College football Week 13 best underdog bets, picks and predictions: Irish fight off Trojans

Nov 19, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime (7) runs the ball as Boston College Eagles cornerback Jalon Williams (14) defends in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium.
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Sam Avellone


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Long-time suffering Browns fan born and raised in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area who now resides in SEC country. University of South Carolina alum. Sports handicapper for close to 10 years with a primary focus on NCAAB while enjoying NFL, PGA, NCAAF, NBA, and Soccer. For Sam Avellone media enquiries, please email
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Can you believe it? Week 13. The final weekend of the college football regular season. This week is loaded with rivalry games and teams fighting for bowl eligibility, so we should be in for an absolute treat starting on Black Friday. Just like every week this year, I am going to lay out 3 of my favorite underdogs on the card. We have been able to cash 4 out of our last 6 picks in the last 2 weeks, so let’s keep that momentum going and finish the regular season the right way. 

Odds available at BetMGM at the time of publishing.

Week 13 best underdog bets

Kansas Jayhawks +12 (-110) over Kansas State

The Jayhawks have been one of the best stories in college football this season. While they have lost 5 of their last 6 games, they won their first 5 prior to starting quarterback Jalon Daniels going down with an injury. With a win this weekend, they have a chance to finish above .500 for the first time since 2008. Daniels returned to action last week against Texas, and his performance was understandably shaky given it was his first game since October 8 against a solid Longhorn defense. A full week of practice following that game should be good for Daniels’ timing and overall confidence. With a healthy Daniels, the Kansas offense can score at an extremely high rate, especially if he is able to create with his legs. It will not be easy for him though, as Kansas State has the second-best scoring defense in the Big 12. 

The Wildcats have reigned victorious in the Sunflower Showdown every single year since 2009, but this is arguably the Jayhawks’ best chance to upset their in-state rival in recent memory. With Daniels back in the lineup, Kansas could flash some of its early season offensive prowess despite Kansas State’s success defensively. His presence could also open up lanes for running back Devin Neal, who has over 1000 rush yards and averages 6.5 yards per carry this season. For what it is worth, the Wildcats have been vulnerable at times against the run – yielding 4.13 yards per carry (73rd) and ranking 83rd in run defense per PFF. I think Kansas will have enough to keep this game close. 

Check out our Week 13 best bets!

Notre Dame Fighting Irish +4.5 (-110) over USC

The Fighting Irish are riding a 5-game winning streak heading into this non-conference rivalry game against USC. Meanwhile, the Trojans have won 4 straight and come into this contest off a 48-45 win over cross-city rival UCLA. They have already guaranteed a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but this game is essential if the Trojans want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Notre Dame has found success offensively in its 5-game winning streak, as the Irish scored at least 35 points in each of the wins including 76 combined against Syracuse and Clemson – 2 of the top 5 defenses in the ACC. They should be able to keep that momentum going against USC, who has been poor defensively all year. The Trojans rank 94th in net points per drive allowed and 123rd in defensive success rate per CFBGraphs, and they sit outside the top 100 in opposing drive efficiency and touchdown rate per Football Outsiders. USC still benefits from an insane turnover margin, but Notre Dame plays clean football, for the most part, ranking in the top 40 in turnover rate and giveaways per game. Taking care of the ball will be extremely important for the Irish because the Trojans can score quite literally in the blink of an eye. They are a top-10 offense in both rushing and passing, in addition to having the best drive efficiency and second-best touchdown rate in non-garbage time per Football Outsiders. 

Despite USC’s success offensively, I think Notre Dame can hang around with the Trojans. The Irish allow just 20.3 points per game, which is right around Oregon State and Washington State – the only 2 teams that held USC under 40 points this year. They rank 15th in opposing EPA per pass, and they sit in the top 35 in opposing passing efficiency. Furthermore, they play at an extremely slow pace and rely heavily on the rush – which should help with maintaining long drives and keeping the ball out of USC’s hands. I would not be surprised to see Notre Dame ruin USC’s playoff hopes with an outright win, so I am happy to take the points with the better defense. 

Here’s our full game preview for Notre Dame vs USC

Vanderbilt Commodores +14 (-110) over Tennessee

South Carolina destroyed Tennessee’s season last week, leaving very little for the Volunteers to play for this week. They will not win the SEC East nor make the College Football Playoff, but they do have a chance to earn a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game with a win over Vanderbilt. To make matters worse, the Volunteers lost their starting quarterback, Hendon Hooker, for the rest of the season due to an ACL tear sustained in the second half of the loss to the Gamecocks. Joe Milton will replace Hooker in the lineup after completing 22 of 33 passes for 573 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions in garbage time this year. 

The Vanderbilt Commodores were on a 26-game losing streak in SEC play after their loss to the Gamecocks earlier this month. In the following week, the ‘Dores went up to Lexington and beat the Kentucky Wildcats as 17-point road underdogs – marking their first conference win since October 19, 2019. They followed that up with a shocking 31-24 win over Florida last week, earning their second straight conference win for the first time since 2018. The Commodores now sit at 5-6 on the season and are just 1 win away from bowl eligibility as well as their first 3-game winning streak in conference play since Jordan Matthews was on the roster in 2013. 

Tennessee’s offense could possibly take a slight step back with Milton at the helm, but the Volunteers will still be extremely potent when they possess the ball. It is the Tennessee defense that is of concern. The Volunteers rank 87th in defensive success rate and 95th in EPA margin defensively per CFBGraphs, and they sit outside the top 70 in opposing drive efficiency and touchdown rate per Football Outsiders. They gave up 606 yards to South Carolina and made Spencer Rattler, who has thrown 9 interceptions this year, look like a Heisman candidate despite the Gamecocks being without arguably their best player in running back MarShawn Lloyd.

I expect Vanderbilt to continue to lean on Ray Davis, who has 76 carries and 418 yards in the last 3 weeks, to open up the passing game for quarterback Mike Wright and wide receiver Will Sheppard. Assuming the Commodores are able to move the ball and get to the red zone, they should be able to put up points. They are a top 10 team in red zone touchdown rate, finding their way into the end zone on over 72% of red zone trips. Furthermore, the Commodores figure to have the motivational edge in this matchup now that Tennessee’s playoff hopes have been dashed. 

Here’s our full game preview for Tennessee vs Vanderbilt

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