Upset Alert! College Football Week 12 Edition

Oregon State Beavers players celebrating

Rainman M.

Friday, November 17, 2017 2:50 PM GMT

Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 2:50 PM GMT

A few underdogs enjoy a very favorable betting situation on Saturday. Our capper explains which upsets bettors should expect.

Oregon State (1-9) hosts Arizona State (5-5) 

The visiting Sun Devils are favored by a touchdown.

The Beavers are in a great spot because, dating back to last season, they have covered 6 straight first-halves in Pac-12 home games. The Beavers are a bounce-back team: each of their conference home games has been preceded by a blowout on the road. They have then led, as major underdogs, after the first half in two of three conference home games. 

Arizona State is best known for holding the high-powered Huskies to a season-low 7 points. But after that upset win at home, the Sun Devils have become the same porous defense that they had been before their bye week. They rank 113th in opposing yards per carry and 84th in opposing passer rating.

The Sun Devils' weakness on defense is the strength of Oregon State's offense. During the offense's resurgence in the second half of last week's blowout loss at Arizona, the Beavers also reaffirmed that power running should comprise their identity.

Running back Ryan Nall leads the Beavers with 5.2 YPC and 7 touchdowns. The former Oregon Duck Thomas Tyner provides support with 5.1 YPC. In the Beavers' two games where they won the first half and nearly won the full game as well, they ran 46 times vs Colorado and 41 vs Stanford.

Expect the Beavers to rely on their power running game, led by their bruisers Nall and Tyner, in their upset bid against Arizona State.

Defensively, the Beavers seem unable to pace themselves, but rather give everything they have in the first half. In home games, their opponents average 24.2 second-half points, but only 11.8 first-half points, which would place them in the top 40. In the first half of three conference home games, the Beavers have allowed 3 touchdowns.

The reason for this disparity is more mental than anything. The Beavers were often a bad bet on the full game because, once they started to fall behind by a larger margin, they lacked the composure to remain competitive. Fading Oregon State is normally such a public move because the full game score gets so inflated against Oregon State, especially on the road.

The enthusiastic interim replacement of former coach Gary Anderson, Cory Hall, ably infuses his team with competitive fire, and they nearly pulled off the full-game upset against Colorado and Stanford. 

The key defensive player will be cornerback Jay Irvine. He possesses impressive size, strength, vertical ability, and athleticism. He was promising before his injury and, again fully healthy, will challenge Arizona State's superstar wide receiver, N'Keal Harry.

Free NCAAF Pick: Oregon State 1H +4Best Line Offered: Heritage

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No. 3 Miami (9-0) hosts Virginia (6-4)

The massively hyped Hurricanes are favored by 19.

The Hurricanes have received unrelenting praise from popular media outlets after all but securing the ACC's Coastal Division with a 28-10 blowout win over then-No. 13 Virginia Tech. They continued to shock the world by blowing out then-No. 3 Notre Dame 41-8. The emotions couldn't be higher. This is, therefore, a classically dismal scenario for Miami: the let-down spot.

Prior to this two-game stretch, Miami had been called out by their head coach for complacency. They consistently play down to opponents. In conference play, when the odds set by linemakers are tighter, the Hurricanes are 0-3 ATS when favored by 6 or more. 

When they are favored heavily, they are unable to take their opponent seriously enough to cover. Not everything happens as it should on paper, which is why the Hurricanes only defeated then one-win UNC by 5 points and, in the fourth quarter, were up by only 1 against lowly Syracuse. Don't expect the Hurricanes to get excited enough to play Virginia, especially after two dramatic wins, and at an early kickoff time. Conversely, expect composure from the Cavaliers, who already have one SU victory as double-digit road dogs.

Free NCAAF Pick: Virginia +19Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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No. 1 Alabama (10-0) hosts Mercer (5-5)

*No line has been published yet.

In order to cover, the Tide generally require some kind of extra motivating factor. For instance, they thrashed Vanderbilt 59-0 after a Commodore talked trash during the week. They avenged Ole Miss's recent successes by destroying them 66-3. Without any such circumstances, they have been content with simply beating, but not covering against, teams like Colorado State and Texas A&M.

Every year, Bama coach Nick Saban schedules what is effectively a practice game the week before facing Auburn.  In this scenario, Bama is 2-5-1 ATS. The players have zero motivation, zero reasons to get pumped up. A lot of the seniors, who normally don't get to play, will get some playing time. The home crowd is relaxed. In this year's circumstances, 4 of Bama's 7 linebackers are injured and Saban will take every precaution possible to ensure that no other linebacker, or other players, gets injured. 

In lieu of the coming rivalry game with Auburn, which has critical implications for Bama's hope of reaching the SEC Championship Game and the Playoffs, and because Bama knows that they will beat Mercer, this is a classic betting scenario: the lookahead game.

Don't waste your money on the Mercer ML. But do expect Mercer to cover against a complacent Bama.


Free NCAAF Pick: Mercer ATS*Come back for live odds update
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