Saturday College Football Odds & Picks: How We’re Betting Alabama vs. Georgia, South Carolina vs. Auburn, More (Oct. 17)

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Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Najee Harris.

  • Looking for some last-minute college football bets for this Saturday? You're definitely in the right place.
  • Our staff has you covered with 7 best bets to help you build a stacked Saturday betting card.
  • Below, you'll find full breakdowns for each of our favorite betting positions for Week 7.

We’ve made it.

This is the last weekend with only three Power Five conferences taking the field, as the Big Ten will join the active college football world in seven days.

The Week 7 college football slate may not be as jam-packed as it was last week, but it still offers plenty of betting value and features a potential College Football Playoff elimination game.

Our Collin Wilson said it best as he unveiled his Week 7 betting card:

“Week 7 may be light on overall star power, but there could be surprises up and down the slate as fans pack stadiums and COVID-19 continues to hamper the sport.”

No one knows what to expect week in and week out. That’s especially true in 2020. But that uncertainty is what makes the sport special.

With another wild week in store, our staff breaks down their favorite bets across six games on this week’s slate.


Saturday College Football Best Bets for Week 7:

Check our top Saturday picks below, each of which comes from one of the following games:

Editors Note: The Southern Miss at UTEP game has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Golden Eagles program. The betting recommendation for that game has been moved to the bottom of this article but remains intact to serve your long-term betting interests.

POSTPONED | Southern Miss at UTEP


All odds have been updated as of Friday afternoon.


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James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Hugh Freeze.

BJ Cunningham: Liberty -3 (-110) at Syracuse

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

Liberty’s offense is clicking on all cylinders, especially on the ground. The Flames rank 13th in Rushing Success, carrying the ball for 5.2 yards per attempt through their first four games. They are led by senior running back Joshua Mack, who is already averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

Auburn transfer Malik Willis has been very efficient under center for the Flames, throwing the ball for 7.4 yards per attempt and rushing for 7.2 yards per carry and four touchdowns. Liberty should have no trouble running the ball against Syracuse’s defense that has struggled to stop the run, ranking 45th in Defensive Rushing Success and allowing 4.8 yards per carry.

The Orange rank in the bottom half of football in Defensive Passing Success and Rushing Success. The defensive line and linebacking corps were problems for the Orange heading into the season, but their real strength was supposed to be in the secondary.

Now, Syracuse has even bigger problems, as its best defensive back — Andre Cisco — is out for the season. In addition to that, three other defensive backs are questionable for Saturday’s contest.

With all of the injury issues that have hit the best defensive unit, I don’t see how the Orange are going to shut down Liberty’s red-hot offense.

On the other side of the ball, Syracuse is the worst offense in college football.

The Orange are dead last in both Rushing and Passing Success. Now, it has a ton of injuries to deal with as well. Quarterback Tommy DeVito is out for the year, which means Rex Culpepper has been thrust into the starting role.

However, it really doesn’t matter who plays under center because Syracuse’s offensive line has had all sorts of issues. The Orange have allowed 17 sacks in their first four games and showed no signs of continuity in pass protection or run blocking. To make things worse, two starters are questionable for the game. Syracuse has struggled to run the ball, gaining a measly 2.3 yards per attempt. Without stable offensive line play, it’s not going to get better any time soon. 

I have the Flames projected at -8.30 favorites, so I love them at -3 in this spot on the road against a depleted Syracuse team. 

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Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Omarion Dollison, Mac Harris, and TJ Robinson.

Mike Calabrese: South Florida at Temple over 53.5 (-110)

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

Last week, I played East Carolina plus the points against USF because I considered the Bulls’ defense to be a liability. Somehow, my extremely low expectations weren’t low enough. The Bulls surrendered 44 points to the previously winless Pirates and forced zero turnovers. Even casual observers could have written off USF’s performance against Notre Dame (52-0) as a pure talent mismatch, but after ECU ran and passed for over 200 yards each, it may be time to consider the possibility that USF is just flat-out bad on defense. 

