Week 13 Upsets Preview Article


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College Football Week 13 Upset Alert: Improving Teams Provide Great Value

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Duke Blue Devils
Saturday, November 25, 2023 at noon ET at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina

Value on Pitt

There is value in wagering on Pittsburgh because its record and its opponent's record are both skewed by circumstances that no longer apply.

Before making the needed change ahead of its October 14 win over Louisville, Pittsburgh relied on the utterly incompetent Phil Jurkovec at quarterback.

His poor decisions, his turnovers, his mistakes in general plagued Pittsburgh, costing the Panthers arguably four games.

In all four of their losses with Jurkovec, we can point to errors that he committed that were decisive in sustaining the opponent's momentum, creating more scoring chances for the opponent, undermining Pittsburgh's hopes of scoring on given drives, and so on.

Jurkovec's incompetence is relevant to this game because this game would surely be lined differently if Pittsburgh had four fewer losses and four more wins because the perception of the Panthers would be much stronger.

Similarly, Duke's record creates a misleadingly positive perception of its current team quality because it started a much better quarterback who suffered multiple injuries that have prevented him from reviving his previous excellence.

Improvement at Quarterback

Pittsburgh's move from Jurkovec is decisive because there is no way that the Panthers with Jurkovec could have beaten Boston College let alone Louisville.

But things are different with Christian Veilleux and especially Nate Yarnell.

Yarnell has been more efficient while avoiding mistakes.

He ably goes through his progressions, displaying poise in the pocket and vision downfield that allows him to identify the best target and complete passes in different parts of the field.

Yarnell's outlook is strong against a Duke team that in its past two games, both losses, struggled to stop the opposing quarterback.

North Carolina star Drake Maye threw for 342 yards before, more worrisomely, Virginia freshman Anthony Colandrea went 21-for-30 for 278 yards and three touchdowns.

Support for Yarnell

Yarnell will have support from his ground game against a Duke defense that ranks 70th nationally against the run.

Running back Rodney Hammond Jr. is coming off a 145-yard outing and averages five YPC on the season.

Pittsburgh's Defense

As evident in their win over Boston College last week, the Panthers have done well against the pass when they haven't been facing the ACC's top quarterbacks.

Even if Leonard does return this week, he'd be rusty.

Plus, Pittsburgh's offensive outlook for this game would still make it a viable underdog.

Best Bet: Pittsburgh +6 at -115 with BetOnline & Pittsburgh ML at +195 with BetOnline

Northwestern Wildcats vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Saturday, November 25, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. ET at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois

Don't Be Fooled

It is tempting to see that Illinois needs to win to secure bowl eligibility whereas Northwestern does not and to think that Illinois is therefore worth investing in.

Illinois backers will make this argument, but there is no chance that Northwestern will be less motivated than the Illini.

These teams are rivals -- they do not like each other.

Northwestern will want to spoil Illinois' season.

The Wildcats will especially want revenge for last year's humiliating blowout loss to these Fighting Illini.

Plus, the Wildcats will benefit from not having the pressure to win. They'll be able to play looser.

They are already playing well, entering this game with a two-game winning streak with wins at Wisconsin and against Purdue, which show the extent to which they have improved relative to last year and relative to earlier in this season.

Ben Bryant

Ben Bryant's return to the starting quarterback position has been decisive for Northwestern.

From watching him, it is apparent that Bryant is decisive in that he can quickly identify a propitious target and hit him without hesitating.

But he'll also, if necessary, go through his progressions to find a target.

His arm strength is also good, as video footage shows the velocity of his short and intermediate throws.

His deep ball has likewise made for impressive highlight reel material.

All of these qualities coalesce to make Bryant a consistent, every-game quality starter.

He enters today's game having most recently achieved a 157.6 passer rating against Wisconsin and a 140.1 passer rating against Purdue.

Excepting Iowa with its famously non-existent offense, Illinois' last opponents have put up a lot of points even with lesser quarterbacks, with Minnesota and its 26-point output forming one example.

Northwestern's Pass Defense

Illinois has relied heavily on quarterback John Paddock.

But Paddock goes up against a Northwestern team that ranks eleventh nationally against the pass.

The Wildcats have allowed a combined total of 25 points in their past two games, as they've stymied opposing pass attacks including in the red zone.

Without being able to rely on Paddock, Illinois will have a radically more difficult time moving the ball downfield.

Best Bet: Northwestern +6 at -105 with BetOnline & Northwestern ML at +195 with BetOnline

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Kansas State Wildcats
Saturday, November 25, 2023 at 8 p.m. ET at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas

Iowa State's Defense

The Cyclones will achieve the upset largely because of their consistently solid defense.

One strength of their defense is against the pass -- they rank 16th nationally at limiting opposing passer rating.

Their pass defense's only major weakness has been at limiting big plays.

In this respect, they struggled at times with Texas' wide receivers.

But they'll have a much easier time against a Kansas State pass attack that doesn't have someone like Xavier Worthy.

Indeed, K-State ranks 40 spots below Iowa State in yards per completion.

With the help of clutch plays, star-laden Texas managed 26 points against Iowa State.

Kansas State is going to struggle to reach 20 points, as its running back group no longer has the star power from last year's roster.

Iowa State's Offense

The Cyclones on offense have sometimes held their team back.

They mustered 16 points last week against Texas, struggling largely because they remained one-dimensional as a consequence of the Longhorns' top-level run defense that did not concede the big plays that Iowa State's running backs are repeatedly capable of.

As evident throughout the season, including its most recent game against Kansas, Kansas State is a team that an opponent can run on for a lot of yards.

Developing Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht, a freshman who has grown tremendously since Week 3, does not even need run support to do well.

He enters Saturday's contest having achieved a 168 or better passer rating in two straight games.

His improved efficiency, big-play passing, and ability to avoid turnovers make Iowa State's offense dangerous.

K-State has been lucky, up until this week's game, to face backup quarterbacks, grossly losing teams, and freshmen quarterbacks who haven't developed like Becht.

Best Bet: Iowa State +9.5 at -110 with BetOnline & Iowa State ML at +290 with BetOnline
Gonna be late to class, wish I could ask Two Utes how to brush my teeth quicker...seems to always take me longer than it should? It's a really stupid class anyways.