Rivalry Week is here in college football. Well, sort of. Usually, we’d be looking at the last weekend of the regular season and a whole lot of games with bad blood between rival problems. We’re still seeing several of those games, but not all of them, as the delayed start for some conferences skewed the schedules.
Nevertheless, rivalry games are always interesting. This season, we’re getting to the point where it’s fair to question motivation, as college kids living under strict COVID protocols may just be over it by now, especially with a limited number of bowl games and asterisks all over this season.
But, we should get good efforts this week from teams in those high-profile rivalry matchups. As far as the rest of the card, there are a lot of games with intrigue there, too. We also have some short-week situations with a handful of Friday games. We’ll also have some questions next week about teams coming off of such an emotional game, but you’ll have to tune in for Week 14 to hear about that.
Here are the college football situational spots and betting trends to consider for Week 13:
Colorado State at Air Force (-6.5, 53.5)
Let’s see if the extra prep time helps Colorado State here. Steve Addazio led a coaching staff at Boston College that would see the Georgia Tech triple-option offense with regularity. Now he’s in Fort Collins trying to get his players ready for Air Force. The Falcons did play last week on Friday night against New Mexico. Colorado State’s game against UNLV was canceled. We’ll see if this one gets played on Thursday with the short week, but the fact that Colorado State has more prep time could be very helpful.
UCF (-24.5, 68.5) at USF
This is a terrible spot for UCF. They put a lot of effort and emphasis into their game against Cincinnati and now the Knights draw the South Florida Bulls in a massive favorite role. This is something of a recruiting rivalry, but there isn’t a ton more to it than that, though. These two teams have played yearly since 2013 and UCF is 5-2 and has won the last two games by 28 and 27 points. It’s a tough spot for a UCF team to be motivated to win by margin, unless they’re looking to let out some Friday night frustration.
Notre Dame (-5, 64) at North Carolina
There is no margin for error here for Notre Dame. With the Fighting Irish staring at being a double-digit underdog in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson, they can ill afford to lose this game in Chapel Hill. Notre Dame’s defense was exposed by DJ Uiagalelei in the matchup against Clemson and next to nobody has been able to slow down Sam Howell and the Tar Heels offense this season. It’s a huge spot for Notre Dame and a pretty big one for North Carolina given the magnitude of the opponent.
Oregon (-13, 61.5) at Oregon State
The Civil War is what they used to call this game. Now they don’t have a name for it. Oregon has won three in a row and 11 of the last 12. While the Beavers have lost straight up in 11 of those 12 games, they are 5-6-1 ATS, so it’s not like this has been a pure domination for the boys from Eugene. They have held Oregon State to 10, 15, and 10 points the last three seasons while scoring 69, 55, and 24, so in that respect, this rivalry has been ugly recently. This will be Oregon’s shortest favorite role since 2016, which, coincidentally, is the last time the Ducks lost to Oregon State.
Central Michigan (-6.5, 58.5) at Eastern Michigan
The first leg of the Michigan MAC Trophy rivalry for the Directional Michigan schools in the MAC went to Western Michigan with last week’s win over Central Michigan. Central Michigan will look to bounce back here on the grey turf in Ypsilanti against Eastern Michigan. CMU and EMU have alternated wins and losses the last four years in this game after EMU snapped a four-year losing streak. EMU and WMU play December 5.
Georgia Southern at Georgia State (-1, 54)
This rivalry is called Modern Day Hate, apparently, which seems to be pretty prevalent everywhere these days. It is tied 3-3, as Georgia Southern has been victorious the last two years. The rivalry also extends to other sports, but the football rivalry is definitely the focus. Georgia State gave up 69 points in the first meeting back in 2014, but then rattled off three straight wins. A lesser-known rivalry, but still no love lost between these teams.
Kentucky at Florida (-24, 59)
One of the most amazing stats in college football came to an end in 2018. Florida had beaten Kentucky 31 straight times before the Wildcats tripped up the Gators by a 27-16 score in Gainesville. Florida got back in the win column last year with an eight-point win. Kentucky lost by one in 2017. Prior to that, Kentucky lost by an average of 29.8 points per game from 2008-16. Kentucky has actually covered three in a row here after Florida covered nine of 10 from 2007-16. This looks like a pretty good Florida team and Kentucky got waxed 63-3 last week by Alabama, so we’ll have to see how this line moves with the recent history and the state of the two teams.
