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Every week during the college football season, theScore's sports betting writers release their best bets. Each member has been given a fictitious $1,000 bankroll to manage throughout the season. If you decide to follow any of the picks, please gamble responsibly.
All lines are courtesy of theScore Bet.
Season record: 16-12-1, +119
It only feels right to close out the season with fading Hawaii, as we’ve done twice successfully over the last few weeks.
With a -3 line and adjusting for home field, you’re probably wondering why the spread is implying these two teams are essentially even, despite Army being at 5-6 and Hawaii at 8-4. But if we take a deeper dive, it makes sense. The Black Knights have been the unluckiest team in the country, with a 7.9 expected win total entering Week 13. SP+ still provides a reason for optimism, slotting Army No. 62 in the country and 21 spots ahead of the Rainbow Warriors.
As far as X’s and O’s go, Army should have its way offensively. Hawaii ranks No. 112 in SP+ defense and allowed 353 yards on the ground the last time it played a triple-option team. With Army still fighting for bowl eligibility, I’d be quite content with taking the points here.
Pick: Army +3 ($50)
Season record: 12-12-1, -$123
The Hokies’ turnaround has been the most impressive we've seen this season. Their defense is playing lights out over the last month, and the team's offense is doing its part. Virginia, meanwhile, is struggling to keep points off the board, allowing 27-plus points in each of its last four contests, all against weaker opponents.
Virginia Tech has won 15 straight in this series and comes into Friday's game as one of the hottest teams in the country. Quarterback Bryce Perkins and his Cavaliers offense will struggle against the dominant Hokies secondary, with Virginia Tech riding its defense to a spot in the ACC Championship game against Clemson.
Pick: Virginia Tech -2.5 ($50)
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez looked great last week, but it’s hard to take much from a game against Maryland. This matchup is a massive step up in class against an Iowa defense that ranks 12th in efficiency.
The Hawkeyes will make Martinez’s life miserable, and you can count on Nebraska’s kicking game being an issue too. Iowa pivot Nate Stanley will connect on enough throws, and as usual, the Hawkeyes will run the ball well against Nebraska. Another season will end without a bowl appearance for the Cornhuskers.
Pick: Iowa -5.5 ($50)
It’s a late-November game in Minnesota, and you know what that means. The forecast is calling for temperatures just above freezing and a nasty mix of snow and rain, which is music to Wisconsin’s ears.
Minnesota has lived off its passing game all season, but the team really hasn’t been tested much. That’s going to change against the Badgers' top-ranked defense in the nation on third down, and the unit is also third in pass-defense efficiency.
This game could turn into a ground-and-pound affair due to the weather, which plays right into the hands of the Badgers and Jonathan Taylor. Only mobile quarterbacks have exposed Wisconsin’s defense this season, and Minnesota's Tanner Morgan will struggle.
The Badgers hold firm and get a big day from Taylor to book a spot in the Big 10 championship.
Pick: Wisconsin -2.5 ($50)
Season record: 12-16-1, -$415
You won't find many more one-sided series than this one. Iowa State is just 1-11 straight up (SU) in its last 12 meetings against Kansas State, and the Cyclones are 1-13 SU in their last 14 trips to Manhattan.
So now Iowa State is coming off three emotional close games and laying five points in a place where they never win? Nope. Give me Kansas State plus the points at home with head coach Chris Klieman, who has won 28 of his last 32 games outright.
Pick: Kansas State +5 ($75)
The Jayhawks have been playing better lately under head coach Les Miles, and they catch the Bears coming off two huge games against Oklahoma and Texas. Baylor is just 1-6 ATS over its last seven games after playing the Longhorns.
Kansas stays within the number here, and don't be surprised if the Jayhawks pull off the outright upset.
Pick: Kansas +14 ($75)
Speaking of lines that stink, 5-6 Army travels to the island to face Hawaii, and the Black Knights are only getting three points. The MWC Championship game is on deck for the Rainbow Warriors, while Army needs a win to get to a bowl contest.
Hawaii has been awful in this spot, going a money-burning 2-16 ATS over its last 18 games when laying points at home to FBS opponents. Hawaii faced Air Force's option attack a few weeks ago and allowed 353 rushing yards (6.9 yards per carry).
Army runs wild and pulls off the upset to become bowl eligible.
Pick: Army +3 ($75)
Season record: 5-21-1, -$725
I started this season by fading UNC's offense, which was green and inconsistent. Eleven weeks later, I'm taking the improved Tar Heels on the road in a must-win spot against a beleaguered rival.
NC State opened the year with promise after cruising to two straight convincing wins. But the Wolfpack has gone 1-8 ATS since then, including losing five straight outright by an average of 23.2 points.
UNC, meanwhile, got right with a big victory over Mercer last week, and the team has revenge on its mind after an ugly brawl vs. the Wolfpack marred last year's home finale.
The road favorite can secure bowl eligibility with a win, and that's been a profitable betting spot in recent years. Teams with a 5-6 record are on an 18-7-2 ATS (72%) run as road chalk dating back to 2008.
The Tar Heels are the better team with motivation, so lay the points here. Or given my record, feel free to empty the bankroll on NC State.
Pick: North Carolina -9 ($100)