The 2021 college football season is almost over. That statement depresses me. Fortunately, bowl season is next, and let me tell ya, that is one of my favorites times of the year! Looking forward to that. Until then, here’s what I like for Week 12.
My best bet: SMU +11.5 at Cincinnati
Wake Forest (+4.5, +165 ML) at Clemson
The Demon Deacons passed the test for me last week, defeating a good defense in NC State. Clemson is a tougher test, but now Wake is catching points instead of laying them. The Tigers have played two passing offenses and lost to both: 27-21 to NC State in overtime and 27-17 to Pitt.
Wake doesn’t nearly have the same defense as either of those opponents, but it does have a more balanced offense than both. That’s the difference in this matchup: NC State and Pitt are one-dimensional passing teams. Wake has both QB Sam Hartman (nearly 3,200 passing yards, 30 touchdowns) plus a trio of RBs with a combined 16 ground scores led by Christian Beal-Smith.
The one question I have: If Clemson needs to play from behind, do I trust DJ Uiagalelei to catch up? No, but I trust Hartman.
Iowa State (+3.5, +145 ML) at Oklahoma
The Cyclones were caught sleeping in last week's 41-38 loss to Texas Tech, losing outright as 10.5-point favorites. Well, this is the exact same matchup. Both Oklahoma and Texas Tech are similar in nearly all statistical categories on offense and defense. In fact, the Red Raiders hold a slight edge. Both ISU and OU are bottom 30 in converting on third down, which implies this could be a slug fest. The Cyclones' defense holds the slight edge in opponent red-zone scores and touchdowns allowed. Plus, this is the first game all season the Cyclones are underdogs. Under head coach Matt Campbell, Iowa State is 19-10-1 ATS as an underdog.
Illinois (+12.5) at Iowa
The Fighting Illini are a tough team, I’ll give them credit for that. Lost by a score or less to UTSA and Purdue, and defeated Penn State and Minnesota. The two wins ... on the road. I know Illinois doesn’t have an offense that threatens, but what exactly is Iowa? The same type of team with a better defense. If you look at both scoring offense and scoring defense, Illinois is just a better road team. Iowa in back-to-back weeks has won by exactly five points to Northwestern and Minnesota, and failed to cover the spread in its last three games as a favorite. Illinois is 3-1 ATS as a road underdog with it’s only non-cover in Week 3 against Virginia, a team ranked No. 2 in passing yards.
UAB at UTSA (-4.5)
This line opened at six and has since dropped. Could this be a three-point game? Sure, but I’ll take the better team at everything in the UTSA Roadrunners. Both squads are top 30 in generating QB pressure. The difference lies in QB protection. The Roadrunners have one of the best offensive lines in the country and are third-best at protecting QB Frank Harris, who has been sacked just six times this season. It’s not just that the OL is good, but it’s also because Harris is a dual-threat with 400 rushing yards this season.
Blazers QB Dylan Hopkins is not well protected (22 sacks) and not mobile (13 rushing yards). I trust this UTSA defensive front to attack and limit the UAB offense.
Aside from that, the Blazers are a run-only offense, now facing a team ranked fifth against the run. UTSA is top 50 in passing and top 30 in rushing.
So why the line move? An overreaction to UTSA’s 27-17 win over Southern Miss last week as a 33-point favorite. That was the Roadrunners' first home game in a month after back-to-back competitive wins over a good offense in Louisiana Tech and a solid defense in UTEP. I like Harris, RB Sincere McCormick and leading pass rusher Clarence Hicks to come out with the win, so I’ll lay the points.
Florida at Missouri (Over 69)
If you remove the Georgia game, in the last three contests Florida has played it's allowed 49 points to LSU, 40 to South Carolina, and 52 — yes, 52 — from FCS squad Samford. And let me remind you: Florida was down 42-28 to Samford at one point. Missouri, in its losses, allowed opponents an average of 43 points per game and in its wins it scored 38 per game. The weather looks fine as far as wind is concerned. Give me fireworks!