Get college football best bets for the Saturday 11/25/23 slate. This article features an analysis of Ohio State vs. Michigan, Alabama vs. Auburn, Texas A&M vs. LSU, Virginia Tech vs. Virginia, and more.
College Football Week 13 Best Bets – Saturday Slate (11/25/23)
We’re onto Week 13 of the college football season, and that means it’s rivalry week with some massive grudge matches across the country. In this article, our staff has you covered with our favorite bets of the day on Saturday. Check out the Lineups YouTube page for further discussion of these games and all of the biggest matchups offered by the Week 13 slate.
Keep in mind that in the final week of the regular season in college football, much of the handicapping comes down to playing situations and motivation. Which teams need a sixth win for bowl eligibility? Who has overlook to a conference championship next week? These are the questions you should have in mind when placing wagers for this week’s 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)
Miami (OH) at Ball State
While you’re likely watching Ohio State and Michigan square off in the most anticipated game of the season, two other midwest teams will be playing in the Redbird Rivalry Battle. Miami OH enters this game having clinched a spot in the MAC title game, but it wasn’t without damage as quarterback Brett Gabbert is out for the year. Meanwhile, Ball State can finish 3-0 in rivalry games this season.
This is also a significant revenge game for the Cardinals. Last year, Miami OH and Ball State met in the final week of the regular season with both teams needing a win for bowl eligibility, and Miami OH squeaked out an 18-17 thriller. Ball State will also have a new quarterback in this game as Kiael Kelly has helped the offense blossom as a read-option system with star running back Marquez Cooper.
The total of 35.5 points here indicates the expectation for another low-scoring affair between MAC teams, and that affords additional value to the home underdog with scoring not coming easily for either team. In what essentially amounts to being Ball State’s Super Bowl, bet on them taking Miami OH down to the wire in what would be their sixth straight ATS win.
Best Bet: Ball State +5 (play to +3.5)
Virginia Tech at Virginia
It might not feel like it with their current 3-8 record, but the energy is shifting at Virginia in Tony Elliott’s second season as the head coach. The Cavaliers shocked the world with their road upset of North Carolina earlier this season, but they proved that wasn’t a fluke with one-score losses to Miami and Louisville before a win over Duke last week.
Virginia was unable to play its in-state rival Virginia Tech last year as tragedy befell the program with the unfathomable deaths of three football players as a result of a shooting. One year later and the Cavaliers are a galvanized group looking to upset a Virginia Tech team needing a win to reach bowl eligibility.
True freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea is coming off his best game of the season with 260 passing yards and three touchdowns against a stout Duke defense, and after some turnover issues earlier this season, he has reigned it in with just one total turnover-worthy play against Louisville and Duke the past two weeks.
Ultimately, I don’t see much of a difference between these teams from a power rating perspective, and the Hokies are catching a couple of points because of the perceived motivational edge. However, Virginia still has plenty left to play for, and on its current 7-1 ATS streak, it has been repeatedly undervalued by the books. Let’s back on Elliott’s team pulling off the upset in what will be a highly emotionally charged environment.
Best Bet: Virginia +2.5 (play to ML)
Fresno State at San Diego State
It’s been a disappointing season for San Diego State with a 3-8 record, but there’s no reason to question whether or not they’ll be up for this game. The Aztecs’ head coach Brady Hoke is retiring after this season, so this is his last game ever, and it’s senior night for several key players including starting quarterback Jalen Mayden.
Meanwhile, Fresno State’s season effectively ended last week with a shocking outright home loss to New Mexico in a game where they were 23-point favorites. While the Bulldogs have clinched bowl eligibility, that loss eliminated them from contention at the Mountain West championship, so there’s not much to play for here.
Fresno State benefitted from a very easy schedule early in the season as just two of their eight wins have been against teams with a winning record. They even needed double overtime to take down an Eastern Washington team that is 4-7 in FCS play. Meanwhile, a hard luck San Diego State team battled through a non conference slate that included UCLA and Oregon State before dropping four of their six conference games by one possession.
