Intro by Doug Kezirian
The college football regular season concludes during this Thanksgiving week with various storylines that can become betting narratives. Rivalry games headline many matchups, and schools also have postseason livelihood hinging on the finales in the form of bowl eligibility or even a CFP berth.
But oddsmakers do not overreact to narratives and solely rely on the power ratings. "We don't take into any consideration it being a holiday or anything like that," Jeff Stoneback, director of BetMGM sportsbooks in Nevada, told ESPN. "We just put up the lines like we would any other week and then let the chips fall and see where the sharp money goes and play it from there."
Everything is on the line at the Big House, as No. 6 Michigan hosts No. 4 Ohio State as an 8.5-point underdog. The Buckeyes have won nine straight, since losing at home to Oregon in September. They're also on a 6-2 ATS run that has had this spread steam from 6.5 to 8.5.
"It will probably be the largest bet game, even though it's in the early slot," DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello told ESPN. "If it were positioned later in the day, it would be a monster."
Every Wednesday during the season, betting analysts Doug Kezirian (27-24 overall, 3-1 last week), Bill Connelly (33-26-1, 3-2), Tyler Fulghum (13-9, 1-0), Joe Fortenbaugh (23-22-1, 2-2) and David M. Hale (17-16-1, 1-2) will provide their top plays across the college football landscape.
Here are their best bets for Week 13 of the season.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook as of Wednesday (unless otherwise indicated).
Friday's best bets
No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes (-1.5, 41) at Nebraska Cornhuskers, 1:30 p.m. ET
Hale: We're not sure what sort of voodoo has been put on Scott Frost, but after his seventh loss by a TD or less last week against Wisconsin, it feels as though the football gods owe him a break. Nebraska isn't a good team, but the Huskers certainly aren't 3-8 bad either, and the defense is one of the best in the country. That's bad news for an Iowa team that only scores on offense during Leap years. FPI has Nebraska as about a 3-point favorite, and while we're tempted to take the money line here, we'll happily pocket 1.5 and back the Huskers to either figure out a way to finally win a close one, or at least lose by a point to maximize their misery.