Every Monday the Eye on College Football's Tom Fornelli takes an early look this week's most interesting point spreads in Line Study.
The end of the regular season is approaching fast, and while that sucks, it also means that games are taking on even more importance. There are a lot of games being played this weekend that will have big impacts on conference races, and we'll be looking at two of those games in this week's Line Study.
I thought about breaking down the 32 possibilities that remain in the ACC's Coastal Division, but, well, I didn't want to drive myself into madness. So instead I'm just going to look at the biggest games in the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC this week instead.
THE GAMES YOU'LL BE WATCHING
We only get one top ten matchup this week, and it involves a home dog of more than a touchdown in Oklahoma State. Which, obviously, makes Oklahoma State an intriguing option right off the bat.
I mentioned last week when I told you to take Oklahoma State against Texas that the Cowboys had covered in four straight games with relative ease. Well, that streak is up to five games now, and the Cowboys are 4-1 ATS at home this season. On the other side we have a Baylor team that's also been very good against the spread this season, going 8-1 and having covered in four straight.
However, this will only be Baylor's third road game of the season, and it's 1-1 ATS in the first two road contests, with the lone loss being to Kansas State. Meanwhile the cover came against a Kansas team that just ended its 27-game Big 12 losing streak on Saturday. So it's hard to get a true read of what kind of team Baylor is in hostile territory.
What sticks out to me, though, is Baylor's record ATS as a road favorite. In the last three seasons the Bears are now 1-4 in that situation. Which isn't good, but looks even worse when you realize the Bears are 25-9 overall ATS in those same three seasons. So nearly half of the times they've failed to cover the last three seasons have come as favorites on the road.
I find that hard to ignore, and I'm taking Oklahoma State +8.5.
This is a huge game for both teams. If Arizona State wins it punches its ticket to the Pac-12 Championship Game, most likely against Oregon. If UCLA wins it takes over the driver's seat in the Pac-12 South, holding the tiebreaker over Arizona State, and just needing a win over rival USC to finish the season.
So how is this one going to play out?
Well, I have to be honest, I'm having a hard time writing this instead of running to the window to take UCLA +2.5. I was actually surprised to see UCLA listed as a home dog in this game, but I'm not upset about it.
The Bruins are 7-3 ATS on the season while Arizona State is only 5-5. And UCLA is 4-1 ATS at home this season while Arizona State is 1-3 on the road.
Do you see why I'm so eager to take UCLA here? Well, if that's not enough information for you, how about the fact that under Todd Graham the Sun Devils are 2-5 ATS as road favorites while UCLA is 18-8 as a home dog over the last decade.
No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 22 LSU (-4)
Neither of these teams is going to win the SEC West, but they've still got plenty to play for here besides the rivalry between them. Texas A&M is definitely still a possibility for a BCS at-large berth, and while LSU is currently only at No. 22 in the BCS, a win over Texas A&M could help them get eligible for an at-large as well.
As for which way to go in this game, I'm honestly not sure. Neither team has been impressive ATS this season (A&M is 5-5 while LSU is 4-5-1) in any area. Honestly, while there hasn't been an over/under listed for this game as of publication, I think your smart bet is to wait and see what it is and then take the over. Because between them this season the Aggies and Tigers have hit the over in 15 of their 20 games, so that could be a plan.
As for the point spread, I lean Texas A&M +4, but I'm just not comfortable enough with this game to recommend it.
THE GAME YOU SHOULD EXPLOIT
Listen, I'm on the Minnesota bandwagon. I love what the Gophers are doing, and they were my darkhorse Big Ten team before the season began. All that being said, I just don't see things going all that well for the Gophers this week against Wisconsin.
First of all, the Badgers are a spread covering juggernaut this season at 9-0-1, and while Minnesota has covered its last four games, it's done so against teams that are now a combined 9-13 in Big Ten play. Take out Nebraska and that record drops to 5-11. Meanwhile Wisconsin has not only covered five straight, but it's beat the spread by an average of 12 points per game as well.