College Football Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Nov. 29): The Ultimate Guide to Friday’s 4 Biggest Games
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: AJ Epenesa
Friday’s college football slate is a wonderful warmup to Saturday — plenty of games, but not an overwhelming amount.
Surely, you’ll want to bet the biggest ones.
Our staff has covered four games in-depth — Virginia-Virginia Tech, Iowa-Nebraska, Cincinnati-Memphis and Washington-Washington State — and we’ve compiled them all here.
Let’s get to it.
Friday College Football Odds & Picks
Odds as of Friday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.
Virginia Tech at Virginia Odds
- Spread: Virginia Tech -2.5
- Over/Under: 47
- TV: ABC
- Time: Friday, 12 p.m. ET
Virginia Tech at Virginia Line Movement
After opening this spread in the range of Virginia -1, oddsmakers have had plenty of adjustments to make thanks to the response from bettors.
Sixty-eight percent have taken the Hokies, which sent the line all the way up to Tech -3 before a wave of sharp action hit Virginia at the key number to drive it back to -2.5. The 32% of bets landing on the Cavs have now generated 47% of money landing on the spread.
The total hasn’t seen a whole lot of movement, though some of the books that opened on the higher end (around 48.5) have dropped the number a bit to the consensus of 47.5. While bettors are completely split, the money distribution has shown 69% of dollars to be landing on the under. — Danny Donahue
Collin Wilson: Is the Virginia Tech Steam Warranted?
Circa Sports opened this line as a pick ’em, but it has since moved to Virginia Tech -3. Why has the market steamed the Hokies?
First of all, Virginia Tech has absolutely dominated this series, losing just once to Virginia since 1998. That lone win came in 2003 in a 35-21 victory for the Cavaliers in Charlottesville.
The Hokies also happen to be one of the hottest teams in the country. Virginia Tech has covered five games on the spin, including a near-upset of Notre Dame. The Hokies have won their last two ACC games by a combined score of 73-0, thanks to an improved defense and dynamic quarterback play from Hendon Hooker.
Since he was installed as the No. 1 quarterback on Oct. 5, Hooker has 10 touchdowns and no interceptions to go along with four scores on the ground. Hooker passed a significant test against Pitt’s fantastic defense, one that ranks inside the top-10 in defensive havoc and opponent passing success rate.
Hooker will face another good defense on Friday, as the Cavs rank sixth in defensive havoc and passing success rate.
The difference between Pitt and Virginia is that the Wahoos’ offense should be able to move the ball. Offensively, the Cavaliers rank 35th in passing success rate and 45th in rushing success rate.
The Action Network projected spread for this game is Virginia -2, so there is plenty of value in this number. There are plenty of positives for Virginia Tech, but overlook this Virginia team at your own peril. I will be looking to back the Wahoos at +3 or better leading up to kick.
Stuckey: Sell High on Hooker, Va Tech?
To me, this handicap boils down to how much of an upgrade you believe Hendon Hooker is at quarterback for the Hokies. The sophomore has been unbelievable since taking over under center (10 TD, 0 INT) and a clear improvement from the previous quarterback situation.
Before he did get the starting job, I had this line as Virginia -6 in Charlottesville. I made Hooker a 5-point upgrade, so that would adjust this line to Virginia -1. Maybe I’m still underestimating Hooker, but my current numbers also have value on the Hoos. To me, these are now two even teams in all three phases of the game.
One area of concern for Virginia will be its depleted secondary. The Cavs will really miss All-American corner Bryce Hall against an offense that ranks ninth in passing explosiveness.
This game could come down to whether or not the Hokies can break off big plays through the air. I don’t expect Virginia Tech’s lackluster rushing attack to have much success and Bronco Mendenhall’s aggressive defense has still been efficient at defending the pass and getting after the quarterback.
In a game for all of the marbles in the ACC Coastal division, I think you have to snag a little +3 with the more experienced quarterback in matchup of two mirrors. I also will be grabbing a small piece of the Under 47.5 in a game I think both defensive lines can control the line of scrimmage. And with so much on the line, you may see both coaches approach this very conservatively, at least early on. I also love having a great punter in my back pocket when I bet an under and the Hokies certainly have one in Oscar Bradburn.
