdowns.

Simply not turning the ball over would be a huge boost to this offense as Nebraska’s quarterbacks have been responsible for 22 of the team’s FBS-leading 27 giveaways. Purdy had just one interception on a 4th and 16 last ditch effort in the overtime loss to Wisconsin and took care of the ball all day.

In a season where Iowa lost its starting quarterback, top two tight ends, and multiple running backs, the Hawkeyes have relied on the nation’s third-ranked defense by EPA/play. However, Nebraska’s defense is top 30 in that regard and is more than well equipped to slow down a nonexistent Iowa offense.

Ultimately, I’m happy to buy an undervalued Nebraska team coming off three one-score losses in a peak motivational spot with its Senior Day coinciding with a must win game for bowl eligibility. In a game with a potentially record-breaking low total, every point matters, so try to grab Nebraska at -1 or -1.5 if possible. Go Huskers!

Best Bet: Nebraska -2

UTSA at Tulane

This certainly isn’t a game befitting the rivalry week moniker as UTSA and Tulane have only faced off once before, but this game has massive significance as the winner punches a ticket to the AAC championship game where they will likely meet SMU, assuming they beat Navy as 20-point favorites.

UTSA had a slow start to the season that included a highly controversial loss to Houston and a loss to Army with quarterback Frank Harris sidelined. However, they’ve since won seven straight games by an average of 18.8 points per game. Harris is coming off a historic game against USF with 523 total passing and rushing yards and six total touchdowns.

Harris should be in position to challenge a Tulane defense that has shown some cracks, particularly against the pass as they rank 103rd in pass defense success rate. The Green Wave returned just three starters from last year’s defense and had to replace its defensive coordinator, and it has shown in the team’s overall results on that end.

Tulane still boasts an impressive offense with Michael Pratt one of the best quarterbacks in the Group of Five. However, this UTSA defense is well equipped to slow him down as they rank 30th in passing EPA/play allowed. The Tulane offense is also much more one dimensional as they rank 117th in rushing EPA/play.

The Green Wave simply hasn’t been that impressive to me lately with wins over Tulsa, East Carolina, Rice, and North Texas coming by an average of 3.5 points. UTSA offers a much tougher challenge than any of those teams, and I’m happy to back Harris, one of the best quarterbacks in the G5, catching over a field goal in his final regular season game. Meep meep!

Best Bet: UTSA +3.5

Texas Tech at Texas

It’s been a brutal season for Texas Tech. One of the preseason darlings to win the conference, the Red Raiders have been put through the ringer with one-score losses, brutal turnover luck, quarterback injuries, and more. This team took Oregon down to the wire in Week 2 and was driving for a late go ahead score before a pick six sealed the game for the Ducks – Oregon is now one of the best teams in the country.

I haven’t lost my confidence in head coach Joey McGuire, and I especially love backing him as an underdog due to his fourth down tendencies. Texas Tech’s 34 fourth down attempts are the second-most in the FBS and they finished last year with 52 attempts. Those fourth down attempts add more variance and create chaos – look no further than Texas Tech’s upset win over Texas last year where they converted 6 of 8 fourth down attempts.

After relying on third string quarterback Jake Strong earlier in the year, Behren Morton is back under center for the Red Raiders which helps tremendously with overall offensive continuity. The threat of the passing game also opens up more opportunities for running back Tahj Brooks, whose 86 missed tackles forced lead the FBS.

Texas enters this game broken down and beat up with running back Jonathan Brooks out for the year and wide receiver Xavier Worthy, tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, and guard DJ Campbell all suffering injuries last week. The Longhorns remain the top team in this conference by record, but one-score wins over Houston, Kansas State, and TCU showed cracks in the armor.

Quinn Ewers returning to the lineup was huge for the Longhorns, but his lack of consistent deep passing caps the upside for the offense, as does Steve Sarkisian’s questionable red zone play calling as Texas ranks just 70th in finishing drives. Texas Tech has a sound defense that ranks 9th in PFF’s tackling grades, so they should hold up here.

Ultimately, we’re getting a Texas Tech team that I perceive to be undervalued in the market against a Texas team that has been underwhelming in recent weeks and has significant injury concerns. While Texas likely wins this game to punch its ticket to the Big 12 championship, Texas Tech will push it to the brink here. Guns up!

Best Bet: Texas Tech +14

Penn State at Michigan State

It’s been a year to forget for both teams heading into this contest as Penn State failed to contend for the Big Ten Conference Championship while Michigan State is going to miss out on a bowl game. Not only miss out on a bowl, but most likely end their season with a dud as points will be tough to come by against an elite Penn State defense.

Especially with the Spartans inability to generate any sort of offensive success, even with a quarterback change halfway through the year. After Noah Kim started the season throwing for 1,090 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions, he was eventually benched for Katin Houser.

Houser hasn’t served much better, mirroring Kim’s statline by throwing for 1,011 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. Both quarterbacks have failed to stretch the field with a downfield pass attack, giving defenses the ability to stack the box and cheat up in an effort to keep gains at a minimum.

Penn State will be in a prime position to completely shut down the Michigan State offense, boasting NFL talent at all three levels of the defense. This high level of defensive play will allow Penn State to rush just their front four, dropping the rest back in coverage and daring Houser to beat them with his arm.

