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Weekly Picks

Week 13 CFB ATS Predictions

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

 

 

 

MARQUEE MATCHUPS:



 

 

Baylor -1.5 TCU (Friday)

 



Straight Up:  Baylor Bears

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Baylor Bears

 

 



Analysis:



 

Oh what could have been. One of the most anticipated games of the preseason schedule has sloughed sparkle with three losses between the two teams and both rosters hit hard by injuries. We know TCU WR Josh Doctson and C Joey Hunt won’t play. Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham is done for the season with a broken bone in his ankle, so Chris Johnson will start. Johnson is raw and inexperienced but lit up Oklahoma State last week. He may be opposed by Bram Kohlhausen if Trevone Boykin’s ankle isn’t mended by kickoff. The forecast calls for heavy rain, which should favor Baylor’s superior ground attack, though HC Art Briles is labeling RB Shock Linwood “very questionable” with knee and ankle injuries.

 



HOUSTON -1 Navy (Friday)


 



Straight Up: Navy Midshipmen 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Navy Midshipmen

 

 



Analysis:



 

Perhaps the most underrated game of a very entertaining Thanksgiving weekend slate. The winner wraps up the AAC’s stellar Western Division and stamps itself as the sport’s best non-Power 5 team heading into bowl season. I see Navy and its No. 2 ranked rushing offense as that team. The Midshipmen have been an ATM machine this year, going 9-2 ATS in their last 11. Houston boasts the No. 9-ranked FBS offense, though that unit bogged down without QB Gary Ward Jr. last week in a 20-17 loss to UConn. Because of its No. 123-ranked SOS and the struggles the Cougars have had with the better teams it has faced (the wins over Louisville, Cincy and Memphis came by seven combined points), S&P hates Houston, ranking it No. 57. If they’re an imposter, Navy will expose them.

 



MICHIGAN -0 Ohio State


 



Straight Up:  
Michigan Wolverines
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Michigan Wolverines

 

 



Analysis:





 

The Wolverines have the slightly better statistic profile (S&P ranks Michigan No. 4 and Ohio State No. 5), are playing better (four straight wins since the punt snafu against Michigan State) and haven’t dealt with a week in which rumors swirled of a mass underclassmen exodus after the season (Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones were the ones who made public announcements). Who’d have thought that Jake Rudock (1,033 yards and 10/2 TD/INT ratio over his last three) might be the best quarterback on the field Saturday? I’m going to bet against Urban Meyer’s 6-0 record as an underdog with the Buckeyes.  





Mississippi -1 MISSISSIPPI STATE

 



Straight Up:  
Ole Miss Rebels
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Ole Miss Rebels

 

 



Analysis:




The Egg Bowl is another coin flip proposition. If you like Mississippi State, it’s because you want the superior quarterback and home field advantage. The Bulldogs have won five in a row against the Rebels in Starkville and Dak Prescott is playing NFL-grade quarterback with a 23/3 TD/INT ratio on 66.2-percent completions and 7.2 yards per attempt. If you side with the Rebels, it’s because they have the superior statistical profile and are coming off a highly impressive blowout win over LSU that may have cost Les Miles his job. Ole Miss has been a mixed bag on the road this year (they beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa but lost by 28 points in Gainesville and by 13 in Memphis), making Chad Kelly’s performance crucial. I think Kelly and Laquon Treadwell stave off Prescott in an entertaining shootout.




STANFORD -3.5 Notre Dame


 

 

Straight Up:  Stanford Cardinal

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Stanford Cardinal

 

 



Analysis:




Notre Dame matches up pretty well with Stanford’s run-based, power-blocking offense because DT Sheldon Day is a gifted penetrator who can disrupt runs by beating his man off the block and OLB Jaylon Smith’s athleticism is such that that he’s a ridiculously hard moving target for pulling blockers. And Stanford is down one of those because FB Daniel Marx is done for the season after suffering a leg injury against Cal. You also have to figure that the Irish won’t have problems scoring against the mediocre Cardinal defense. So why am I laying over a field goal? Two reasons: Firstly, Stanford is really, really good at home (5-1 ATS) and Notre Dame has to travel across the country to play in front of a raucous crowd. Secondly, this smells like the kind of game where Notre Dame’s injuries finally catch up to them. An already traumatized roster will likely be without RB C.J. Prosise (ankle) and will definitely be without CB KeiVarae Russell (broken tibia). Notre Dame looked listless in last week’s three-point win over Boston College, a sort of homeless man’s Stanford. The gas tank may be running on fumes, not the best state to be in as you take the field at The Farm.

