The Six Pack: Ohio State vs. Michigan, Notre Dame vs. USC Among College Football’s Best Picks of Week 13

We’ve reached the most bittersweet weekend of the college football season. Sure, we’re getting the Thanksgiving Egg Bowl and a whole bunch of games on Friday and Saturday, but it’s also the last week of the regular season. It’s like the end of the fireworks show on Independence Day. They save the biggest hits for the end of the show, but then it’s just over.

Sure, we’ve got conference championships and bowls, and it’s going to be wonderful. But there’s nothing quite like a college football Saturday, and that’s the last full Saturday.

So let’s honor it because it’s a long wait for them to return. And I think we can all agree that the best way to appreciate this weekend would be a 6-0 six pack. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

games of the week

Featured Game | Ohio State Buckeyes versus Michigan Wolverines

#3 Michigan in the state #2 Ohio: So much of what I think happens in this game depends on the status of Michigan running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. Corum left last week’s narrow escape over Illinois late in the first half and played a snap in the third quarter before spending the rest of the game on the touchline. If his injury was severe enough to keep him out of a game the Wolverines were trailing until the final seconds, it’s fair to ask how healthy he’ll be for Ohio State.

That’s an important question given how dependent the Wolverines offense has been on Corum and the running game. The Wolverines rank fourth nationally in EPA per rush but are a more modest 26th in EPA per drop back. And when I’m trying to take advantage of Ohio State’s defensive weaknesses, I’m not doing it on the ground. While the Wolverines are certainly better with Corum, I’m not sure how many points they score either way. Defensively, however, they should be able to contain the Buckeyes as well as anyone. While I’m not overly confident in knowing the outcome of this game down to the winner, I don’t often see it turn into a shootout. State of Ohio 27, Michigan 21 | under 56

Featured Game | USC Trojans vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish

No. 15 Notre Dame at No. 6 USC: For those who stopped paying attention to Notre Dame after losing to Stanford, the team you saw then isn’t the same team you’ll see this weekend. In its first six games, Notre Dame averaged 2.06 points per possession, made touchdowns on just 66.7% of its red-zone possessions, and had an explosive run rate of 8.8%. In five games since then, the Irish have averaged 2.92 points per drive, hit touchdowns on 73.1% of their red zone chances and posted an explosive run rate of 11.3%. It’s not the type of output that can compete with USC’s performance, but the type of output that can cause serious problems.

The Trojans clinched their biggest win of the season last week but this is still a vulnerable defense. The USC defense has forced 24 turnovers this season but have had 18 interceptions. You can’t intercept the ball if a team doesn’t throw it; If teams don’t throw it, they have a lot of success against the Trojans. The USC defense ranks 117th nationally in the EPA per rush and 114th in defensive success rate versus run. I don’t see how the Trojans’ defense can get so far off the field that they pull too far away, and when a Notre Dame defense that ranks 10th in sack rate and 19th in EPA per dropback , causing a problem or two, things could get dirty happen. USC 34, Notre Dame 31 | Notre Dame +5.5

castle of the week

Featured Game | TCU Horned Frogs vs Iowa State Cyclones

State of Iowa at #4 TCU: I’ve thrown a lot of numbers at you, and I could throw a few more to explain this choice, but the numbers aren’t what’s important to me here. Iowa State is a team that plays in the dirt, dragging down every opponent it faces. That certainly doesn’t mean the Cyclones will beat you if they do – they’re only 4-7, after all – but even if you beat them, you’ll be covered in dirt and feeling bad. Only one of Iowa State’s seven losses (27-13 to Oklahoma) has come in double figures. The other six defeats totaled 24 points. It dragged Baylor in the dirt, then brought it to Kansas. Kansas State couldn’t escape, and neither could Texas. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were the last to play Iowa State’s game.

Now it’s TCU’s turn, and while the Horned Frogs still have everything to play, no one escapes the dirt in the state of Iowa. Also, have you seen TCU’s offense lately? It hasn’t shown anywhere near the same level as most of the season. In their first seven games against FBS opponents, TCU had a 45.2% offensive win rate, scored 3.27 points per possession, and had an explosive play rate of 16.4%. Those numbers have fallen to a 38.4% win rate, 1.92 points per drive, and an explosive play rate of 11.4% over the last three games. This team is limping to the finish line. That doesn’t mean it won’t get there, but it’s hard to trust it to cover that number. Not in the dirt. TCU 27, State of Iowa 23 | State of Iowa +10

car of the week

Featured Game | Florida State Seminoles vs. Florida Gators

Florida in State #16 (Friday): If I told you that in November there is only one team in the country that ranks in the top five in terms of points scored per ride and points allowed per ride, could you guess which team it is? Because it’s Florida State, a team that opened the year with a surprise win over LSU in New Orleans but was written off after a three-game losing streak earlier in October. Well it’s been a much different and much better team since then.

Granted, the competition has eased up a bit, but the dominance is still just that. The Seminoles are flying right now and have a chance to make a statement this weekend. I think they will. The Gators should be able to move the ball better against the Noles than most teams have been lately, but I don’t see them getting any stops. Florida State had one of the best third- and fourth-degree offenses in the country this season; The Gators defense is one of the absolute worst in these situations. The Noles can get stops, and I don’t know if Florida can. State of Florida 37, Florida 23 | State of Florida -9.5

the end of the week

Featured Game | Duke Blue Devils vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest at Duke: I really don’t understand this sum because I see this game fly into the 70’s more times than it doesn’t. We have two powerful attacks against two defenses that can’t slow anyone down. Yes, Wake Forest appeared to have a meltdown for a few weeks, turning the ball over Louisville and NC State at an alarming rate, but it has since bounced back. It picked up 34 points in a narrow loss to North Carolina last week and 45 points against Syracuse.

Meanwhile, Duke has never stopped accumulating points, and were it not for a 24-7 win over Virginia Tech, his defensive numbers would look worse than they already do (and they’re not looking good). I don’t think this will be one of the most popular Saturday afternoon games, but it has an excellent chance of being one of the most entertaining of the day. Wachwald 38, Herzog 37 | Over 66.5

trouble of the week

Featured Game | Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals

No. 25 Louisville in Kentucky: Kentucky coach Mark Stoops received a contract extension this week, and with Kentucky having lost back-to-back – including to Vanderbilt – the jokes came easy. But Stoops deserves the extra time for everything he did at Lexington and it was better to announce it this week than it would have been after a loss to Louisville.

And there is a real chance that defeat by Louisville is imminent. As I said, Kentucky has lost back-to-back and is limping to the finish line. Louisville has won five of its last six, with the only loss coming en route to Clemson. The mood is a lot stronger in Louisville, but when the mood isn’t enough, there’s the matchup. Kentucky’s offense is bad, but it was worst against teams chasing the QB. Well, Louisville ranks seventh in the printing rate and second in the discharge rate nationally. This is bad news for a Kentucky offensive line that has struggled all year. Louisville 24, Kentucky 20 | Louisville (+130)

games of the week




castle of the week




In total




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