Gambler's Corner – Everything You Need To Know For Betting On College Football's Rivalry Week/Thanksgiving Games

By on November 26, 2015 in ArticlesSports News

College football fans will have plenty to be thankful for this week. With many schools playing their hated rivals there will be lots of great football for fans to watch and be thankful for. As if that wasn't enough to make things exciting this weekend, there are a number of games that are going to have playoff implications.

Do yourself a favor and don't bet on anything this week. Most of the games are going to be very close; too close to call. This week there aren't really any bad games or spreads worth noting, and I doubt any game is going to be ugly.

There will, however, be many awesome games and a handful of not-so-awesome (but still really good) ones.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Awesome

#7 Baylor at #19 TCU (+1.5) – Fri, Nov 27, 7:30 PM ET

This could be one of the best games of the weekend if not year. Both teams have had health issues at quarterback, but last week showed that even their back-ups have game. Chris Johnson is getting the start this week after Jarrett Stidham broke his ankle last week against Oklahoma State. TCU's best chance will be with Trevone Boykin at the helm, but it remains to be seen if he is going to play. Foster Sawyer got the start last week and started out with a bang before becoming a turnover machine and giving way to Bram Kohlhausen who played very well in relief.

Both teams defenses are playing well right now so it will likely come down to who starts at quarterback for each. If Boykin plays I'd give a slight edge to TCU, but if he doesn't Baylor—whether it is Stidham or Johnson—will win by seven.

#8 Ohio State at #10 Michigan (Even) – Sat, Nov 28, 12:00 PM ET

Michigan is going to hope that they can emulate the same kind of defensive performance Michigan State had last week. If they can shut down Ezekiel Elliot and limit J.T. Barrett they can put the nail in the Buckeyes playoff hopes. However, after the drama Elliot caused it would not be shocking to see him get 30+ carries this week.

Both teams put their best foot forward in the Big Game, but this season I don't think Ohio State's game is going to be big enough. Michigan has a much better defense than Michigan State does, and can shut Elliot down no matter how many carries he gets.

Ohio State does not deserve to be in the CFB playoffs this season and Saturdays seven point loss to Michigan will keep them out of it.

Penn State at #5 Michigan State (-11) – Sat, Nov 28, 3:30 PM ET

Penn State would love to win this game for a number of reasons: (1) they would love to take home the Land Grant Trophy and take the series lead (2) next to making the CFB playoffs themselves the next best thing would be to knock someone else out of it. With a win they can do just that. The hard part of course will be winning.

The Spartans will look to do to Saquon Barkley what they did to Ezekiell Elliot last week. If they can they will win this one. Christian Hackenburg is not good enough to carry the team against a defense as good as the Michigan State's. However, Penn State's defense is pretty tough as well.

I'm not sure if Penn State will be able to generate enough offense to win, but they will likely generate enough (while slowing Michigan State's down) to cover the spread.

#22 UCLA at USC (-3.5) – Sat, Nov 28, 3:30 PM ET

USC would love to end a drama filled season by taking down their cross town rival and bringing the Victory Bell home, but that will be easier said than done in what looks like a pretty evenly matched game. Both score close to the same (UCLA-33.6; USC-35.6) and allow about the same (UCLA-23.7; USC-25).

The key to this will be the running game of UCLA. USC only allows 137 yards a game while the Bruins average over 180. They need their running game to help keep pressure off of freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. If they can, Rosen is a talented player that can pick apart the Trojans secondary.

I like UCLA running back Paul Perkins. I can see him having a strong game against USC, and taking some pressure off of Rosen. If you must bet I'd say take UCLA, but I would recommend staying away from this game. The rivalry tends to bring out the best in these two and negating any kind of perceived advantage.

#18 Ole Miss at #21 Mississippi State (+1) – Sat, Nov 28, 7:15 PM ET

The Egg Bowl is often one of the best rivalry games of the season, and should be once again this year. Chad Kelly is having a great season, but I would say Mississippi State's Dak Prescott is the better of the two. However, Kelly has better skill players helping him out than Prescott does. On the defensive side, both have good units, but Mississippi State's is coming off a game against Arkansas where it allowed 50 points. Ole Miss is coming off a game where it shut down Leonard Fournette.

