College Football Betting Pace Report: Week 7 Over/Unders to Watch, Including Wisconsin vs. Michigan State
Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed.
After a rather lackluster Week 6 slate, this week has a whopping six top-25 matchups, which is the most on a single day in five years.
Here are the pace numbers as we stand through Week 6.
Using those metrics, along with a look at the weather and key injuries, the goal is to hopefully help bettors beat the market before Friday and Saturday morning.
Now, let's dive into the Week 7 slate.
Minnesota vs. Illinois
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
This is going to be an ugly one in Champaign.
Illinois is coming off a rousing 9-6 win over Iowa and finds itself in the AP Top 25. However, it came at a cost. Starting quarterback Tommy DeVito suffered an injury against the Hawkeyes and is questionable to play against Minnesota, along with slot receiver Isaiah Williams.
#Illini Bielema on the guys who were injured against Iowa: "I don't think any of them will be season ending"
Says Tommy DeVito, Taz Nicholson, Isaac Darkangelo, Isaiah Williams should be back in return for bye week but not sure how many will be available for Minnesota
— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) October 10, 2022
So, that means it might be Rutgers transfer Artur Sitkowski handling the snaps, which is a massive downgrade for Illinois.
When he came in against Iowa, he averaged 3.9 yards per attempt, which really isn't much worse than his 2021 season. Last year, Sitkowski averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt, had a 37.5 PFF passing grade and 14 turnover-worthy plays. He was truly one of the worst Power Five quarterbacks in college football.
Image via PFF
That means Illinois is likely going to rely on its run game, which hasn't impressed this season outside of Chase Brown's total yardage.
The Illini rank 82nd in EPA/Play and 104th in rushing explosiveness. Minnesota has a stout front seven that's top-25 in both Stuff Rate and Rushing Success Rate Allowed.
Most importantly, the Minnesota defense ranks 25th in EPA/Play Allowed and third in Finishing Drives, so it's going to be very difficult for the Illini to score — especially if they have backup quarterback.
Minnesota has been an incredibly efficient offense, ranking second in Success Rate. But when it finally played a halfway decent defense in Purdue, the Gophers did not run the ball effectively at all, gaining 1.8 yards per carry on the ground.
If Minnesota can't run the ball effectively, it'll be in trouble because it runs the ball on 63.3% of its offensive plays.
Illinois boasts one of the best defenses in the country. It's allowing only 3.8 yards per play, which is the fourth-best mark in the nation. It also ranks first in the country in EPA/Play Allowed and Finishing Drives. Opponents have crossed inside Illinois' 40-yard line 24 times and have come away with just 41 points.
The Illini front seven allows only 2.4 yards per carry while ranking first in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and third in EPA/Rush Allowed. Oh, and their secondary is also allowing only 5.2 yards per attempt and ranks seventh in EPA/Pass Allowed.
Both of these teams play at an incredibly slow pace as well. Minnesota plays at the second-slowest pace in the country at 31.27 seconds per play, while Illinois sits 89th at 26.77 seconds per play.
Additionally, there are supposed to be crosswinds at 15 MPH sustained through the entire game.
I only have 31 points projected for this game, so I like the value on under 39.
Pick: Under 39
Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky
|Middle Tennessee Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Western Kentucky Odds|
-110o / -110u
Alright, let's have some fun.
Western Kentucky has been completely snakebitten this season, as it sits at 3-3 with all three of those losses coming by seven points or less.
The Hilltoppers are still running the fast-paced Air Raid offense that allowed Bailey Zappe to lead the nation in pretty much every passing statistic last season.
Austin Reed, who came over from Division II West Florida, has put up big numbers in this system, averaging 8.2 yards per attempt with 15 big-time throws and an 86.9 PFF passing grade.
Oh my goodness, Austin Reed drops a DIME for WKU pic.twitter.com/edepEklF22
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 8, 2022
He will be facing one of the worst secondaries in all of college football, as Middle Tennessee allows 8.7 yards per attempt (116th in FBS) while ranking 89th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 101st in passing explosiveness allowed.
Middle Tennessee's offense is completely boom-or-bust. The Blue Raiders rank 114th in Success Rate but 18th in explosiveness.
However, Western Kentucky hasn't been that great on defense, ranking 69th in Success Rate Allowed, 93rd in Havoc and 85th in Finishing Drives.
The biggest thing for the total is the pace of this game, which should be lightning-quick. Middle Tennessee ranks top-10 in the nation in seconds per play at 21.27, while Western Kentucky sits 24th at 23.32 seconds per play.
I have 81.1 points projected for this game, so I like the value on over 67.5.
Pick: Over 67.5
Wisconsin vs. Michigan State
-110o / -110u
|Michigan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
It seems that the firing of Paul Chryst lit a fire under Wisconsin's backside, as the Badgers put up 42 points and averaged 7.6 yards per play against Northwestern on Saturday.
Bobby Engram is in his first season as the offensive coordinator after spending a number of years in the NFL as a wide receivers and tight ends coach. Saturday marked his first game calling plays, and Wisconsin was way more balanced with 30 pass attempts compared to 38 rush attempts.
When Chryst served as the offensive play-caller, Wisconsin was extremely run-heavy and conservative, running the ball on 64% of offensive plays in 2021.
The more balanced offense will really benefit Graham Mertz. Despite the question marks surrounding the Badgers quarterback, he's actually been a better passer this season than he was in 2021.
Through six games, Mertz has a PFF passing grade of 90.0, is averaging 9.0 yards per attempt and has 15 big-time throws compared to only three turnover-worthy plays.
5️⃣ passing TDs today for @GrahamMertz5 👀
Badgers. Are. Hot. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/TXNDvKh1vR
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 8, 2022
Mertz also has one of the best running backs in the country to take the pressure off of him in Braelon Allen, who's averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Allen is also running behind an offensive line that owns the 23rd-best run-blocking grade, per PFF.
Michigan State has been horrible in the secondary this season, allowing 8.5 yards per attempt (118th in FBS) while ranking 119th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 122nd in EPA/Pass Allowed. So, Mertz should be able to torch this unit.
Michigan State also sits 78th in Defensive Finishing Drives, while Wisconsin ranks second in the nation on offense.
On the other side, the Spartans offense hasn't been as bad as their results have shown. They're still gaining 5.5 yards per play and rank 62nd in Offensive Success Rate. They've also been pretty effective running the ball, as they're 52nd in EPA/Rush and 45th in rushing explosiveness.
Even though Northwestern put only seven points on the board against Wisconsin's defense, the Wildcats — who rank outside the top 100 in EPA/Play — still averaged 5.0 yards per play. The problem was they turned the ball over three times.
Wisconsin is playing at a very slow pace, but Michigan State is not. The Spartans run a play every 23.8 seconds, which is the 30th-fastest mark in the nation.
I have 59.1 points projected for this game, so I like the value on over 48.5.
Pick: Over 48.5