Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
Welcome to rivalry week, everybody!
We’ve reached the final weekend of the regular season and there’s so much on the line. Teams are fighting for bowl eligibility, conference championship game matchups are to be decided and the top teams in the country are fighting to reach the College Football Playoff. On top of that, some of the most heated rivalries in the sport are on the schedule this weekend.
It’s going to be a ton of fun.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
No. 19 Tulane at No. 24 Cincinnati
Time: Noon (Friday) | TV: ABC | Line: UC -2 | Total: 46.5
Here’s a game with huge stakes to begin the day on Friday. Both Tulane and Cincinnati are 9-2 with a 6-1 record in American Athletic Conference play. The winner of this matchup will host the AAC title game and the loser could miss the title game altogether. Later Friday, UCF will clinch a spot in the AAC title game with a win over South Florida, leaving the loser of the Tulane-Cincinnati game out.
Cincinnati won the last two AAC titles and reached the College Football Playoff last fall. However, this Bearcats team is nowhere near the caliber of the 2021 squad. UC has barely been scraping by some lackluster opponents with five of its last six victories coming by 10 points or fewer. Notably, starting QB Ben Bryant exited last week’s win over Temple with a foot injury and is considered a gametime decision for this contest.
On the other side, Tulane is having a breakthrough season and has the chance to play for the AAC title for the first time. The Green Wave lost at home to UCF two weeks ago but bounced back last week by trouncing SMU, 59-24. Tulane is 4-0 on the road this season. A fifth road win would mean hosting the conference championship game next week in New Orleans.
Nick Bromberg: Tulane +2, Sam Cooper: Tulane +2
No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State
Time: Noon | TV: Fox | Line: OSU -7.5 | Total: 57
One of the most anticipated games of the season is finally here. Last year, Michigan trounced Ohio State in Ann Arbor to snap an eight-game losing streak with its biggest rival and clinch the Big Ten East title. Michigan went on to win the Big Ten and reach the CFP. A year later, Ohio State is out for revenge. Both the Buckeyes and Wolverines are undefeated at 11-0, and the Big Ten East again is on the line. On top of that, the loser could end up left out of the College Football Playoff field.
Both teams are coming off scares last weekend. While Ohio State held off Maryland on the road, Michigan needed a fourth-quarter comeback to get past Illinois at home. In that game, Michigan running back Blake Corum injured his knee. Without Corum, UM’s offense struggled mightily. The public statements about Corum’s status have been vague, though mostly positive. His status will loom large in this one as Corum has rushed for 1,457 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
Ohio State has one of the top offenses in the country led by quarterback CJ Stroud, the current Heisman frontrunner. The Buckeyes have not lost back-to-back games to Michigan since 1999 and 2000. OSU will need a big game from Stroud to get past Michigan and closer to a Big Ten title.
Nick: Michigan +7.5, Sam: Michigan +7.5
No. 9 Oregon at No. 21 Oregon State
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Oregon -3 | Total: 58
Though its playoff hopes were crushed a few weeks ago, Oregon can get back to the Pac-12 title game with a win on Saturday. Oregon State, the Ducks’ in-state rival, would love to play the role of spoiler.
After losing its opener, Oregon won eight straight and was in the thick of the CFP hunt until a heartbreaking 37-34 home loss to Washington on Nov. 12. Ducks quarterback Bo Nix was injured late in that loss, but he returned last week to lead Oregon past Utah. Nix was hobbled and unable to run much, but he still turned in a gutsy performance with 287 passing yards.
Now Nix will lead the Ducks into Corvallis to face an underrated Oregon State squad that has won five of its last six. The Beavers’ last four victories have come by an average of 24.8 points, so this is a team that has been getting better and better as the season has progressed. A win from the Beavers could open the door for either Washington or Utah to sneak into the Pac-12 title game.
