College Football Betting Picks: Saturday Bets for Notre Dame vs. Duke, Kansas vs. Coastal Carolina & More (Sept. 12)

College Football Betting Picks: Saturday Bets for Notre Dame vs. Duke, Kansas vs. Coastal Carolina & More (Sept. 12) article feature image
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Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephon Robinson Jr. (5) and Kameron Burton (11).

  • Looking for last-minute college football bets for Saturday? Our staff has you covered.
  • Below, you'll find comprehensive betting breakdowns from 7 members of our college football team, plus links to many of our most actionable articles to help you bet the weekend.

To open this audaciously long Week 2 college football betting guide, I’ll defer to Collin Wilson, who summed up how we all felt by the end of last weekend in his recently published article, “My 5 Favorite Bets for College Football Week 2,” which is linked below:

“The unknowns continue to mount in the world of college football, resulting in instability in the gambling market. Each game description should start with a warning, “pending a non-COVID-19 disruption”. Week 2 was no different with the cancellation of Louisiana Tech vs. Baylor and Tulsa vs. Oklahoma State due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Even games that are being played have become influenced by the current pandemic. Navy was flattened against BYU because of precautions during training camp that limited contact.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley made a statement that any COVID-19-related news from Norman would not be made public to maintain a competitive advantage. This added yet another layer of complexity to handicapping college football and must be factored into projections for the remainder of the season.”

That’s the difficult part of betting college football this season, but not to worry: There’s an upside. Despite losing five games to cancellation or postponement, we still have a 19-game slate to bet on Saturday — and we’re not stuck betting the Sun Belt! (Though we probably will anyway.)

Our college football staff has you covered with picks from the following games that have “passed the scheduling test” for Week 2:

Saturday CFB Bets

All odds below are as of Friday at 11:00 a.m. ET.


BJ Cunningham: Louisiana (+12.5) at Iowa State

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 12:00 p.m. ET

Iowa State’s offense is centered around one man: Brock Purdy. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in college football and has an experienced group of running backs and tight ends returning this season. However, the Cyclones struggled to run the ball last year, ranking 83rd in rushing success, 118th in rushing explosiveness, and 69th in power success.

Purdy led the Big 12 in passing last season at 306.5 yards per game, but the Cyclones passing game failed to generate many big plays, as Iowa State ranked 99th in the country in passing explosiveness. The Cyclones will have the benefit from the return of their entire group of tight ends who combined to catch 75 passes for 971 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019.

Louisiana was 56th in defensive passing success and 20th in defensive passing explosiveness last season and returns all of its starters in the secondary. The matchup between Purdy and the Ragin’ Cajuns secondary will be a fascinating one to watch on Saturday.

Louisiana was one of the best offenses in college football last year, ranking inside the top 10 in a number of categories. The Ragin’ Cajuns ranked seventh in rushing success and fourth in passing success, and Louisiana brings back 65% of their offensive production entering 2020.

Senior Levi Lewis lit up the Sun Belt, throwing 26 touchdowns compared to only 4 INTs and boasting an 8.06 yards per attempt average. The Ragin’ Cajuns also get back their two senior star running backs Trey Rages and Elijah Mitchell, who ran the ball at a ridiculous 6.0 yards per attempt last season. They’ll have the benefit of running behind five seniors on the offensive line, each of whom has at least one full season under his belt.

Louisiana is one of the best Group of Five teams in the country and is a Live dog in this game. I have them projected at +4.78 in Ames, so +12.5 points is way too much for a team of their caliber.

[Bet Iowa State vs. Louisiana now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]


Mike Calabrese: Louisiana (+12.5) at Iowa State

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 12:00 p.m. ET

Iowa State enters its season opener ranked in the preseason AP top-25 poll for just the second time since 1978. For virtually every other Power Five team with conference title aspirations this season, entering the season with a target on your back is old hat.

Will these new expectations lead to a “tight” performance from the Cyclones, or will Iowa State blow out its Sun Belt opponent the way a true College Football Playoff contender would?

I’m more interested in the cold hard facts when it comes to Iowa State rather than the aspirational image of what they may become. Last season, Iowa State finished 7-6 SU and 5-7-1 ATS. The Cyclones were even worse as a favorite, posting a 3-6-1 ATS record.

Defensively, they were mostly mediocre across the board and were unable to create turnovers. This led to a tenth place finish in the Big XII in turnover margin.

Their pass defense even made Kansas look like world-beaters last November (328 passing yards, three touchdowns). A competent offense can have great success against Jon Heacock’s defense and that’s what we have here in Louisiana.

Billy Napier’s squad was fantastic when it had the ball last season (37.9 ppg, 494 ypg) and returns three All-Sun Belt performers in the backfield. Pro Football Focus rated Elijah Mitchell as the SBC’s best runner and the 11th-best ball-carrier in all of FBS football. Trey Ragas, a battering ram of a back, is a fantastic second option with 31 career touchdowns.