Temple, meanwhile, showed some spark on offense in its long-awaited season opener against Navy. The Owls punched in three scores on the ground and managed over 400 total yards and 29 points against a Navy team hellbent on playing keep-away. Despite this strange season creating a multitude of one-off circumstances, I still believe in the Week 1 to Week 2 jump that most offenses experience. Senior passer Anthony Russo started off last season hot — racking up 994 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in his first three games — and I expect him to build off his solid start here in 2020. But it won’t need to be all Russo for this game to turn into a track meet. Sophomore Re’Mahn Davis has now scored a rushing touchdown in four consecutive games dating back to last season. And facing off against a USF run defense currently allowing 220 yards per game on the ground must be an enticing proposition to Davis.  

I would play this all the way up to 59.5 because Temple is no great shakes on defense either. I see USF chipping in at least three touchdowns in a game that I predict will be played in the mid-to-upper 60s. 

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Les Miles and the Kansas sideline.

Ace DeCardano: Kansas team total under 14.5 at West Virginia

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

The Jayhawks are going to have a tough time putting up three scores Saturday in Morgantown. They bring the third-worst offense in FBS in terms of yards per play (3.9), and things don’t get any easier against a West Virginia defense that ranks in the top 20 in FBS in total defense (12), rush defense (20), scoring defense (20), and red-zone defense (5). Kansas is also fourth-worst in FBS in sack percentage allowed (14.02%). I wonder if the Jayhawks will more often be going backward or forward when Miles Kendrick (named the starter on Tuesday) drops back to pass.

With a team total this low, we often fear garbage-time points. However, the West Virginia offense hasn’t shown the ability to cause the game to get out of hand too early. Coming off a 2019 season in which WVU ranked 110th in yards per play and 111th in scoring offense, it has yet to get things going this season. The Mountaineers have only managed an anemic 4.2 yards per play this season.

This means Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Darius Stills, and Company will have to bring it for the better part of the game. Kansas is going to have a tough time gaining first downs, let alone touchdowns. 

You can find the 14.5 Kansas team total now at PointsBet. I would make this play down to 14.

[Bet the Kansas team total under now at PointsBet risk-free up to $250]


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Mike Comer/Getty Images). Pictured: South Carolina Gamecocks Football Team.

Stuckey: South Carolina +3 (-115) vs. Auburn

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

I’ve significantly downgraded Auburn based on what I’ve seen so far this season. The Tigers, who were absolutely dominated by Georgia, were extremely fortunate in both of their wins against Kentucky and Arkansas. I mean — they basically did lose the Arkansas game if not for a completely botched call by the officials. This team could easily be 0-3 and the perception would be much different around Gus Malzahn’s bunch.

Here are some of my primary concerns based on the Tigers’ play so far:

  1. The offensive line play has been very poor for a unit that had to be completely rebuilt. Two metrics that sick out are Line Yards and Passing Downs Sack Rate: The Tigers offensive line ranks outside the top 50 in both. They aren’t getting a push up front for the running game and they aren’t protecting Bo Nix in passing situations. That’s a bad combination.
  2. Speaking of Bo Nix, he just hasn’t taken that sophomore leap I expected to see. It could still happen, but some of the issues from last year are still there.
  3. The defensive line production has dropped off a clip. That shouldn’t be too surprising a year after Auburn had one of the most dominant defensive fronts in FBS. Three members of that group are now playing in the NFL.
  4. Auburn also lost a ton in the secondary, and the results so far have been ugly. This very raw group ranks 65th out of 76 active teams in passing success rate.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on Auburn, but I see major issues at every level on both sides of the ball. South Carolina should be fully healthy on defense this week and can control the line of scrimmage throughout. Collin Hill should do enough in the passing game for the Gamecocks to pull out this win.

I like South Carolina at +2 or better but obviously make sure you shop around for that important +3.

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Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images. Pictured: Dyami Brown and Javonte Williams.

Darin Gardner: North Carolina at Florida State over 63.5 (-110)

  • Odds available at BetMGM [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

I project this total at 67.4, so I jumped on the opener of 61 and still like it at the current number. North Carolina’s offense has picked up where it left off after 2019 and ranks third in both Expected Points Added per play and Success Rate.

The Tar Heels are also tied with Alabama for fifth in the nation in 20-plus yard plays per game at 7.3. When the offense gets into the opponents’ territory, it’s also efficient in finishing drives, as it ranks 15th in points per trip inside the 40-yard line.

