Last week was, again, not great. The Tuesday show picks went 3-2-1, but once the lines moved, my article picks ended up going 2-5. More evidence that you need to watch our live show on Tuesdays at 6:30pm ET on Tuesday to see our picks. On the season, I have not been terrible for free college football picks, but we’re hoping to pick up more steam now that we’re getting to a point where most teams have actually played. My best college football bets for the week are still dealing with a little bit of guesswork, but I’m confident in what we’ve got lined up here.
Navy Midshipmen vs. Air Force Falcons
Saturday, Oct 3rd (6:00pm ET) at Falcon Stadium
I mentioned guesswork, right? Because that’s exactly what we’ve got with the Air Force Falcons here.
The Falcons’ all-star QB, Donald Hammond III, is not playing this season because he’s listed as “a cadet not in good standing.” and, per reports, none of the 5 returning starters on defense are going to be playing because “football players away on turnbacks will not be able to return this semester.” But… the guys replacing them are mostly upperclassmen, and there is still some returning experience.
Navy looked awful in their first 6 quarters, being outscored by BYU & Tulane to a combined score of 79-3… but the Midshipmen outscored Tulane 27-0 in the 3rd & 4th quarters of their game and secured a victory.
While Navy looked good in the 2nd half against Tulane, I can’t get this stat out of my head; teams that have already played are 3-14-1 ATS at -7.7 ppg going against a team in their first game. While we think it’s a disadvantage that Air Force doesn’t have returning starters, it’s also a disadvantage that Navy has zero film on them and has no idea what to expect, while the Midshipmen have 2 games worth of film out there that Air Force has been able to study for several weeks. Toss in the fact that underdogs have covered 10 of the last 11 times in games between military academies, and I think you can tell where I’m going. I think people are underestimating the Falcons, so I’m taking them +7, and on the moneyline.
AGAINST THE SPREAD
Auburn Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Saturday, Oct 3rd (7:30pm ET) at Sanford Stadium
Everyone is all over Auburn this week. A big 16 point win over a Kentucky team everyone loved coming into the game, nobody knew what to expect with the Tigers losing so much on the offensive and defensive lines, but Auburn’s talent advantage got them the victory.
On the other side, it seems like the entire world saw Georgia go into halftime down 7-5 at Arkansas, and then everyone was even more shaken when Arkansas went up 10-5 in the game with only 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Then Georgia got rolling behind backup QB Stetson Bennett IV, who ended the game with a .524 PPA (Predicted Points Added, which is metric that measures expected points added on an average play).
So ask yourself this question - If Georgia had started Bennett, rolled out 32 points, and then managed only 5 points behind their backup, how different would people feel about Georgia? And ask yourself one more question - Auburn won by 16… but would you believe they’d have been able to do that being outgained by 60 yards, and losing time of possession 36:29 to only 23:31? Auburn won because the Wildcats had 3 turnovers.
While the Tigers have playmakers at the WR position, Kentucky came in with the #31 preseason ranked secondary in the country. Georgia is #3. Georgia has the #4 defensive line in the country, and Auburn running backs averaged only 3.25 yards per rush against Kentucky, who came in with the #35 DL.
If those facts aren’t enough, look at the trends. Georgia coach Kirby Smart is 4-1 SU & ATS (Straight Up & Against the Spread) vs Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers, with the only loss coming at Auburn in 2017, and we know weird things happen inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Bulldogs are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 home games vs Auburn, and are 8-2 SU & ATS vs Auburn in their last 10 meetings. This series has been dominated by Georgia, and while Auburn was able to out-talent Kentucky (46 bluechip players to only 15), Georgia out-talents them by 59 bluechippers to only 46. I like Georgia to roll in this spot and cover any line up to 10.
Oklahoma Sooners vs. Iowa State Cyclones
Saturday, Oct 3rd (7:30pm ET) at Jack Trice Stadium
Oklahoma led 28-7 against Kansas State with only 6:35 left in the 3rd quarter… and then the wheels fell off. Kansas St. hit a ton of explosive plays in the passing game, after securing 4 turnovers from the Sooners, and scored the last 24 points in the game.
But, if you dig into the box score, you’ll see that Oklahoma held the ball longer, had more yards rushing, more yards passing, ran significantly more plays… but the turnovers and the explosive plays allowed absolutely doomed them.
