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Betting Against the Spread: College Football Picks for Week 12


The finish line of the college football regular season is almost upon us and for me it's pretty much trying to stay above .500. Much like many teams across the country, .500 is a magical record as it means bowl eligibility and a continuing of their season. Bowl season may mean nothing to the common college football fan other than something else to keep them away from their families, but for some schools, it means validation for of all the hard work they have put in this year. All that said, time to put in my own hard work and maintain "bowl eligibility" for my picks.

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Record: 49-48 (3-5 last week)

Charlotte (2-8) at Kentucky (4-6)

The 49ers have lost nine straight after winning their first two games of the season. Charlotte is coming off a hard-fought, tough loss in overtime at home and will finish the year at Kentucky and at Rice. The 49ers’ offense has had two turnovers or more in four of the last five games and should struggle against Kentucky, which has held its last two SEC opponents to 48 points on the road. Kentucky has lost five straight and is not the best team themselves, but Charlotte is nowhere near ready for an SEC opponent. UK has been a favorite just 10 times the last three seasons, covering in six of those games. This is a clear mismatch and the Wildcats will take out some frustrations. SELECTION: Kentucky -24

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West Virginia (5-4) at Kansas (0-10)

Two struggling defenses will meet up in Lawrence, Kan., as the Jayhawks host the Mountaineers. For the fourth straight game, we are going to play the over as there should be plenty of points. Kansas actually has scored 37 points in its last two games against Texas and TCU. West Virginia's once-stout defense has given up 20 points or more in six straight so the Jayhawks should be able to score. The WVU offense though should be able to put up points on a defense that has allowed 66, 30, 58, 62, 59 and 23 over the last six weeks. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has talked about how the Mountaineers haven't forgotten the loss in Kansas back in 2013 and you've got to think that they will want to make up for that. SELECTION: Over 59.5

Western Kentucky (8-2) at FIU (5-6)

There are a lot of factors involved that make the home team a worthy wager. Western Kentucky has a huge contest on a short week against Marshall at home and that one will determine which team moves on to the Conference USA title game. The Hilltoppers also are coming off a bye, which may have cooled off their offense. Tyler Higbee, one of the most underrated TEs in the country, isn't likely to play in this one. FIU has scored 141 points in its last three home games and figure to be quite angry after being shut out 52-0 at Marshall. It's the final game of the Golden Panthers’ regular season and they are playing for potential bowl eligibility. WKU has failed to cover in 10 of its last 18 road games. SELECTION: FIU +17

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North Carolina (9-1) at Virginia Tech (5-5)

This is the ultimate situational play. Frank Beamer is coaching his final game in Blacksburg on Saturday. Virginia Tech also is playing for bowl eligibilty and a bunch of seniors. On the other hand you have a North Carolina team that is smoking hot offensively, but has a road game against their hated rival next week. The Tar Heels are playing good defense, but that's also because teams are taking more chances to keep up in the scoring category. Virginia Tech has been a home underdog of 3.5 to 7 points just three times since 1992 and has covered each one of those games. Another odd trend in the Hokies’ favor is the 6-0 ATS since 1992 when the total is between 56.5 and 63 at home. SELECTION: Virginia Tech +6.5

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Tennessee (6-4) at Missouri (5-5)

Much like Virginia Tech, Missouri is playing its final home game of the year for a departing head coach. Gary Pinkel recently announced he's stepping down at the end of the year. The Tigers are coming off an emotional win over BYU, getting just enough offense to hold down the Cougars. The last two games the Tigers have discovered a run game which has taken the pressure off of freshman quarterback Drew Lock. Tennessee may have won three straight but the Volunteers sleepwalked through their last game against North Texas and nearly lost to South Carolina the week before. Missouri has covered in nine of its last 10 November games and 15 of its last 24 against SEC opponents. SELECTION: Missouri +8

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Old Dominion (5-5) at Southern Miss (7-3)

Old Dominion is one win away from bowl eligibility despite giving up more than 400 yards of offense per game. The Monarchs will be without RB Ray Lawry, which means they may become one-dimensional. Southern Miss has held five of its last six opponents to 14 points or fewer. The Golden Eagles are pounding teams offensively right now as well. This is a unit averaging 525.1 yards per game and should find no issues cutting through ODU's swiss-cheese defense. The home team has covered in eight of their 10 games while the road team has failed to cover in eight of 10 contests. Plain and simple, this one will get ugly. SELECTION: Southern Miss -21

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Tulane (3-7) at SMU (1-9)

This game won't cause a single ripple in the college football landscape, but that doesn't mean we can't find a little angle to exploit. You've got a horrible offense facing a worse defense. The big question is if Tulane can take advantage of that matchup and I just don't think so. The Mustangs have pieces that will be able to move the ball on Tulane's porous defense. SMU QB Matt Davis was able to help the team score 40 on Temple and 31 on Tulsa in its last two home games. This is the fourth road game for the Green Wave in their last five. SELECTION: SMU -2.5 (If you want to, take the moneyline)

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— It's an intriguing matchup in Tampa Friday night as South Florida hosts Cincinnati. The Bulls beat up on the AAC East-leading Temple Owls last time out behind a stout defense and great offense. Now USF is an underdog to Cincinnati, who comes to town having won three of its last four. The Bearcats guys have won just one road game this year falling short at BYU, Memphis and Houston by a combined 24 points. I probably would have installed USF a small favorite in this one so it makes me wonder why the Bulls aren't. The Bulls have struggled at times in the secondary and may be overconfident after last week's big win.

— North Texas has just one win this season, but the Mean Green are coming off a cover at Tennessee last week. This is their third straight road game, which makes me leery about their effort against Middle Tennessee on Saturday. The Blue Raiders have won two straight and three of their last four games. The offense is clicking and getting it done through the air. Still, they've been a favorite of 21.5 to 31 points just nine times since 1992. They've failed to cover in eight of their last 12 games against teams with a losing record. There are factors going in both directions in this one.

— Miami opened up as a favorite against Georgia Tech, but now is around a two-point underdog. The Hurricanes have won three of their last five while the Yellow Jackets have lost two straight and now have no chance for a bowl game this season. The Canes were gifted a win a few weeks ago in Duke and now take on a GT team that may be out of motivation for a road trip like this. Lean to Miami, but hesitantly considering the line move.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.