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Odds and Ends

Live Dogs: Staff underdog picks for Week 13

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: November 24, 2022, 9:22 am ET

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It's always fun to cash a ticket of any shape or size, but there's something special about taking an underdog and watching them go toe-to-toe with an opponent for the entire game.

Some teams deserve to be hefty favorites - we even highlighted a few we like in Week 13. But others are on shaky footing, either because of injury issues, situational circumstances or just an old-fashioned matchup against an undervalued opponent.

And while some underdogs are able to start with a handful of points and hang tight against the spread, others are able to flip the script entirely with an outright win. Just look at last week, when Vaughn Dalzell nailed an outright winner with Hawaii and Zach Krueger had an easy cover from Kentucky as a 22-point dog.

Here are our staff underdog picks for Week 13, the final week of the regular season, with some big numbers spread all across the country:

Vaughn Dalzell (@VMoneySports): Iowa State (+10) over TCU

Matt Campbell is 9-5 ATS as a road underdog in Big XII play as the Iowa State head coach, and TCU inches closer and closer to an undefeated season with the pressure mounting. Campbell is 18-9-1 ATS as an underdog in conference play overall at Iowa State.

The Cyclones present a totally different game script than most teams (and defenses) offer in the Big XII. Then factor in Iowa State, who have lost by 10 points or fewer in six of their seven losses this season, and the Cyclones are 2-0 ATS and 1-1 on the ML as an away underdog. Add it up and you have a double-digit dog worth taking.

Iowa State is out of contention for bowl eligibility, so they are playing for an upset and pride at this point. Both are still very possible, including the outright win to spoil the Horned Frogs' undefeated hopes.

YTD Record: 4-7 ATS, 4 outright wins

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Eric Froton (@CFFroton): Iowa State (+10) over TCU

Iowa State's offense has suffered this season after losing Brock Purdy and Breece Hall to graduation, ranking 110th in points per drive (1.54), 106th in success rate (39%) and 101st in explosiveness. While their 107th-rated offense leaves much to be desired, their defense has picked up the slack and then some while ranking 10th overall and third against the run. Their ability to get stops is what has helped them stay close even when they lose, as six of their seven losses have been by a touchdown or less.

The Cyclones take on a TCU team that has had a penchant for finding a way to win close contests, with their last seven wins coming by 10 points or less - which just happens to be the spread in this one. The Horned Frogs' offense has waned a little bit over the past three games, averaging 26.5 points and leaning heavily on their defense to pull out a 17-10 rock fight win over Texas. As a consequence, all of their last three games have gone under the posted total. That's not a good sign against an ISU team that specializes in low-scoring, defensive affairs and has seen their last seven games go Under as well. With points likely to be at a premium, I'm taking the points with Iowa State and also backing the Under 47.5 on the total.

YTD Record: 7-5 ATS, 5 outright wins


Brad Thomas (@MrBradThomas): Baylor (+8.5) over Texas

After this weekend, we will finally get a break from the "Texas is back" crowd for a while. From where I'm standing, Baylor has a good chance to pick up a big win in Austin. The Bears were a couple seconds away from ending TCU's perfect season and all but eliminating the Horned Frogs from playoff contention. In that game, Baylor had a 78% post-game win percentage. It was one of their more impressive games of the season.

Their ability to hold the explosive TCU running attack to just 115 yards, and Kendre Miller specifically to just 41 yards, gives me confidence that they will be able to stifle Bijan Robinson. If they force Texas to throw, the Bears have a chance to stay in this game. Quinn Ewers has been less than the ideal man under center this season, while Baylor's Blake Shapen is in a good position to have a big day against the Longhorns.

The Bears haven't won in Austin since 2014, but all we need is to keep this within a touchdown to cover the +8.5 spread.

YTD Record: 6-5 ATS, 2 outright wins

Editor's Note: Looking for a deeper dive into Week 13 in College Football from a Bettor's Perspective. Join NBC's team of college analysts at 11A Eastern both Friday and Saturday for an NCAA College Football Betting Preview Q&A on the NBC Sports YouTube page.