The Bulldogs could get starting quarterback Mikey Keene back this week, but that won’t change the fact that Fresno State’s mediocre rushing attack isn’t well equipped to hit the Aztecs where they’re weakest. I believe San Diego State is live to pull off the outright upset and I’d recommend putting their Moneyline in a Round Robin or parlay to take advantage of that upside.
Best Bet: San Diego State +5 (play to +3.5)
Washington State vs Washington
If it wasn’t for Oregon State calling a horrific game plan against Washington in last week’s contest, then our tone about the Huskies could be vastly different. Oregon State had a massive advantage with their ground game, using it to resounding success until they switched to the pass and stalled out their own drive. Washington eventually used that to their own gain, pulling out the tight win.
The Huskies have been looking more beatable with each passing week and the markets tend to agree by making Oregon a bigger favorite in a potential rematch in the Pac 12 championship. That is in large part of their defense struggling to stop anyone, as well as opposing defenses figuring out how to slow down Penix Jr and the Washington pass attack.
While Washington State may lack what it takes to pull off the upset win, they are in at least a position to keep it tighter than the spread implies. Especially with their defense excelling in the area that it takes to slow down Washington, ranking 30th in Def Pass Success Rate.
That is where Michael Penix thrives as Washington’s pass attack ranks fifth in Pass Success Rate and 71st in Pass Explosiveness. His ability to routinely hit his receivers in stride lets them get their playmakers out in the open field, getting it out quick as they streak across the middle.
With the Cougars defense showing that they can at least cover that area of the offense at an above average rate, they may have what it takes to slow them down enough to give their offense enough opportunities to keep it tight. Defending the run may be an issue, but Washington having to go that route will only burn time off the clock faster in our tickets favor.
As for the Washington State offense, they are in a position to find success against a weak Washington defense who has struggled this whole season. Especially with Cameron Ward being a dual threat quarterback, putting stress on the Washington linebackers and creating gaps in coverage for him to pick apart or hit the open field.
Defending the run has been a major issue for Washington, ranking a lowly 131st in Def Rush Success Rate and 129th in Def Rush PPA. When his pass catchers are covered, Ward should have no issue moving the sticks himself by taking off and running.
Best Bet: Washington State +16.5
Week 13 Moneyline Parlay
Rivalry week Saturday features two highly anticipated contests with the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines facing off while the Iron Bowl follows suit. Alabama is pegged as a major favorite this year, making it tough to back them over a two score spread. In order to work around that, they make for an intriguing parlay piece that can be tied with the Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan has seen their spread diminish after the market reopened heading into this week, sitting as a -3.5 favorite after being -6.5 for the past couple of weeks. That is an odd overreaction, one that most likely stems from the vastly different results with Michigan squeaking past Maryland and Ohio State dominating Minnesota.
Recency bias tends to overshadow season long results as Ohio State has not looked like much of a world beater for a majority of the season. Kyle McCord has struggled to generate any sort of passing consistency while their ground game has yet to round into elite form. He now faces a Michigan defense who ranks sixth in Def Pass Success Rate and seventh in Def Pass PPA.
With McCord most likely struggling with his short throws, as well as continuing to miss throw deep balls, it’s tough to see how Ohio State will stay within scoring pace. Especially with Michigan being in a position to abuse the run up the middle, getting Corum to the second level of the defense for chunks at a time and routinely moving the sticks into scoring position.
As for Alabama, they are playing like one of the best teams in the nation while Auburn comes off one of the more embarrassing losses in program history. Auburn closed as a -26.5 favorite against New Mexico State, losing outright to the tune of 31-10.
Auburn now has to get up off the mat against the hottest team in the nation. Worse yet for the Tigers, Bama’s turnaround has stemmed off their offensive adjustments, turning Jalen Milroe more into a running quarterback in order to set up his shots down the field. That spells potential doom for a Auburn team who ranks 114th in Def Pass Explosiveness and 68th in Def Rush Success Rate.