So now we’ve got Oklahoma as a single digit favorite in the big 12 for only the 6th time in the last 20 games, partly because of what happened last week, and partly because Matt Campbell’s Iowa St Cyclones have covered as an underdog against the Sooners every year since he arrived in Ames… although all of those have been double digit spreads.
What has Oklahoma done in games where they’re favored by a TD or less in the Big 12? They’re 7-2-1 ATS in that spot. Iowa State’s defense is not very good this year, including the #48 EPA/Pass (Expected Points Added per Pass) out of only 72 teams. So I fully expect Oklahoma to score here, and I think Oklahoma’s defense will be able to slow down Iowa State’s attack just enough to be able to win by more than a touchdown here. Give me Oklahoma, who is 5-0-1 ATS their last 6 as a single digit road favorite, to cover in Ames.
Best Bet: Oklahoma -7 (-105) with Heritage
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Texas Longhorns
Saturday, Oct 3rd (3:30pm ET) at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium
In the first half last week, TCU looked like an absolute mess, but Gary Patterson decided to roll with Max Duggan at QB in the 2nd half, even though he had missed most of fall camp due to a heart issue and was only medically cleared in the week leading up to the game. TCU outscored Iowa St 27-21 after being down 16-7 at the half.
On the opposite sideline, Texas had a miraculous come-from-behind victory at Texas Tech, in which the Longhorns were down by 15 points with 3 minutes left in the game, and found a way to win. Offense is not the problem with Texas and QB Sam Ehlinger.
What has been a problem for Texas is Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs. TCU is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 against Texas and 3-1 straight up against the Longhorns in their last 4. Toss in the fact that TCU is 7-1 ATS the last 8 games they’ve been a double digit underdog, and you’ve got all the makings of a closer-than-expected game in Austin this weekend. I’ll take all those points with TCU in one of my favorite ncaa football picks against the spread.
Best Bets: TCU +11.5 at -105 with Heritage
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Boston College Eagles
Saturday, Oct 3rd (3:30pm ET) at Alumni Stadium
The hype train just gets bigger and bigger for QB Sam Howell and Coach Mack Brown’s North Carolina Tar Heels. They have not played since a 31-6 beating of Syracuse back on Sept 12. In the meantime, Boston College has notched wins over Duke and Texas St, making easy waste of the Blue Devils, and storming back from behind to beat the Bobcats.
Boston College is 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games as a home underdog, while North Carolina has not been a road favorite this big in an ACC game since 1997 (which they did win and cover… and which was during Mack Brown’s first stint as Tar Heels head coach). North Carolina, while on a 5-0 spread streak dating back to the end of last season, in only 3-3 as a road favorite in their last 6, and went 2-3 ATS on the road last season, Howell & Brown’s first season in Chapel Hill.
The hype has pushed this line too high, as the analytics, and the talent edge, say this line should be closer to 7 or 8 than 14. I’ll take those points as well.
BEST BET: Boston College +14 at -110 with YouWager
Oklahoma Sooners vs. Iowa State Cyclones
Saturday, Oct 3rd (7:30pm ET) at Jack Trice Stadium
I already talked a bit about this matchup, but let me explain to you why I love the over in this game.
In Oklahoma’s last 30 games vs FBS competition, not a single total under 63 has gone under.
Oklahoma’s defense is #54 out of 72 in EPA/Play, while Iowa State’s defense is #47 (out of 72). And the plays that typically lead to overs, explosive plays (a play that goes 10+ yds rushing or 20+ yds passing), both teams are good at creating them, and not good at stopping them.
Iowa St lost to Louisiana because they gave up a 95 yard kickoff return TD, a 75 yard TD pass, and an 83 yard punt return touchdown, and they beat TCU because they had 4 plays that went for 40+ yards, but they only won by 3 because they gave up 6 passing plays of 23+ yds, including 4 that were over 30.
Oklahoma shut out FCS Missouri State, who is in their first year with new coach Bobby Petrino, and got beat last week by Kansas St in part by giving up 4 turnovers, but also in part by giving up 7 plays of 17 yds or more, including 5 that went for 35 yds or more.
The last 3 games between these 2 teams have given us an average total of 72ppg (83 in ‘19, 64 in ‘18, 69 in ‘17), on an average of 132 plays (136, 133, and 128). Both teams have a negative pts per play margin, which means they give up more points per play than they score, which is crazy. I can see this somewhere around a 40-30 final score, which would easily hit the over.
Best Bet: OVER 62.5 at -115 with BetOnline