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Weekly Picks

Week 12 CFB ATS Predictions

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

 

 

 

MARQUEE MATCHUPS:



 

 

OKLAHOMA STATE -1 Baylor

 



Straight Up:  Baylor Bears

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Baylor Bears

 

 



Analysis:



 
The advanced stats hate Oklahoma State because its strength of schedule ranks No. 106 and the Pokes have pulled out a series of close wins over mediocre or worse teams (the Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia and Iowa State wins were all by single-digits; they beat TCU by 20 but were outgained by more than 200 yards). That SOS ranking is about to get a whole lot better at the expense of what I see as two straight losses. Oklahoma, which very well may be the best team in the nation right now, is next. Baylor only trailed the Sooners by a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter last week before the passing game bogged down in a rainstorm. The Cowboys, meanwhile, trailed Iowa State by 10 points heading into the final stanza. Oklahoma State has two primary weaknesses: They can't run and their own rushing defense is poor. Expect a big day from Bears RB Shock Linwood.



OHIO STATE -13 Michigan State

 



Straight Up: Ohio State Buckeyes 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Ohio State Buckeyes

 

 



Analysis:



 
A sour fetor is rising off this Spartans squad and nobody can seem to put a finger on the origin of the odor. Is this team not as good as we expected because Connor Cook isn't as good as we thought? Does it come down to an inability to run the ball? Is the offensive line, replete with multiple NFL prospects, highly overrated? Or should we dump all of the blame on a shockingly porous defense? If you lean towards that last explanation, the secondary (No. 83 pass defense) is the primary culprit. Whichever way you slice it, the Spartans look like an outfit ripe to get demolished by a more talented team, which is why I'm going to close my eyes and oppose MSU's 11-1 ATS record in its last 12 as an underdog.
 



Oklahoma –5 TCU


 



Straight Up:  
Oklahoma Sooners
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Oklahoma Sooners

 

 



Analysis:





 
This line was yanked off the board on Tuesday and had not been returned as of early Friday afternoon, so we'll have to use the last available spread. Las Vegas doesn't know if Trevone Boykin (ankle) or Foster Sawyer will start at quarterback and probably won't until kickoff. We do know (probably) that the Horned Frogs will be without WR Josh Doctson, who is expected to miss the next two games with a wrist injury. Even if Boykin plays, I like the Sooners by double digits. Oklahoma has been blowing out team after team since losing to Texas and may just have the nation's best offense. TCU plays defense like you do when offered a free drink.




Michigan -4.5 PENN STATE

 



Straight Up:  
Penn State Nittany Lions
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Penn State Nittany Lions

 

 



Analysis:





Warning: This pick is not for the faint of heart. The Nittany Lions have a poor offensive line, a generous secondary, an overrated quarterback and a maligned head coach. Oh, and the advanced metrics see this matchup as even more lopsided than you might assume: The Wolverines rank No. 5 in Bill Connelly's S&P+ rankings while Penn State checks in at 32. This is purely a gamble on the situation and a hunch about Michigan. Jim Harbaugh's bunch has Ohio State on deck and were lucky to escape Minnesota and Indiana over the past few weeks. Penn State hasn't lost a home game all year and I see them defending their home turf again.



MISSISSIPPI -4.5 LSU


 

 

Straight Up:  LSU Tigers

 
 

Against the Spread:


 LSU Tigers

 

 



Analysis:





Somebody has to win. And if you believe the rumors, Les Miles must to keep his job. Listen: You don't want to put the Mad Hatter in a corner. Or maybe you do. Maybe the school itself started the rumor so Miles would dig deep into his old bag of tricks to turn the season around. I expect trick plays, I expect fake punts, I expect 1,000 shots of Les Miles either chewing grass or smirking, I expect Leonard Fournette to enter DEFCON Beast Mode and re-enter the Heisman race, and I even expect a Brandon Harris touchdown pass(!). The Rebels probably won't be able to take much advantage of LSU's issues stopping the run.
 
 
 
 

ARKANSAS -3.5 Mississippi St.

