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 6 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.
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Wisconsin -10 over Northwestern.
After winning my best bet last week on Georgia Tech +22 at Pitt, I’m once again backing a team that just fired its coach in this spot. Wisconsin shocked most of the college football world on Sunday by parting ways with Paul Chryst, who won three division titles and never had a losing season in Madison. But the program had clearly taken a dip over the last few seasons and athletic director Chris McIntosh wanted to give defensive coordinator and interim coach Jim Leonhard a real chance to audition for the full-time gig.
Leonhard’s first test is against a Northwestern squad that is by far the worst team in the Big Ten: the Wildcats are 88th overall in Bill Connelly’s SP+ ranking, five spots below Indiana and 11 spots behind Rutgers. I know Wisconsin’s offense has some serious issues (the Badgers managed just 2 rushing yards on 24 attempts last week against Illinois), but I expect the Badgers to take out their frustrations in a big way in Evanston on Saturday afternoon.
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: Illinois -3.5 over Iowa.
Oh, yeah. It’s the daunted primetime game in Champaign. The lights are bright, the fans are drunk and Illinois is actually… good? The Fighting Bret Bielemas come into this one with the eighth-best defense in the nation for yards allowed per game. And the offense? Well, they have the nation’s leading rusher in Chase Brown and an experienced QB in Tommy DeVito.
On the other sideline, Iowa comes into this one as a lost team. There’s no offensive production to be seen and the fans are calling for OC Brian Ferentz’s head. They have an anemic offense and keep relying on the poor play of QB Spencer Petras. Michigan gave out the perfect blueprint on how to beat them by running to limit potential interceptions and sacks. Well, U of I is 20th in rushing yards per game and 11th in rushing attempts, which means they’re going to be VERY comfortable running on the Hawkeyes.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: TCU -6.5 over Kansas.
It feels odd writing about these two teams being ranked and undefeated in October. TCU is off to a 4-0 start in Sonny Dykes’ first season, and the Horned Frogs are coming off a 55-24 thumping of Oklahoma. Kansas has been the darling of college football at 5-0, winning five games for the first time since 2009. In most cases I would’ve been looking to fade TCU off a huge win against a program like Oklahoma last week, but the magnitude of this game shouldn’t lead to a letdown from the Horned Frogs. Kansas got out to an early lead against Iowa State but barely held on as the Cyclones missed three field goals. This is the week where Kansas’ magical run comes to an end — and I believe this number is too short, so I’m taking the road favorite.
AS: TCU -6.5 over Kansas.
Kansas has been one of the best stories of the college football season, which is why “College GameDay” is coming to Lawrence for the first time on Saturday. While that’s a fun story, TCU is coming to Lawrence to ruin the party. The Horned Frogs dominated Oklahoma in all phases last week in a 55-24 victory that somehow wasn’t as close as the score indicates. I usually avoid betting on a team coming off a big win like TCU had against the Sooners, but the Horned Frogs already have two road victories this season and are just so much better on paper that I can’t pass up this bet at this price.
BW: Tennessee -3 over LSU.
This probably wouldn’t be a bet if it was a night game, but thankfully it’s an 11 a.m. start that could have a bit of a late-arriving crowd (Death Valley isn’t as scary when people are still a little bit groggy). The Vols are coming off a bye week and take on LSU who, quite frankly, haven’t impressed me. It took four Auburn turnovers to give them a chance to win last week, and LSU is 79th in points per play. With an extra week to prepare and a more than capable offense that is sixth in the nation in points per play, Tennessee should be able to steal one on the road in Baton Rouge.
NJ: Tennessee -3 over LSU.
It’s hard to wrap my head around betting on Tennessee as a road favorite against an established program, but this is a much better Volunteers team than from recent years — in large part because of QB Hendon Hooker. I like this spot for Tennessee coming off a bye and getting to play LSU at 11 a.m. local time at Death Valley. Keep in mind that LSU needed to rally from a 17-point deficit against a bad Auburn team last week and only had a 7.6 postgame win expectancy.
