SabreBetrics: Week 13 CFB Betting Guide – Rivalry Week

“Because I know what truly matters, it enables me to enjoy what seems to matter, like this.” – Dick Bennett

In the wake of an unimaginable tragedy in the Charlottesville community, I keep returning to this quote. Shared by Tony Bennett following Virginia’s thrilling victory over Purdue in the Elite Eight, these words likely have a new, more poignant meaning for Cavaliers’ fans this week. When you’re a fan of college sports, nothing seems to matter as much as beating your hated rival. Having bragging rights over your friends, family, and coworkers is immensely satisfying. For many fans, winning rivalry games is the primary benchmark for a successful season. If you polled most UVA football supporters, they would tell you that beating Virginia Tech in 2019 to clinch the ACC Coastal Division is the best moment of the last 20 years.

However, given the events of the past week, it is easy to see how illusory the sentiments behind rivalries can be. Our community has seen an unprecedented amount of support from schools around the country. No program has been more vocally encouraging than Virginia Tech. Hokie fans have flooded The Sabre message boards with notes of solidarity and condolence. These gestures have meant so much to a community in mourning and will not be soon forgotten.

Unfortunately, Virginia’s football team will not get a chance this season to win at Blacksburg for the first time since 1998. Neither the Hoos nor Hokies will get to celebrate a Senior Day this year. Supporters of the winning side won’t get to brag about their school’s superiority at the water cooler or at Christmas dinner. Still, as important as these things seem, they aren’t what truly matters. It’s an important perspective to keep at the forefront of your minds as we enter the last weekend of college football’s regular season.

Week 13 Best Selections

  • Season record: 27-26-2. Week 11 was my first losing performance (2-3) in over a month. With no Commonwealth Clash on the schedule, I will have to live vicariously through these rivalry matchups.

Mississippi -1.5 vs. Mississippi State: The Egg Bowl is the only FBS game on the docket Thanksgiving evening. It is tempting to pick Mississippi State given what we have seen in recent weeks. The Bulldogs enter this game fresh off a 49-point win over ETSU, while the Rebels were pounded by Arkansas. Additionally, rumors have swirled in recent days that Lane Kiffin will be departing Oxford for the vacant Auburn job. Still, I like Mississippi at home to claim a third consecutive victory in this series. The Rebels’ defense has struggled to stop the run this season, but Mike Leach’s squad ranks last in the FBS with only 22 rushing attempts per game. Meanwhile, with superstar freshman Quinshon Judkins as a workhorse tailback, Mississippi has one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. With rain in the forecast, I trust the team with the better ground game.

Ohio State -7 vs. Michigan: Both teams struggled in “look ahead” spots last Saturday. Ohio State rallied from a halftime deficit at Maryland, while Michigan needed a late field goal to avoid a loss to Illinois. As a result, we get a highly anticipated rivalry game in Columbus with a secured spot in the College Football Playoff on the line. Michigan’s star running back Blake Corum injured his knee against Illinois but expects to play against the Buckeyes. If he is not at one hundred percent, it will be a tall order for the Wolverines to win a second consecutive installment of “The Game.” Led by Heisman front-runner C.J. Stroud, Ohio State has the top-ranked offense averaging 46.5 points per game. The defense is significantly improved as well, allowing only 3.1 yards per rush attempt and 108 yards per game. Expect Ryan Day and the Buckeyes to play inspired football to atone for last year’s costly defeat.

Kentucky -3 vs. Louisville: It feels like ages have passed since Louisville traveled to Charlottesville with head coach Scott Satterfield on the verge of getting fired. The Cardinals have won five of the last six games thanks to a defensive front seven that has caused havoc for opposing offensive lines. Louisville ranks third nationally in sack percentage, dropping opposing quarterbacks on 10.9% of dropbacks. While pass protection has been an issue for the Kentucky offensive line, I expect the Wildcats to lean heavily on running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. to offset outside pressure. Even in defeat, Mark Stoops’ defense held Georgia to a season-low 16 points. This will be a low-scoring and close game, but I will lay the points for the home team in this battle for the Governor’s Cup.

Oregon -3 at Oregon State: The rivalry formerly known as the “Civil War” has been dominated by the Ducks in recent years. Oregon has won 12 of the last 14 meetings and looks poised to win again thanks to the play of quarterback Bo Nix. The Auburn transfer has completed 72.4% of his passes and ranks third nationally in QBR. Despite an ankle injury, Nix was able to tough out an impressive victory over Utah that gives his squad the inside track to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Though the Beavers have a decent scoring defense, they are mediocre at pressuring the quarterback and forcing turnovers.

Minnesota +3.5 at Wisconsin: The battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe figures to be a bruising affair between two old-school Big 10 programs. The Golden Gophers could not eke out a victory against Iowa last week despite Mohamed Ibrahim rushing for 263 yards and a touchdown. Wisconsin edged Nebraska by one point after rushing for a total of 235 yards. Both teams have stout defenses: Minnesota ranks third nationally by allowing only 13.4 points per game, while the Badgers rank third in opposing yards per rushing attempt. In summary, you have two offenses that like to run the football and two defenses that excel in stopping the run. This feels like a toss-up to me, so I’ll take the points.     

Parlay/Teaser Of The Week

  • Season record: 4-7

I have positive momentum with two consecutive victories using money-line parlays. Let’s use two more rivalry games to make it three in a row.

  • Florida State to win vs. Florida: The Gators have been one of the more confounding teams to watch this year. This is a team that opened the season with a win against Utah but just lost to Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, Florida State has rolled off four wins in a row by an average margin of 33.5 points. The opening week victory against LSU looks better with each passing day. I’ll take the more consistent team playing at home.
  • Texas to win vs. Baylor: Following a crushing last-second loss to TCU that doomed its chances to play for a Big 12 title, how much energy does Baylor have left in the tank? Commonly, emotional wins and losses result in a flat performance the following week. Texas has played considerably better at home this year, going 4-2 with close losses to TCU and Alabama. Expect a heavy dose of Longhorns star running back Bijan Robinson who had 243 yards and 4 touchdowns against Kansas.

Random Facts To Impress Your Fellow Tailgaters

With no tailgates on the horizon, I wanted to repost this memory from 2020. As a long-time gambler, this play from D’Sean Perry allowed UVA to improbably cover the spread against Abilene Christian. It has brought me so much joy over the last two years. D’Sean, Lavel, and Devin: you will be missed.

SabreBetrics is a Virginia graduate and long-time fan of The Sabre. The opinions expressed in this article are not directly associated with The Sabre and are intended for recreational use only. Sports betting should be a fun activity, not a stressful one. Please do not bet more than you can reasonably afford to lose.

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