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November 29, 2021

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College football by the odds: Vegas preview and picks of every Week 12 game

Bryce Young

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) looks to throw as LSU linebacker Phillip Webb (39) rushes to pressure him during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The game everyone has waited for can now be bet on.

The all-but-guaranteed SEC Championship Game matchup, scheduled for Dec. 4, is open for wagering at Circa Sports. And all the money has come in one way.

Circa opened Georgia as a 3-point favorite over Alabama in what could be a matchup between the top two ranked teams in the nation but the former quickly shot up to -4. The only way the long-awaited showdown won’t happen at this point is if Alabama loses its final two regular season games, to Arkansas and Auburn, while Ole Miss wins their final two, against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.

It sure looks like the second championship-game matchup between coach Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs and coach Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide will commence. The line has flipped significantly since the 2018-2019 SEC Championship Game where Alabama closed as an 11-point favorite, ultimately winning but not covering in a 35-28 comeback victory.

The contest will, in all likelihood, be the most bet-on game of the season with strong opinions on each side, but there’s still a couple weeks to handicap that one. First, there are two more full regular-season slates to go to wrap up the season.

College football by the odds aims to make the most of them coming off of a 31-23-2 record picking every game against the spread last week. The overall record continues  to stand as solid overall but disappointing at the top  — 299-270-8 (61-66 on plays, 106-78-2 on leans and 132-126-6 on guesses).

Read below for picks on every Week 12 game. Lines are the best available at publication time in Las Vegas on the chosen side. Picks are labeled with three separate confidence categories

Big Games

Michigan State +19.5 at Ohio State, over/under: 67.5. Some have expressed sticker shock at this price, but there’s nothing to indicate it’s too out of hand given the separation Ohio State’s offense has created over every other team in the country. Taking Michigan State is a leap of faith in coach Mel Tucker, who should be schematically shrewd enough to have his team hang around for a while. Guess: Michigan State +19.5.

Iowa State +4.5 at Oklahoma, over/under: 60. The records may not indicate the better team here, as Iowa State is at +1.7 net yards per play against FBS opponents to Oklahoma’s .7 net yards per play. This might be the last week where the market vastly overestimates the Sooners. Lean: Iowa State +4.5.

Arkansas +21 at Alabama, over/under: 58. Arkansas’ pass defense might be just stingy enough to limit Alabama and avoid getting blown out. Alabama -20 was my fair number, so this spread is spot-on and the home team would be the pick if the market continues to move in Arkansas’ direction. Guess: Arkansas +21.

SMU +12 at Cincinnati, over/under: 65. Cincinnati hasn’t seen a passing offense the caliber of SMU’s behind quarterback Tanner Mordecai all year. This was a much easier take when the Mustangs were available at +14 or higher, but still probably holds value down to +10.5. Lean: SMU +12.

Virginia +13.5 at Pittsburgh, over/under: 66. Virginia’s offense has actually been a tad more efficient than Pittsburgh’s this season, at 6.9 yards per play to 6.8. The Panthers should win this game, but the Hoos are all too comfortable in the shootout-style they often fall into. Guess: Virginia +13.5

UAB +4.5 at UTSA, over/under:  53.5. A trip to the Conference USA championship game is at risk here and it would feel unjust if the league’s best team all year, the undefeated UTSA, didn’t get there. UAB has been great ever since reviving its program, but has struggled when running against teams with more talent and UTSA is the rare conference foe with more talent. Lean: UTSA -4.5.

Oregon +3.5 at Utah, over/under: 59. Utah has been the better team in recent weeks, but there’s still a talent gap here in Oregon’s favor. It’s going to be tough for the Ducks to beat the Utes twice to ensure a College Football Playoff berth — as a Pac-12 Championship Game meeting is also all but guaranteed — but both matchups amount to a coin flip. Play: Oregon +3.5.