The Tar Heel offense is coming off a game against Virginia Tech in which it averaged an incredible 66% Success Rate and will be facing a Florida State defense that has really struggled in 2020. The Seminoles rank 72nd in success rate allowed on that side of the ball and have allowed more than 40 points in two of its three games against ACC opponents this season. North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell should have a clean jersey at the end of this game, as he’s facing a defensive line that ranks 71st in Sack Rate.

On the other side, Florida State’s offense will look different moving forward with Jordan Travis taking over for James Blackman at quarterback. Blackman struggled mightily, averaging 4.3 adjusted yards per attempt. Although Travis has a small sample size, he has posted 8.5 adjusted yards per attempt in his time on the field. Travis is a great runner, which can help mitigate the team’s offensive line struggles. Florida State also ranks 19th in plays per game, which should help us get to this total in what figures to be a negative game script for the Seminoles. 

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Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Eric Stokes.

Steve Petrella: Alabama -3.5 vs. Georgia

  • Odds available at FanDuel [Bet Now]
  • Kickoff Time: 8 p.m. ET

Elite offense over elite defense. That’s the old adage, right? I bet Alabama before Saban got COVID-19, and I’ll stick to my guns.

Alabama’s defense got roasted by Ole Miss last week. No doubting that. But I’m mostly willing to throw out that result. Georgia’s offense just can’t test Bama in the same way and doesn’t have elite arm talent under center. The Dawgs have been slightly more creative this season, but not much.

A lot has been made about Saban dominating his assistants (21-0 straight-up), but I think it has more to do with the offenses those assistants have trotted out there — often pro-style without a dynamic quarterback. Not the coaching itself. Kiffin did challenge him in a lot of ways other previous assistants haven’t.

Former walk-on QB Stetson Bennett and the Dawgs fit that bill and are living on borrowed time. Bennett’s average depth of target is toward the top of the SEC (https://secstatcat.com/sec/passer-stats), which is a good sign, but he’s done most of his damage over the middle and can’t test Bama’s corners on the outside the way Matt Corral did.

This tweet tells you the whole story. Bennett’s been pretty fortunate.

OK, now the real show. Alabama’s offense vs. Georgia’s defense — two of the top units in the nation.

I’m almost always going to take the elite offense in situations like this, and Alabama takes it a step further. Jaylen Waddle is uncoverable. DeVonta Smith was somehow relegated to an afterthought before exploding for 13-164-1 against Ole Miss. John Metchie has the highest average depth of target in the SEC and routinely roasts anyone trying to take away the other two. 

No Saban makes me nervous, but it’s not Bill Belichick on the other sideline. Kirby Smart falters in-game all the time.

Offense over defense here. There’s a 3.5 at FanDuel, and I’ll lay -4 as well.

[Bet Alabama at FanDuel completely risk-free up to $1,000]


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Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Scotty Walden and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

(POSTPONED) Matt Wispe: Southern Miss at UTEP under 55

I took the under in the UTEP-Louisiana Tech matchup last weekend, and my analysis for this matchup is consistent with that article. UTEP continues to be one of the worst offenses in all of college football. It ranks in the bottom 10 for Offensive SP+ and has a slow-paced offense that leans on the run. And for a team that leans on the run, it’s bad at it. It owns a Stuff Rate over 25% and a Success Rate under 30%. 

Southern Miss, on the other hand, is only slightly better on offense. The Golden Eagles average just three plays per game more than UTEP and have a Success Rate of just 40.3%. The offense runs the ball 52.7% of the time and is stuffed on 20.7% of those plays, while its line generates only 2.5 yards per play. 

Defensively, Southern Miss allows a 47.9% success rate, but against this offense, it’s unlikely to make a difference. UTEP is quietly OK on defense, allowing a 39% Success Rate, stuffing 19.5% of runs, and holding opponents to an average of 3.5 points per opportunity. The Miners also create Havoc on 19% of plays. 

With neither of these offenses likely to eclipse 70 offensive plays, scoring will be at a premium in this game. And with UTEP being slow and bad on offense and decent enough defensively to stop Southern Miss, the under is my favorite play of the weekend. 


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