NCAAF Week 13 Early Value Picks: Low-Scoring Game and Blowout Right Ahead

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Linebacker Kobe King #41 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates his touchdown on a fumble recovery with Nick Tarburton #46 against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP.

Top sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for this week’s college football action. Two games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin and Michigan State vs. Penn State.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play the total for the first game and the spread for the second at one of our best sportsbooks.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Saturday, November 26, 2022 – 03:30 PM EST at Camp Randall Stadium 

Wisconsin's Offensive Weakness

On offense, Wisconsin is weakest in its pass attack. Quarterback Graham Mertz is turnover-prone.

Despite frequently passing fewer than 20 times in a game, he has thrown nine interceptions so far. He ranks ninth at limiting the number of his interceptions.

Graham Mertz's Problems

Mertz's issues do not stop with his inaccuracy. He often struggles to go through his progressions. His lack of vision hinders him from identifying open wide receivers.

Generally, he makes poor decisions. Mertz's inefficiency as a passer is evident in his 57.1% completion rate, which is a product of his various flaws.

Badgers' Wide Receivers

While Mertz repeatedly struggles to perform well individually, his wide receivers do not help him out.

Besides lacking critical speed, which would help Mertz connect for big plays downfield, Badgers' wide receivers are terrible route runners. If they don't outright run into each other, they struggle to gain separation from opposing defenders.

In case they do find themselves open and Mertz finds one of them, they'll probably drop his pass. Given these deficiencies, Wisconsin ranks 113th nationally in passing.

Badgers' Rush Attack

As usual, Wisconsin's strength lies in its rush attack. The Badgers' best offensive talent is specifically in its running back group. Braelon Allen leads the group with an impressive 1,121 yards on 5.4 YPC.

Badgers' offensive scoring needs to rely on him to have a chance of amounting to a good point total. However, Allen is injured.

Late in his team's low-scoring escape against Nebraska, Allen had to exit the game with what looked to be an injury to his right leg. Plus, he's already been enduring a shoulder injury that he sustained earlier in the season.

According to ESPN, Allen is listed as 'questionable' for Saturday's game against a Golden Gophers' defense that anyhow ranks third in the conference against the run.

Golden Gophers' Scoring

In Minnesota's last four games, Minnesota and its opponent have combined for 31 points, 33 points, 34 points, and 23 points.

Those first three games that exceeded a combined total of 30 points were higher-scoring largely because of the Golden Gophers' offense, which scored 31 against Rutgers, 20 against Nebraska, and 31 against Northwestern.

What those defenses have in common is that they are three of the four worst in the Big Ten in terms of limiting opposing scoring.

Pass Attack Issues

Minnesota cannot score reliably against a decent defense partly because of its issues at quarterback.

Starter Tanner Morgan remains listed as 'doubtful' with an upper-body injury after failing to participate in his team's last game against Iowa.

His backup is a hapless freshman who has thrown four interceptions to one touchdown while failing to complete half of his passes.

Reliance on One Player

Minnesota relies heavily on one player, running back Mohamed Ibrahim, but Ibrahim can only do so much by himself.

He'll anyhow face a stiff test in a Badgers' run defense that ranks 14th nationally thanks to tremendous play in the front seven.

Wisconsin's run defense is anchored by mammoth defensive tackle Keeanu Benton, and he gets plenty of help, in the form of Preseason All-American linebacker Nick Herbig.

The Verdict

Both teams will, out of necessity, rely heavily on running the ball while facing stiff run defenses.

The clock will run, and positive offensive drives will be rare.

NCAAF Pick: Under 34.5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Michigan State Spartans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Saturday, November 26, 2022 - 04:00 PM EST at Beaver Stadium

Michigan State's Run Defense

In its most recent games, the Spartans' run defense has been porous. For example, Michigan State just faced Indiana, which ranks second-to-last in the Big Ten in rush offense.

While lacking a quarterback who's comfortable throwing the ball, Indiana ran for 257 yards on 5.8 YPC. Hoosiers' running enabled them to achieve 31 points in regulation.

Penn State's Rush Attack

Penn State will have a field day against Michigan State's 96th-ranked rush defense which is allowing over 210 rushing yards per game in its last three games. The Nittany Lions have scored from 30 to 55 points in each of their last five games largely thanks to their rush attack.

While Nicholas Singleton averages 6.5 YPC, Kaytron Allen averages 5.5. Both have thrived against the Big Ten's better run defenses.

Quarterback Sean Clifford can run, too. He ran for 74 against Michigan, for example. His mobility poses a problem to a Spartans' defense that has struggled against mobile quarterbacks all season. Even Western Michigan's quarterback, for example, achieved a 61-yard run against the Spartan defense.

Michigan State Can't Keep Pace

Penn State has allowed a combined total of 14 points in its past three games. Even with star cornerback Joey Porter Jr. hurt, Penn State shut down the likes of Taulia Tagovailoa, the Terrapins' quarterback whose passer rating this season is 146.4 but was 78.3 against Penn State.

Besides boasting a deep cornerback group, the Nittany Lions reliably wreak havoc in the forms of high sack totals and double-digit tackles for loss numbers.

Spartans' quarterback Payton Thorne struggles to avoid interceptions while often missing open receivers, locking onto targets, otherwise displaying bad decision-making skills, and looking shaky under pressure with lots of throws off his back foot.

He'll need to rely on his wide receivers, who will struggle against Penn State's decorated secondary, which includes pass breakup-master Kalen King and top interception-getter Ji'Ayir Brown.

Spartans' running backs will also face a massively stronger test, as the Nittany Lions improved linebacker play and defensive line talent have combined to make Penn State one of the nation's best run defenses in recent weeks.

The Verdict

Michigan State will fail to limit Penn State's rush attack. Continually high-scoring Penn State will force a Spartans' offense to rely on passing the ball, but its problematic quarterback play and Penn State's pass defense will overwhelm Thorne.

For your NCAAF picks, expect a Penn State blowout.

And remember that if you're a Pennsylvania resident looking to wager on the Nittany Lions, you can find the most reputable Pennsylvania betting sites at Bookmakers Review.

NCAAF Pick: Penn State -18 (-115) at BetOnline

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.