10 College Football Picks Against the Spread (ATS) for Week 12

Georgia travels to Auburn for key late-season SEC clash

The Week 12 edition of college football picks against the spread is highlighted by the Georgia-Auburn showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Elsewhere, Alabama looks to get back on track against Mississippi State; Baylor seeks a signature win against Oklahoma; and Utah hosts much-improved UCLA in a key Pac-12 South game. Here are 10 predictions for games against the spread.

 

Georgia (-3) over Auburn

Georgia: college football picks against the spreadGeorgia is one win (or one Florida loss) away from wrapping up a return trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. But the Bulldogs aren’t thinking just about an SEC title; they are eyeing a return to the College Football Playoff. To do so, they will need to sweep their final three regular-season games (Auburn, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech) and knock off mighty LSU for the SEC crown. Auburn has not yet been eliminated from the SEC West race, but it would take a stunning turn of events for the Tigers to make it to Atlanta — among them three LSU losses as well as Auburn wins over both Georgia and Alabama. Auburn’s biggest issue in the short term is the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs have not allowed any team to score more than 20 points and have recorded shutouts in two of their last three games. This will be a tough spot for freshman quarterback Bo Nix. Georgia 20, Auburn 10

 

Pittsburgh (-3) over North Carolina (Thursday)

These two teams have combined to play 18 games, 16 of which have been decided by 10 points or fewer. North Carolina is 3–5 in such games (with all eight decided by seven points or fewer). Pitt is 6–2 in “close” games, with the two losses by seven at Penn State and by four vs. Miami. The Panthers have had their issues on offense, but they lead the ACC in yards allowed in league games at 3.9 — just ahead of Clemson’s 4.0. Only one team, Penn State, has averaged more than 5.6 yards per play against this defense this season. North Carolina has lost five of its last seven, though it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that this team is playing poorly. Among the defeats: Clemson by one point, at Virginia Tech by two in triple-overtime and vs. Virginia by seven. Pittsburgh 27, North Carolina 23

 

Kansas State (-15) over West Virginia

West Virginia has lost five straight and now sits at 1–5 in the Big 12 in Neal Brown’s first season. The one win was by five points over Kansas in a game in which the Mountaineers were outgained in total yardage and yards per play. In addition, WVU has not scored more than 17 points in any of the last four games. Kansas State, on the other hand, is thriving under its first-year coach, Chris Klieman. The Wildcats are 6–3 overall and 3–3 in the Big 12. Last Saturday, they had a three-game winning streak snapped on a walk-off field goal at Texas. The folks in the Little Apple have to be thrilled with the direction of the program. Kansas State 34, West Virginia 17

 

Louisville (-3.5) over NC State

It’s been a rough stretch for NC State, which is dealing with a ton of injuries and some very suspect play at the quarterback position. The Wolfpack have lost three straight and four out of five, and each of the losses during this stretch has come by at least 18 points. Not much is going well on either side of the ball. Louisville has lost two of three during a very difficult stretch of its schedule — the losses were to Clemson and at Miami and the win was over Virginia — but is still in very good shape to reach a bowl game in Scott Satterfield’s first season. The Cards need one more win, with road games at NC State and Kentucky sandwiched around the home finale against Syracuse. They should pick up win No. 6 this weekend. Louisville 48, NC State 24

 

UMass (+39) over Northwestern

This is one of the most intriguing betting lines in recent memory. We have a Northwestern team that has lost seven straight and has scored a total of 53 points in that losing streak as a 39-point favorite. The reason? UMass is really, really, really bad — most notably on defense. The Minutemen rank last in the nation in total defense (569.6 ypg) and scoring defense (53.1 ppg) by a wide margin. They have given up 72 touchdowns in 10 games, 16 more than any other team in the nation. One more nugget: UMass has not allowed fewer than 56 points in any of its last four games. Still, I’m picking the Minutemen to cover. Barely. Northwestern 51, UMass 14

 

UCLA (+21) over Utah

Utah is on quite a roll. The Utes have won five straight to take control of the Pac-12 South race. Kyle Whittingham’s team is outstanding on defense — the Utes have held three of their last four opponents to seven points or fewer — and efficient on offense. UCLA has turned things around after a disastrous start to Year 2 of the Chip Kelly era. The Bruins have won three straight and, at 4–2 in the Pac-12, control their own destiny in the South. The schedule is tough — road games at Utah and USC in the next two weeks — but there is some positive momentum at UCLA as the 2019 season winds down. Utah 31, UCLA 17

 

Oklahoma (-10) over Baylor

Baylor is on the national stage for the first time in the Matt Rhule era. The Bears, who had to win the 2018 regular-season finale just to reach bowl-eligibility, are 9–0 and in first place in the Big 12 with a 6–0 mark. It’s been a bit of a struggle at times — three-point wins over Texas Tech and West Virginia at home as well as an overtime win at TCU last weekend — but the Bears have found ways to get it done. Now Oklahoma visits town on what should a big day in Waco. Oklahoma is struggling on defense (89 points allowed in its last two games) but is as potent as ever on the other side of the ball. The Sooners lead the nation in offense, both in yards per game (587.3) and yards per play (9.3), and they rank second in scoring with 48.4 points per game. This should be a shootout. Oklahoma 45, Baylor 34

 

Florida (-7) over Missouri

Missouri has won five of seven against Florida — including the last two by a combined 83–33 — since joining the SEC in 2012. None of those five Florida teams, however, was as good as the 2019 Gators — and that includes the two UF teams that won the SEC East title. Florida is 8–2 overall, with losses at No. 1 LSU and vs. No. 4 Georgia in Jacksonville. Missouri returns home for the first time since Oct. 12. The Tigers are 5–0 at home and 0–4 on the road, and they have lost three straight overall. This team is trending in the wrong direction. Florida 31, Missouri 17

 

Stanford (+10.5) over Washington State

Washington State is very quietly suffering through a very disappointing season. The Cougars have lost five of six and could be headed toward a last-place finish in the Pac-12 North. That’s not what was expected after last year’s breakthrough 11-win season. Despite those struggles, Wazzu is a double-digit favorite over Stanford. The Cardinal gained some momentum by winning three of four but stubbed their toe last week at Colorado, losing 16–13. Now they must win their final two league games (host Cal next week) to avoid the first losing conference season of the David Shaw era. Washington State 28, Stanford 21

 

Alabama (-21) over Mississippi State

Alabama, No. 5 in the most recent College Football Playoff ranking, not only needs to win out to remain in the hunt for a spot in the top four — the Crimson Tide need to look good doing so. That’s why it’s a good bet to believe Nick Saban’s team won’t suffer much of a post-LSU hangover when it makes the short trip to Starkville. Alabama has barely broken a sweat in its eight wins, with the closest game coming on the road at Texas A&M (47–28). Mississippi State has been a disappointment in Year 2 of the Joe Moorhead era. The Bulldogs are 4–5 overall and 2–4 in the SEC, and each of their league losses has come by 10 points or more. Alabama 41, Mississippi State 18

 

Last week: 5-4 (the Air Force-New Mexico game was postponed)

Season: 55-53-1

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