Line Study: Lights, camera, MACtion

    Jordan Lynch and the Huskies face a tough test Wednesday night    
Jordan Lynch and the Huskies face a tough test Wednesday night. (USATSI)

Every Monday the Eye on College Football's Tom Fornelli takes an early look this week's most interesting point spreads in Line Study.

There was a good chance the college football world would be thrown into chaos last week with so many top matchups, but by the time the dust settled it was only Oregon who fell from the ranks of the unbeaten.

And now this week we look at a slate of games that, to be honest, aren't exactly awe-inspiring. Which explains why I'm leading Line Study this week with a MAC game that will be played on Wednesday night.

Welcome to Week 12, everybody.


Ball State at No. 15 Northern Illinois (-6.5)

Listen, the MAC is filled with a lot of bad teams this season. Many of whom take up plenty of spots in my Best Worst Ten list every week, but on Wednesday night Northern Illinois will put its unbeaten record and BCS hopes on the line against a Ball State team that is most certainly not bad.

Pete Lembo's Ball State team will come to DeKalb on Wednesday night with a 9-1 mark on the season, and an impressive 7-3 mark against the spread this season. Now, that mark against the spread also includes a 4-1 record ATS on the road this season. Also, since Pete Lembo took over the Ball State program, the Cardinals are 8-2 ATS as a road underdog like they will be this Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, while Northern Illinois is a more-than-respectable 6-3 ATS this season, it's only 1-2 at home. In fact, the only team the Huskies managed to cover against at home this season was Eastern Michigan, and Eastern Michigan is terrible. They were not able to cover against Akron -- which is 3-7-- or FCS opponent Eastern Illinois.

So when I look at these trends, I can't help but think that Ball State +6.5 points is the right play here.

No. 12 Oklahoma State (-3) at No. 24 Texas

This is a very important game for both teams, as they are both now the only credible threats to Baylor in the Big 12. 

Now, if you look at their records against the spread on the surface, nothing really stands out. Texas is 5-4 on the season and 3-2 at home while Oklahoma State is 6-3 on the season and 3-2 at home. However, while we don't know where this line will end up, if it stays the same this will be only the fourth time since 2003 that Texas was a home underdog, and the first time since hosting Oklahoma State in 2011. They've gone 0-3 against the spread in the first three.

Meanwhile Oklahoma State might only be 5-3 on the season ATS, but it's covered in four straight and all with relative ease. While I don't have the utmost confidence in this pick, I'm leaning Oklahoma State -3 right now, and hoping that number moves in Texas' direction before Saturday.

No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn (-3.5)

Listen, Auburn hasn't just been kicking some butt on the field this season, but it's been taking names in Vegas as well. Auburn is 8-2 ATS this season, and that includes a seven-game cover streak. Meanwhile Georgia is 1-6-2 ATS this season, which is not impressive in the slightest.

Now, while that probably seems like enough to work with right there, I have another method when it comes to picking Auburn games. And that's whether or not Auburn's opponent can stop the run. Well, Georgia actually can. The Bulldogs are allowing only 3.42 yards per carry on defense this season, which ranks 20th nationally.

This could actually prove to be a bit of a problem for Auburn, as could the Georgia offense, which has gotten healthier in recent weeks. The Auburn defense hasn't exactly been stout this year, so while taking Auburn -3.5 here may seem like the obvious pick, I actually feel more comfortable with Georgia +3.5 right now. Though I'd love to see that number get larger too.


Texas Tech at No. 5 Baylor (-27)

Listen, 27 points is a lot. I'm not even going to pretend otherwise, but Texas Tech has been in a free fall the last three weeks. After starting the season with a 7-0 record the Red Raiders defense has allowed an average of 46.33 points and 6.38 yards per play in the last three games, which, not surprisingly, were all losses.

And after seeing how well Baylor's defense played against Oklahoma on Thursday night, I have no reservations with rolling with a Baylor team that's 7-1 ATS this season. In fact, you should get on this line before it gets even bigger, because it will.

TCU at Kansas State (-10.5)

Yeah, we're sticking in the Big 12 where a Kansas State team that came closer to knocking off Baylor -- Baylor's only loss ATS -- than anybody else is starting to put it together lately. The Wildcats have covered in five straight games, and they've also won their last three games by an average of 26.7 points per game.

Meanwhile TCU has failed to cover in five straight and is only 2-8 ATS on the season. So grab Kansas State -10.5 here.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories