It's hard to believe we only have two full weekends of college football left on the 2023 schedule. While Week 12 is seen as a "cupcake week" for certain conferences -- allowing teams to play against perceived weaker competition as one final tune-up before the regular-season finale and postseason -- there are a still a few games carrying national implications.
No. 5 Washington is looking to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive and secure a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game when it hits the road to take on No. 11 Oregon State. The Beavers have plenty on the line, as well. A win Saturday effectively sets up a Pac-12 Championship play-in game in Week 13 against in-state rival Oregon.
No. 25 Kansas hosts No. 21 Kansas State for the 121st Sunflower Showdown. The Wildcats still have a shot at the Big 12 Championship Game, so long as they win out and Texas loses at least once. Kansas would love nothing more than to eliminate its biggest rival from contention.
As with every week, there's betting value to be found in these impactful games. We went 3-2 in last week's value plays column, bringing our record over the last three installments to 11-4.
Here is another crop of value plays for Week 12 of the 2023 college football season. Odds via SportsLine consensus
No. 18 Tennessee vs. No. 1 Georgia
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET | Where: Neyland Stadium -- Knoxville, Tennessee
Georgia is back in its rightful No. 1 spot after a blowout win against Ole Miss, which was ranked inside the top 10 at kickoff. Now the Bulldogs travel to Knoxville to face a Tennessee team that's still licking its wounds after a humbling 36-7 loss on the road against Missouri. On the road is the key there. Under coach Josh Heupel, the Vols have largely struggled in away games but play their best football at home. In fact, they're riding a 14-game home winning streak, including a 2022 triumph over Alabama.
Saturday is when that streak comes to an end. Georgia is a mismatch for Tennessee in almost every phase of the game. Quarterback Carson Beck is really hitting his stride, and now he gets to go against a hobbled Tennessee secondary that's given up at least 270 yards in each of its last two games against SEC opponents. The Vols' vaunted rushing offense put up a paltry 83 yards against Missouri. Georgia's rushing defense ranks second in the SEC. Tennessee has also lost two of its top wide receivers to injury and quarterback Joe Milton wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire before that. Factor in that the Bulldogs have a whole lot more to play for -- a loss here sets their College Football Playoff march back a bit -- and Georgia shouldn't have much trouble covering a double-digit spread, no matter where this game is played. Prediction: Georgia -10 (-110)
No. 2 Ohio State vs. Minnesota
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET | Where: Ohio Stadium -- Columbus, Ohio
Here's a fun fact about Ohio State that's extremely pertinent to this entry: The Buckeyes have only played three games this season that eclipsed the 50-point mark. One was a 63-10 trouncing of Western Kentucky and the other two came against Maryland and Rutgers, which both rank in the upper half of the Big Ten in scoring. Minnesota does not. The Gophers have seen their average scoring total climb over the last couple weeks by posting big point totals on the board against Illinois and Purdue defenses that rank 12th and 14th in the Big Ten in points allowed, respectively. However, against Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan (all of which rank in the top five in the conference in scoring defense) Minnesota is averaging 11.7 points. Expect more of the same against an Ohio State defense that sits at No. 2 in the Big Ten in that category with 9.9 points allowed per game.
Based on averages, Ohio State would have to score at least 40 points for this game to hit the over. In years past, that would be a pretty meager total. But 2023's rendition of the Ohio State offense has scored 40 points just once against power conference competition this year, a 41-7 win against Purdue. Even that total fell under 50 points. Prediction: Under 50 (-110)
No. 25 Kansas vs. No. 21 Kansas State
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET | Where: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium -- Lawrence, Kansas
Kansas is coming off a tough loss to Texas Tech. The Jayhawks tied the game at 13-13 with 25 seconds left, but their defense crumbled and allowed a last-second field goal to end regulation. A big reason why Kansas struggled so mightily is because quarterback Jason Bean -- who has taken the starting role due to an injury to Jalon Daniels -- left the game early with a head injury. That left the Jayhawks with a walk-on freshman in Cole Ballard at the most important position on the field. Kansas coach Lance Leipold has been fairly confident this week in his belief that Bean should be able to play Saturday.
With Bean leading the offense in a full game, the Jayhawks are averaging over 35 points per contest. Kansas put at least 28 points on both Iowa State and Oklahoma, two defenses that rank top five in scoring in the Big 12. Meanwhile, Kansas State has scored at least 40 points in three out of its last four Big 12 outings and now faces an average Jayhawk defense. Expect a lot of points in this game -- certainly a lot more than Vegas is giving it credit for. Prediction: Over 56.5 (-110)
No. 11 Oregon State vs. No. 5 Washington
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET | Where: Reser Stadium -- Corvallis, Oregon
Washington has skated by on a very thin margin since its win against Oregon. The Huskies were able to avoid very near upsets against Stanford and Arizona State, winning by an average of 8.5 points. They then did just enough to beat USC and Utah. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. looked off for a couple weeks and the defense took a serious nosedive after some strong performances earlier in the season. That's led some to believe (including oddsmakers) that Washington's bubble will finally burst Saturday.
But this matchup actually lines up well for the Huskies. Penix has returned to form over the last couple weeks. He's the best quarterback Oregon State has seen all year with a pair of NFL caliber wide receivers at his disposal in Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan. Though they've been quite strong, the Beavers' defense has been susceptible to quality quarterback play this year. They gave up a combined 697 yards passing and seven touchdowns in their two losses this year, and have surrendered at least 240 yards through the air in each of their last three games. This one has a chance to evolve into a shootout. The smart money is on Washington in that situation. Prediction: Washington ML (+116)
South Carolina vs. Kentucky
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET | Where: Williams-Brice Stadium -- Columbia, South Carolina
Both South Carolina and Kentucky have taken their fair share of lumps this season, falling short of expectations. The Wildcats are going bowling at 6-4 but they failed to make any noise against significant competition like Missouri and Tennessee. South Carolina is still two games away from securing a postseason bid. The odds are certainly against them, meaning this could be the first year that the Gamecocks fail to make a bowl game under coach Shane Beamer.
Saturday won't help in that regard. All four of Kentucky's losses came against ranked opponents, including both SEC division champions Georgia and Alabama. By comparison, the Wildcats are 3-0 against SEC teams with a losing record and have won by an average of 19 points in such contests. Kentucky is very good at punching below its weight and, unfortunately for South Carolina, it falls into that category this season. Prediction: Kentucky -1.5 (-110)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 12, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.