College football Week 13 betting primer: What’s the best play in Notre Dame vs. North Carolina?

Sam Cooper
·5-min read

Through ups and downs, the 2020 college football season is marching on. And so are my picks.

I followed up an excellent 5-1 performance in Week 11 by going 2-3 in Week 12, though my favorite play of the weekend — the under in the Utah State vs. Wyoming game — was canceled when the game was called off.

My Western Kentucky under train went off the tracks, and my confidence in Oregon and Wisconsin was not warranted. However, I nailed both of my over plays. Last week’s performance puts me at 32-26 on the year — a 55% clip. Pretty solid.

Week 13 has some really fun matchups on the board at BetMGM. Here are the ones I like the most.

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

No. 13 Iowa State at No. 17 Texas

Time: Noon (Friday) | TV: ABC | Line: Texas -2 | Total: 56.5

This is a huge game in the Big 12 title race, and I think these teams are pretty evenly matched. Iowa State’s best player has been Breece Hall, who leads the nation in rushing. The Texas defense, though, has been good against the run, allowing an average of just 3.1 yards per attempt. If that holds, Iowa State will have to go to the air with Brock Purdy. The ISU passing game hasn’t been anywhere near as explosive as it was earlier in Purdy’s career. I think that lends itself to more of a low-scoring game.

There are some trends that enforce my lean toward the under. In games where Iowa State has been a single-digit road underdog under Matt Campbell, the under is 6-0. Additionally, this matchup has gone under the total in five consecutive years by an average of 27 points.

Pick: Under 56.5

No. 2 Notre Dame at No. 19 North Carolina

Time: 3:30 p.m. (Friday) | TV: ABC | Line: Notre Dame -5.5 | Total: 66.5

Notre Dame’s offense has really taken off the last two weeks. Early in the year, it was overly reliant on the running game, but now Ian Book has elevated his play and seen quite a few of his pass-catchers emerge. North Carolina, meanwhile, has the fourth-best offense in the country behind quarterback Sam Howell. UNC’s last four games have gone over the total by an average of 22.5 points. Notre Dame’s last two games have gone over the total by an average of 30 points. I’m not going to overthink this one.

Pick: Over 66.5

UCF at South Florida

Time: 3:30 p.m. (Friday) | TV: ESPN | Line: UCF -24 | Total: 67.5

UCF is 0-4 against the spread as a favorite of more than 20 points, but this play is more about its opponent. USF has been dying for a win. USF lost to Temple by two points in October and then blew a lead against Memphis earlier this month.

At this point, with a 1-7 record, it feels like USF is limping toward the end of the season. USF was blown out by Houston two weeks ago and was unable to play Navy due to COVID-19 issues. The Bulls are also dealing with injury issues. On the field, they have one of the worst passing attacks in the country. There’s no way they will be able to keep up with UCF over a 60-minute span.

Pick: UCF -24

Central Florida quarterback Dillon Gabriel looks for a receiver against Cincinnati during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Central Florida quarterback Dillon Gabriel looks for a receiver against Cincinnati during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Kentucky at No. 6 Florida

Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: Florida -22.5 | Total: 61.5

Florida didn’t seem fully locked in early on against Vanderbilt last week. The Gators were tied 10-10 with the winless Commodores late in the second quarter before kicking things into high gear in the third quarter of an eventual 38-17 win.

I expect the Gators to come out early and smother a Kentucky team that is dealing with depth issues and is really bad on offense. The Wildcats were destroyed 63-3 by Alabama last week. I expect a little better fight against the Gators, but UK just doesn’t have the personnel to stop Florida’s high-powered offense. I expect the Gators to cover the big number fairly comfortably.

Pick: Florida -22.5

NC State at Syracuse

Time: Noon | TV: ACCN | Line: NC State -14 | Total: 52.5

This is another one I’m not going to overthink. A few weeks ago I hesitated to take Wake Forest at the same number on the road against Syracuse. Wake covered easily. NC State and Wake Forest are comparable teams, and Syracuse keeps getting worse and worse. Syracuse is down to its third-string quarterback and is coming off a 30-0 loss to Louisville in which its offense managed to gain only 137 yards. NC State’s offense wasn’t sharp in the win over Liberty last week. I think the Wolfpack bounce back and win big.

Pick: NC State -14

Colorado at No. 18 USC

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: USC -13.5 | Total: 63.5

I’m not really buying what I’ve seen from USC so far. The Trojans needed a miraculous late-game rally to beat Arizona State and then a touchdown in the final minute to escape Arizona. Last week, USC’s offense didn’t look very good in a win over a rebuilding Utah team that lost its starting QB to injury in the first quarter and turned it over five times.

I’m not totally sure Colorado is very good either, but I think the Buffs are solid enough on both sides of the ball to keep it within two touchdowns. Under Clay Helton, USC is 6-10 ATS as a double-digit home favorite, including a 2-8 mark over its last 10.

Pick: Colorado +13.5

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