Irish Football

Week 12 of the college football sports betting is here at DraftKings Sportsbook, BetStars Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook. Each week during the NCAA football season, we’ll break down the biggest games of the week from a sports betting perspective and give you a pick or a lean for the games you, and the rest of America, are going to be watching.

Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. It could end up in our plays after additional research or information is released.

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Season Record to Date

Picks: 30-18-2
Leans: 5-9

(3) Notre Dame vs. (12) Syracuse

DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Notre Dame -11 / Total 65

The last time the field at Yankee Stadium was used for a sporting event, the Red Sox were celebrating winning the American League Divisional Series on it.

That’s my special way as a Boston fan to remind you that this football game between top 15 teams is being played at a baseball stadium. I’m not a fan of football being played on a surface designed for a different sport. It makes for some awkward seating arrangements for the fans as well, but here we are.

Syracuse is located in upstate New York, but this contest is part of the Shamrock Series, an annual game where Notre Dame plays a neutral-field, regular-season game in a market where there is a large concentration of Irish alumni. The first Shamrock Series game was played in San Antonio, but it also been played in other big markets, like Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago. It’s technically an Irish home game, but the crowd most likely will be split 50-50.

Notre Dame is 10-0 and control their own destiny for the College Football Playoffs. If they win out, they will be in. The Irish are coming off a 42-13 smacking of Florida State with QB Brandon Wimbush filling in for the injured Ian Book. With Book returning this week, Notre Dame hopes the offense continues to flourish under his guidance. Since Book took over as signal caller, the Irish are averaging nearly 39 points in his games.

Being undefeated is great, but gamblers should note that Notre Dame is just 5-5 ATS this season. Diving a little deeper, you will see the Irish have only covered once in the last five games. In all five of those contests, Notre Dame was at least a 10-point favorite. In fact, the Irish have only covered one double-digit line this season. That was last week against a pathetic Florida State team with Wimbush running the show.

The Orange have quietly put together an amazing season on offense. Syracuse is ranked seventh in the country in points per game (42.4) and 11th in total yards per game (488.4). Eric Dungey is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country and has thrown for 14 touchdowns and ran for 12 more. The Orange can really score and have done very well as underdogs this season. Syracuse is 3-0 ATS when getting points. They easily covered the 24-point line against No. 2 Clemson earlier this year.

Defensively, the Irish are top 15, only surrendering 18.7 points per game. Notre Dame is really stingy against the pass, only allowing 5.3 yards per completion. That’s third best in the nation. If Syracuse wants to move the ball consistently, the Irish rush defense has been weak at times, giving up 3.7 yards per carry.

This game has points written all over it: four of the last five Syracuse games have gone over the total. I think neither defense will have much success slowing down the other team’s offense. The Irish will win 38-31, but I like the Orange +11 and the over.

Pick: Syracuse +11
Pick: Over 65


(24) Cincinnati at (11) Central Florida

DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: UCF -7.5 / Total 60.5

What were you doing in December 2016? That’s the last time UCF lost a college football game, and they don’t plan on revisiting that feeling anytime soon.

The 2017 mythical National Champs are back in the playoff conversation again with a 9-0 record and one of the best offenses in the country. The problem for Central Florida, just like last year, is their schedule isn’t very impressive.

In their nine wins this year, UCF has scored an average of 45 points per game. However, they haven’t faced a top 50 defense yet. That is exactly what Cincinnati is bringing south with them this week. In fact, the Bearcats are ranked seventh in the country in points per game, yielding just 15.8. Only once this season has Cincy given up more than 24, but they face a Knights offense that is one of the most explosive in the country.

A big reason why the Bearcats will be the most difficult opponent of the season so far for UCF will be because they can do more than just play D. Cincy is averaging 31.9 points per game, and if it wasn’t for their poor showing against Temple, the Bearcats would be getting a lot more attention.

Last week, Cincinnati beat South Florida for their third straight win to set up this battle for the AAC East. In those three victories, the Bearcats have outscored their opponents 103-43. QB Desmond Ridder has thrown for 15 touchdowns to only five interceptions and has at least one passing touchdown in every game but two. UC doesn’t want to get into a track meet with the Knights, but their offense can keep up if they are forced to do so.

UCF has won 22 games in a row, but they have also gone 14-7-1 ATS over that span. The Knights won this game last year 51-23, but the Bearcats defense is much better now. The under has hit in three of the last four games for Cincinnati, and it’s hard to see the Bearcats getting blown off the field. If they upset the Knights, a win next week over East Carolina plus a loss by Temple puts them into the AAC Championship game.

