Practically every week in college football, there’s a major showdown in the Southeastern Conference. That’s certainly the case for Week 13, which is highlighted by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M traveling to Baton Rouge to battle LSU.
The Aggies (8-2 SU, 5-5 ATS), coming off a bye, haven’t had trouble in the scoring department all season, scoring 41 points or more in all 10 games. And they’ve racked up huge totals the past few weeks, breaking 50 in each of their last three games while going 3-0 SU (2-1 ATS), including a 51-41 home victory Nov. 9 against Mississippi State – though they fell short of covering in that contest as 19.5-point favorites.
LSU (7-3, 4-5-1 ATS), also coming off a bye, got off to a strong 4-0 SU start this year, but the Tigers are just 3-3 SU (2-3-1 ATS) in their last six games and have failed to cover in their last three outings. That includes a 38-17 loss catching 14 points at top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 9.
Peter Korner, founder of Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, found the total on this game intriguing, as he expects a shootout in the bayou.
“This is another great game to watch,” Korner said. “The total we sent out is 78, so you know this is going to be an up-and-down game. What Texas A&M game isn't?”
As for the spread, Korner had to give the nod to the host.
“Our range of numbers went from LSU pick to -4.5, and we settled on LSU -3. Of course, Texas A&M has a great chance of winning this game straight up, but playing at LSU this late in the year is a tough challenge for any team – even one led by Johnny Football. We think this line will hold close to our opener by kickoff. A&M has a good, steady flow of cash that has followed them all year.”
Arizona State Sun Devils (-1.5) at UCLA Bruins
ASU (8-2 SU, 5-5 ATS) heads to the West Coast toting a five-game SU win streak (3-2 SU), and the Sun Devils have gotten it done in blowout fashion and grind-it-out fashion. In wins over Colorado, Washington and at Washington State, ASU rang up 54, 53 and 55 points respectively; the past two weeks, the Sun Devils fended off host Utah 20-19 laying seven points and bested visiting Oregon State 30-17, barely failing to cash as a 13.5-point chalk.
It appears UCLA (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS) has gotten over brutal back-to-back road trips. Since losing 24-10 at Stanford and 42-14 at Oregon, the Bruins have won three in a row, covering their last two while averaging 39 ppg in that stretch, including a 41-31 home win over Washington.
“This is a very good game, and the line is representative of how unpredictable this game is,” Korner said. "Our range of numbers went from UCLA -3 to ASU -2. After discussing the teams overall strengths and recent play, we made ASU the road favorite. We're going to open this game at ASU -1.5 and see where
that takes us. We see the offshores had play on ASU, and that ASU was up to -3. But we're not going that high here in Nevada with the large Los Angeles following we have in our sportsbooks on the weekend.”
Baylor Bears (-11) at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Baylor (9-0 SU) aims to keep its name in the national championship conversation. If scoring and spread-covering ability were part of the BCS formula, the Bears would definitely be No. 1. They average a whopping 61.2 ppg, rolling to a 63-34 win over Texas Tech on Saturday laying 27.5 points at AT&T Stadium, and their 8-1 ATS record (4-0 last four) ranks third in the nation.
Oklahoma State (9-1 SU) is also no slouch at the betting window, with a 7-3 ATS mark (14th), and like Baylor, offense is a big part of the formula. The Cowboys have won six in a row SU and five in a row ATS, scoring 38 points or more four times in that stretch, including two games in the 50s.
“Nevada books continue to get trampled by Baylor each and every week,” Korner said. “We don't want to be light on this team. Our range of numbers went from Baylor -10 to -14. We saw the number diminish from -10.5 to -9.5 early Sunday morning, but we're not falling for that. We stuck a -11 as our opener and fully expected that weak -9.5 to jump back up in no time.”
Northern Illinois Huskies (-2.5) at Toledo Rockets
Northern Illinois (10-0 SU, 7-3 ATS) is looking to become a BCS bowl buster for the second straight year. The Huskies had their hands full at home last week against Ball State, but pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 48-27 win and cover as an 8.5-point favorite. NIU has cashed four in a row and six of its last seven.
Toledo (7-3 SU) has been a good bet this season, with a 7-2-1 ATS mark (10th nationally), and the Rockets’ scoring production has been strong over the past few weeks. Toledo has won five in a row SU (4-1 ATS), scoring 45 points or more in four of those games, including a 51-41 home win over Buffalo as a 5.5-point chalk last week.
“This game will be an excellent one, with two very good teams going at it,” Korner said. “Apparently, it was a no-brainer, as everyone had Northern Illinois -2.5 -- all five of our oddsmakers and the offshores. Nothing to see here, keep it moving.”