Iowa vs. Nebraska
- Spread: Nebraska +5.5
- Over/Under: 44.5
- Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
- TV: Big Ten Network
Back in August which would have been the crazier statement — Nebraska will win the Big Ten, or Nebraska will miss a bowl game?
The Cornhuskers haven’t seen much progress under coach Scott Frost in his second year, but a victory over Iowa will give Nebraska a sixth win and bowl invite.
The Huskers opened as among the 10 betting favorites to win the national title. Quarterback Adrian Martinez was a Heisman favorite. They were favored to win the Big Ten West, but fell very short with a 5-6 mark so far.
Iowa meanwhile has been its steady self, going 8-3 behind an average offense and solid defense.
The Hawkeyes have owned this matchup in the last four years, going 4-0 straight-up and 3-1 against the spread. Last year was much closer, though, a 31-28 Iowa win in which Nebraska erased a late two-score lead.
Model Prediction for Iowa-Nebraska
- Spread: Iowa -4
- Total: 53.3
Wilson: Iowa Defense Not Best Match for Nebraska
Adrian Martinez has had a bit of a rebirth over the last few weeks, culminating in a 54-7 victory on Maryland last week.
The key for Nebraska is limiting interceptions and keeping the ball off the carpet, illustrated by a rank of 125th in havoc allowed.
The Iowa defense has been the best in the nation at limiting rush explosiveness, but the Hawkeyes defenders are not getting into the backfield with a Power Success rank of 108th and Stuff Rate of 90th. A bend-don’t-break style.
Iowa’s rank of 116th in tackles for loss means Martinez should have plenty of space to work in the backfield.
Adrian Martinez's reaction is my favorite part of this play. pic.twitter.com/QiXvi8AdT5
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) November 23, 2019
Iowa’s offense will continue to operate at an efficient pace against the Nebraska defense that masks quarterback blitzes while ranking top 25 against pass explosiveness.
What was that, @coach_frost?!
That's quite the picture the Nebraska coach painted. 😂 pic.twitter.com/khbbsTrAKG
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 24, 2019
Our Action Network power ratings make this game Iowa -4 against a healthy and motivated Nebraska team.
Ball protection will be key for the Cornhuskers and an Iowa rank of 80th in defensive havoc may be the biggest key to the game. As an added bonus, the place kicking for Nebraska has finally come together to the delight of Martinez.
Pick: Nebraska +5.5 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Cincinnati vs. Memphis
- Spread: Memphis -11
- Over/Under: 57.5
- TV: ABC
- Time: Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Cincinnati vs. Memphis Line Movement
A popular side has yet to be determined on this point spread, as the double-digit number seems to have public bettors a bit hesitant to take the favorite. Fifty-two percent of bets have landed on Memphis, which opened around -10. The Tigers are now up to -11, however, even while generating just 44% of money.
The total has drawn 57% of bettors accounting for 74% of money to the under, but has yet to move much from its opener. Most books opened at 57.5, and the consensus total still sits at that number. — Danny Donahue
Collin Wilson: Will Cincinnati’s Luck Run Out?
If you listen to the Action Network Podcast, you know I’ve been calling for Cincinnati’s head to be served on a silver platter for a month. The Bearcats have collected recent victories over Temple, South Florida, East Carolina and Tulsa even though they were out-gained in each game.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder, who has dealt with confidence issues per head coach Luke Fickell, has thrown for 62 and 78 yards over his past two games.
Cincinnati does not have to win this game to make the AAC Championship Game, but Memphis can’t afford a loss. A victory for the Tigers would give them home-field advantage in a rematch with these Bearcats next weekend. A Memphis loss, coupled with a Navy win over Houston will send the Midshipmen to Cincinnati for the AAC Championship Game.
This will be a strength-on-strength battle between the Memphis offense and the Cincinnati defense. The Tigers rank 16th in passing success rate and 36th in rushing success rate, but the Bearcats are the 13th-best team in the country at preventing explosive passing plays and rank ninth at finishing drives on defense. I am expecting a grind of a game, as that is the only chance Cincinnati has to win.
The Action Network projected spread is Memphis -9, so a double-digit spread may be a little too high. However, i think the Under is a safer bet.
