Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne
Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne (10) hands off to running back Kenneth Walker III (9) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Purdue defeated Michigan State 40-29. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


Patrick Werkmeister

As the college football season enters into its 12th official week, the playoff race is starting to take its final shape. This week features the same top four of Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State. Desmond Ridder and the Cincinnati Bearcats were ranked 3rd in Week 10 but dropped after having not even slightly looked like a contender. However, it is pretty much anyone’s shot to win the national championship. Following a solid 3-0 performance in last week’s college ‘Best Bets’, these picks for this slate are primed to stay hot. Here is what I’m confident in for this Saturday.

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Wake Forest (+4.5) @ Clemson
For this ACC matchup, the Clemson Tigers host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The opening line for this contest favored the Tigers by three points and they are currently listed as four and a half-point home favorite. Clemson comes into this one with a horrific 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games whereas Wake Forest is 5-2 ATS in their previous 7 games vs Clemson. In Week 11, the Demon Deacons put together an outstanding winning performance against the ranked NC State Wolfpack where they won 45-42. Contrarily, Clemson had a tough go to start their contest vs the worst program in the country right now, UConn. Even though they wound up dominating their opponent, it wasn’t an optimistic sign when Clemson ran a fake field goal for a touchdown against a team of this stature. Wake Forest is clearly the more dominant team so take the Deacons to cover this ridiculous spread.

Michigan State (+19.5) @ Ohio State
From the Horseshoe in Upper Arlington, Kenneth Walker and the Michigan State Spartans look to steal one on the road against C.J. Stroud and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The opening line for this matchup favored the Buckeyes by 17.5, but they are now listed as whopping 19.5-point home favorites. Although Michigan State is an impressive 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall, Ohio State is also 5-2 ATS in their previous seven. While the Buckeyes swiftly defeated Purdue last week, the Spartans earned a 41-20 victory against Maryland. Led by Heisman candidate Kenneth Walker, the Spartans running back already has an astonishing 1,473 yards rushing along with 17 touchdowns. Although their defense has improved over the season, Ohio State has had their problems with the running game. We should all never forget what Minnesota did to them with their 200+ rushing yards in Week 1. As long as they take care of the ball with just minor success on the ground, they should have no problem covering this inflated margin. Take Sparty plus the points in this match.  

UCLA (-3.5) @ USC
For this heated rivalry, the UCLA Bruins travel 20 minutes across Los Angeles to face off against the USC Trojans. The Bruins opened as three-point road favorites and are now favored by three and a half. Although UCLA is 2-4 ATS in their last six meetings with the Trojans, USC is 1-5 ATS in their previous six games overall. Last weekend, the Bruins soundly defeated Colorado whereas the Trojans were thumped by Arizona State. It’s been a tale of two seasons for these programs where USC fired their head coach early in the season and UCLA has bounced back from a tough season last year to a solid 6-4 record. After dropping a third loss out of the last four games, USC has proven that they have difficulties competing with any team right now. UCLA is a fantastic 6-0 ATS vs teams with losing records, so expect them to have no problem with their rivals. With USC experimenting with a new quarterback for this game, I like the position the Bruins are in for this one. Take UCLA minus the points to cover this margin.

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