Both teams bring their best for this game, and with the talented rosters they both have it is pretty easy to call a winner—the fans. This will be great one to watch, but terrible to bet on.

#6 Notre Dame at #9 Stanford (-3.5) – Sat, Nov 28, 7:30 PM ET

This is another great rivalry game, and with the playoff implications should be even better. Notre Dame wants to prove it does deserve to be in the top four. With a strong enough win over a tough Notre Dame team, Stanford might have an outside shot of getting back in themselves—but can they?

On offense, both teams score average around 35 points a game (34.6 for Notre Dame; 36.8 for Stanford). Both teams have solid running games, but Stanford averages about 20 yards a game more. Notre Dame makes that up by averaging almost 50 yards more in the passing game.

Both have very tough defenses, but that is where I would give Notre Dame the edge. Stanford gives up around 230 a game. It's not a ton, but I can see Deshone Kizer going deep to Will Fuller in an effort to try and exploit the Stanford secondary.

Expect a great game that will be decided late in the fourth quarter. I would take Notre Dame, but I would also say not to bet on this one.

#13 Florida State at #12 Florida (+2) – Sat, Nov 28, 7:30 PM ET

This is a tough one. Both have good defenses that shut people down, and offenses that control the tempo of the game with a solid rushing attack. Florida State generates a little more in the passing and running games than Florida does, but the Gators are very stingy when it comes to giving up yards in either.

The key to this game is going to be Dalvin Cook. If he can get going the Seminoles will win this one. If the Gators can stop him the advantage swings over to their side.

Watch this game, enjoy it, but don't bet on it (way too close to call).

Texas A&M at LSU (+5) – Sat, Nov 28, 7:30 PM ET

With all the drama surrounding Les Miles' job status, this game becomes just a little more interesting. His job status is going to be announced after the game making it sound like if the Tigers lose he is going to be let go. However, for that to happen the Aggies are going to have to do something they are not very good at—stop the run.

Last season they gave up 146 yards to Fournette, but only lost by six. This season the Aggies have a lot more talent on defense and a much better coordinator to put the pieces together. Can he put them together though?

The key to the game will actually be in Kyle Allen. If he can get the Aggies offense moving and score some points that will be the best defense possible against LSU. LSU is capable of passing, but it is far from their strong suit.

Between Allen and the defense I can see Texas A&M doing enough to win this one, but I seriously doubt they will win by more than three.

#3 Oklahoma at #11 Oklahoma State (+7) – Sat, Nov 28, 8:00 PM ET

For big plays, lots of scoring, and an overall exciting game you will not find a better one this weekend than the Bedlam Series. This season's edition is going to feature two teams packed with offensive talent. Oklahoma has the guy who should win the Heisman in Baker Mayfield along with the best running back tandem in football, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Oklahoma State has two very capable quarterbacks in Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh along with Mr. Big Play—James Washington.

Both also have very good defenses with Oklahoma getting a slight nod as the better one. So—who will win?

I like Oklahoma State more, but it is hard to go against Baker Mayfield and his two running backs. All three were injured last week, but all three are expected to play Saturday. Should they do so, and remain healthy the Sooners will pull this one out—but not by much. If you have to bet I'd take the Cowboys and the points, but if you like money leave this one alone.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Not-So-Awesome (but still very good)

Texas Tech at Texas (-1.5) – Thu, Nov 26, 7:30 PM ET

This one has all the potential in the world to be a good game. Texas Tech has a very good offense that is capable of generating some serious yards and putting up a lot of points. Texas has looked good on offense at times this season, but they will be missing at least senior running back Jonathan Grey and freshman D'onta Foreman could be limited. Rumor has it the team is planning on featuring freshman Chris Warren who has gained all of 88 yards this season.

There is hope for Texas because the Red Raiders have allowed 42 points a game, but many of those high scoring games were against high-flying, pass-happy offenses. Texas is certainly not one of those.

Texas has an okay defense, but is not likely they are going to slow down the Red Raiders enough for their offense to keep up. Look for the Red Raiders to win by 14.

