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.
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: UCF -10 over East Carolina.
There isn’t much I like on the board this week, but I’m going to take a shot with UCF getting it right this week against East Carolina after losing outright as a two-touchdown favorite at Navy. With QB Dillon Gabriel going down with a broken clavicle, Gus Malzahn is going to need to rely even more on his elite rushing attack (5.9 yards per rush to lead the AAC) going forward, and the Knights should be able to gash an ECU defense that has given up 28 rushes of 10-plus yards through five games. I will admit that betting against Pirates QB Holton Ahlers scares me a little bit, but I’m hopeful UCF will build a big enough lead early to put a back-door cover out of reach.
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: Iowa -1.5 over Penn State.
Iowa and Penn State are as evenly matched as possible with both teams having shaky offenses and top-notch defenses, but I’m leaning Iowa simply because of home-field advantage. This game will surely be low scoring (I also recommend taking the under), and both Iowa’s offense and defense play better at home, with the Hawkeyes giving up a stingy 9 points a game in Kinnick Stadium. Give me Iowa as a short favorite at home.
Kate Constable, Stadium Host & Digital Producer: Iowa -1.5 over Penn State.
As an Iowa grad, I might be a little biased toward my Hawkeyes, but I love them in this spot against Penn State. While the Nittany Lions won six straight meetings between the two teams from 2011-19, Iowa beat up on Penn State last year, and the Hawkeyes’ résumé this season gives me confidence that they’ll do the same on Saturday. Iowa dominated Maryland last weekend in what many thought would be a close game, and they handled in-state rival Iowa State in Week 2.
As for Penn State, they’re on the road for the first time since Week 1 when they beat Wisconsin in Madison — a win that doesn’t seem quite as impressive anymore. The Nittany Lions are loaded on defense with playmakers at every level, but the Hawkeyes are also superb on that side of the ball, leading the nation with 12 interceptions this season, including six in Week 5. I fully expect that defensive dominance to continue this weekend in Iowa City and the Hawks to come out on top.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Nebraska +3 over Michigan.
Last week, Michigan proved me wrong in this section when I faded the Wolverines in their first road game of the season against Wisconsin. I didn’t expect their offense to have any success, but they showed out well with their passing game. Now there are expectations for Michigan not only to win this game, but win by more than a field goal in another road environment.
But this time they’re playing an undervalued Nebraska team in a night game on national TV. Nebraska might be 3-3, but they covered easily against Oklahoma and also should’ve won at Michigan State. If the Cornhuskers can limit the untimely mistakes that have plagued them throughout Scott Frost’s tenure, they’ll have a shot to win this game. I also like the under and Michigan’s team total under in this game.
2. What is another bet you like?
AS: Penn State (+110) over Iowa.
Iowa has won their biggest games in 2021 by forcing more turnovers per game than any other program in the nation. While Penn State was sloppy in 2020 (-8 turnover margin), QB Sean Clifford and new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich seem to have kicked that trend this season with just three interceptions in 153 pass attempts for Clifford, and I’m hopeful he can avoid mistakes at Kinnick Stadium.
While the Iowa defense gets the headlines, Penn State will also be fielding a talented ‘D’ on Saturday. The Nittany Lions have allowed just 4.3 yards per play, given up just eight scores in 15 red zone trips, and picked off opposing QBs seven times. In a game with a pair of elite defenses, I’m going to back the quarterback I trust to win the game (Clifford) rather than the one playing not to lose in Iowa’s Spencer Petras.
BW: Under 63.5 in Oklahoma-Texas.
I’ve been an “Under Guy” all season long and that’s not stopping this weekend. In recent years, Texas games have hit the under 15 out of 21 times when the Longhorns were underdogs. They tend to play more conservatively in that spot, and I expect something similar on Saturday.
KC: Over 63.5 in Oklahoma-Texas.
Historically, the Red River Showdown has been a high-scoring matchup, producing totals of 66, 61 and 98 (a four-overtime affair) over the past three seasons. Texas’ offense has looked great since Casey Thompson replaced Hudson Card as QB in Week 3. Since starting, Thompson has completed 71% of his passes and is averaging over 200 passing yards, including throwing for 303 yards two weeks ago against Texas Tech.
On Oklahoma’s side, the Sooners have been up and down this season, and the play of QB Spencer Rattler has been questioned lately, but I expect Rattler to come out and silence the crowd with a strong performance. This game is going to be a shootout, and all the pomp and pageantry surrounding it will help produce a high-scoring affair.
NJ: Under 55 in Temple-Cincinnati.