Minnesota at Wisconsin (-21.5, 54.5)
Paul Bunyan’s Axe has been in Madison a lot lately. In fact, dating back to 2004, the only time Minnesota has won this rivalry game was in 2018 with a stunning 37-15 win in Madison. Wisconsin got revenge by a 38-17 count last year. Wisconsin’s dominance has not translated against the spread, however. In fact, since 2007, Wisconsin is 6-7 ATS, despite being 12-1 straight up. Minnesota has been getting some big numbers over that time and they’re getting another big one here.
Cincinnati (-35.5, 54.5) at Temple
The scoreboard did not tell the entire story of what happened between Cincinnati and UCF. UCF only had 4.3 yards per play against Cincinnati, which is an incredible number given that virtually nobody had stopped SMU except for themselves throughout the season on offense. Cincinnati, meanwhile, had 6.0 yards per play and settled for two short field goals and a fumble at the UCF 1. So, the Bearcats were much more impressive than the score would indicate, but this is a letdown spot against a horrible Temple team that keeps getting worse with each passing week. Luke Fickell has had no problem putting style points on the scoreboard in games like this, but you wonder if his team might coast a little bit here.
Penn State at Michigan (-2, 59)
Ugh. Michigan needed three overtimes to beat Rutgers last week. Penn State fell to 0-5, as turnovers again plagued the Nittany Lions. These two Big Ten stalwarts may both need changes on the sidelines after this season. Motivation and energy are huge questions both ways here. Michigan was extremely excited to beat Rutgers, which speaks to the state of the program. Penn State would be hard-pressed to care about anything going forward with no bowl prospects and potentially a changing of the guard. This is a bad spot for both teams, simply because of how their seasons are going.
Oklahoma (-11, 55) at West Virginia
Oklahoma once again owned Bedlam with another lopsided win to improve to 16-2 in the last 18 years against Oklahoma State. Over the last 10 years, Oklahoma is 8-2 SU and 5-5 ATS immediately following that rivalry game, though the next game for the Sooners is typically a conference championship game or a bowl game. This will be just the second true road game in that span. West Virginia is a formidable foe and a trek to Morgantown generally isn’t easy, so we’ll see how the betting markets handle this one, but as far as a letdown off of the rivalry game, we don’t really have much data to decide.
Rutgers at Purdue (-11.5, 60)
How does Rutgers respond to the near-miss against Michigan at home with a long trip out to West Lafayette, Indiana? It sure seems like this would be a good spot to take Purdue. The Boilermakers were boned by a phantom offensive pass interference call against Minnesota, so they have a chip on their shoulder coming into this game. Let’s see if that thought process plays out with the betting odds.
Troy at Appalachian State (-16.5, 49.5)
Appalachian State’s goals may not be reachable this season. The annual Group of 5 power lost to Coastal Carolina last weekend and is two back in the win column. The Chanticleers also have the tiebreaker. It’s fair to wonder what sort of effort we get from App State here against a Troy team that suffered a tough loss to Middle Tennessee in Week 12. I’d like to think a program with App State’s reputation would step up here, but coaching turnover and the realities of the 2020 season may be too much to overcome.
Coastal Carolina (-16.5, 60) at Texas State
On the flip side, I wonder if Texas State is a dangerous opponent for Coastal Carolina this week. The Bobcats can score points. They’ve done that a lot this season. They’ve given up a lot of points, too. This seems like a decent spot to take a live offense plus the points with Coastal coming off of the biggest win in program history since jumping to the FBS level.
Auburn at Alabama (-23.5, 61)
This won’t be the biggest line in Iron Bowl, but it’ll be up there among the highest. Alabama was -26.5 at home two years ago and -34 back in 2012. Those games both wound up covers. In fact, in Alabama’s seven biggest favorite roles since 1981 in this rivalry, they are 6-1 ATS. When they’re supposed to win big, they generally do. They’re supposed to win big here. Auburn has covered three of the last four, though, so we’ll see if they are up for the challenge.
Tennessee (-10.5, 52) at Vanderbilt
This is a very one-sided rivalry. Tennessee won 22 in a row from 1983-2004. Vanderbilt won in 2005 and then Tennessee won six more. Interestingly, Vanderbilt has actually won five of the last eight meetings straight up. The Commodores show up for this game. They’ve covered four straight and seven of the last eight. With what appears to be a very vulnerable Tennessee team this season, the Commodores seem to be in a decent spot, especially as their offense has improved throughout the season.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss (-10.5, 66.5)
The Egg Bowl is usually on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but it will be on Saturday this season. There is a chance that this closes as the highest favorite role for Ole Miss in recent memory. Their biggest spread in the last 40 games has been -19, which came back in 2003. In fact, this will be only the third time in that span that Ole Miss has been a double-digit favorite over Mississippi State.