While the college football schedule continues to be ravaged by postponements and cancellations due to COVID-19, the Week 13 slate is relatively full of important games. There are three top 25 showdowns on Friday with two matchups between ranked teams, one that could decide a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game, and another that will go a long way to proving the might of one of the nation’s top teams.
No. 13 Iowa State and No. 17 Texas are set to meet in a pivotal Big 12 battle while No. 2 Notre Dame is making the trip to Chapel Hill for an ACC showdown with No. 19 North Carolina. The Irish need to keep winning to keep their ACC title and College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Plus, No. 9 Oregon will battle it out with Oregon State in the rivalry formerly known as the “Civil War” when the two kick off from Corvallis, Oregon, in the evening. The Ducks need to pick up some style points if they hope to make it to the playoff this year with a limited schedule.
Those are the marquee games on the slate, and while winning is all that matters for the standings, we care about whether these teams will cover their spreads. Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the day for college football coverage from the opening kickoff at noon on Friday to the final whistle of day on Saturday night. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for Week 13.
Odds via William Hill Sportsbook | All times Eastern
No. 13 Iowa State at No. 17 Texas (noon, ABC)
Every week is a clean slate, especially in 2020. Still, it’s hard not to notice what the Cyclones did to Kansas State, however limited the Wildcats may be at the moment. Even though Iowa State is a slight underdog, it feels like it’s the better team at the moment. But neither team should have any problems bringing its own juice for a game with tons of meaning for both sides. If Texas can force Iowa State out of its comfort zone and to play from behind, it can win this. But knocking Iowa State off its center has been difficult. Pick: Iowa State +1.5 — Ben Kercheval
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Nebraska at No. 24 Iowa (1 p.m., Fox)
This is a large spread for Iowa, and it’s tough to know whether to trust the Hawkeyes this season as it has beaten up on a lot of downtrodden programs. Perhaps its one-point loss to Northwestern in its first week is a better indication of what this program is about in 2020. It was surprising that the Hawkeyes were listed in the first College Football Playoff Rankings at 3-2, but they are on a three-game winning streak with a 30-point average margin of victory. Iowa is probably going to dominate Nebraska up front, so as long as this stays under two touchdowns, I’d put a flyer on the Hawkeyes. Pick: Iowa -13 — Adam Silverstein
No. 2 Notre Dame at No. 19 North Carolina (3:30 p.m., ABC)
If this game gets a little loose and the Tar Heels can turn it into a shootout, I love their chances to cover with the possibility of an outright upset. Simply put, if the game does turn into a back-and-forth affair, which quarterback do you trust to lead touchdown drives in the fourth quarter? Sam Howell has been one of the elite crunch-time quarterbacks in all of college football over the last two years, and the ability to generate explosive plays in the passing game means no lead is safe. Even if it’s Howell kicking in the backdoor on a furious late charge that comes up 3-4 points short (another likely scenario), we still cash the cover with this favorable number. Pick: North Carolina (+4.5) — Chip Patterson
No. 9 Oregon at Oregon State (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
This is a large spread for a rivalry game, especially considering Oregon’s late-game struggles with UCLA last week. Meanwhile, Oregon State has covered its last two (including a similar two-touchdown margin vs. Washington) and beat California outright last week. Not a huge fan of picking this game and would much prefer it at at 15. It may get to that number before kickoff the way it’s trending. Pick: Oregon State +14 — Adam Silverstein
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 13? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,600 in profit over the past four-plus seasons — and find out.