 
 
 
 

Florida State -1.5 FLORIDA

 



Straight Up:  
Florida State Seminoles
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Florida State Seminoles

 

 



Analysis:




If you’re prepared to back the Gators after the Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic stretch, you’re more courageous than me. Florida, which beat those patsies by a combined 18 points, isn’t going to pull out of its offensive tailspin against the Seminoles’ defense. The more interesting question is what will FSU RB Dalvin Cook be able to do against Florida’s elite run defense (ranked No. 3 by S&P+). Florida State got a de facto bye last week (Chattanooga) to prepare for the proposition of ending Florida’s Playoff dreams. I think they will.  

 


Oklahoma -7 OKLAHOMA STATE

 


Straight Up:  Oklahoma Sooners

 
 

Against the Spread:


 

Oklahoma State Cowboys 

 



Analysis:




If Oklahoma wins, they’re just about assured of a bid into the College Football Playoff. Should Oklahoma State win, they could get in if TCU beats Baylor (which beat OSU and thus presumably has a tiebreaker) and Stanford knocks off Notre Dame. As of this writing, QB Baker Mayfield’s status remained up in the air. He took an ugly shot to the head last week against TCU (camera’s zooming in on Mayfield’s confused and tormented face as he laid on the turf made everyone’s skin crawl; Bob Stoops kept him in the game for a little longer anyway). Oklahoma State’s pass rush, led by Emmanuel Ogbah, doesn’t show mercy. Trevor Knight will get the call if Mayfield can’t go. I expect this game to come down to a field goal. It’s a fierce rivalry and Oklahoma is about to cap off a brutal Baylor-TCU-OSU stretch. Hard to project a Sooner blowout in Stillwater.





WILD CARDS:






LSU -5.5 Texas A&M

 

 

 

Straight Up:  
LSU Tigers
 
 

Against the Spread:


 LSU Tigers

 

 



Analysis:






LSU has lost three straight games (by 14, 17 and 21 points, respectively) and is reportedly set to fire HC Les Miles after this game. But this sure smells like a lets-send-Les-out-on-top blowout, doesn’t it? The matchup is cranberry sauce juicy: LSU’s No. 1 S&P ranked run offense gets to go head-to-head with Texas A&M’s No. 94 graded run defense. The Aggies are great against the pass thanks to the Myles Garrett-Daeshon Hall rush, but that’s just fine by the Tigers because Brandon Harris is going to spend the afternoon handing off to Leonard Fournette (and the winter hoping Jimbo Fisher can’t entice a graduate transfer like Cardale Jones to come to Baton Rouge and displace him). Texas A&M has turned the offense back over to Kyle Allen, another rearranging-deckchairs-on-the-Titanic move. The Aggies’ 2015 attack is broken and lacks explosive plays of any kind, which will be unfortunate when they look up in the first half at a 14-point deficit.  




Wisconsin -2.5 MINNESOTA

 



Straight Up: Minnesota Golden Gophers 

 
 

Against the Spread:


Minnesota Golden Gophers 

 

 



Analysis:




Lots to like about the Gophers here. At 5-6, they’re playing for bowl eligibility on Senior Day. Achieving that would be a coup for new HC Tracy Claeys because of the additional practices and a proud homage to the beloved Jerry Kill. The Gophers are better than their record. They’ve covered four straight and put scares into both Iowa and Ohio State. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is worse than its 8-3 mark. The Badgers haven’t beat a team with a winning record since—wait for it—last season. At home against Northwestern last week, Wisconsin’s offense did zero, which has been its output against the three decent defenses it has played this year (Alabama, Iowa and Northwestern). The Golden Gophers have a top-25 defense by advanced metrics and pull the upset to reach the postseason.  



Tulsa -6 TULANE


 



Straight Up:  
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
 
 

Against the Spread:


 

Tulsa Golden Hurricane 

 



Analysis:


Tulsa (5-6) is also in a must-win scenario to achieve bowl eligibility. The Golden Hurricanes meet up in New Orleans Friday night with a program headed in the opposite direction. While first-year Tulsa HC Philip Montgomery and his staff would benefit greatly from the additional practices a postseason berth would grant, Tulane (3-8) HC Curtis Johnson may be coaching his last game with the school (15-33 in four years). Montgomery’s Baylor-lite offensive attack is explosive when not pitted against a good defense; QB Dane Evans will throw for over 4,000 yards if Tulsa makes a bowl and three running backs split carries to keep the defense honest. Tulane is one of the worst teams in the FBS. The three wins came over Maine, UCF and Army. S&P+ ranks the offense No. 123 and the defense No. 96. Even if Tulane could get some stops, it’s not likely that the offense will be able to keep pace on the scoreboard. The Green Wave just lost by 28 points to SMU, who Tulsa beat by nine earlier this year.  






***



 

2015 RecordStraight-Up: 81-39 (67.5%); Against the Spread: 56-61-3 (46.3%)

 

 

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!