And lastly, Levi Lewis, a smooth lefty, has the seventh-best QB rating among all returning FBS quarterbacks. Toss in an offensive line that returns a ton of experience and a fantastic pass blocking resume, and you have a live dog in this matchup.

One final note on why this is my favorite play of the weekend: run defense. Breece Hall is a tremendous talent, but he’ll be running into one of the best Group of Five front-sevens all afternoon. The Cyclones only return one starter along their offensive line and will struggle to open running lanes.

Louisiana held opponents to under 20 points per game last season, and thanks to eligibility waivers and a notable four-star transfer at defensive tackle (Tayland Humphrey) I’m counting on them being even better on Saturday.

[Bet Iowa State vs. Louisiana now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

 


Steve Petrella: North Carolina (-23) vs. Syracuse

  • Odds available at FanDuel [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 12:00 p.m. ET

The Heels opened under three touchdowns earlier this week.

I’ve tried to find ways to tip toe around the fact that the best number in this game is already gone and find another way to back UNC or the fact that there could be an offensive outburst. But we’ll keep it simple and back the Heels, who have loads of continuity after last season and maybe the best quarterback in the conference not named Trevor Lawrence.

This offense should be awesome, and while the market is accounting for that continuity, I don’t know if it’s captured just how far Syracuse has to go to get back on track. Syracuse will be breaking in a brand new 3-3-5 defense that no one on the staff really knows outside new defensive coordinator Danny White. The Orange had just three spring practices to get it installed.

I think there could be some serious growing pains here for Dino Babers and the Orange. ‘Cuse is trending in the wrong direction as a program; UNC is quite the opposite.

I’m going to play a quarter-unit each on UNC -23, -25.5 (+108), -26.5 (+112) and -27.5 (+124) — those are available at PointsBet. Syracuse has almost no floor right now, and both teams can play with serious pace, so the range of outcomes is wider than usual.

[Bet North Carolina vs. Syracuse now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]


Stuckey: North Carolina (-23) vs. Syracuse

  • Odds available at PointsBet [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 12:00 p.m. ET

Syracuse is at the very top of my fade list to start the year.

Let’s start with the offense. Not only does Syracuse have a new offensive coordinator, the roster has plenty of question marks.

Their top two backs opted out of the season, leaving a redshirt freshman to take over the starting role. The running back has a lot of responsibility in Babers’ no-huddle offense to call out adjustments and signals from the sidelines, so losing Moe Neal and the projected top two on the depth chart will certainly sting.

Last year, the Syracuse offensive line was nothing short of a disaster, and I don’t see that changing this year. The Orange lost critical time in the spring and summer to solve some of their issues and were hurt by eligibility decisions and injuries at both starting guard spots. As a result, they recently named Chris Elmore as the starting left guard. Elmore is a former fullback/tight end who hasn’t played offensive line since middle school.

Syracuse also only returns one established receiver from last year. This offense could be an utter mess early on in the season, and you know they will go fast. That, in turn, means that the defense could wear down easily, and the explosive UNC offense can get plenty of opportunities to put points up on the board.

On the other side of the ball, Syracuse also has a new defensive coordinator in Tony White, who will be transitioning the defense to a 3-3-5. That’s no easy task with a lack of preparation leading up the season opener. The secondary has some talent, but the linebackers are completely raw after Tyrell Richards opted out.

UNC boasts one of the most explosive passing attacks in the country with Sam Howell and two returning 1,000-yard receivers. The Tar Heels’ two returning running backs may also be able to get chunks at will in the running game against a dreadful Syracuse rush defense.

I have high hopes for UNC this year. Sam Howell thrived as a freshman in a new system, and this is Year 2 for both coordinators. The major weakness on this team is along the defensive line. Teams should be able to get a good push against the Tar Heels, but that’s not something Syracuse can exploit in my opinion.

With all of the opt outs, coaching changes and new schemes, Syracuse could really struggle early in the season, and UNC is primed to take full advantage.

[Bet North Carolina vs. Syracuse now at PointsBet and get $250 FREE.]

Link your PointsBet and Action accounts so your North Carolina vs. Syracuse bets automatically sync over to the app.


Collin Wilson: Notre Dame vs. Duke Under 54.5

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

Although David Cutcliffe and Brian Kelly are two of the longest-tenured coaches in the FBS, the theme of this game will be ‘new.’

Notre Dame’s Tommy Rees was promoted from interim offensive coordinator to the full-time role after a dominating victory over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl. Reese’s one-game sample as the Fighting Irish’s interim offensive play-caller led to fewer plays and a heavier dose of rush attempts than Notre Dame’s 2019 averages under Reese’s predecessor, Chip Long.

Now, he will be responsible for orchestrating a 2020 game plan that may lean more heavily on the running game. Quarterback Ian Book will have a fresh set of receiving targets this season following the departures of Chase Claypool, Cole Kmet and Chris Finke via graduation or the NFL Draft. Those three weapons accounted for 242 of Ian Book’s 2019 passing targets and 23 receiving touchdowns.