 



Straight Up:  
Arkansas Razorbacks
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Arkansas Razorbacks

 

 



Analysis:




The best bet here is the "over" because Arkansas can't defend the pass (282.3 yards per game; ranked No. 113 in the country), Mississippi State can throw (297.1 YPG; No. 21), the Bulldogs can't stop the run (174.4; No. 76), Arkansas RB Alex Collins has already topped 100 yards eight times and the Hogs have the nation's best passing attack, according to S&P+. We'll get a highly entertaining shootout on Saturday night because of all the strength-on-weakness matchups. I think the red-hot Hogs win it to make it five in a row.

 


OREGON -4.5 Usc

 


Straight Up:  Oregon Ducks

 
 

Against the Spread:


 

Southern California Trojans 

 



Analysis:





Bet the Ducks. I pick against them week after week and can't bring myself to stop despite their ATS heater. More accurately, I don't see this as the spot to do so. In a Saturday that should be full of entertaining shootouts (Baylor-OSU, OU-TCU, Arkansas-MSU, etc.), this game has the potential to finish with the highest total. As I outlined in my weekly DFS column, both Vernon Adams and Cody Kessler should have monster games (they are my top two ranked DFS QBs this week). Oregon's No. 120 pass defense is an embarrassment to Power 5 football and USC isn't doing much better at No. 92. I side with the Trojans here for two reasons: the run defense is one of the nation's 25 best and isn't going to get stampeded by Royce Freeman, and S&P+ ranks USC 32 spots higher than Oregon (11 against 43).  




WILD CARDS:






Navy -12 TULSA

 

 

 

Straight Up:  
Navy Midshipmen
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Navy Midshipmen

 

 



Analysis:







Why are the Midshipmen only favored by 12? This is a big mismatch. Navy (8-1, No. 12 in S&P+) has won four straight since losing to Notre Dame (including that romp of Memphis) and features the nation's second-best rushing attack (335 YPG). Tulsa's defense looks up to Oregon's. S&P+ ranks its run defense No. 118 (it is No. 111 by yards per game) and its pass defense 98 (No. 119). The Golden Hurricane also haven't faced Navy since 2006, so their general state of defensive befuddlement is about to go up by a factor of 10 against Keenan Reynolds and this sleek triple-option offense. Though Tulsa will be able to throw on Navy, they won't be able to stay within the number. The Mids may threaten 70 points. 



MARYLAND -3 Indiana

 



Straight Up: Indiana Hoosiers 

 
 

Against the Spread:


Indiana Hoosiers 

 

 



Analysis:





These schools are a deceiving 6-14 combined. Maryland has been competitive since canning Randy Edsall, losing by eight points total to Penn State and Wisconsin and staying within 17 points of highly-ranked Iowa and Michigan State. On the other side, Indiana has lost by one possession to Ohio State, Rutgers, Iowa and Michigan, respectively, during its current six-game losing streak. The Hoosiers will score at will, with Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard keeping the school's bowl dreams alive (Indiana plays at Purdue next week). Maryland has been much better with Perry Hills manning the QB spot, but they're too thin at RB and WR to keep up. 




GEORGIA -14.5 Georgia Southern


 



Straight Up:  
Georgia Bulldogs
 
 

Against the Spread:


 

Georgia Southern Eagles 

 



Analysis:


Something has been off with Georgia, the Michigan State of the SEC, all season. Had they not snuck by Missouri in that 9-6 pupil-bleeder last month, they would have a four-game losing streak on their ledger. Nick Chubb is on ice, the quarterbacks are awful and the defense has curiously not been able to get its act together against good offenses. All week, Bulldogs HC Mark Richt has been stressing that his team won't underestimate the 7-2 Eagles. I believe him but don't think it will matter. Remember when I said Navy had the No. 2 rush offense in the nation? Georgia Southern is No. 1. Georgia's defensive strength is against the pass; the run defense is solid but doesn't rank in the top 25. You won't see the ball in the air much on Saturday afternoon and you might even see an upset that the media will pretend is more shocking than it actually is. S&P+ has these teams as nearly identical; UGA ranks No. 39, GSU No. 40.






***



 

2015 RecordStraight-Up: 75-35 (68.2%); Against the Spread: 52-55-3 (48.6%)

 

 

2014 RecordStraight-Up: 118-72 (62.1%); Against the Spread: 99-90-1 (52.4%)

Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is Rotoworld’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!