Baylor +1 at Kansas State, over/under: 50. The Bears have their sights set on the Big 12 conference championship game, so a letdown seems unlikely following a momentous upset over Oklahoma last week. And they’ve just been marginally better than the Wildcats in every area this season. Lean: Baylor +1.

Big Plays

Arizona +13.5 at Washington, over/under: 52.5. The Wildcats are far and away the worst Pac-12 team, but have somehow covered four weeks in a row with a run of beneficial situations that included an opponent COVID outbreak (California). Washington State has bult its identity around playing harder than anyone else, and Arizona won’t be ready for that level of intensity Play: Washington State -13.5.

Wake Forest +3.5 at Clemson, over/under: 55.5. Yes, Wake Forest’s offense is worlds better than Clemson’s offense. But the advantage for Clemson’s defense over Wake Forest’s defense might be even larger. Play: Clemson -3.5.

Florida State +2.5 at Boston College, over/under: 54.5. Florida State has an above-average run defense, which is the key component to being able to slow Boston College. It feels like I’ve been on the Seminoles every week, but they’re a team that’s clearly underachieved, and is therefore clearly undervalued. Play: Florida State +2.5.

Texas +3 at West Virginia, over/under: 57.5. Had Kansas not converted the two-point conversion to shock Texas — and thank God they did — this line would very likely be flipped the other way with Texas a small favorite. The Longhorns are in disarray, but this number is an overreaction. Play: Texas +3.

Louisiana-Monroe +29 at LSU, over/under: 57.5. The Warhawks have been much better than in recent years and are well-coached by Terry Bowden and offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez. Combined with their motivation to get a shot at the state’s biggest school — which likely couldn’t care less about the game — this spread is several points too high. Play: UL-Monroe +29.

Other Picks

Play: Liberty -3.5 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Play: Arizona State -3 at Oregon State

Play: Auburn -7 at South Carolina

Lean: Florida -8.5 at Missouri

Lean: Wyoming +6.5 at Utah State

Lean: Ole Miss -36.5 vs. Vanderbilt

Lean: BYU -20 at Georgia Southern

Lean: San Diego State -10.5 at UNLV

Lean: Duke +20 vs. Louisville

Lean: Penn State -17 vs. Rutgers

Lean: Buffalo +1.5 vs. Northern Illinois

Lean: Appalachian State -9.5 at Troy

Lean: Texas State +22 at Coastal Carolina

Lean: Georgia Tech +16.5 at Notre Dame

Lean: Navy +4 vs. East Carolina

Lean: Middle Tennessee State -3.5 vs. Old Dominion

Guess: Nebraska +9.5 at Wisconsin

Guess: North Texas -9.5 at Florida International

Guess: TCU -21.5 vs. Kansas

Guess: USC +3.5 vs. UCLA

Guess: Minnesota -7 at Indiana

Guess: Virginia Tech +8 at Miami

Guess: Stanford +5 vs. California

Guess: Arkansas State +17 at Georgia State

Guess: Kentucky -36 vs. New Mexico State

Guess: Texas Tech +10.5 vs. Oklahoma State

Guess: Washington -6 at Colorado

Guess: Temple +22 at Tulsa

Guess: UCF -30 vs. Connecticut

Guess: UTEP -9 vs. Rice

Guess: Northwestern +12 vs. Purdue

Guess: Florida Atlantic +10.5 at Western Kentucky

Guess: Central Michigan +2 at Ball State

Guess: Southern Miss +16.5 at Louisiana Tech

Guess: Houston -9 vs. Memphis

Guess: South Alabama +28 at Tennessee

Guess: Boise State -27.5 vs. New Mexico

Guess: UNR -1.5 vs. Air Force

Guess: UMass +37.5 at Army

Guess: NC State -11.5 vs. Syracuse

Guess: Maryland +16 at Michigan

Guess: Akron +13.5 vs. Kent State

Guess: Illinois +12.5 at Iowa

Guess: Charlotte +15.5 vs. Marshall

Guess: Hawaii +2.5 vs. Colorado State

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or

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