On the opposing sideline, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe will call offensive plays for the first time since 2007. The Blue Devils will look to re-establish the run with a new offensive line coach after passing on 54% of their plays out of 11 personnel in 2019.

Duke must also replace redshirt senior quarterback and 2019 team captain Quentin Harris, who started all 12 games last season. Thankfully for the Blue Devils, they didn’t have to search very far to find Harris’ replacement.

Quarterback Chase Brice transferred from Clemson in February, promptly beating out Gunnar Holmberg and Chris Katrenick for Week 1 starting duties. You may remember Rice for saving the Clemson Tigers’ season in 2018.

In addition to Brice, Duke also welcomes three offensive linemen, a few defensive starters, a new kicker and a new punter via the transfer portal.
The resulting collection of returning Blue Devils and miscellaneous transfers must now contend against an Irish defense that ranked 28th in success rate in 2019.

Given the sheer magnitude of personnel turnover for both teams, plus the installation of new offensive play-callers and questions at the skill positions, I expect some growing pains for both offenses. As a result, my preferred position is on the under for this matchup.

[Bet Notre Dame vs. Duke now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]


Pete Ruden: Coastal Carolina (+7) at Kansas

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 10:00 p.m. ET

Question: What do you get when you mix a solid rushing attack against one of the worst run defenses in college football?

Answer: An impressive performance from Coastal Carolina against Kansas.

The Chanticleers averaged just under 200 yards per game on the ground last season, ranking 35th in the country. Meanwhile, Kansas finished the season as the seventh-worst rushing defense in the FBS, giving up 225.7 yards per game. Its stuff rate fell right in line, ranking 105th. It’s almost as if the Jayhawks welcomed teams to walk through holes in the line.

At least that was the case when the two teams battled in Lawrence last season.

Coastal Carolina pounded the ball for 172 yards in its 12-7 win, and running back C.J. Marable racked up 148 to go along with a touchdown.

There’s a strong possibility that happens again. Marable returns behind four Chanticleer offensive linemen from last season. Throw in the fact that Kansas lost a good chunk of its defensive line — of the five defensive linemen who recorded at least 15 tackles, only two return — and it’s clear the Jayhawks are not in a good place.

Luckily for Kansas, it will have one of its best defensive players in linebacker Dru Prox in the starting lineup again following a shoulder injury that ended his 2019 season after just four games.

But even Prox couldn’t stop the Chanticleers. Kansas had him on the field all game, and he posted a career-high with 11 tackles. Still, Marable and the Chanticleer offense had its way.

If there’s one way for the Jayhawks to fight through the gashing it will likely endure on the ground, it’s competing through the air on offense.

Kansas isn’t an elite passing team by any means, averaging 229.1 yards per game last season. But Coastal Carolina doesn’t defend the pass well, either.

The Chanticleers were a middle-of-the-pack team when it came to defending the pass, allowing 223.3 yards per game. That defense also gave up 25 passing touchdowns on the season, which ranked 103rd in the nation.

Then again, Carter Stanley is gone. The Jayhawks will be breaking in a new quarterback while the Chanticleers have their ground attack established.

That makes it significantly more likely that Coastal Carolina will find its groove on the ground before Kansas can attack it through the air.

With the numbers Coastal Carolina has produced running the ball, it’s shocking that it enters game day as a seven-point underdog — especially when it’s facing a defense as bad as Kansas.

I think we’re in for a game like we saw last year. The Chanticleers shouldn’t have a problem covering, and I’ll keep an eye on the Coastal Carolina moneyline heading into Saturday night.

[Bet Kansas vs. Coastal Carolina now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]


Dillon Essma: Kansas vs. Coastal Carolina Over 56

  • Odds available at PointsBet [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 10:00 p.m. ET

The Kansas Jayhawks face off against Coastal Carolina in Lawrence this Saturday. Last year’s game was a slog, but I expect this game to be higher scoring. It’s a revenge spot for Kansas, and both of these defenses are pretty weak.

The Jayhawks generated 1.04 in rushing explosiveness last season, which was above average in the Big 12. On the flip side, Coastal gave up 1.08 in rushing explosiveness, which isn’t what you want against Pooka Williams.

The Jayhawks will be equally vulnerable as they attempt to slow down Marable and the Chanticleers. Kansas generated a stuff rate of 0.17, which ranked last in the Big 12 last season. They also ranked in the bottom third in both run and pass explosiveness allowed on defense last season.

I really do expect some points in this one, as both teams have some sloppy tackling to start the year. The defenses are the weak spots. So instead of taking a side on a line that has moved 3.5 points, I am betting the over 56.5.

[Bet Kansas vs. Coastal Carolina now at PointsBet and get $250 FREE.]

Link your PointsBet and Action accounts so your Kansas vs. Coastal Carolina bets automatically sync over to the app.

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