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A.J. Epenesa
Odds and Ends

CFB Rivalry Week best picks & predictions

by Covers.com
Updated On: November 29, 2019, 4:24 pm ET




There haven’t been many deals in college football this year than fading Nebraska. The second year of the Scott Frost era in Lincoln has been a disaster (but apparently not enough of a disaster to not warrant a contract extension). The Cornhuskers finally did cover a Big Ten game last week, by beating up on Maryland, one of the worst teams in the nation. That improves their ATS record to 2-9 for the season and 1-7 ATS in Big Ten play.

But things get a lot tougher this week as the Hawkeyes come to town. Iowa has three losses this season, but all three came against teams ranked in the top 13 of the CFP rankings and have come by a combined 14 points. They have one of the best defenses in the country and a good quarterback in Nate Stanley. While the Cornhuskers and quarterback Adrian Martinez in particular, have not fared well against good defenses.

Against the likes of Ohio State, Northwestern and Wisconsin, Martinez has completed just 56 percent of his passes and has one touchdown compared to five picks, while leading Nebraska to just 41 points in those three contests.

And I just don’t buy into the idea that Nebraska has more to play for here than Iowa. This is still a rivalry game and the Hawkeyes would love to keep the Huskers from bowling this season. There’s no way you can have faith in Nebraska to cover this number. Even at home. #FadeNebraska.

Pick: Iowa -5.5




The Broncos have their eyes set on a New Year’s Six bowl game as they look to continue their surge towards another Mountain West title.

Boise State is 10-1 for the season and 7-0 in conference play despite being bit by the injury bug this season. The Broncos top two quarterbacks have missed the last two games, however dual-threat QB Jaylon Henderson has stepped up in a big way.

The redshirt senior has led the Broncos to consecutive big wins, including an impressive 56-21 win at Utah State. Henderson has thrown for 479 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in those two games, but you can expect the Broncos to rely on George Holani and the ground game in this one. The Rams rank 113th against the run giving up 205.5 yards per game and 110th in yards per attempt.

While Boise State already has a spot in the Mountain West final expect them to come out with a sense of urgency to try and further impress the College Football Playoff committee. The Broncos have a big edge on the defensive side of the ball and will wear out the Rams with the run game on their way to an easy win.

Pick: Boise State -13.5





Ohio State. Michigan. The Game.

It is one of the most anticipated college football games every year, and this year’s edition will be no different. This season was supposed to be all about whether Michigan and Jim Harbaugh could finally take the next step and usually that starts with winning The Game.

The Wolverines haven’t won The Game since 2011 and Harbaugh is 0-4 in the rivalry, but with Urban Meyer no longer patrolling the sidelines in Columbus, it looked to be their time.

Well, it turns out Ohio State is still the class of the Big Ten and already have wrapped up a spot in the conference championship game. But another season without a Big Ten title can be overlooked if Harbaugh can pull the upset and beat Ohio State.

However, that’s easier said than done. The Buckeyes’ offense leads the country in points for at 49.4 per contest behind the backfield of Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins. But their best player is on the defensive side of the ball in Chase Young. The potential Heisman finalist is a game changer for a defense that ranks first total yards and points allowed.

Now, Michigan has turned things around a bit lately after looking shaky for the first half of the season. That said, three of the four wins in its current win streak have come against Maryland, Michigan State and Indiana. Not exactly top competition.

Young is going to give Shea Patterson nightmares, and, in the end, the Wolverines will not be able to keep up with the high-powered Buckeyes. Anything under 10 points seems like a lock.

Pick: Ohio State -8.5




The Ragin’ Cajuns have been one of my favorite teams to follow this season. Billy Napier has done a fantastic job in his second year in Louisiana, leading the Cajuns to a 9-2 record and are one game away from getting another shot at Appalachian State.

Louisiana has also been one of the best bets in college football this season, going 9-2 ATS and has a really good chance to improve on that against the Warhawks.

The Ragin’ Cajuns have piled up the wins and covers by leaning on one of the best running games in the country. Louisiana ranks second in yards per rush running at a clip of 6.2 yards per attempt and fifth in rushing yards per game, rumbling for a whopping 276.2 per contest. And guess what. UL Monroe stinks against the run. The Warhawks give up 5.6 rush yards per attempt and rank 127th in the country, allowing 251.9 rushing yards per game.

Additionally, while UL Monroe has some nice numbers on offense, those stats have been padded against some of the worst defenses in the country.  

This combination of great running teams facing off against bad defenses is one of my favorite strategies for backing big chalk in college football. The Warhawks won’t be able to contain the three-headed running back monster of Elijah Mitchell, Trey Ragas and Raymond Calais as the Ragin’ Cajuns rumble to another big win.

Pick: Louisiana -19.5




The line for the Bedlam Rivalry stuck out like a sore thumb to me this week. The Sooners may be 10-1 and have a high-octane offense that leads the nation in yards per game, but they have been as unreliable as they come when it comes to Big 12 betting.

Oklahoma is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven games and has been a sizable favorite in each, meaning the Sooners have not lived up to expectations. Their last four games (0-4 ATS) have been the most alarming.

Here’s a quick rundown: They lost outright 48-41 at Kansas State as 23.5-point favorites, they survived Iowa State 42-41 as 14-point home faves, they needed an epic collapse by Baylor two weeks ago to win 34-31 as 11-point faves in Waco and last week, just edged TCU 28-24 as 19-point home faves. That’s not good.

And this week they’ll have their hand full with the nation’s leading rusher, Chuba Hubbard. The sophomore back has run over the Big 12 all year long for 1,832 yards and 20 touchdowns. And while Oklahoma has decent defensive numbers this season, they have shown some holes against the run. The Sooners have surrendered 660 rushing yards at a clip of 5.1 yards per carry over those last four games and haven’t faced a back anywhere near the quality of Hubbard.

While Oklahoma also puts a high emphasis on running the ball, this number seems way too high when you also consider the current play of the Sooners and the fact that this is a rivalry game.

Pick: Oklahoma State +13

Last week: 3-0
Season to date: 21-17-3