Nick: Oregon State +3, Sam: Oregon State +3
No. 15 Notre Dame at No. 6 USC
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: USC -5.5 | Total: 64.5
USC is the Pac-12’s last hope to reach the College Football Playoff. The conference hasn’t had a team in the four-team playoff since Washington in 2016, but the Trojans can get there by beating Notre Dame and then winning the Pac-12 title game. USC is coming off a huge win over UCLA last week that clinched a spot in the conference championship game. In the win, Caleb Williams was brilliant with 470 passing yards, 33 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. He may need to have a similarly excellent outing for the Trojans to get past a surging Notre Dame team.
The Irish opened the year with losses to Ohio State and Marshall and later had an ugly loss to Stanford. Since then, Notre Dame has won five consecutive games to get to 8-3 and surge to No. 15 in the CFP rankings. The Irish notably trounced Clemson 35-14 at home and are coming off a 44-0 drubbing of Boston College. Stylistically, Notre Dame is a major contrast on offense when compared to USC. The Irish want to control the line of scrimmage and rely on the run game. It’s going to be a fascinating matchup.
Nick: USC -5.5, Sam: Notre Dame +5.5
No. 13 Washington at Washington State
Time: 10:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: UW -2 | Total: 60.5
Washington will already know whether or not it can play for the Pac-12 title by the time this game kicks off. But even if the conference crown is off the table, the Huskies will be plenty motivated playing in their biggest rivalry game.
Before last season, Washington had won the Apple Cup in seven consecutive seasons. WSU snapped that streak in emphatic fashion with a 40-13 win in Seattle that saw the Cougar faithful rush the field at Husky Stadium. Last year, Washington was wrapping up a brutal 4-8 season after Jimmy Lake had already been fired. This year, the Huskies are 9-2 under Kalen DeBoer and looking to get some revenge in Pullman.
But Washington State is no pushover. In Jake Dickert’s first season as the full-time head coach, the Cougars are 7-4 and currently on a three-game winning streak. WSU has been dominant in recent weeks, beating Stanford, Arizona State and Arizona all by double-digits. Washington, with its high-powered passing offense led by QB Michael Penix, represents a step up in competition.
Nick: WSU +2, Sam: WSU +2
Head-to-head ATS: Nick: 30-30, Sam: 34-26
Week 13 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 17-19)
Rutgers at Maryland: The Terps avoided a serious injury scare on the final play of the game against Ohio State as Taulia Tagovailoa has been able to practice and looks set to play. Maryland should win this game on senior day but part of me wonders if this will be a bit of a letdown after scaring the Buckeyes a week ago. The Rutgers defense is solid and could keep this game close. Pick: Rutgers +14
Minnesota at Wisconsin: I have to take the under here out of principle as these two teams play for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. A win for Minnesota means the series is tied 62-62-8 while Wisconsin is looking for its 17th win in the last 19 seasons. I’m thinking the result will be.a lot like last year’s 23-13 win by the Gophers … with slightly fewer points. Pick: Under 36
Hawaii at San Jose State: The Spartans enter the final week of the season on a two-game losing streak after road losses to San Diego State and Utah State. SJSU also hasn’t won a game by more than 12 points since a 40-7 win over UNLV on Oct. 8. But this is a Hawaii team that has been blown out by better opposition on the road so far this season and even lost to New Mexico State by 19. Pick: SJSU -14
Sam Cooper (Last week: 3-0, Overall: 24-12)
Arizona State at Arizona: Arizona hasn’t beaten ASU since 2016, but the Wildcats are much-improved under Jedd Fisch. The Wildcats played poorly last week after the big upset over UCLA, but I like this spot a lot at home. ASU is playing out the season under an interim coach and has lost three straight by a big margin. Let’s make it four. Pick: Arizona -4
Arkansas at Missouri: This is a letdown spot for Arkansas after clinching bowl eligibility with a blowout win over Ole Miss last week. Missouri is looking for its sixth win and has the run defense to contain the Arkansas offense. I’ll take the Tigers. Pick: Missouri +3
Memphis at SMU (-4.5): SMU looked bad last week against Tulane, but it was a second straight road game and a short week for the Mustangs. I like SMU to bounce back against a Memphis team that is 2-11 ATS on the road under Ryan Silverfield. Pick: SMU -4.5
For other Week 13 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
For Week 13 picks from Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger, subscribe to the College Football Enquirer podcast.