Hot tix and picks: Ohio State, Michigan State among CFB contenders triggering wagers onslaught

Lance Pugmire
USA TODAY Sports+

On a collision course that moves them to the famed Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 20, Michigan State and Ohio State are generating the most betting slips of all this weekend. 

Fresh from their thrilling 37-33 triumph over Michigan last week, the unbeaten Spartans rank as the hottest ticket at Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM and the Las Vegas Superbook. 

The buzz generated by the victory – and the anticipation of what lies ahead – has riveted the masses’ betting attention, a wave in which Ohio State is similarly caught up.

Moneyline and points bets on the Buckeyes are among the five most popular wagers at Tipico Sportsbook, with Caesars and BetMGM taking the second-most action this week on Ohio State. 

In the first College Football Playoff rankings released this week, Michigan State was No. 3 and Ohio State was No. 5, warming attention on the Big 10 East rivals. In USA TODAY’s latest college football coach’s poll, the Spartans are No. 6, behind No. 5 Ohio State. 

With that, let’s look at the rest of this week’s college football “Hot Tix and Picks.”

All ranking are from the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coach’s poll.

No. 6 Michigan State -3 at Purdue

The 5-3 Purdue Boilermakers knocked off Iowa Oct. 16, and they’re capable of catching the Spartans in this clear let-down game following the thrill of last weekend. Yet the support of Michigan State and its Heisman-candidate running back Kenneth Walker III is stirring. 

No. 5 Ohio State -15 at Nebraska

The host Cornhuskers played both Michigan and Michigan State to three-point games and Ohio State fell short of covering that 18-point spread against top-25 foe Penn State. But as the urgency to get into the top four heightens, there’s nothing like a convincing triumph to raise the profile. 

MORE:Who will win? Experts make predictions for Ohio State vs. Nebraska

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE:What if Ohio State suffered the same fate as Nebraska?

No. 7 Oregon -7 at Washington

The Oregon Ducks – sitting at No. 4 in the football playoff poll – are a top-five pick across the board at major sportsbooks. With their Ohio State victory in the bank, Oregon can move closer to clinching the Pac-12 North by defeating the 4-4 Huskies. 

No. 10 Wake Forest +2.5 at North Carolina

This is a nonconference game for the 8-0, ACC-Atlantic-leading Demon Deacons. While there is some disregard for the quality of the victories Wake Forest has compiled, the high-powered nature of its offense (35 or more points each game thus far) is seen as superior to the Tar Heels’ solid run game. 

No. 14 Baylor -7 at TCU

Coming off three consecutive victories, the Bears venture to meet a Horned Frogs’ defense that has given up 112 combined points during its three-game skid.

MORE:No. 14 Baylor first to play TCU since Patterson's departure

OPINION:Gary Patterson's sudden departure is sad ending for the man who transformed TCU football

As for this week’s “Hot Picks,” we went 4-1 last week, done in only by an allegiance to my former hometown – and then-unbeaten – San Diego State Aztecs. 

That offered a valuable lesson: This is a heartless pursuit. Focus on the effective systems, pick out flaws the crowd misses, watch how the lines move and remain observant of what the sharps are doing. 

That said, here are the picks: 

North Carolina -2.5 vs. No. 10 Wake Forest

Yes, this is in defiance of what the public is doing. This just in: The public often loses bets. Led by quarterback Sam Howell, the Tar Heels’ offensive balance is pleasing head coach Mack Brown following last week’s strong showing against Notre Dame. Dismiss focusing on a 4-4 team going against an 8-0 squad, and ride home-field advantage to victory. 

Nebraska +15 vs. No. 5 Ohio State

This is a pure sharp play backing the Cornhuskers at home in a game with an over-under of 66. There will be plenty of scoring, and even if it takes a late touchdown to pull within 14, you win. 

Tennessee -1 at No. 18 Kentucky

If you’re following this closely, the method to the madness is emerging. The books have helped steer us by making this a narrow line, and the sharps are pouncing to affirm it’s a wise play. Kentucky’s star has fallen in back-to-back defeats, and now the Wildcats exit the top-25. 

MORE:Our experts are picking Tennessee Vols football to beat Kentucky. Here's why.

COLUMN:History says Tennessee football will beat Kentucky and is more likely to lose to Vanderbilt

Miami (Fla.) -9.5 vs. Georgia Tech

If this game remains on the board, the thinking supporting the Hurricanes is this: Yes, they’ve been trounced by top-five occupants Alabama and Michigan State, but they’ve won two straight and are within reach of winning their ACC division by defeating a bad Miami team.  

No. 13 Texas A&M -4.5 vs. No. 12 Auburn

A sellout crowd is coming to support the Aggies as head coach Jimbo Fisher’s group threatens to disrupt the magnitude of the looming Iron Bowl between the Tigers and Alabama at month’s end. 

MORE:Auburn at Texas A&M odds, picks and prediction

SEC PREVIEW:Week 10 college football picks, bold predictions led by major showdown in the SEC West