During the college football season, the Stadium staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice in this roundtable. Here are our thoughts on the Week 11 slate.
Note: Ben and Nate will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Oregon (-13.5) over Washington State.
I have a football crush on Oregon OC Joe Moorhead. His offenses at Penn State, Mississippi State and Oregon scratch me right where I itch: They are physical up front, vary their looks while utilizing a dominant personnel package and get the ball to the offense’s most important playmakers during crunch time.
Last week, the Ducks were dealing with some awful weather against Washington, so Moorhead’s offense kept it simple: 56 rush attempts for 329 yards with just 20 pass attempts in a 26-16 victory. Washington State’s defense allows 4.5 yards per rush attempt and ranks 89th in the FBS in third-down defense. I expect Oregon to get an early lead and suffocate the Cougs for the cover.
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: Michigan (-1) over Penn State.
If this was a night game in Happy Valley, I’d probably be on PSU. But playing at Happy Valley in the daytime is like seeing a haunted house with all its lights on — it’s not that scary. Michigan is simply the better team here. They’ve improved their passing game to the point where they might be one of the more balanced teams in the country, and I don’t think the Nittany Lions’ offense can muster up enough of an attack to overwhelm the Michigan defense.
This line is certainly smaller because Michigan is on the road, but a regular old day game for a team that’s already used to playing in front of 100,000 fans means Michigan might even be a bit undervalued. Give me the Maize and Blue.
Kate Constable, Stadium Host & Digital Producer: Cincinnati (-23) over South Florida.
Cincinnati has failed to cover the spread in each of its last three games, but if they want to get into the playoff, they’re not only going to need to win, but win big. Style points will be important for the Bearcats in these last few weeks of the season when making a case for why they’re a top-four team.
Their eight-point win over Tulsa last week raised a few questions about their ability to go up against a top Power 5 program. However, I expect Cincinnati to put any concerns to rest this week with a big win over an inconsistent South Florida team that is giving up nearly 500 yards of total offense per game.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Virginia (+5.5) over Notre Dame.
My bet in this game depends on if Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong can play after suffering a rib injury in the Cavaliers’ last game at BYU. I’m optimistic Armstrong will gut it out in a primetime game against a top-10 opponent at home. I was encouraged to see Armstrong make an NIL-driven appearance at the grand opening of a restaurant in Charlottesville this past weekend. If Armstrong plays, Virginia will have a chance to win outright because their offense will be able to put up points against a Notre Dame defense that could be without star safety Kyle Hamilton for another week.
2. What is another bet you like?
AS: Tulane (+3) over Tulsa.
These teams are a combined 4-14 this season, so I’m not going to be watching this game — and I suggest you avoid it if you can. However, I think there’s value on the Tulane side in this matchup and am happy to take a field goal with the home team. Tulane freshman QB Michael Pratt has looked like a freshman most of this season, but over his last three games he’s averaging 7.4 yards per pass attempt and hasn’t thrown an interception. I’m banking on the Green Wave passing attack to take advantage of a Tulsa defense that is coming off a physical and emotionally-draining loss against Cincinnati.
BW: Purdue (+12.5) 1H over Ohio State.
Let’s get a little crazy here and bet a first-half spread. The Boilermakers are no strangers to upsets this season, so at the very least I’m trusting them to push the Buckeyes in the first half. It seems possible this is the type of game where Ohio State gets challenged in the first half, only to explode out of the locker room in the second.
This isn’t just on a hunch, either. Purdue has given up nine points a game in the first half while scoring close to 15. OSU averages about 25 points per first half, so if both teams hit their average points in the first half, Purdue covers. The Boilermakers also have deep-threat weapon David Bell to hit on big plays against an average Ohio State secondary. I don’t know if I trust Purdue to stay with OSU for all four quarters, but I think they can stick with them for at least two of them.
KC: Under 54.5 in TCU-Oklahoma State.
TCU is coming off of a huge win over Baylor, so this could be a bit of a letdown spot for the Horned Frogs where we see their offense fall flat. They’ll likely still be without their starting QB Max Duggan and top running back Zach Evans again on Saturday. While that didn’t prove to be an issue against Baylor, the Horned Frogs are now going up against the best defense in the Big 12 in Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have only allowed six total points in the last two weeks and haven’t allowed more than 24 points in any game this season.
NJ: Penn State (+1) over Michigan.
The Big Ten has gotten a lot of respect in the College Football Playoff rankings, but Penn State has been excluded from the party in both weeks. It’s a bit of a surprise to me because the Nittany Lions have defeated two top-20 teams in this week’s rankings in Wisconsin and Auburn. Penn State was ranked as high as No. 4 in the AP Poll last month before a loss at then-No. 3 Iowa occurred because QB Sean Clifford left the game with an injury. They then lost to Illinois in a game in which Clifford didn’t look 100 percent. If Clifford didn’t get hurt at Iowa, Penn State would likely only have one loss and the point spread for this game would look a lot different.