The Knights have scored at least 31 in every game of this 22-game winning streak. I’m calling for that streak to end this week. Only Ohio’s 11th-ranked scoring offense has been able to put up 30 points on these Bearcats, and that was back in September. In UC’s only loss this season, Temple scored 24 points. That same Temple team lost to UCF, but they put 40 on the Knights’ defense. The Bearcats’ defense is legit and will be a major problem for Central Florida.

I’m going with the dog here to keep this game under a touchdown. UCF wins 28-24. Take the points and the under.

Pick: Cincinnati +7.5
Pick: Under 60


(16) Iowa State at (14) Texas

DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Texas -3.5 / 47.5

Here we go again with Tom Herman laying points.

If you have been reading these articles or watching my videos (above), you know where I’m going with this pick: Texas this season, while laying points, is a weak 2-5 ATS. In fact, the Longhorns have lost outright to Maryland and Oklahoma State as favorites this season. Coach Herman’s team is back again laying points against a dangerous visitor, and that spells trouble for UT.

On the other side of the coin, when Herman is an underdog, his teams are always a popular upset pick. UT is 2-0-1 ATS when getting points and have beaten Oklahoma and TCU outright. In a game where they went off as a one-point underdog, they lost to West Virginia 42-41 on a last second 2-point conversion. Those are three of the best teams in the Big 12.

Here comes Iowa State, the little engine that could, coached by one of the best young guns in the game. Matt Campbell, much like Tom Herman did before him, is making a name for himself in Ames with his offense. This will be a huge opportunity for Coach Campbell, and a win in Austin would only confirm why his name is near the top of several big-name programs’ wish lists.

The Cyclones are sporting a five-game winning streak in which they have scored at least 27 points in each contest. The 30-14 beatdown of West Virginia at Jack Trice Stadium last month came on the heels of a very impressive road win at Oklahoma State. Iowa State is now 5-2 in the Big 12, tied with these Longhorns for third place in the conference. If West Virginia slips up at Okie State this weekend, and ISU beats Texas, the Cyclones could be playing in the Big 12 title game.

Texas’ defense gives up a lot of big plays in the passing game. The Longhorns are giving up 7.6 yards per pass play — 82nd in the country. That’s a major problem when facing Iowa State’s freshman phenom QB Brock Purdy, who has thrown for 13 touchdowns against two interceptions since coming in and starting this five-game winning streak. Purdy is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, and since Purdy has taken over, Iowa State is 4-1 ATS.

Iowa State has also been quietly throwing up some great numbers on defense this season. The Cyclones are ranked 18th in the country in points per game (20.4) and 10th in rush defense, only allowing 3.1 yards per carry. ISU can be burned through the air, however, and Texas QB Sam Ehlinger is coming off a four-touchdown, 312-yard performance at Texas Tech last week. The Cyclones must limit the big plays through the air if they want to pull off the upset.

I’m going to take the +3.5, but I don’t hate a ML play on Iowa State. The Cyclones haven’t won a big road game yet this year, but they have won recently in Austin. I think there is a good chance they do it again.

Pick: Iowa State +3.5
Lean: Iowa State ML


(9) West Virginia at Oklahoma State

DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: WV -4.5 / Total 73

My love of taking ‘dogs this week will end with this game. This is a classic letdown spot for the Oklahoma State after they nearly beat in-state rivals Oklahoma last week in Norman. The Cowboys were 24-point underdogs to the Sooners and had a chance to win the game with a 2-point conversion. OU survived 48-47 in a wild affair, dropping OSU coach Mike Gundy to 2-12 vs. Oklahoma.

This week, West Virginia comes to town with a 9-1 record and a chance to play in the Big 12 title game if they continue to win. The Mountaineers are fresh off 47-10 pounding of TCU on the road and look to show off their top 15 offense once again this week. QB Will Grier is a Heisman candidate, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 31 touchdowns and will look to take apart a Cowboy secondary that is giving up over 267 yards per game.

Oklahoma State can score with any team in the country, and we saw their explosiveness over the past three weeks. Against Texas, OSU put up 38 points and 502 yards of offense. In their next two games, losing at Baylor and Oklahoma, the Cowboys combined for 77 points and 941 yards of offense. QB Taylor Cornelius has eclipsed 3,000 yards passing and thrown for 23 touchdowns. He will have to be as good as he was last week against Oklahoma where he threw for 501 yards and three scores if OSU wants to beat West Virginia.

WV is 6-3 versus the spread this season but 2-0-1 over the last three weeks. The Mountaineers are playing their best football at the right time of the year. Oklahoma State is just 2-5 in the Big 12 this year.

I like West Virginia to win by double digits.

Pick: West Virginia -4.5


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