Mississippi State Bulldogs at Ole Miss Rebels (Thursday, November 24)
You may think a rivalry game known as the Cranberry Bowl or the Turkey Trophy would threaten to become a Thanksgiving staple, but the Egg Bowl between Mississippi and Mississippi State does give viewers a familiar, well-matched state championship scrum over pumpkin pie. Many times, the teams dislike each other a little too much to stay focused, as evidenced by 2018’s ugly “Egg Brawl” and the game-turning unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore near the end of the 2019 contest. But 4 of their last 5 meetings have finished within a 10-point margin, including Mississippi’s 31-21 anxious triumph while ranked 9th by the Associated Press late in 2021.
The Rebels are back in the Top 25 again this season, but stand as only a (-3) point-spread favorite while coming off a disappointing loss at Arkansas. The Bulldogs are at 7-4 overall and just behind Mississippi in the SEC standings. But Paul Finebaum is calling head coach Mike Leach’s job into question if Mississippi State does not win again in 2022, as simultaneously, HC Lane Kiffin of the Rebels is once again the subject of the rumor mill.
Hosting Ole Miss could prove to be a dodgy pick at thin odds. The turbulence over Leach’s job appears to be typical mill-grist for SEC bloggers excited over a team with potential, while Kiffin’s reputation as a disloyal campus hopper will give the Rebels stories more juice. Moreover, Ole Miss’s performance last weekend had the look of a team that had looked forward to the previous Alabama game for weeks. Having lost it, they have given up on prospects of a championship season, like Johnny Manziel’s A&M teams in November.
However, we can’t ignore a cautious (59.5) point-total line as bookmakers’ potential worst 2022 Egg Bowl blunder. Predicting a regular-old 31-24 type of score in a duel between Mississippi State and Ole Miss this season is like predicting 92 combined rush yards produced by Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook. Blink and you will miss the huddles.
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (59.5)
Central Michigan Chippewas at Eastern Michigan Eagles (Friday, November 25)
The Chippewas (-125) are building one of the coolest styles of offense in the Group-of-5, with bulky, fast dual-threat QBs plowing around the end on old-fashioned sweeps and power plays. Central Michigan rallied out of the cellar after an early-season swoon for the young Chippewas, upsetting the Buffalo Bulls in November as QB Bert Emanuel Jr. raced for nearly 300 yards. Central Michigan’s loss in last weekend’s snow game at WMU was full of bad breaks.
But we are not sure that CMU’s promise keeps the Eagles (+1.5) from being the true favorite in Friday’s midday MAC kickoff. Eastern Michigan has a chance to reach a bowl game, unlike Central Michigan with the latter team at 7 losses, and although the gambling odds reflect EMU’s injury woes at QB, backup Taylor Powell may be a gem in the rough.
The game’s hefty O/U line of (54.5) total points also betrays that too many bookmakers are reading MAC scoring averages instead of watching the teams play. The Chippewas’ “12-10” defeat in the blizzard of Week 12 wasn’t a severely atypical score for the pass-averse Central Michigan.
WagerBop’s Picks: Eastern Michigan (+104) and Under (54.5)
Arkansas Razorbacks at Missouri Tigers (Friday, November 25)
The best early sportsbook wager for Friday is based on subtle angles. For example, the stiff-arm look of the Chippewas’ quarterbacks when they take off running is a clue that CMU’s coaches are emphasizing the QB run as a program-wide focus, not just utilizing option tactics until the quarterbacks and receivers learn how to execute consistently. But late-afternoon SEC results are another story. Prestigious bowl bids are far more obvious on the line for 2 teams hovering around .500, and Faurot Field’s expected damp weather is secondary to a pair of improving defenses at holding the Over/Under line at (55.5). You might expect bookmakers to nail the moneyline and point-spread odds for the Tigers vs the Razorbacks right on the money. Instead, Arkansas is badly overrated.
The Razorbacks (-3) have already qualified for a bowl with 6 wins, can’t get to a major bowl game with 7 conquests, and celebrated its seniors during a 42-27 upset of the Rebels of Ole Miss last week. The Tigers have been playing like an improving Friday Night Lights team that can’t get the schedule to cooperate, except for an instantly infamous “2022 Allergy Bowl” against Auburn in which each team displayed a sniffling, sneezing aversion to actually trying to win. There’s only a single way for Eli Drinkwitz’s talented squad to get that taste out of their mouths: prevail in Week 13 and ultimately secure a bowl win and a 7-6 campaign. Razorbacks are also preparing on short notice following an emotional high mark, and the Arkansas front-7 won’t be as well-prepared as usual for a Tigers running game that’s more dynamic and deceptive than in the past.
WagerBop’s Pick: Missouri ATS (+3)
Michigan Wolverines at Ohio State Buckeyes (Saturday, November 26)
It is always great fun when a betting market can be compared to the Monty Hall Problem. The Monty Hall Problem, or puzzle, deals with a seemingly random outcome in a guessing game that can be manipulated as a 2-out-of-3 winner, something that very few contestants—or mathematicians—ever caught onto during Monty’s game-show career.
Sportsbooks don’t always abide by the Monty Hall Problem or recognize its catch, which is that given information can help turn a 3-up “shell game” into a 66% chance of triumph.
