Week 13 college football picks against the spread recap with Jason McIntyre | WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
Wow. It was not a good Saturday for college football playoff contenders. Oregon lost outright as a two-touchdown favorite in Tempe. Ohio State won … but didn’t cover at home against Penn State. Offensively-challenged Georgia got by Texas A&M in a victory that won’t impress the committee. LSU was sleeping for more than a half against going-nowhere Arkansas … before finally pulling away for a convincing victory. Of course – it was a terrific weekend for underdogs because I only backed two of them. Let’s see what we learned from Week 13:
The PAC-12 is simply not a bet-on league
What a colossal embarrassment for the Ducks and the Pac-12. Oregon was a two-touchdown favorite … they held the lead for a mere 1:37 – they had just one touchdown against Arizona State through 52 minutes. Let’s remember: This is an ASU team that gave up 35 to Oregon State, 31 to USC, and 42 to UCLA in its last three games. True freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels – who had one of the worst games I’ve seen a quarterback play in a 4-for-18, 25-yard effort in Utah last month – passed for 408 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 3:54 left.
Only having a good defense won’t make you a CFP contender
The Bulldogs didn’t even come close to covering as two-touchdown favorites, and their offensive output at home isn’t going to inspire any confidence ahead of the SEC title showdown against LSU. Yes, Georgia’s defense was impressive: Holding A&M running back Isaiah Spiller to seven yards on 11 carries – the Aggies had a total of -1 yards rushing. But Georgia’s offense has shown nothing to prove they can keep up with LSU: Jake Fromm was 11-of-23 passing for just 163 yards? Georgia averaged just 4.4 yards per pass. Perhaps some credit goes to Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies, who also showed up in September to cover against Clemson.
Ohio State – even though they didn’t cover – is still a bet-on team
The Buckeyes led 21-0 early in the third quarter and all seemed right in the universe … it would have been even more points if Justin Fields hadn’t fumbled on the 1-foot line in the first quarter. And naturally, the Buckeyes decided to go to sleep, letting Penn State score 17 points in 4:03, making Ohio State fans sweat – just a little. OSU didn’t cover … but did dominate the game – nearly doubling up PSU in first downs (27-15) and yards (417-227) and holding the No. 8 team in the country to a mere 3.5 yards per play … three fumbles were the only thing that kept it close. The Buckeyes will be big favorites next week on the road at Michigan, and despite not covering vs PSU, I just know it would be mistake not to back them again.
Rivalry matchups are always a good time
This was – hands down – the most fun game to watch of the day. There was a total of 1,193 yards of total offense … but UCLA didn’t cover because when it got the ball back with a chance to score in the final few minutes – after moving the ball up-and-down the field behind Dorian Thompson-Robinson (431 yards of offense, 4 touchdowns) – Chip Kelly inexplicably decided to put in back up Austin Burton … who couldn’t come in the back door. Depending on what USC does at head coach, you have to assume USC freshman Kedon Slovis starts 2020 on Heisman watch lists: 515 yards passing, 4 touchdowns – historic stuff for a school that has churned out only a few successful NFL quarterbacks.
Illinois is, in fact, a bet-on team
This was just a terrible read by me. I’ve done well backing Illinois this year, hitting them early and then against Wisconsin … but I whiffed badly on them here. Maybe there’s a lesson in Lovie Smith? It’s taken him three years to turn around the program, but finally, they’re competitive and going to a bowl game. Maybe fans of Nebraska and Purdue, who are disappointed in their down seasons, should be patient … heck, Virginia Tech fans were sick of Justin Fuente a month ago, and now the Hokies are on the cusp of playing for the ACC title. Lovie Smith’s Illini weren’t perfect – an interception to open the first and the second half, a turnover on downs, a missed field goal and fumble in their own territory in the fourth quarter. But covering as a two-touchdown underdog on the road was impressive.