That will spell doom against a Penn State back end who ranks second in Def Pass Success Rate and fifth in Def Pass PPA while Michigan State clocks in at 86th in Pass Success Rate and 92nd in Pass PPA. Factor in a stacked middle and the ground game will fail to open up the field to Housers benefit as well.

That puts Michigan State’s offense in a position to stall out quickly, most likely resulting in three and outs and giving the ball back to Penn State. This bleeds time off the clock, especially with Drew Allar doing a masterful job at taking care of the ball and keeping drives alive down the field.

With Michigan State’s offense also failing to capitalize on Penn State’s lone defensive weakness which is defending explosiveness, expect the Spartans offense to stumble for a majority of the game. Take their team total under at no lower than 10.5, getting the hook at a key number of 10.

Best Bet: Michigan State Team Total Under 10.5

Oregon State at Oregon

Oregon State had the chance to shake up the playoffs in their last game out against Washington, but poor coaching led to their demise. A sad sight to see as the Beavers had the talent and advantages to pull out the win, yet head scratching decisions held them back as they finished with a higher Expected Win Percentage and a loss on the record.

This level of coaching will simply not do well against an Oregon Ducks squad who is firing on all cylinders and playing as the best team in the nation. They are well aware that they need to continue to string together impressive performances as we near the final playoff selection, coming off a 49-13 win against Arizona State in a sleepy spot.

Better yet in a motivational aspect, Oregon has also yet to clinch a spot in the Pac 12 Conference Championship as only Washington has done so thus far. Oregon controls their own destiny in this regard, simply clinching their spot with a win over Oregon State.

Not only is Oregon in a position to win, but they are in a position to do so in a dominant fashion as this offense should move the ball with ease against a regressing Oregon State defense. Especially on the ground, having a massive advantage in Success Rate as the Ducks rank second in the nation in Rush Success Rate in comparison to the Beavers who clock in at 70th in Def Rush Success Rate.

That will help the Ducks cut the distance to gain in half on early downs, giving them a better position to move the sticks on third down. By being in a position to routinely move the sticks, Oregon will then find themselves with high quality scoring opportunities by continuing to abuse the run against a Beavers defense who has slid down to 40th in Def Rush Points per Opportunity.

On the other end, Oregon will be in a position to slow down the Beavers run heavy attack with a stout defensive line that can push back against the Beavers top ranked offensive line. By slowing down the push, Oregon’s linebackers get extra time to make the right read by either crashing down the line or staying in coverage. The Beavers also rely more on short gain success over the big play, failing to capitalize on the Ducks weakness of defending the big play.

With key advantages on both sides of the ball, and plenty of motivation to continue to dominate, take the Ducks to cover the spread at no higher than -14. Head coach Dan Lanning has a tendency to put the pedal to the floor, leaving his starters in for a majority of the contest to ensure this does not get back doored.

Best Bet: Oregon -13.5

Miami at Boston College

Handicapping the final week of the college football season can often come down to motivation level. For Miami, it’s hard to imagine that the level is particularly high at this time. After being saddled with the high preseason expectations that so often surround the program, the Hurricanes have really struggled this season. They’ve now lost three games in a row, and while they have indeed secured bowl eligibility, you can’t say much more for them as they sit at just 6-5.

Meanwhile, Boston College is also sitting at 6-5, but the aura around the situation is very different for a team that went 3-9 a season ago and had extremely low expectations for this campaign. Yes, the Eagles have lost some games they shouldn’t have, but there have been some great performances along the way. It’s clear that coach Jeff Hafley has things moving in the right direction in Chestnut Hill, and there’s a lot of energy around the program.

Put simply, Miami has very little left to play for. Coach Mario Cristobal is in a world of trouble whether or not they beat BC, and it’s hard to imagine the squad getting too excited about whatever mid-sized bowl they end up being sent to. Meanwhile, a bowl victory is a massive moment for this BC program given where they were supposed to be this season, and how long it’s been since their last one- the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl.

Even on paper, this matchup is way closer than the 10-point spread would imply, especially on what looks like it could be a very cold November day in New England, conditions Miami does not often see. BC’s offense is top-40 in the country by EPA per play, and could challenge the Miami defense, while the Hurricanes’ already-mediocre QB play could be even worse in the harsh environment. This is a great football number, and BC should be able to cover it on their Senior Day to wrap up a fun regular season

Best Bet: Boston College +10

Iowa at Nebraska

When you’re given a chance to be a part of history, you have to take it. Every time you feel like the number can’t get lower for Iowa, it always does. Their last six games have seen some comically small totals, peaking at just 38.5 and going as low as 27.5, but the under has still hit each time. Now, the number is 26- 25.5 at some books- the lowest it’s been yet, and Iowa can still get the under, especially given their opponent.

Nebraska’s defense has been really solid this year, ranking 27th in EPA per play, while their offense is all the way down in the cellar at 109th by the same metric. If you think that split is drastic, just check out Iowa’s; those figures for the Hawkeyes are third and 130th, respectively. Amazingly enough, four of the past five Iowa games would have hit the under for this number, and Nebraska alone has been under 30 points in each of the past three contests.

This is a historically-low number, but it’s for good reason; two excellent defenses, and two atrocious offenses, especially since Iowa lost starting quarterback Cade McNamara, while Nebraska has had issues under center all year. The Big Ten has shown us some truly gritt defensive battles this year, and this one promises to be the greatest- or, depending on your perspective, worst- of them all.

Best Bet: Under 26 Points

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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