#15 Navy at Houston (+1) – Fri, Nov 27, 12:00 PM ET

This game had a lot more riding on it before Houston lost to Connecticut last weekend, but it could still be one of the better games of the weekend. Both have tough defenses that hold opponents to right around 20 points a game, and both have good offenses that average around 40 points a game.

The key to the game will be whether Houston can control the tempo of the game and not allow Navy's run game to control the contest. The Cougars have only allowed 114 yards a game on the ground, but they haven't faced anything as powerful as the Navy run game.

Should Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. start this should be a very good game. He didn't start against UConn because of an injured ankle, but he did end up playing. Kyle Postma is not bad, but Ward gives Houston the best chance to win.

Watch this game and enjoy it, but don't bother betting on it (too close to call).

Oregon State at #17 Oregon (-35) – Fri, Nov 27, 3:30 PM ET

This will likely be the worst game of the weekend, but one of the oldest rivalries in existance. Oregon is clicking on all cylinders right now, but Oregon State is struggling about as hard as they possibly can. Typically, both teams play their best for the annual rivalry game known as the Civil War, but even if Oregon State brought it's A+ game and Oregon its D game the Ducks would still win.

Oregon is simply way too talented. Look for the spread to be covered in the first half.

#20 Washington State at Washington – Fri, Nov 27, 3:30 PM ET

This year's version of the Apple Cup stands to be one of the best in recent years for the rivalry. Washington has some real play makers on offense that are quite capable of generating some points, and their defense is not bad either. However, should Washington State quarterback Luke Falk play they will not have a chance.

The Washington State defense will make it easier for the Huskies to score some points, but if Falk plays he is going to rip the Washington defense to shreds. There hasn't been a spread posted yet (likely because Falk's status will have a significant effect on it). If Falk plays, Washington State wins by 10. If he doesn't it will be too close to call.

#4 Iowa at Nebraska (-1.5) – Fri, Nov 27, 3:30 PM ET 

Why so many people seem to think Nebraska has a good chance of upsetting Iowa is a mystery to me. The Cornhuskers have struggled and lost to teams that Iowa has dominated. Yes, Iowa's strength is the run which Nebraska is pretty good at stopping. Better than Iowa's collection of runners? I don't think so.

The trick to this game will likely come down to the Corhuskers passing game. Should Nebraska be able to get theirs going they could get out to enough of a lead to force Iowa to use theirs. Iowa has a decent pass defense so that will be easier said than done.

I don't see Nebraska getting the job done. Iowa is going to run wild over these guys and win by at least a touchdown.

#1 Clemson at South Carolina (-17) – Sat, Nov 28, 12:00 PM ET

The Palmetto Bowl is typically one of the better rivalry games of the season, but this year probably not. Deshaun Watson is at the top of his game as are his weapons. The Clemson defense is also one of the toughest in college football.

South Carolina, on the other hand, is struggling once again. There has been signs of life since Steve Spurrier quit, but after the win over a poor Vanderbilt team they have lost four in a row. They didn't look bad against Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Florida, but lost to an FCS team last week.

Should Clemson come out flat and South Carolina fired up this might be interesting, but don't expect that to happen. South Carolina would like nothing more than to knock Clemson from the No. 1 spot, but they don't have enough fire power. Look for the Tigers to cover the spread in the first half.

#2 Alabama at Auburn (+14) – Sat, Nov 28, 3:30 PM ET

At the beginning of the season many picked Auburn as a CFB playoff contender. Instead, they are feeling lucky to be bowl eligible, but it would be quite satisfying to knock Alabama out of the playoff picture by upsetting the in the Iron Bowl—but don't expect it to happen.

Alabama is simply playing much better than Auburn on both sides of the ball. Jake Coker is playing well and Derrick Henry is running like someone who wants to win the Heisman. Auburn will have to play its best game of the season while Alabama took a nap in the first half to have a chance to win this one. They simply don't have enough talent.

Look for Alabama to easily cover the spread.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Image

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Image

Articles Written by Travis Pulver
Travis, a native Texan, has been blogging about sports for the last seven years. His passion is bringing the best and most interesting stories to light for the enjoyment of the public. He currently lives in Indiana (loves basketball, but hates going to the Indy 500) with his wife and two adorable kids. Feel free to follow him on Twitter and check out his website FatManWriting.com.
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