The games only seem to get bigger as the college football season nears the finish line. Three very important contests headline a packed week 13 schedule, with various stakes on the line.
Texas A&M Aggies @ LSU Tigers
Odds: LSU -4
Johnny Manziel has committed many more turnovers this season than he did last season, but he remains as much of a force as he ever was, and he has done so much to keep Texas A&M relevant on the national scene. The ability to score so many points even when defenses know that a pass play is coming shows that Manziel is as resourceful as he’s ever been. This season could actually improve Manziel’s eventual NFL draft stock in ways that his 2012 couldn’t. Manziel has played well in the face of adversity, and what’s more is that he’s done everything he’s done this season after a turbulent summer filled with off-field controversies and distractions. NFL executives have to love the way Manziel has handled himself throughout the season.
Yet, for all of Manziel’s attributes, the A&M defense has been noticeably poor this season. A&M could not win home games in which Manziel and the offense scored at least 41 points. The Aggies lost by a 49-42 score to Alabama, and they dropped a 45-41 decision to Auburn. Now, this same defense has to play on the road, where it won’t even have the benefit of a vocal home crowd at its back. LSU’s offense has tailed off after starting the season extremely well. Yet, Alabama is a team that will make many opposing offenses struggle. LSU might be surprised at the extent to which A&M’s defense won’t offer very much resistance. The Tigers should be able to control this game in the third quarter and eventually cover the spread.
Pick: LSU -4
Arizona State Sun Devils @ UCLA Bruins
Odds: Arizona State -2.5
UCLA has not played as well as Arizona State in recent weeks, which is why Las Vegas likes the Sun Devils to win on the road. Yet, Arizona State has played much better this season at home than on the road. UCLA is the defending champion in the Pac-12 South Division, and the Bruins have a great chance to call upon that experience and savvy in this game. UCLA will win outright even though they are the underdog on the college football spread.
Pick: UCLA +2.5
Baylor Bears @ Oklahoma State Cowboys
Odds: Baylor -8.5
This is a game in which the Cowboys should thrive at home. Will it be enough to win? Perhaps not, because Baylor has proven to be so consistent on offense. Yet, Baylor has not played very many challenging road games this season. It played a neutral-site game last week against Texas Tech, but it was able to bring a lot of fans to that event. Baylor might still be vulnerable in the face of a road crowd, especially for a night game such as this one with so much intensity and publicity. Oklahoma State has played in big games before. The Cowboys will not be afraid of the moment. They will definitely cover the number, and they might even win.
Pick: Oklahoma State +8.5