Welcome back to our weekly look at college football’s lines. Here, we take one of the most volatile sports in one of the most volatile years and pretend to be able to predict it. It’s kinda fun.
Here are a few lines on which I’ll make strong plays, as well as some fun fliers for a loaded Week 12 of college football. I’ll be around on Twitter if there are any other games you’re looking at. Odds are supplied by our friends over at BetOnline.
Liberty (+3.5, +140) @ NC State
I was surprised to see this line. I thought Liberty already had their prove-it game against Virginia Tech—a game that perhaps they don’t win 100% of the time, given the late-game shenanigans, but a game in which they comfortably covered a two-touchdown spread against an ACC opponent. Now, they face an NC State team that has settled in nicely after a rocky QB carousel to start the season.
With junior passer Bailey Hockman at the helm for their last three contests, the Wolfpack are 1-2, yes—but that includes a loss to ranked UNC and a last-minute loss to ranked Miami. They can score points. The problem is that they can’t stop the other guys from scoring points, either.
After facing such elite running offenses as Miami and UNC, both of whom bring good rushing quarterbacks to the table, the NC State defense gets perhaps their most dangerous challenge yet in dual-threat Flames QB Malik Willis and the 12th-ranked rushing offense in all of FBS by explosive play rate. Throw in Willis’ passing ability, which is NFL-caliber, and it seems unlikely that NC State keeps Liberty under 35 points in this one.
I do like the over on this one at 66.5 accordingly, but I feel a stronger lean on the side, especially with Liberty’s undefeated record and potential New Year’s Six berth at stake. If you can get the line underneath the field goal, go for it and protect yourself from a wild finish—but I think the moneyline also holds good value in this boat race.
Cincinnati (-6) @ UCF
Followers of the column will know that I have to keep betting Cincinnati—I’m 5-0-1 in their games. I do think they cover less than a touchdown against the Knights, but this is the least confident I’ve felt in a Bearcats line this year. So take this with a grain of salt.
Indiana @ Ohio State (-20.5)
Oh man, this is gonna be a fun one.
I’ll be rooting for the Hoosiers here even if I have money on the other horse. Tom Allen’s program is even more plucky and likable than your average surprise top-10 team, and I have little doubt that he will have the aggressive Hoosier offense and opportunistic Hoosier defense both ready to go against the Buckeyes. I may take +10.5 on the Hoosiers’ first-half line for fun, just because of my faith in Indiana to come out on the road and make high-leverage plays early to keep this a ball game.
But with all of that said, we only get one “How good is Ohio State, really?” game per year, and we have to take advantage when it comes around. The Buckeyes saw their game against Maryland get canceled this past week, so they’re coming off of two weeks of prep for a legit opponent in Indiana—and given their only wins are against Big Ten bottom-feeders like Penn State, Nebraska, and Rutgers, the public is still suspicious of them.
There’s reason to be worried about garbage time here, as well as a heavy man-coverage approach for Ohio State that has given up some big scoring drives. You might want to protect this with the Indiana first half, as I said above, or an early live bet on the total should it drop from 66. With that said, narratives and rankings all considered, Ohio State is plainly more than three touchdowns better than almost anyone in the Big Ten. Take the chalk here.
As is tradition, we end with some live underdog moneylines to spice up your Saturday viewing experience. Washington State faded down the stretch for us after looking strong against Oregon last week, but they should be favored over Stanford, so +105 on the Cougars is free money in my book. Staying on the West Coast, I also like Arizona against the spread (+10.5) and on the moneyline (+315) against a Washington program that is clearly committed to running the football and protecting their young quarterback—Arizona and sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell can really sling it, and I’m not sure Washington can dig their way out of an early deficit. The ever spunky Kansas State (+330) is worth a look against an Iowa State program that tends to falter in Big 12 play—the only team they’ve actually dominated this year has been Kansas.