During the college football season, Stadium’s staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice. Here are our thoughts on the Week 11 slate:
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Texas Tech (-2.5) at West Virginia. This is purely a fade of West Virginia, who has 15 players listed as questionable or worse for this matchup per 247Sports’ Chris Anderson. The Mountaineers are the 2nd-worst Big 12 team per SP+ (88th), and Matt Wells and Texas Tech need this game to keep their bowl hopes alive. Other sides that just missed the cut: Penn State (-6) at Minnesota, FIU (+10) at FAU and Louisiana Tech (-5.5) vs. North Texas.
Dan Vasta, Stadium “Stats Guru”: Texas (-7) over Kansas State. I really want to show some more love for Wake Forest this weekend, but I love the spot the Longhorns are in here. Sam Ehlinger and this offense are lighting it up, and they just need the defense to get a few stops early for some momentum. Kansas State is going to have to get into a shootout on the road in order to win, which will not bode well for a passing offense that has struggled (No. 113 in FBS).
Andy Wittry, Stadium College Sports Writer: Illinois (+15.5) over Michigan State. The drive for six is still alive for Illinois, which has won three games in a row, including an upset of Wisconsin and a win at Purdue as a solid underdog. SP+ sees Michigan State as roughly nine points better, so I think there could be some value here, especially with the Fighting Illini’s No. 6 special teams unit and the Spartans’ No. 88 offense and No. 114 special teams unit.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Arizona State (-1.5) over USC. Arizona State was a side that I had circled before last week, and the spot to bet on them improved after USC fell to Oregon and lost control of their fate to win the Pac-12 South. Now, the Trojans know Utah will likely win the division, and they don’t have much to play for this season. Arizona State is coming off a bye, and I trust that Herm Edwards will have his team ready to go. I really like the Sun Devils here playing against the Trojans and lame-duck coach Clay Helton.
2. What is your favorite total (over/under)?
AS: Under 40.5 in Purdue-Northwestern. I’m going back to the well that is a noon ET kickoff at Ryan Field. I made it clear last week that I don’t love totals, but Northwestern is an under machine and fourth-string walk-on QB Aidan O’Connell is starting for Purdue. As long as we can avoid multiple defensive/special teams scores this one should be a real rock fight that stays under 40.
DV: Under 65 in LSU-Alabama. Everyone is expecting this game to be bonkers and I cannot disagree. But while Burrow vs. Tua will be unforgettable, I feel like we’re not going to see a basketball-esque shootout that gets into the 70s. Both teams have committed to the run game and may be a little conservative from the start. Najee Harris and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are fully capable of controlling the clock on some first-half drives. The points will definitely come, but not on the level that many think.
AW: Under 40.5 in Purdue-Northwestern. Northwestern has scored just 16 points since the start of October, while Purdue just lost another quarterback to injury. I’m not sure who will score in this game or how often.
NJ: Under 48 in Penn State-Minnesota. Undefeated against undefeated in the Big Ten, and it’s an early kickoff in chilly weather. Both teams are led by their defenses, and I don’t see either squad being able to score. Expect a slow start and not many points in Minneapolis that leads to the under.
3. Which underdog of six points or more has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: LSU (+6.5) over Alabama. All eyes will be on Tua Tagovailoa and his bum ankle on Saturday afternoon in T-Town, and I am skeptical the Tide will be able to use their whole playbook just 19 days after Tua underwent “tightrope” surgery. As long as the Tigers can give Joe Burrow time to throw (Alabama is just 55th in FBS with 19 sacks this season), LSU will be able to keep this game close — and +200 on the moneyline feels like a steal.
DV: North Texas (+6) over Louisiana Tech. Mason Fine and North Texas are starting to hum on offense and putting up the points that we all expected back in August. Louisiana Tech is no slouch on the football field, but give me the Mean Green.
AW: Minnesota (+6.5) over Penn State. Look, I’ve been fairly dismissive of Minnesota — at least as a 10-plus win team that could challenge for the Big Ten Championship and potential playoff berth. But as a home dog in as big of a regular season game for that fanbase in a while, it can’t hurt to take a flyer on a Gophers team that ranks No. 10 in SP+ with the No. 8 offense in the country.
NJ: LSU (+6.5) over Alabama. This is more of a gut feeling, but I have LSU pulling off an upset at Alabama on Saturday. In the past the Tigers have had trouble matching up against Alabama because they had a one-dimensional offense. Now LSU has the vertical passing attack with Joe Burrow under center that will dissect Alabama’s defense. That dynamic — plus the injury status of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — has me on the Tigers.
4. Which team other than Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and Clemson has the best chance of making the Playoff?
AS: No. 6 Georgia. The Dawgs have already defeated two CFP Top 25 teams (No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 10 Florida) and will have a chance to defeat two more thanks to a road matchup with No. 11 Auburn and a potential SEC Championship Game against No. 2 LSU or No. 3 Alabama. Kirby Smart’s team has not totally lived up to lofty expectations this season, but UGA still completely controls their fate. Full disclosure: I am holding a Georgia national title future and hope the Dawgs figure things out very soon.
DV: No. 7 Oregon. This is a tough one because there is a chance the answer ultimately is going to be nobody. That being said, give me Oregon. The Ducks have the easiest path in my eyes as they should cruise to the Pac-12 title game. If they get Utah, that game will be a dog fight, but the Utes will not be able to throw against that talented secondary. Oregon is as explosive as anybody outside the four aforementioned teams and will have as good of a shot as any program to reach the CFP.
AW: No. 6 Georgia. The Bulldogs already have two wins the committee will like (Florida and Notre Dame) and a road win at Auburn would go a long way, too. When healthy, Lawrence Cager has added a dynamic and reliable receiving threat that Georgia has appeared to lack at times this season, and we’ve seen the ‘Dawgs go toe-to-toe with Alabama the last two seasons, so while none of the current one-loss teams are locks for the playoff, you have to like Georgia’s potential upwards mobility in the CFP rankings — and it’s one of the few programs that feels like something of a known quantity.
NJ: No. 9 Oklahoma. Georgia has the best path if they win out, but I find it unlikely that they’ll win both at Auburn in Week 12 and the SEC Championship Game against LSU or Alabama, which is why I’m going down the rankings and taking Oklahoma. The Sooners have some tough games left on their schedule with Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State and the conference title game remaining, but those would be impressive enough wins to jump the Pac-12 champion (No. 7 Oregon or No. 8 Utah). The Sooners have a dynamic offense and improving defense that the committee would gravitate to if they finish the season 12-1.