This game is Friday evening, so make sure to get this bet in ASAP if you agree with my handicap. I am looking to fade Cincinnati the week after they won their biggest game in program history at Notre Dame. The reason why I prefer the under instead of Temple +30 is because the Owls are coming off an upset win over Memphis last week, so they might be vulnerable for a letdown. I also have questions about Cincinnati’s offense, which is why I’m counting on their defense to show up in a tough scheduling spot to keep the game low-scoring.
3. Which underdog of +200 or more on the moneyline has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: Illinois (+300) over Wisconsin.
Wisconsin isn’t right. That being said, will the Badgers lose to Illinois as 11-point favorites? Probably not, but I’m still willing to take a shot on the Illini in a matchup of teams that both play ball-control football. The Badgers’ blueprint is simple: run the football, play great defense and limit mistakes. While Paul Chryst’s team is still playing elite defense, the running game (3.7 yards per rush) has been inconsistent and the turnovers are a serious problem (-8 turnover margin).
I understand that the Badgers’ three losses have all come to ranked teams, and Illinois is nowhere close to that level (92nd overall in Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings), but Bret Bielema is trying to build a program in the mold of what he had while he was in Madison, and he knows how to attack the Badgers. I’m betting on the team with the edge on both third down and special teams to win a closer-than-expected rock fight.
BW: Syracuse (+200) over Wake Forest.
I think this could be a good “buy low” spot with Syracuse coming off a loss to lowly FSU. They’ve beaten a good Liberty team as an underdog at home, and I think their defense’s ability to limit big plays can help keep them within range to take down undefeated Wake Forest.
KC: South Carolina (+330) over Tennessee.
As we get deeper into conference play, there are fewer +200 lines to choose from, but I’m going to take South Carolina to pull off the upset on the road this weekend. If they’re going to have a chance at winning this game, it’s going to come from their defense. South Carolina has only allowed more than 17 points once this season and that was to Georgia.
While Tennessee has taken great care of the ball thus far, the Gamecocks have produced 14 takeaways this year, with at least two in every game. That’ll have to be the same on Saturday in order to pull this one off, but at +330 there’s some good value here.
NJ: Syracuse (+200) over Wake Forest.
No. 19 Wake Forest is the last undefeated team in the ACC, so now there are expectations for the Demon Deacons after overachieving early in the season. They’re coming off a dramatic home win against Louisville and now have a trip to Syracuse this week. Syracuse defeated Liberty two weeks ago at the Carrier Dome in a game with a similar point spread. I’m not buying into Wake Forest as an ACC contender, so now I’ll start fading them before their bye week.
4. What is one bet you are tempted to make this week, but know you probably shouldn’t?
AS: San Diego State -19.5 over New Mexico.
I handicapped this game at San Diego State -24, so I’d like to put in a play on the Aztecs in this matchup. However, I’ll be staying away due to a couple of different factors.
Former San Diego State head coach Rocky Long “retired” at the end of the 2019 campaign, but is now in his second season back at his alma mater as New Mexico’s defensive coordinator. Long’s familiarity with the Aztecs and relationship with San Diego State staffers make me wary of the -19.5 number if this game gets into garbage time. Additionally, San Diego State RB Greg Bell and QB Jordon Brookshire are both dealing with injuries and questionable for this matchup.
BW: Michigan -3 over Nebraska.
I’m tempted to take Michigan here with how good they looked against Wisconsin, but this really seems like a trap for the Wolverines. Their offense looked powerful last Saturday, with the passing game finally making a much-needed appearance. But this number seems a little too high on a deeper look through. I’m not sure if Michigan’s passing game can be consistently good, and Nebraska’s defense at home has been stellar against the run. Michigan still can win, and it’s tempting to think they win big, but I can see it being closer than -3.5, so I’ll stay away.
KC: UConn -3.5 over Massachusetts.
Should you really bet on two of the worst teams in college football? Probably not. But if you want to make a game between two cellar-dwellers interesting, I’d be tempted to take the Huskies. They lost to Vanderbilt last weekend on a last-second field goal but put up over 500 total yards of offense in the process, showing signs of life. On the flip side, UMass has just 299 total yards in their last two games combined. Admittedly, I haven’t sat down to watch either of these teams play all season, and I usually like to have an idea of a school’s style of play before I bet on them, so I’m going to stay away from this one.
NJ: LSU +3 over Kentucky.
I circled Kentucky as a team to bet against this week after their upset win over Florida. It was the first time the Wildcats beat the Gators in Lexington since 1986, and the fans rightfully stormed the field after the win. However, Kentucky QB Will Levis only completed 7-of-17 passes for 87 yards, and it was a blocked field goal for a touchdown that sprung the 20-13 win. The issue with trying to short Kentucky this week is I don’t like the state of the LSU program right now. They squandered a 13-0 lead to Auburn last week and pressure is mounting on Ed Orgeron. The under makes sense for me in this game since I can’t get around to backing LSU, even as an underdog.