NCAA Football Predictions: Week 13 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 11/17/2014
So what's the fallout from Week 12 of the college football season? We certainly can waive goodbye to the College Football Playoff hopes of Auburn, which now can't return to the SEC Championship Game, and Arizona State. Georgia clobbered the Tigers 34-7 despite losing star running back Todd Gurley, the former Heisman leader, to a season-ending ACL tear. Gurley will never wear a Georgia uniform again as he's going to go pro, although this might hurt his draft stock. In his latest draft big board, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. listed Gurley as his No. 8 overall pick. Gurley actually has insurance, paid for by Georgia (how is that allowed?), that would pay him if he falls out of the first round. He gets a cool $5 million if he were to never play again.
Oregon State's 35-27 victory over the No. 6 Sun Devils was the biggest upset of the week. ASU still can reach the Pac-12 title game but now doesn't control its own destiny. UCLA is the only South team that controls its own destiny as the Bruins can win the division with closing victories against USC on Saturday and then Stanford. UCLA holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with ASU.
Expect Florida State to be No. 1 in the new College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night after the Seminoles staged yet another huge comeback in winning a thriller at Miami. FSU is the only Power 5 team without a loss after Mississippi State fell at Alabama. I don't think the Bulldogs' playoff hopes are dashed, however. Obviously, they can't lose again. In a way, this could be a great thing for MSU. It might not have to play in the SEC title game against a good Missouri or Georgia team. Alabama would have to presuming it beats Auburn in two weeks. The Tide are +260 national title favorites on Sportsbook.ag, with Oregon at +380, Ohio State at +550 and Florida State at +600. Interesting, because OSU probably is on the outside of the playoff top-four rankings Tuesday.
Here are a few opening lines from BetOnline. that caught my eye for Week 13. All rankings from last week's College Football Playoff release, so they will look different Tuesday.
No. 20 Wisconsin at Iowa (+10): What will Badgers running back Melvin Gordon do for an encore? He set the FBS record with 408 rushing yards in Wisconsin's shockingly easy win over Nebraska in Week 12. TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson held the previous mark of 406 in 1999. Amazingly, Gordon set the mark on just 25 carries and didn't play in the fourth quarter. His 16.3 yards per carry also set an NCAA record. Gordon is now the only guy who has a shot to beat out Marcus Mariota for the Heisman, although it's probably too late for that to happen. The Big Ten hasn't had a Heisman Trophy winner since 2006, when Ohio State's Troy Smith claimed the award. It has had just one finalist since then: Wisconsin's Montee Ball in 2011. The Badgers control their destiny to win the Big Ten West Division, but Iowa would be in the mix with an upset. The pick: Iowa should be able to cover that number at home. The fact Wisconsin can't throw the ball will catch up to it eventually.
Maryland at Michigan (-5): Might Michigan have waited too long to fire Coach Brady Hoke? I ask that because Florida now has a head start for possible big-name candidates after dumping Will Muschamp over the weekend, although he will finish out the season. This is UM's home finale, so it will be interesting to see the fans' reactions to Hoke in what should be his Ann Arbor finale. UM is playing better, winning three of its past four. I could easily see the Wolverines looking past this game, however, to next week's showdown at Ohio State. The pick: Maryland.
Boston College at No. 3 Florida State (-19.5): If this isn't a letdown game for the Seminoles, then I'm not sure what is. FSU rallied from holes of 16-0 and 23-7 against the arch-rival Hurricanes to clinch the ACC Atlantic Division again. How many times can this team play with fire and get away with it? It marked the Seminoles' third win this season after trailing by 15 or more points, most in the FBS. FSU is first team since UCLA in 2005 to win at least three games in a season after trailing by 15 or more points. Boston College isn't a bad team and had last week off. If there were in Chestnut Hill, I'd probably pick an outright upset. The pick: BC covers.
North Carolina at No. 21 Duke (-6): This is your Thursday ESPN game. If I'm Florida, one of the first guys I'm reaching out to is Duke coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils probably slip out of the Top 25 on Tuesday night after losing 17-16 to Virginia Tech on Saturday, but they still can win the Coastal Division for a second straight season. Duke (8-2, 4-2) goes to the ACC Championship Game if it beats North Carolina and Wake Forest next week. Georgia Tech (9-2, 6-2) goes if Duke loses. The Jackets already are done with conference play. You don't think the Heels wouldn't love to ruin Duke's season? These two teams played a really entertaining game last season, a 27-25 Blue Devils win in Chapel Hill to clinch the Atlantic. The pick: Duke.
Louisville at No. 18 Notre Dame (-3.5): Any outside chance the Irish had of playing in a major bowl vanished with Saturday's 43-40 home overtime loss to Northwestern. What on earth has happened to the Notre Dame defense? It was one of the best in the nation entering October, but the Irish have allowed 43 points (North Carolina), 31 (Florida State), 39 (Navy), 55 (Arizona State) and then 43 in their past five games, three of which were losses. Those 211 points allowed are the most in school history in any five-game stretch. QB Everett Golson has become a turnover machine, giving it up 19 times in the past seven games. Louisville had last week off to get ready for this one. The pick: Cards are great value even after losing starting QB Will Gardner for the season in their most recent game. Golson also is dealing with a shoulder injury but will play.
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