On the other side of the ball, it should be business as usual for the Crimson Tide defense as that has been their consistent source of success so far this season. Auburn is a one dimensional offense, featuring no reliant pass game and run at a heavy rate. That may be tough for Auburn to find success as Alabama ranks ninth in Def Rush Success Rate and 37th in Def Rush PPA.
Best Bet: Michigan / Alabama Moneyline Parlay
Texas A&M vs LSU
The Office’s Andy Bernard once said that he wished there was a way to know that you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them. Well, I’m here to tell you that the good old days are right now in terms of one of the greatest sports betting wagons we’ve seen in recent memory: LSU overs.
The Tigers hit the over in 10 straight games to start the season before coming up short by just four points in a game against Georgia State, a late-season Group of Five matchup, the likes of which are always unpredictable due to the challenge of handicapping motivation.
LSU is the ultimate over team. They have not just the best overall offense by EPA, but the best rush and pass units too, individually. They also have a bottom-five defense in the country per the metric, and are a fairly pass-heavy team, which helps pace a lot.
Unlike some teams that have little to play for in terms of bowl placement and the like, LSU should still be fired up to play offense as their quarterback, Jayden Daniels, continues his assault on the record books and Heisman push. He’s thrown for 36 touchdowns and just four picks, while also rushing for over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M’s defense actually grades quite well, but it’s really hard to imagine the Aggies being too motivated to slow down this offense at the end of what is essentially a lost season. There are plenty of pro prospects who will surely have their eye on the NFL, so it might be a diminished performance from this unit.
Even with an excellent defense, A&M has been in some shootouts as of late. A 38-35 showing against Ole Miss, a team like LSU that has great, multifaceted offense but poor defense, really stands out, while LSU’s 28 points against Alabama despite Daniels getting knocked out midway through is a good sign. They should be able to do the same thing against a solid Aggies defense, while giving up plenty of points on the other side of the ball.
Best Bet: Over 66.5 Points
Indiana vs Purdue
These two classic Midwestern rivals are both sitting at 3-8 heading into week 13, but the beauty of college football is that the season can be, in part, redeemed by wrapping things up with a big win over your archrival. With both sides desperate for a positive note on which to end the year, the motivation levels should be high, even with no bowl-related stakes for either squad.
Besides the motivation factor, these teams line up really well for a shootout. Indiana’s offense is functional enough to play with a passable Purdue defense, while the Hoosiers’ defense is so putrid that the Boilermakers’ below-average attack can score on them as well.
Indiana just put 21 points on a solid Michigan State defense, and before that, played to a shocking shootout with Illinois that featured 93 points, 84 of which were scored in regulation. Meanwhile, Purdue moved the ball surprisingly well against Michigan, and played a game with Minnesota where 79 points were scored, despite a pregame total of just 48
This number was as low as 50.5 earlier this week, so it’s steaming in the right direction. It’s always best to get the lowest number when you can, but the trend is promising and the current number still provides you with a lot of value and access to key numbers.
Best Bet: Over 53.5 Points
Houston vs UCF
Let’s dig into a new (but really not new) in-conference matchup, between teams that joined the Big 12 this season after playing together in the American Athletic Conference for the last few years. Simply put, these two teams have wasted no time getting into the Big 12 spirit; neither one has a very good defense. They’re just about identically awful, as a matter of fact- UCF ranks 107th in defensive EPA per play, while Houston is a spot above at 106th.
Their flaws are different, as UCF is one of the worst ground defenses in the league while Houston struggles more with defending the pesky forward pass, but the result is similar. Houston is allowing almost 32 points per game while UCF’s average is 26.5, although the Knights arguably played a considerably easier non-conference schedule
As for the offenses, they aren’t quite as level; UCF’s ranks 25th by EPA, while Houston’s is barely in the top-100. That being said, the Cougars have showed some signs of life of late; most recently, they hung 30 points on an average Oklahoma State unit- while conceding 43. It’s a perfect storm for a late-season over, especially as 5-6 UCF still has the motivation of pushing for bowl eligibility.
Best Bet: Over 61.5 Points