The World Cup reached Full Bananas level the last couple of days, so it's safe to assume that the United States will not only beat the Netherlands tomorrow, but win the whole tournament. But the United States won't play until Saturday morning, and you need to divert your attention between now and then, plus the rest of the weekend.
And that's where I step in. Not only is the World Cup raging on, but it's championship weekend in college football. That Includes tonight's Pac-12 Championship that will not only determine the Pac-12 title but could decide a College Football Playoff spot. With so much on the line in the game, you know I had to include it amongst tonight's picks, as well as an NBA game. Then I've got three more college games for you on Saturday and a couple of NFL games on Sunday.
You deserve it. You worked hard this week. Treat yourself to these stories.
- Speaking of the World Cup, the Dutch have the flu!
- Bold NFL predictions for Week 13.
- A look at the candidates on the Baseball Hall of Fame's Contemporary Committee vote.
Let's get this weekend started.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
No. 4 USC vs. No. 11 Utah, 8 p.m. | TV: Fox
- Key Trend: Utah has failed to cover in its last four games against teams with a winning record.
- The Pick: USC -3 (-105)
USC enters this game with one loss -- against Utah on Oct. 15. That night in Salt Lake City, Utah drove 75 yards in 15 plays down 42-35 in the fourth quarter, quarterback Cam Rising scored from 1 yard out with 48 seconds left and the Utes ended the game right there with a successful two-point conversion.
Things have changed in that month and a half. Utah has won four of five, but struggled with Washington State and lost to Oregon. It had comfortable wins against Arizona, Stanford and Colorado, but those three combined to go 5-21 in the Pac-12 this season.
Meanwhile, USC has played some of its best football recently, and quarterback Caleb Williams seems to be on the verge of winning the Heisman. Teams change as the season goes on, and I think late-November USC is better than mid-October USC, particularly on defense; I don't think the Utes have improved. The Trojans will get their revenge.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn't love anything in this one tonight, but it thinks the best value is on the total.
💰 The Picks
Heat at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Heat +7 (-110) -- The Celtics are the best team in the NBA by a rather healthy margin. Not just from a win-loss perspective, but from an efficiency standpoint. The Celtics have a net rating of 9.1, which is 1.7 points better than second-place Phoenix. That's a considerable gap, and it's magnified even more when you see that the 76ers, who rank sixth in the league in net efficiency, are 6.5 points behind at 2.6.
So let's bet against them! These teams played Wednesday night in Boston, with the Celtics winning by 13. I don't know why the NBA has teams playing so many consecutive games against one another (I assume it's to reduce travel). Still, my suspicion is that the result from Wednesday and Boston winning 14 of its last 15 impacts the line too much. The Heat are off to a slow start this year, but had won three straight before Wednesday's loss and have just been playing better basketball lately.
🏈 College Football
No. 3 TCU vs. No. 10 Kansas State, Saturday, 12 p.m. | TV: ABC
The Pick: Under 62.5 (-110) -- The first game between these two was fantastic. TCU escaped with a 38-28 win, coming back from a 28-10 deficit, but it wasn't as clear-cut as that. First, Kansas State QB Adrian Martinez left the game with an injury, and then back up Will Howard left, too. Howard would return eventually, but a lot of TCU's comeback occurred while third-stringer Jake Rubley was in the game.
So how about the rematch? The Wildcats have gone 4-1 since, with the lone loss coming to Texas; they've run roughshod over everybody else they've faced. Meanwhile, TCU's offense had stalled out a bit before putting up 62 against Iowa State last week. I expect the Wildcats to lean on the ground to keep TCU's offense off the field, and I expect TCU to go a little heavier on the run game as well since Kansas State's defense is better against the pass. I truly have no idea who wins this game, but I don't want to bet against TCU, considering everything it's done. Instead, I'll bet the under.
Toledo vs. Ohio, Saturday, 12 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Ohio +3 (-110) -- Every good college football bettor falls in love with one team each season because that team rewards them every week. Ohio is that team for me. After losing their MAC opener to Kent State, they've run wild through the rest of the conference. The Bobcats won seven straight, but they've covered eight straight. And there haven't been many sweats! The eight straight covers have come by an average of 14.2 points per game!
How can you not fall in love with a team that easily covers every week? I'm not only taking the Bobcats to cover but to win against the Rockets, which are only 3-5 ATS in the MAC this season and 4-7 as a favorite. They're a team that underachieves, facing the biggest group of overachievers you'll ever meet.
No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 14 LSU, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS
The Pick: Georgia -17.5 (-110) -- The 2022 version of Georgia is not as dominant as the team we saw win a national title last season. But don't get it twisted: This is still the best team in the country right now, and it can still beat anybody.
A lot has been made of Georgia's "struggles" against teams like Kent State, Missouri and Kentucky, but those games don't concern me in the slightest. Instead, look at how Georgia has played in the big games -- the games against top competition and rivals. It smoked Oregon by 46, beat Auburn by 32, took Florida down by 22 and smothered Tennessee with a pillow. This team plays its best in the biggest moments, and the SEC Championship in Atlanta is one of those moments. Remember how well LSU played against Alabama to get that win? If LSU wants to beat Georgia, it has to play even better than it did then. Take the Dawgs.
Packers at Bears, Sunday, 1 p.m. | TV: Fox
The Pick: Over 44.5 (-110) -- Firing on the over in Bears games has become an automatic play for me. Ever since the Bears decided to trade Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn, a defense that was already struggling has ceased to exist. The secondary could be missing three of its four starters in this game, so it's no wonder Aaron Rodgers started feeling better after leaving last week's game with an injury.
And speaking of returning, Justin Fields has been a full participant in practice for the Bears. If he plays, the Bears' offense will be a much better unit than the one we saw face the Jets last week. The over has hit in six straight Bears games by an average of nearly 14 points per game. It's been the closest thing to an ATM in the NFL.
Dolphins at 49ers, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. | TV: Fox
The Pick: Dolphins +4 (-110) -- The Prodigal Son returns as Mike McDaniel and his aviators head to San Francisco to face mentor Kyle Shanahan. That's the narrative you'll hear about constantly during the game. Eventually, they'll show you a photo of McDaniel, Shanahan and other NFL coaches on the same staff in Washington years ago. Crazy! Anyway, that's the narrative they'll talk about. I'm here to talk about a different one entirely.
Kyle Shanahan took over the 49ers in 2017. He has coached 98 games and gone 50-47-1 ATS. As an underdog, Shanahan's 49ers have gone 29-19. They've gone 21-28-1 as a favorite. As a home favorite, they're 11-16-1. It's a pretty simple and profitable rule. You bet on the Niners when they're dogs and fade them when they're favored. That trend, combined with the Dolphins' offense getting the ball out quickly helping to negate the 49ers' pass rush makes Miami an attractive option this weekend.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The biggest college basketball game of the night is between Baylor and Gonzaga and the Projection Model has a strong lean on it.