The weakness of the Vols is their secondary, and I don’t believe the Tigers have the passing game to exploit that with QB Jayden Daniels under center. Three weeks ago, Mississippi State closed as a three-point favorite at LSU, and UT is better than Mississippi State and would definitely be a larger favorite than this if LSU lost at Auburn last week.
AS: Oklahoma (+260) over Texas.
I had a hard time finding a moneyline bet I liked on this week’s board, so I’m going to take a shot with Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown. Dillon Gabriel suffered a concussion in the loss to TCU, and OU coach Brent Venables hasn’t revealed who will be taking snaps for the Sooners in this game. The point spread settling at Texas -7 tells me that Gabriel is unlikely to play, which is obviously a knock against Oklahoma.
However, Texas will have a tough time preparing for the Sooners if the staff doesn’t know who will be behind center. We’ve seen the Longhorns come up short in big spots like this multiple times under three different coaching staffs since Mack Brown left town in 2013, so I’ll throw a dart here at the Sooners on the moneyline.
BW: Rutgers (+125) over Nebraska.
I know, I know. I took at +130 ML last week and this week it’s +125. BUT, Rutgers should be favored in this game. How are they home dogs against a bad Nebraska team that still hasn’t had a convincing win? Rutgers’ defense is no slouch, as it’s 17th in the nation in yards given up a game and 28th in the nation in passing yards allowed.
NJ: Texas Tech (+280) over Oklahoma State.
I thought Oklahoma State was going to take a step back this season after losing DC Jim Knowles and many starters on the defensive side of the ball from last year’s team. But so far the Cowboys are 4-0 and won their first real test against Baylor last week. It was a great spot for them, with Oklahoma State coming off a bye and facing a Baylor team that had a couple tough road games against BYU and Iowa State earlier this season. It was also a little bit of a misleading 11-point win for the Pokes, who benefitted from a kick return for a touchdown to start the second half and some timely turnovers.
Texas Tech was a team I bet against in this article at Kansas State last week. It was a tough situation for the Red Raiders, who were coming off an improbable upset win over Texas the week before at home. But Texas Tech played better than I expected in Manhattan last week, and they could win against an Oklahoma State team that I think is overrated at No. 7.
AS: Iowa +3.5 over Illinois.
I need to show my cards so you get the full story here: I am a graduate of the University of Illinois and an Illini fan who has become very accustomed to failure on the football field. I am feeling VERY good about what Bret Bielema and this team has done thus far and have even fired up the group chat with my college buddies about potentially taking a trip to an Illini bowl game (warm weather only).
But as a battered fan, I am always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me, and this game against Iowa scares me. There’s no real logical reason behind this feeling, but it’s there! If Iowa gets to 4.5 or more there’s a good chance I bet on the Hawkeyes in this matchup mostly for the emotional hedge.
BW: Auburn team total under 9.5 vs. Georgia.
Maaaaan, I REALLY want to hit this — just for the adrenaline rush alone. Auburn is simply a horrible offensive team. Their team total against LSU was 19.5, and while they scored 17 in the first half, they were blanked in the second. They just needed a field goal to get their over and couldn’t do it! Now, they face one of the best defenses in the nation in Georgia. Yikes.
However, 9.5 is just so, so low. There’s no room for error there. No scoop n’ score, no pick in their own territory — nothing. Am I being a coward? Yes. Will I maybe still play this as a personal bet? It’s not impossible. But can I, in good faith, give this out publicly? I cannot.
NJ: Boston College +20.5 over Clemson.
Usually in this section I try to make a case for a big underdog facing a team in a bad situational spot. Clemson just beat NC State in a primetime game at home and they have a big road trip to Florida State in Week 7. That makes Boston College a perfect team to bet on who’s sandwiched between those opponents for Clemson.
There’s just one big issue. Boston College has had terrible offensive line luck with injuries, and last week needed to start two former defensive linemen on the o-line. That unit fared fine last week in an upset win over Louisville, but facing Clemson’s pass rush is a huge step up in class. The spot screams to bet on the Eagles, but the matchup disadvantages might be too great to overcome.