Saturday College Football Picks & Predictions: 4 Best Bets for Early Games, Including MTSU vs. Va. Tech, Ohio State vs. Oregon
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team.
- Betting college football on Saturday? Of course you are. Our staff breaks down their four favorite bets from the early slate.
- They're targeting Ohio State vs. Oregon, Middle Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech, and two other early games.
- Get all their best college football bets below.
While the Week 2 matchups may not hold the same weight as the contests we saw seven days ago, there are still plenty of opportunities to make some cash.
Our college football staff is here to get you ready as they break down the early slate featuring some of the top duels of the weekend in Ohio State vs. Oregon, Tulsa vs. Oklahoma State, Middle Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech, and Toledo vs. Notre Dame.
Check out all four picks below, and use the table to easily navigate to the most intriguing prediction.
If you’re looking for our afternoon and evening bets as well, check out our writers’ favorite wagers for each window of games.
Check out our Staff's Best Bets for All 3 Saturday Kickoff Windows:
Saturday College Football Best Bets for Week 2
Picks for Today's Early Afternoon Kickoffs
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff's best bets for Saturday's Week 2 slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific pick discussed in this article.
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Photos via Getty Images.
No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 3 Ohio State
I don't know about you, but I'm not fully functioning in my day until I get my morning Red Bull and some food in me.
Traveling east for their matchup against Ohio State, this will be a 9 a.m. local time game for the Oregon Ducks.
They better be awake and alert because they have a buzzsaw of an Ohio State team coming at them.
Last week's matchup against Fresno State showed us that the Fresno offense could move the ball with ease against the Oregon defense. They now go against a step up in talent and skill.
Worse yet, the Ducks saw their best player and potential top-three NFL Draft pick, Kayvon Thibodeaux, go down with an injury — a game-changer for sure.
They will now need to find success at the defensive end position as Ohio State comes with an explosive ground attack.
At first, I leaned toward the under as my best bet, but I just don't trust this Oregon defense to do its part to limit Ohio State’s explosive offense. Ohio State is going to come out scorching hot, as it wants to make a statement in the Game of the Week.
With Ohio State’s defense banged up, especially in the secondary, this could create more opportunities for the offense to be out on the field. More time for Stroud and Co. to light up the scoreboard.
With players like Miyan Williams, TreVeyon Henderson, and Chris Olave, Ohio State can put up points in a flash.
That’s why I will take their team total over, as I expect more from the offense taking advantage of the beat-up Oregon defense.
Pick: Ohio State Team Total Over 37
Tulsa vs. Oklahoma State
After losing its home opener to UC Davis, Tulsa should come out with its hair on fire for a road showdown against in-state big brother.
It’s worth noting that Tulsa had nine players suspended last week, including four starters, all of whom will return on Saturday. It also committed a barrage of penalties and turnovers.
Oklahoma State, which could also come out a little flat for this noon kick, certainly has issues of its own.
Last week, the Pokes barely held on to beat FCS Missouri State, 23-16, in a game Missouri State won the first down battle, 23-16.
Yes, quarterback Spencer Sanders didn’t play due to COVID-19 protocols, but the offensive line really struggled. They ran the ball 28 times for only 54 yards — an average of less than two yards per carry.
This offense, which lost a lot of production in the offseason, has problems. Yes, Sanders is expected to return this week, but who knows how sharp he will look? And he won’t solve the offensive line issues.
On the other side of the ball, the Oklahoma State defense is supposed to shoulder the load this season.
The Cowboys did lose a few key pieces but still project as a very solid defense. That said, they lost star defensive end Trace Ford for the season to an injury last week and won’t have star safety Tre Sterling for the first half this week due to a targeting suspension.
These teams actually met last year in Tulsa in a game Okie State won, 16-7, although the Golden Hurricane actually led 7-3 in the fourth quarter.
Tulsa has the defense to keep Okie State in check and keep this close, especially early on.
Pick: Tulsa 1H +7
Middle Tennessee vs. No. 19 Virginia Tech
2 p.m. ET
ACCNx / ESPN+
No. 19 Virginia Tech (1-0) hosts Middle Tennessee State (1-0) after taking down No. 10 North Carolina 17-10 last week.
Middle Tennessee State comes to Blacksburg after blowing out FCS opponent Monmouth, 50-15.
Virginia Tech will look to keep its positive momentum rolling against a Middle Tennessee State team that allowed 35.4 points and 446 yards per game last season.
The Hokies looked impressive in their first outing, as quarterback Braxton Burmeister led the offense. The former Oregon Duck is now 4-1 as a starter for VT and looks settled and confident in his new role.
The Virginia Tech defense was tough, giving up only 10 points, but a lot of that can be attributed to a plethora of turnovers by North Carolina. Expect Virginia Tech to open the throttle this week as it uses this game as a tune-up before heading to Morgantown next week to face West Virginia.
The Blue Raiders impressed offensively last week, throwing for 243 yards and three touchdowns while utilizing a two-quarterback system.
Their rushing attack was stymied by the FCS opponent, averaging only 2.82 yards per carry on 34 attempts.
The defense will be tested early and often as it sees not only its first FBS opponent, but a Power Five one at that.
The offensive workload will fall on the aerial attack, as the Virginia Tech defense will have no problem stuffing the Middle Tennessee run game.
Last year, Virginia Tech averaged 31.1 points per game. For reference, Virginia Tech lost to North Carolina last season, 56-45. Last weekend’s matchup was a hard-fought anomaly from the scoring department due to turnovers and first week synchronization issues for both teams.
I expect the Tech offense to revert to the mean this weekend with a much higher point total. Virginia Tech will open up the playbook (read: lots of passing) and force Middle Tennessee to do the same by shutting down its run game.
I don’t see a play on the spread in this one, as my model has VT as 18.5-point favorites. I do like the over, though, as I am projecting 61.5 total points to be scored.
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente is an offense guy, and he knows that if the Hokies want to compete for the ACC title this season, they will have to score.
This is a perfect tune-up game to see what the offense is really capable of.
Pick: Over 54. I recommend 2 units.
Toledo vs. No. 8 Notre Dame
2:30 p.m. ET
This isn’t the same Notre Dame team we saw in 2020.
The Fighting Irish tied for last in adjusted offensive TARP rating, returning only three starters. They have only one returning offensive lineman after three were picked on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Defensively, they replaced six starters, including the Butkus Award winner in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
Quarterback Jack Coan was solid in his Notre Dame debut against Florida State. He completed 26-of-35 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns.
But Coan was forced to carry the load for the offense, as it was unable to get anything going on the ground. The Irish managed just 1.9 yards per carry on their 35 attempts.
On the other side of the ball, Florida State rushed for 5.5 yards per carry and 264 yards behind their subpar offensive line. The Irish failed to control the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball, which is a major concern.
Toledo looked great in its opener against Norfolk State, winning 49-10. It averaged 13.1 yards per pass attempt and 5.3 yards per carry. The defense allowed just 272 total yards of offense and was strong against the run, allowing 3.5 yards per carry on 42 attempts.
Notre Dame is a different animal than Norfolk State, but Toledo returns every starter from last year’s team, except for quarterback Eli Peters. The Rockets are one of the top teams in the MAC and lost only two games last season — each by three points.
Toledo running back Bryant Koback has amassed 2,625 yards and 30 touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry in his 2.5 seasons. He’s a bruising runner who should find success against a Notre Dame defensive front that looked vulnerable in Week 1.
The 17-point spread is giving too much respect to a Notre Dame team that is still working on finding its identity with so many new pieces. Toledo will do enough to keep this game inside the number.