Michigan controversially moved past Michigan State to No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings, even though the Wolverines recently fell to their in-state rivals. Michigan also has some injury concerns on offense with QB Cade McNamara and RB Blake Corum.
3. Which underdog of +200 or more on the moneyline has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: Rutgers (+215) over Indiana.
Rutgers is 4-5 in 2021 and trying to get to a bowl for the first time since 2014. Who else remembers the Scarlet Knights’ THRILLING 40-21 victory over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl that season? Just me? OK then.
The reason I bring that up is because Rutgers goes to Bloomington with plenty to play for this weekend while Indiana is ready for the offseason in a year that has been nothing short of a disaster. I’m confident Greg Schiano will have the Scarlet Knights ready to get after the Hoosiers from the opening whistle, and if IU gets down early I don’t know how motivated they’ll be to stage a comeback. At this price I’ll happily bet the State University of New Jersey.
BW: Rutgers (+215) over Indiana.
I hate to do this to my alma mater (and I really hope I’m allowed back on campus after this), but it has to be bet. The Hoosiers just aren’t good. Their QB situation is a mess, their OC struggles to call coherent drives and their defense has been stricken with injuries all season long. Rutgers is bad, but if any team this week is going to get upset as a large favorite, it’s Indiana.
KC: East Carolina (+170) over Memphis.
There really isn’t a +200 underdog that I like this week, so I’m slightly breaking this rule. Memphis is coming off a big win vs. then-No. 23 SMU, so this is a potential letdown spot for the Tigers. You could also look at this as a sandwich spot with Houston on deck next week. East Carolina took Houston to OT, and three of their four losses this season have come by only one score. With a win, the Pirates would qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2014, adding a little extra motivation on Saturday.
NJ: Minnesota (+170) over Iowa.
Rutgers would’ve been my pick, but since Alex and Ben already gave them out, I’ll also break this rule with a shorter underdog than +200. Minnesota is coming off an embarrassing home loss to Illinois in Week 10 just days after they were ranked No. 20 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings and gave head coach P.J. Fleck a seven-year contract extension.
This wasn’t the first game the Golden Gophers lost at home as a big favorite this season, as they also fell as 30.5-point favorites to Bowling Green. But the next week, Minnesota went on the road and bounced back against Purdue. This feels like a similar situation as they hit the road off a bad loss and face an Iowa team that will likely be starting backup QB Alex Padilla. I’ll take Minnesota against the spread, and they’ll have a great shot to win this game with a low total of 37.5.
4. What is one bet you are tempted to make this week, but know you probably shouldn’t?
AS: Kentucky (-21) over Vanderbilt.
Last week, Kentucky put on a clinic on offense against Tennessee by racking up 35 first downs and 612 total yards on 99 plays while possessing the ball for 46:08. There’s just one problem: The Wildcats lost to the Vols 45-42!
I want to bet on UK to take out their frustrations against Vandy this week in a blowout, but Kentucky’s inability to create explosive plays is keeping me away. The Wildcats’ 35 plays of 20-plus yards is tied for second-worst in the SEC. Last week’s loss is a prime example of why time of possession numbers can be deceiving, and I can’t trust UK’s offense in this spot.
BW: Alabama (-51.5) over New Mexico State.
Would this be a fun one to bet on? I think so? Bama is so dominant that they could cover without breaking a sweat here, but I just don’t know if they’re going to want to. The large spread is tempting because it’s a fun story to tell that you bet on a team who was favored by over a fifty-burger but it’s just a tad too risky.
KC: Ohio State (-21) over Purdue.
I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assessment of Michigan State learning from Iowa’s loss to Purdue and not overlooking the Boilermakers last week. After beating the Spartans, Purdue has now spoiled the season for two Big Ten teams. Surely Ohio State won’t let the same happen to them, right? A loss to Purdue — or even a game that’s too close for comfort — could ruin their chances of staying in the College Football Playoff. I want to take the Buckeyes to cover, but is the third time the charm for the Boilermakers?
NJ: Tennessee (+20) over Georgia.
I’ve previously used Tennessee in this section this season, including last week when they were a pick’em on the road against Kentucky. The Volunteers ended up winning the game and are on the cusp of bowl eligibility in Josh Heupel’s first season. The Vols will likely have to wait a week to get their sixth win as they host No. 1 Georgia.
However, this is a big point spread that has me tempted to take Tennessee because QB Hendon Hooker might be able to do enough to help the Volunteers cover against the vaunted Bulldogs defense. I’ll stay away for now because Georgia’s offense is improving as QB Stetson Bennett has gotten more comfortable leading the unit.