As we inch closer toward the College Football Playoff selection show, there are an awful lot of assumptions being made about each contender's path. With some division races being locked up and rivalry games on the horizon, there's some ill-advised looking ahead taking place. And when that happens, chaos can sometimes arrive when you least expect it, which serves as the theme for upset alerts in Week 13. Among the teams who need steer clear of that chaos this week include Michigan and Oklahoma State.
Each week, I'll give you the top five upset alert games based on matchups, injuries/suspensions and other factors. But in the spirit of the upset, I generally avoid games where lines are within a touchdown, though there will be some exceptions. Similarly, I'll only go with moneyline picks when the payout is around 2:1 -- maybe a little less, definitely when it's more.
Week 12 results
No. 21 Oklahoma State at West Virginia
When: Saturday, Noon ET | Where: Morgantown, West Virginia | Line: Oklahoma State -7.5
Why it's listed: True story: I almost went with West Virginia-Kansas State a week ago, but I wasn't confident enough that QB Jarret Doege would play a huge role for the Mountaineers. Instead, I, an intellectual, went with Navy-Notre Dame. So you can trust me with complete confidence when I say the 'Eers will give Oklahoma State fits in a look-ahead game before Bedlam.
West Virginia's key to the game: Doege obviously gives this team the best chance to win, but I still wonder how many points it can score. Last week was the first time the Mountaineers hit 20 points since Oct. 5. West Virginia wins this game by shortening it, keeping its offense on the field and getting Oklahoma State to punch down.
Oklahoma State's key to the game: Quarterback Spencer Sanders is banged up, but running back Chuba Hubbard against West Virginia's linebackers is a mismatch if I've ever seen one. Hubbard might hit his fifth 200-yard game this season, which would be insane.
Pick: The Cowboys have won four straight against the 'Eers, and I'll take them a fifth time. Doege certainly gives West Virginia a better shot, and Neal Brown is coaching his tail off, but I don't figure they have an answer for Hubbard. ATS: West Virginia, SU: Oklahoma State
When: Saturday, Noon ET | Where: Iowa City, Iowa | Line: Iowa -13.5
Why it's listed: What's the most Iowa thing possible besides beating undefeated teams at home? Losing to Illinois the next week.
Illinois' key to the game: Receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe needs to be a clutch weapon in plus territory, with six of his nine touchdowns on the season having come inside opponents' 40-yard line. Iowa has one of the Big Ten's top red-zone defenses for touchdowns allowed, but Imatorbhebhe is a big-bodied guy who needs to make tough catches.
Iowa's key to the game: I loved what freshman running back Tyler Goodson did against Minnesota. His 94 yards and a touchdown were decent on their own, but within the game plan, it gave the Hawkeyes big plays and opened up the pass. Illinois has one of the Big Ten's worst run defenses, giving up nearly 200 yards per game.
Pick: I didn't see enough from Iowa's offense all the way through the Minnesota game to feel comfortable about giving them two touchdowns. Illinois is confident and playing well, but if Iowa's defense shows up again, I'm not sure the Illini have enough to take this on the road. ATS: Illinois, SU: Iowa
No. 13 Michigan at Indiana
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET | Where: Bloomington, Indiana | Moneyline: Michigan -358, Indiana +278
Why it's listed: Michigan has quietly been hitting its stride at the right time with Ohio State looming in two weeks. However, Indiana is no joke, and the Wolverines have been a dicey road team under Jim Harbaugh.
Indiana's key to the game: We know Indiana can put up some points, but defense is where this team has made its biggest strides. Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson has seven touchdowns to zero picks in his last three games, so Indiana has a challenge with its pass rush/defense.
Michigan's key to the game: Turnover luck isn't really something that's easily changed midseason, but Michigan couldn't hold on to the ball through the first few games. It's been much better about it in its three-game winning streak, with only one fumble lost. It can't give Indiana any extra offensive opportunities.
Pick: There must be a certain masochism to Indiana football because no team gets repeatedly kicked in the wedding tackle at the last minute quite like the Hoosiers -- and by Michigan, in particular. Two of the last four meetings have gone to overtime, both of which were in Bloomington. I guess it makes sense that a pair of my ML picks in the past two weeks fell short in overtime, but hey, guess Indiana and I have something in common. Indiana +278
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET | Where: Waco, Texas | Moneyline: Baylor -225, Texas +183
Why it's listed: What do you get when you combine Tom Herman's reputation as an underdog, a desperate moment for the Longhorns and a hangover game for Baylor? A spot on upset alerts.
Texas' key to the game: Devin Duvernay was a one-time Baylor commit. Now he's one of the most dominant one-on-one receivers in the Big 12, if not the country; however, he's been a non-factor against the Bears historically with two catches for 17 yards. In his final game against the Bears, I think that changes in a big way. Also, he was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist snub. My guess is he plays extra angry.
Baylor's key to the game: I know the Bears are disappointed with blowing that 28-3 lead to the Sooners last week, but say this for the defense: it made sure nothing was easy. Oklahoma needed to run 95 plays and never quite broke off the big one. Baylor made Oklahoma earn everything it got, and against a far less efficient offense in Texas, Baylor needs to do the same.
Pick: Texas has been backed into a corner, which is usually where it plays its best football. Baylor's had a great season, and may still make the Big 12 Championship Game, but the law of averages comes into play with all of the Bears' close calls this season. Texas +183
No. 20 Boise State at Utah State
When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET | Where: Logan, Utah | Line: Boise State -8.5
Why it's listed: Who's going to play quarterback for Boise State and Utah State? It's not clear! Jordan Love is banged up, but the Broncos could be down to their third-stringer if Hank Bachmeier and backup Chase Cord aren't available.
Utah State's key to the game: Love's availability is obviously the big story. The nature of the injury he sustained last week against Wyoming is "undisclosed," so it's hard to get a read on the prognosis. Henry Colombi will get the start if Love can't play.
Boise State's key to the game: With so many questions at quarterback for both teams, the one thing the Broncos should be able to count on is their defense. Boise has plenty of playmakers up front, Curtis Weaver among them, so if it can control the line of scrimmage, it'll have an edge.
Pick: I'd be tempted to pick the Aggies straight up if I had more certainty that Love would play. As it is, though, Boise's situation seems more dire. Still, this is an 8.5-point spread, and the Mountain West Mountain Division race is heating up. Should be a fun one. ATS: Utah State, SU: Boise State
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