During the college football season, Stadium’s staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice. Here are our thoughts on the Week 7 slate:
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Maryland (-3) over Purdue. This is a square pick, and I don’t feel great about laying points on the road with the Terps. But I don’t see how Purdue keeps this one close without Elijah Sindelar (clavicle) and Rondale Moore (knee) on the field. Mike Locksley’s offense (14th in FBS with 41.4 PPG) has gotten the headlines, but this Maryland defense has helped carry the weight with 42 tackles for a loss through five games. Even if Tyrrell Pigrome gets the start at QB, I like the Terps in this spot.
Dan Vasta, Stadium “Stats Guru”: Alabama (-16.5) over Texas A&M. Nick Saban is 17-0 against his former assistants, and I do not foresee this one being close for more than a half. The Aggies are far from what I thought they’d be going into the season and the Crimson Tide are as potent as ever on offense. Throw in the fact that A&M has been one dimensional on offense (97th ranked rushing attack) and this spells doom.
Andy Wittry, Stadium College Sports Writer: Virginia (+2.5) over Miami. Miami’s only wins this season were against Bethune-Cookman (FCS) and Central Michigan, the latter of which was by five points. The ‘Canes have been competitive in their three losses, losing by a combined 14 points, so it’s not like they’ve been blown out, but I’ll take the points and bet on a ranked Virginia.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Iowa (+3.5) over Penn State. Sometimes the best bet is the hardest one to make and backing Iowa falls into that category. However, I believe line value has been created based on recent results from these teams. Penn State has outscored Maryland and Purdue by a combined score of 94-7 in their last two games, while Iowa just lost 10-3 to Michigan in a classic Big Ten brawl. Iowa is a step up in class from Maryland and Purdue, and they’ll have a chance to win this game in a primetime setting at home.
2. What is your favorite total (over/under)?
AS: Under 60 in Utah-Oregon State. Oregon State is coming off of its second conference win since November 2016, and the Beavers’ offense is 16th in FBS per SP+. However, Jonathan Smith’s team hasn’t played a defense on Utah’s level: the Utes rank in the top 15 in FBS in pass break-ups, interceptions and passes defended. On offense, I expect Kyle Whittingham to pound the rock to milk the clock. The Utes just want to get out of Corvallis healthy, and that should keep this one under the total.
DV: Over 55 in Florida-LSU. Joe Burrow and his wideouts, like Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, are licking their chops thinking about Florida’s secondary. While the Gators should be able to hang in here and score in the 20s, LSU is capable of scoring 40-plus. LSU won’t try to establish the run early because they’ll have no problem airing it out.
AW: Over 49.5 in Nebraska-Minnesota. Minnesota (one of the country’s weirder/most surprising undefeated teams) has a top-15 offense, according to SP+, and the Gophers have scored between 35-40 points in their last four games. Nebraska has a so-so defense (No. 52 SP+) and assuming Minnesota can keep up that pace of putting up points, I’d only need two touchdowns from the Huskers to hit the over.
NJ: Under 52.5 in South Carolina-Georgia. It’s an early noon kickoff for these two SEC East rivals, and Georgia is a 24.5-point favorite in this game. While the spread indicates a Georgia blowout, I can see South Carolina keeping this game close as they come off a bye week with extra preparation. If Georgia does win big, I don’t anticipate the Bulldogs running up the score because their head man Kirby Smart and Gamecocks Head Coach Will Muschamp have a well-documented mutual respect for each other. They were teammates at Georgia and have coached together in the past, so Smart will call off the dogs (literally) if they do go up by a large number.
3. Which underdog of six points or more has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: Hawaii (+12) over Boise State. I love this matchup on paper and think it has real potential to be one of this weekend’s best games. Boise State’s defense is elite on 3rd down (3rd in the country with a 23.8% opposing conversion rate), but the Hawaii offense rarely gets there (the Rainbow Warriors’ 54 third down attempts are tied for the sixth-least in FBS). The Broncos get a lot of love in the betting markets strictly on reputation, especially at home on the smurf turf, but at this price (+350 on the moneyline), I’m riding with Nick Rolovich, Cole McDonald and the Rainbow Warriors.
DV: USC (+11) over Notre Dame. USC QB Kedon Slovis has been cleared this week which guarantees an exciting matchup between the two teams. Both squads can light up the scoreboard, but the Trojans have the edge offensively on the perimeter. Look for a barn burner — one in which the Trojans can pull off the upset.
AW: South Florida (+6.5) over BYU. Look, South Florida’s bad, I get it. The Bulls’ only wins this season were against South Carolina State and UConn, but SP+ sees a two-point difference between the two teams, so I think there’s value in South Florida getting more than three times that many points, at home, against a BYU team that’s without quarterback Zach Wilson due to injury.
NJ: USC (+11) over Notre Dame. After just having a much-needed bye week, USC is a team I’m buying. They were able to take a break after a brutal schedule and get healthy as quarterback Kedon Slovis returns after suffering a concussion in Week 4 against Utah. My one concern with trusting USC here is the weather in South Bend is expected to be in the 40s for the Saturday evening kick, which isn’t optimal conditions for kids that go to school in Southern California. However, there aren’t many other big underdogs I’m looking to back this week, so USC is my choice.
4. What is one bet you are tempted to make this week, but know you probably shouldn’t?
AS: Nebraska (+7.5) at Minnesota. I do not like much on the board this week so a lot is in play here, but I’m going to do my best to avoid putting my money on Nebraska. While I thought the Huskers were overvalued in the preseason (25/1 to win the title was outrageous), I think after a less than stellar start Nebraska may be underrated in this spot. So why am I staying away? Adrian Martinez clearly isn’t healthy (5.2 pass yards per attempt the last two weeks), and whenever I fade Minnesota it tends to be personal (P.J. Fleck blocked me on Twitter). Here’s hoping I can stay disciplined and avoid making a wager on Big Red.
DV: Florida State (+27) at Clemson. This is a crazy stat that I just can’t get over: entering Week 7’s matchup against Clemson, the Seminoles are the biggest conference underdog that they’ve ever been. That’s insane. In fact, my research shows that the only time they’ve been this big of an underdog in any game was on Senior Day at the Swamp against Tim Tebow back in 2009.
AW: Florida State (+27) at Clemson. It’s still somewhat jarring seeing the Seminoles get nearly four touchdowns against Clemson. The SP+ rankings see this one as closer to a 19-point game, so there’s likely value in taking Florida State on the road, but given that the Tigers are coming off of a bye week following their narrow win over North Carolina, there’s a chance they return to the finely-tuned machine we’re used to seeing.
NJ: Oklahoma (-11.5) vs. Texas in Dallas. Iowa was the trendy underdog last week, and I think Texas will fit that description by the time this game kicks off early Saturday. Texas Head Coach Tom Herman is 8-3-1 against the spread as an underdog at UT, and he also went 5-0 with five outright victories as a ‘dog while serving as Houston’s head coach from 2015-16. While I want to back Oklahoma and their prolific offense here in a game with a total in the mid 70s, I’m likely just going to watch it for entertainment.