The OSU Buckeyes (-315) and Michigan Wolverines’ clash at The Horseshoe is offered to point-total gamblers on an O/U (57.5) line, and there are reasons why the O/U number is set above where one would anticipate for a meeting of #1 offense and #1 defense in the Big Ten. Wolverines’ runner-up Big Ten offense hasn’t been too shabby in racking-up prodigious points when over-matched opponents get tired, but the top angle boosting the point-total market is that the Buckeyes are expected to control most of the game, and win by around (-7.5) points at home. Those handicapping the 3rd-ranked Wolverines to play a great 60:00, and potentially send Ohio State postseason prospects into the NY6 and not the College Football Playoff, should have few problems trying to imagine a low-scoring game with UM’s defense in charge. But the general public is on-board with QB C.J. Stroud and OSU as more than TD favorites, meaning that the “Over” could become a popular Saturday pick also.
The Buckeyes-Wolverines point-total market’s outcome appears based on a “50/50” proposition of either a high-octane favorite or a methodical underdog gaining control of the contest. There are closer to 2-in-3 chances that the scrum will become more grudging than sportsbooks realize. Odds-makers are focused on Michigan’s not-too-shabby scoring as the information that points to a potential 60+ or 70+ point final score. Yet that same angle could help to slow down Ohio State’s tempo as much as the Wolverines’ excellent defense can, as the Horseshoe hosts know Michigan’s attack is most effective when its possession counter gets into double-digits. OSU would rather mount long drives than alternate long TDs and negative yardage if leading the Wolverines by a few points. In the meantime, there’s absolutely no doubt that if UM enjoys the same success on the LOS that Notre Dame’s front-7 did against OSU blockers early this season, Harbaugh’s team will grind on the game clock.
The biggest threat of an “SMU-Houston” final score at OSU comes in the form of an extremely tight 2nd half, in which even a 24-24 tie in the 4th quarter would boast paltry chances to stay below 60 total points in the end, as rivals began to answer each other’s desperation scoring drives. But the betting public usually tends to inflate the Buckeyes’ championship prospects until Ohio State either pays it off or gets unexpectedly blown out. Bookmakers don’t forecast an overtime game or anything like it Saturday, and fans remember as clearly that OSU is a feast-or-famine brand in big games.
WagerBop’s Pick: Under (57.5)
Oregon Ducks at Oregon State Beavers (Saturday, November 26)
Many of Saturday’s midday CFB odds seem accurate, with only a few chances for FanDuel users to effectively beat the house. The Iron Bowl’s (49.5) point-total line could draw waves of high-side action, while Wisconsin’s tight (-3) point spread vs visiting Minnesota in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe must be weighed in consideration of each football school’s thankless labor down the home stretch in fall of 2022. Michigan State’s (+18.5) spotted points at Penn State would be a promising line to pick ATS for a true-blood rivalry. Realistically, Happy Valley has far worse enemies than it could host on Rivalry Weekend.
The Ducks’ chances to cover (-3.5) points at the Beavers will clash with state-rival Oregon State’s watershed campaign. The Beavers’ #22 national ranking is starting to creep ever closer to Oregon’s hard-earned status in the Top 10, and to emphasize a “mirror match” angle for the raucous afternoon kickoff, the Ducks’ offense – ranked 2nd in the Pac-12 – contends with a Beaver defense that is also ranked 2nd in the Pac-12.
Nevertheless, this match-up could simply be bad chemistry for the 8-win hosts. The Beavers’ defense relies on tremendous ball control via the team’s winning of the line-of-scrimmage when on offense, and its disciplined, effective turns on the special teams. For instance, Oregon State allowed a 100-yard rusher to Arizona State in last weekend’s 31-7 win but controlled the ball for nearly 40:00 with a mammoth 28 conversions for 1st downs. It is analytical enough to say Oregon’s team speed and physicality will challenge both Corvallis’ running game and its special teams, but users must also consider Ohio State’s substantial points allowed to pedestrian opponents like Stanford and Fresno State on Saturdays that didn’t involve a crushing ball-control effort from Oregon State.
WagerBop’s Pick: Oregon ATS (-3.5)
Pittsburgh Panthers at Miami Hurricanes (Saturday, November 26)
We are wondering if anyone will be awake on Saturday night, after 3 days of leftovers. Hopefully, some of college football’s most ardent fans will have their eyes wide open. Kansas State takes on Kansas in a pressure-packed Cornflower Bowl in prime-time, just after the #5 ranked USC Trojans kick-off as a (-4.5) favorite over Notre Dame. Additionally, there’s another solid betting opportunity to be had on ACC football before the NFL week can resume.
The Hurricanes (+6.5) look the part of a desperate 5-6 host about to play like crazy against the Panthers on Senior Night, hoping to secure a bowl berth as a .500 team. But that easy narrative overlooks the Hurricanes’ tradition of success, comparable to Notre Dame or USC in that players do not attend “The U” dreaming about beating Tulane in the Sun Bowl. Miami is the type of program to simply refuse a laughable “Lais Bowl” invitation in the tropics, which could help to cast this Saturday night’s clash with the Panthers in a more realistic light.
The Panthers are the surging team with an active win streak, hoping to qualify for late December’s more prestigious bowl season with a #3 or #4 overall conference qualification mark. Pittsburgh’s aggressive defense can force more turnovers out of Miami’s shaky effort from scrimmage while Pitts tailback Israel Abanikanda works to demoralize the downtrodden Hurricanes by late in the 3rd quarter. The Panthers had some problems with Duke last weekend but held Syracuse and Virginia to 16 combined points in 2 prior triumphs.
WagerBop’s Pick: Pitt ATS (-6.5)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.