Betting Against The Spread: Week 13 Picks

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Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.

<p> Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.</p>

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Like most of us around the college football world, the state of Oklahoma completely shocked me last week. Two of the worst defensive performances of the season cost both the Sooners and the Cowboys a potential chance at a national title - and me a chance at a third straight winning weekend. Houston and Kansas State continue to be rock solid against the spread and may continue that trend the rest of the way in 2011.

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday everyone and stuff your faces with these almost-but-not-quite locks of the week...

Season Record ATS: 72-48-3 (5-5 last week)

Week 13's Top Picks:
 
Houston (-3) at Tulsa
Tulsa won this game by three points last season, but the most productive player in NCAA history wasn't on the field. In the two previous meetings, Keenum led the Cougars to victory in Tulsa 46-45 in 2009 and 70-30 at home in 2008. The Houston quarterback threw for 926 yards and accounted for 10 touchdowns in those two games. The Cougars have won every game they have played in 2011 by an average margin of victory of nearly 32 points per - which is actually 43 points per game over the last three. Houston also leads the nation with a 9-2 record against the spread. My Pick: Houston -3

Tennessee (-7) at Kentucky
Everyone knows the stat: Tennessee has won 26 straight games over the Wildcats. The Vols have struggled on offense in SEC play, but that was without star quarterback Tyler Bray. The big-time passer threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns in his return to action last weekend. Expect even more from the future NFL Draft pick this weekend against a team that ranks 12th in the SEC in passing offense, total offense, scoring offense, passing efficiency, sacks allowed and punt returns. My Pick: Tennessee -7

Ohio State (+7) at Michigan
If Michigan cannot beat, as Brady Hoke likes to say, "Ohio" in 2011, it may never beat the Buckeyes ever again. This is arguably the worst Ohio State team we have seen in more than a decade and Michigan is playing as good of football as it has since 2006. Neither teams needs extra motivation, but Hoke knows how important this game is to the seniors on his team and the bill-paying alumni base. Look for the hungrier Wolverine team to break the seven-year losing streak. My Pick: Michigan -7

New Mexico State (+19) at Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech was won six straight games - including an easy win over an SEC team, as well as Fresno State, and a road win over Nevada. Tech leads the league in rushing defense, scoring defense, turnover margin, pass efficiency defense and tackles for a loss. New Mexico State has lost four of five games and will not be able to keep pace against that defense. Tech is also tied for the nation's lead at 9-2 against the spread this season. My Pick: Louisiana Tech -19

UCLA (+14) at USC
Certainly, UCLA has much to play for — a Pac-12 title. But the Bruins have lost four straight and and 11 out of 12 to the rival Trojans. USC is coming off a season-defining win over Oregon and would love nothing more than to knock their crosstown rival out of the Pac-12 title game. Matt Barkley is playing the best football of his career and is 2-0 against the Bruins - including a 21-point win the last time they played in the Colesium. Look for another statement win for USC over a UCLA team that has recently lost by 25 to Utah and 36 to Arizona. The Men of Troy are 7-3-1 against the spread and the Bruins at 3-8. My Pick: USC -14

Virginia Tech (-4) at Virginia
This is the biggest game in Charlottesville in years and should be relatively close. And UVa has won four straight games and is playing for an ACC title game berth. That said, the Hokies operate at a different level of athlete with Logan Thomas and David Wilson powering the offense. The Hokies have won seven straight in this series and the last two haven't been close (37-7 and 42-13). Certainly, this is a different Wahoo team, but Virginia Tech should be able to pressure the quarterback, get off the field on third down and stymie the Cavs' ground game. My Pick: Virginia Tech -4

Arkansas (+11.5) at LSU
The Hogs certainly have the formula to beat LSU: A mad scientist calling plays, the deepest receiving corp in the nation and a quarterback who can sling it. However, how can you complete passes when you are lying on your back? Wilson got hit and hit and hit again against Alabama and should expect much of the same from the deepest defensive line in the nation. Can Arkansas stop the power rushing attack of LSU? And Brad Wing will totally nuetralize one of the nation's top returnmen in Joe Adams. LSU is simply the better team across the board. The Bayou Bengals are also 8-3 against the spread this season. My Pick: LSU -11.5

Rutgers (-3) at UConn
The Knights have a lot to play for in this one. And they have had loads of success against the Huskies recently: Rutgers has won three straight and five out of six. The Knights can clinch a share of the Big East title with a win and UConn's pathetic offense should not be able to challenge a Knights' offense that is rolling behind freak wideout Mohamed Sanu and new workhorse Jawan Jamison (34 att., 200 yards 2 TD last week). The Knights have won three straight and are 8-3 against the spread while UConn is 3-7 against the number on the year. My Pick: Rutgers -3

Louisville (+3.5) at South Florida
The Cardinals also have loads to play for in the Big East. A win clinches a share of the Big East title for Louisville as well and the second half has been a totally different story for Charlie Strong. Wins over Rutgers, Syracuse, West Virginia and UConn speak for themselves. The defense is playing lights-out and the Strong has been preaching the importance of getting the program's first-ever win at USF. With Bulls' starting quarterback BJ Daniels likely not playing, take the Cards to win outright. My Pick: Louisville +3.5

Clemson (-4) at South Carolina
Sammy Wakings says he will be 100% at kickoff and that may be all that matters. The Tigers have turned the ball over entirely too much lately and South Carolina has played great defense of late. But with nothing on the line for either team in terms of conference championships, pure hatred should fuel this rivarly. Clemson should right the ship on offense with Watkins in the game and will outlast a South Carolina team that has struggled to score points. My Pick: Clemson -4

2011 Top Teams ATS:

1t. Stanford (9-2)
1t. Arkansas State (9-2)
1t. Houston (9-2)
1t. Kansas State (9-2)
1t. Louisiana Tech (9-2)
1t. Western Kentucky (9-2)
7t. LSU (8-3)
7t. Michigan (8-3)
7t. Rutgers (8-3)
7t. Oklahoma State (8-3)
7t. Vanderbilt (8-3)
12t. USC (7-3-1)
12t. Georgia (7-3-1)

2011 Bottom Teams ATS:


1. Central Michigan (1-11)
2. Maryland (2-9)
3. Florida Atlantic (2-8)
4. Colorado (3-9)
5t. Texas A&M (3-8)
5t. Ole Miss (3-8)
5t. Virginia Tech (3-8)
8t. Colorado State (3-7)
8t. Troy (3-7)
8t. UCLA (3-7)
8t. UConn (3-7)
8t. MTSU (3-7)
8t. Syracuse (3-7)
14t. Nebraska (3-7-1)
14t. Penn State (3-7-1)
14t. Akron (3-7-1)
14t. Hawaii (3-7-1)

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