While the majority of the betting public is fixated on each week’s matchups between the top college football teams in the nation, I am more concerned with the mid-major teams that are fighting to win their conference or just to get into to a bowl with the mandatory six wins. This kind of motivation has a way of dramatically shifting the edge towards a particular side if you know where and how to look.
The late season swoon continued with a 1-2 record on my top plays in Week 11. This recent downturn has sunk my season record to 15-17-1, but I feel a rally coming on with this Saturday’s selections after digging even deeper into the mid-major matchups on the schedule to mine out a few “diamonds in the rough”. The following are my three best college football picks for Week 12 with lines provided by 5Dimes.
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Central Florida Knights vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-3)
Central Florida continues to hold off East Carolina in Conference USA’s East Division with a perfect 6-0 straight up record in conference play and it is 8-2 SU (5-5 against the spread) overall. The Knights bring a six-game winning streak into this matchup in which they have averaged 40 points a game while outscoring their opponents by double that number.
Tulsa is sitting on top of the West Division at 6-0 SU in conference play and is also 8-2 SU (5-4 ATS) on the year. It has also rolled through the conference this season behind a powerful running game and shutdown defense. The three-headed monster of Ja’Terian Douglas, Trey Watts and Alex Singleton have combined for 2,025 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns so far this year.
In what should be a preview of the C-USA title game between the conferences’ top two teams, look for the Golden Hurricane to use their punishing ground game to wear down the Knights and grind out the win. Tulsa has won the last two meetings both SU and ATS and extends the streak to three by covering the three points at home.
Take # 376 Tulsa (-3) over UCF (Saturday, Nov.17, 12 p.m.)
Arkansas State Red Wolves (-3) vs. Troy Trojans
Arkansas State is one win away from setting up a duel with Middle Tennessee on Dec.1 for this season’s Sun Belt Conference title. It comes into this matchup at 5-1 SU in conference play and riding a five-game winning streak. The Red Wolves are 7-3 SU overall and 6-4 ATS. The player to watch in this game is quarterback Ryan Aplin. He has thrown for 2,522 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 66.5 percent of his attempts.
It has been an up-and-down season for Troy with an overall record of 5-5 SU and a 3-3 SU record in conference play. The Trojans have one of the most potent passing attacks in the country behind quarterback Corey Robinson, but the ground game has been spotty at times and their defense is giving up an average of 30.1 points a game.
The tables have turned in this matchup over the past few seasons with the Red Wolves dominating 45-14 victory last season as 18-point home favorites. Prior to that, Troy had won the last four meetings SU and was 3-1 ATS. The talent gap between the two teams continues to widen, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This proves to be the difference this time around.
Take #403 Arkansas State (-3) over Troy (Saturday, Nov.17, 3:30 p.m.)
North Texas Mean Green vs. LA-Monroe Warhawks (-10)
North Texas still has an outside shot at qualifying for a bowl game if it can win its last two games, but it has been a struggle lately with just two SU victories in its last five games. The Mean Green offense has sputtered down the stretch with an average of just 19.4 points in their last seven outings while their defense has allowed a combined 119 points in the teams last three losses.
LA-Monroe dropped to 6-4 both SU and ATS with a 45-23 loss the Arkansas State last Saturday as a seven-point underdog on the road. This followed an ugly 40-24 beating at the hands of rival UL-Lafayette as an 8.5-point home favorite the week before. The Warhawks will look to turn things around behind quarterback Cody Wells and a passing game that is ranked 23rd in the nation in yards per game. Wells has thrown for 566 yards and four touchdowns over the past two games in relief of an injured Kolton Browning.
Normally I would not go with a team that lost its starting quarterback and riding a two-game skid, but LA-Monroe is still a much better team than we have seen in the last two games, and Wells is a very capable replacement for Browning. I am also riding the revenge factor in this matchup after North Texas rolled over the Warhawks 38-21 last season as a seven-point home underdog. LA-Monroe won the previous three meetings by a combined 51 points.
Take #406 LA-Monroe (-10) over North Texas (Saturday, Nov.17, 4 p.m.)
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