We've reached the final two weeks of the regular season and it feels like this year has gone by really quick.
Rivalry week and conference championships are on deck, but there are still a lot of quality college football games this weekend to enjoy and perhaps invest some of your hard-earned dollars in.
I had a winning Week 11 and I intend to finish the season strong after a few bumps in the road along the way.
Last week: 4-3
No. 11 Penn State at Rutgers
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: BTN | Line: PSU -19 | Total: 45
Penn State has been mauling overmatched opponents over the last month. PSU beat Minnesota, 45-17, Indiana, 45-14, and Maryland, 30-0. I’m envisioning another blowout vs. Rutgers.
Penn State will be able to overpower the Scarlet Knights with freshmen running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, who have combined for 1,431 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. There are also a bunch of emerging young stars on the PSU defense that have been playing fast and aggressive in Manny Diaz’s scheme. I have a hard time seeing the Scarlet Knights putting up much resistance, even at home.
Rutgers is 1-5 ATS as a double-digit home underdog since Greg Schiano returned in 2020. In the last three, Rutgers lost by 39, 49 and 35 points. PSU has covered five of its last seven as a double-digit road favorite and I don’t sense a letdown in this group.
Pick: Penn State -19
No. 24 NC State at Louisville
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN3 | Line: UL -4.5 | Total: 45.5
NC State is somehow still ranked despite losing 21-20 at home to Boston College last week. Before that loss, NC State managed to beat both Virginia Tech and Wake Forest at home despite having to rely on true freshman QB MJ Morris, who began the year as the third-stringer and was expected to redshirt.
I expect Morris to be a good player for the Wolfpack, but he struggled last week vs. a bad BC defense. Now he has to go on the road for the first time and face a ferocious Louisville pass rush. I’m expecting a very conservative approach on offense from NC State, which always tries to establish the run even though it’s not very good at it.
And as much as Louisville’s defense has improved, the best unit on the field in this game is NC State’s defense. With that said, I’m expecting a low-scoring game. That’s especially the case with Louisville QB Malik Cunningham potentially sidelined. He took a hard fall last week in UL’s loss to Clemson and backup Brock Domann is a pretty big drop-off.
Pick: Under 45.5
Iowa at Minnesota
Time: 4 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: Minnesota -3 | Total: 32.5
Iowa was a winner for me last week and I’m backing the Hawkeyes again. In a game with an absurdly low total like this, getting a field goal is a big deal — especially with the style of play on both sides.
Iowa is terrible on offense, but has the edge defensively and on special teams. Iowa beat Wisconsin, 24-10, last week despite having 146 yards of offense. Iowa’s two scoring drives were 17 and 18 yards. They were set up by a blocked punt and a long punt return. The Hawkeyes also had a pick-six and added a field goal after Wisconsin had a turnover on downs.
Minnesota is so reliant on the running game. Iowa will be able to key in on Mo Ibrahim and force Minnesota to throw. If the Gophers have to start freshman QB Athan Kaliakmanis again, don’t be surprised when he’s baited into a mistake or two. It’s just what Iowa does.
Oh, and Iowa has won seven straight in the series and covered the spread in their last six meetings. I have to take the points.
Pick: Iowa +3
Texas Tech at Iowa State
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: FS1 | Line: ISU -3.5 | Total: 47.5
After a stretch where it lost four of five, Texas Tech got a home win over Kansas last week to get to 5-5. TTU can clinch a bowl berth, but a trip to Ames to face an Iowa State team that has lost six of seven won’t be easy. Five of ISU’s losses have come by seven or fewer points, so this is a team that plays in close games and is desperate for a win. Bowl eligibility is still a possibility for the Cyclones as well, so there’s plenty of motivation for both teams.
I don’t really have a feel for a side, but I do like the total. Iowa State has a really solid defense but struggles on offense. This is a night game at Jack Trice Stadium and it’s going to be very cold and windy. That doesn’t favor a turnover-prone Texas Tech team that throws the ball 56% of the time. But it is part of the recipe for an under.
In Iowa State’s last seven home games as a favorite of a touchdown or less, the under is 5-1-1. Only two of ISU’s games this season have reached this total. I don’t envision many points.
Pick: Under 47.5
Boise State at Wyoming
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: CBSSN | Line: Boise State -14 | Total: 44.5
First place in the Mountain Division is on the line and Wyoming is a two-touchdown underdog at home? That just feels like way too many points for such a disciplined, physical team.
Boise State has a great defense and an emerging star at quarterback in Taylen Green. But the Broncos use a run-first offense without much tempo, a style Wyoming matches up well with on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys will lean on running back Titus Swen in a game where it’s going to be extremely cold (wind chills in the teens around kickoff) and windy and keep things low-scoring.
Wyoming has covered six of its last seven vs. Boise State and the home field advantage in Laramie is pretty substantial this late in the year. During Craig Bohl’s tenure as head coach (dating back to 2014), Wyoming is 6-2 ATS with three outright wins as an underdog of at least seven points in home games played after Oct. 1. Additionally, the under is 18-9-1 in Wyoming home games after Oct. 1 dating back to 2014.
Picks: Wyoming +14, Under 44.5
No. 14 Ole Miss at Arkansas
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: SECN | Line: Ole Miss -2.5 | Total: 64
Ole Miss had Alabama on the ropes last week and couldn’t pull off the upset. Now the Rebels have to go on the road for a night game against an Arkansas team trying to clinch bowl eligibility. Arkansas nearly had an upset of its own last week, losing 13-10 to LSU despite quarterback KJ Jefferson being out with a shoulder injury.
Jefferson is expected to come back this week and I think Arkansas will win this game. The Razorbacks are much better than their 5-5 record may indicate. They’ve played an incredibly difficult schedule but should be able to feed off the home crowd and find success with their rushing attack.
Ole Miss is going to have success rushing the ball, too, but can Quinshon Judkins handle another heavy workload? There’s also reasons to be skeptical about Jaxson Dart’s ability to consistently make throws in a tough road environment.
Pick: Arkansas +2.5
No. 7 USC at No. 16 UCLA
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: USC -2.5 | Total: 75.5
UCLA got caught looking ahead to this game last week and ended up losing to Arizona, who got an incredible effort from QB Jayden de Laura. UCLA faces an even better quarterback this week, USC's Caleb Williams, but I like the spot here for the Bruins against the rival Trojans.
USC's defense is pretty bad and UCLA is going to be able to run it with ease with Zach Charbonnet and Dorian Thompson-Robinson. On the other side, USC will be without running back Travis Dye. Dye has been a security blanket for Williams all year. It's a big loss.
USC has been playing so many bad teams ever since it lost on the road to Utah. The Trojans have received so much hype ever since Lincoln Riley's arrival. UCLA would love to put an end to that noise.
Pick: UCLA +2.5