Collin’s Pick: The Bearcats’ defense ticks a lot of boxes and I don’t think Ridder will be able to move the ball. I’m looking to play the Under at 57.5 or better.
Stuckey: A Fascinating Study in Game Theory
I completely agree with Collin on the Under here.
Memphis struggles at limiting explosive plays, but Cincinnati isn’t the type of team to exploit that weakness. That’s especially true of late since Ridder is nursing an injury to his throwing arm. It looks like he will go in this game but it’s certainly affecting his effectiveness when he drops back to pass.
The Bearcats can run the ball a little but they lack explosiveness and will go up against a solid Memphis defense. Also, don’t sleep on the fact that Cincinnati ranks dead last in FBS in penalty yards per game at 77.45. Their offensive line is constantly putting them behind the sticks which can only help Memphis an the under.
Cincinnati does a terrific job of limiting explosive plays, which is a critical part of the Memphis offensive attack. The Bearcats should also dominate the line of scrimmage when Memphis has the ball.
Both of these teams rank inside the top-30 in net punting yards, so expect both punters to flip the field. That obviously helps the under.
This is a fascinating game theory matchup. Memphis needs to win to clinch a spot in the AAC Championship. If the Tigers win, they will host these same Bearcats. So, how much does Cincinnati want to show here? Does Luke Fickell want to rest anybody, especially those nursing injuries?
I’m thinking no at the start, especially since Cincinnati still has bigger bowl aspirations but this could become a factor late in the game if Memphis is in control in the second half. You may see a freshman come in under center and both teams go super conservative to not show anything for the following week when they would meet again.
Washington State vs. Washington
- Odds: Washington -8
- Total: 63
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- TV: FOX
- Location: Seattle, Wash.
There’s not much night football on Friday, so if you want to get into the action in the late afternoon, the Apple Cup might be your best bet.
Scuffling Washington, which is 6-5 but still No. 20 in our power ratings, hosts a Washington State team that its owned in recent years, even when the Cougars were ranked higher.
Can the Huskies finish 2019 on a high note, or will Washington State’s offense be too much to overcome? Let’s dive in.
Apple Cup Line Movement
The majority of bettors are actually taking the points with Washington State (57%), but most of the money has come in on Washington (75%). That’s moved the line from an opener of -6.5 to -8.
The total has also dropped a point since open, from 64 to 63, despite the bets being split.
Time to Buy Low on Washington Offense?
The last month for Washington has been…ugly.
Losses to Utah and Colorado, and a 19-7 win over Oregon State. That’s typically not how you want to finish the season.
On offense, it’s been disastrous. The Huskies have been held under 5.2 yards per play in each of those three games.
Here’s their three-game rolling average for yards per play.
I do think the Washington offense can bounce back against Washington State, which has been dreadful against the run this season and in this rivalry.
This season, the Cougars defensive line ranks 128th of 130 teams in Football Outsiders’ Line Yards, and ranks outside the top 110 in both defensive rushing success rate and rushing explosiveness.
The last two seasons in particular, Washington has gone run heavy in the Apple Cup and dominated.
Petersen vs. Leach
Chris Petersen has owned Mike Leach. It’s quite hard to believe.
Washington is 5-0 straight-up and against the spread against Washington State since Petersen arrived in 2014. The Huskies have won by an average score of 38-14.
Last year, Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake summed it up well by saying:
“They do the same thing year in and year out…so it makes it really easy to game-plan.”
Maybe Wazzu changes it up a little this year, but I’m not counting on it.
Against Washington State’s Air Raid, Washington plays with extra defensive backs, rarely blitzes and trusts its defense to tackle in the open field. And it’s worked.
This is not the Washington defense of the last few seasons that’s put almost its entire secondary in the NFL, but it’s still a top 30 unit that’s allowing just 6.7 yards per pass attempt.
Against pass-heavy teams this season, the Huskies have only had one really rough performance:
- Hawaii: 20 points, 5.4 yards per attempt
- BYU: 19 points, 6.6 YPA
- USC: 14 points, 5.1 YPA
- Stanford: 23 points, 9.5 YPA
- Oregon State: 7 points, 3.1 YPA
Petersen’s prowess in stopping the Air Raid, plus Washington’s offensive struggles in November, have me on the under.
The Pick: Under 63 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]