Week 7 is the best college football slate of the season so far. Rivalry games and other important conference matchups will make it one of the most interesting Saturdays to watch and also to bet.
There are three teams I have an eye on who just had their bye week, and I’ll be looking to bet on them this week or in the near future. I also want to give an early point spread preview for five of this week’s biggest games and analyze the early line movement.
Teams to Buy After the Bye
Virginia: The Cavaliers didn’t play in Week 6, but their chances of winning the ACC Coastal improved with Virginia Tech upsetting Miami. It looked like Miami would be the Cavaliers’ toughest competition in the division, but now the Hurricanes are 0-2 in conference while Virginia is 2-0 in ACC play. The schedule sets up nicely for Virginia the rest of the season, and it starts with a Friday night game at Miami. The line opened Virginia +2.5 and is down to Virginia +1 as of Monday afternoon.
Virginia is 4-1 overall with their loss coming at Notre Dame — a game in which the Cavaliers lost 35-20 but out-gained the Fighting Irish. It was five turnovers that doomed Virginia, who gave up 14 points in the third quarter despite not allowing Notre Dame’s offense to get a first down in that frame. If Virginia can take care of the football, they should have success the rest of the season, and I’m looking to back Virginia moving forward.
USC: The bye week came at a perfect time for USC. They had a grueling first five games of their schedule with matchups against Stanford, BYU, Utah and Washington during four straight weeks. They also lost two quarterbacks to injury during that span. Given those circumstances, it’s impressive that the Trojans were able to get into the bye at 3-2.
While the level of competition doesn’t ease up for USC with a trip to Notre Dame on deck, the bye week allowed the team to take a breather and get healthy. It looks like freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis will return from a concussion, and the Trojans have received the early action as they’ve moved from 13-point underdogs to 11.5-point ‘dogs since the line opened on Sunday.
Clemson: The last time we saw Clemson was a one-point win against North Carolina when they were 27-point favorites. It wasn’t a good look for the Tigers, but they survived and maybe that was the wakeup call the team needed. In light of the strong starts for Oklahoma, Ohio State, LSU and Georgia, Clemson will likely need to run the table to make the College Football Playoff because the ACC is having a down year.
Clemson will have the opportunity to make a statement and prove that they’re still one of the best teams in the country this week when they host Florida State. The line is currently Clemson -26, which seems high, but I fully expect the Tigers to start playing their best football and probably cover the large numbers in the process.
Early Preview of Week 7’s Big Matchups
Florida at LSU (-13): The line in this game opened at LSU -14 and has come down to 13. Florida is coming off a big home win against Auburn, where their defense handled true freshman quarterback Bo Nix. Now they hit the road and go into Tiger Stadium at night — one of the nation’s most difficult environments to play in. This LSU team can rack up points with quarterback Joe Burrow leading the way.
Alabama (-17) at Texas A&M: Almost every Alabama game has an inflated point spread and this one is no different. The line in the summer for this matchup was Alabama -14.5, so there’s been a warranted adjustment based on Alabama’s success and Texas A&M losing to Clemson and Auburn this season. I would expect a maximum effort from the Aggies coming off a bye week, but I’m not confident enough to stand in front of the Crimson Tide’s momentum.
Oklahoma (-10.5) vs. Texas in Dallas: Oklahoma and Texas are only split by five spots in the AP Poll — No. 6 and No. 11, respectively — but they are separated by double digits on a neutral field in the betting market. The line before Week 6 in this game was Oklahoma -12.5, so it has decreased after Oklahoma’s win at Kansas and Texas avoiding a possible trap by beating West Virginia. The line in the summer for this game was only Oklahoma -3, so there’s been a drastic adjustment because of the strong start to the season for Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Penn State (-5) at Iowa: The line in this game opened at Penn State -2.5 and has already moved 2.5 points. Iowa’s offense sputtered at Michigan last week in a nationally televised game, so it’s not surprising that people don’t want to back the Hawkeyes after they only scored three points. Penn State has defeated Maryland and Purdue by a combined score of 94-7 in the last two games, so they are trending in the right direction. If you like Penn State in this game, I would stay away since the value is already gone. If you like Iowa, I would wait to see if this line climbs even higher.
Michigan State at Wisconsin (-10): Wisconsin opened as a 10.5-point favorite, and it settled at 10 after dipping to 9.5 at one point. This is a really difficult spot for Michigan State, who has to go back on the road after losing at Ohio State in Week 6. The total in this game is 42, so it’s risky laying points with the Badgers in a game expected to be low scoring. However, the situational elements have me not wanting to bet the Spartans in this matchup.