College Football Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 6 Favorite Bets for Week 7
Reese Strickland, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Brandon Smith
College football’s Week 7 slate is a real doozy — in a lot of ways. Oklahoma vs. Texas, LSU vs. Florida. We’re betting those for sure.
But we’re also diving deep to find profitable betting angles for Western Kentucky-Army and Charlotte FIU. As always, do whatever it takes to follow the money.
That’s what our staff is doing for Saturday’s slate. Here are their six favorite plays.
College Football Betting Picks, Week 7
Odds as of Friday afternoon and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Kyle Miller: Michigan -23
- Odds: Michigan -23 at Illinois
- Total: 49
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC
As an Illinois alum, I have a pretty good pulse on this program and that tends to help me when wagering on the Illini.
My biggest weak spot with Illinois is my tendency to let my emotions get in the way.
Most people have to fight the urge to bet on their alma mater because they’re emotionally invested in them winning.
But my natural inclination is almost always to fade Illinois.
I run in to trouble at times when I have to lay a bunch of points to do that so I’m very careful to cap the game with a watchful eye.
This week, I’ve seen enough to lay the points with Michigan. I put in a pick on The Action App early in the week at Michigan -20.5, but I like the Wolverines up -24 or better. Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 defense has been a complete disaster in Champaign.
It’s not how coaches cover today’s spread offenses in college football, yet Lovie refuses to change. It’ll cost him his job any day now but not before we can collect some cash of our own.
Michigan’s offense has been a big disappointment this season but it will have its easiest assignment this week. The only thing Michigan has done well on offense this year is explosive pass plays. Luckily for them, Illinois ranks 126th in defending explosive pass plays. They’ll be able to score any time they want to on this defense.
On offense, Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters is questionable so it’ll likely be Matt Robinson taking the snaps. He’s never seen anything like this Michigan defense and I don’t think they’ll be able to move it at all.
In general, the vibe around the program is that they needed to win at Minnesota to keep their ambitious goal of a bowl game alive. Now that those hopes are dashed, Lovie Smith has both feet out the door instead of the just the one he’s had during his retirement-account-padding stint in Champaign.
Danny Donahue: Oklahoma -10.5
- Odds: Oklahoma -10.5 vs. Texas
- Total: 75.5
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: FOX
This game will be among the most — if not the most — heavily bet games Saturday. Any time I see a team getting a third of bets in such a game, your safest bet is where my bet will land.
A few things that make Oklahoma an exceptionally appealing contrarian play: the in-conference matchup and the minus sign in front of its spread.
Since 2005, in heavily-bet conference games (2.5 times the slate’s average ticket count), teams getting 35% or fewer bets have gone 92-58-8 (61.3%) against the spread.
And in the rare spot that the contrarian side is also the favorite (granted, not a big sample), they’ve gone 16-7-1 (69.6%) ATS.
I’ll admit, 10.5 points does feel like a wide margin, especially since this game is being played in Dallas. A 75.5-point total, though, might allow oddsmakers to inflate that spread a little bit and gives Oklahoma a better chance to break away in this game.
In our Bet Labs database, blindly taking double-digit favorites in games with totals at 70 or higher produces a 54.2% win rate.
I’ll be waiting around before actually placing this bet, hoping for a -10. But I’ll ultimately settle for what the market gives me so long as it doesn’t reach the next somewhat-key number of -13.
Collin Wilson: Western Kentucky +4.5
- Odds: Army -4.5 at Western Kentucky
- Total: 43
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: Stadium
The Western Kentucky defense has been the primary reason why the Hilltoppers may go over their season win total and make some noise within their division. A victory over Old Dominion last week saw a complete shutdown of the Monarchs offense.
The Hilltoppers rank 24th in total defense, led by a front seven that is 15th in opponent rushing yards per attempt. Western Kentucky is also ranks 14th in the country.
Army comes into this game off a loss to Tulane after the Green Wave limited the Black Knights to just 193 rushing yards at 4.4 per attempt. The final score masks how much the Army offense struggled, scoring just three times on drives from their own territory.
A few big defensive plays led to almost half the Black Knights points.
When you handicap against Army, you size up the trench work of the opposing team. Western Kentucky is 37th in line yards and 23rd in stuff rate.
Both of those stats are crucial against the Army triple option that looks fullback dive first.
John Ewing: Wake Forest -7
- Odds: Wake Forest -7 vs. Louisville
- Total: 65.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ACC Network
More than 70% of spread tickets are on No. 19 Wake Forest as a home favorite vs. Louisville. I don’t normally like being on the same side as the public but I can’t fault recreational gamblers from backing the Demon Deacons.
Wake has a clear advantage in this matchup coming off a bye week. Since 2005, it has been profitable to bet ranked teams playing at home off a bye.
It is not just history that points to Wake.
The Action Network power ratings have the Deacons winning by 8.3 points. I’d bet Wake up to -7.
Steve Petrella: Charlotte 1H ML (+150)
- Odds: Charlotte +5 at FIU
- Total: 60.5
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN+
If points spreads were based on how many points you obliterated UMass by, and compared the difference to how many points your opponent obliterated UMass by, FIU should be about a 10-point favorite. But that’s NOT how points spreads are made, I’ve been told.
So instead I’m going back to the first-half moneyline well once again, this time with my beloved Charlotte 49ers. The premise (and Bet Labs system) is simple — games with high totals are subject to more variance, and therefore, underdogs cash at a higher rate, especially in the first half.
I’m relying on a dynamic rushing attack against an FIU defense that’s been porous against the run the last two seasons. Especially against Charlotte — the 49ers have run for 630 total yards against the Panthers in their last two meetings, and they’ve still got running back Benny LeMay leading the way as they did in 2017 and 2018.
Charlotte’s offensive numbers have suffered after a hot start thanks to games against Clemson and an underrated FAU defense, but the 49ers still have some offensive chops. I’ll take a stab on them getting a late score and taking the lead into the locker room.
Stuckey: Iowa +3.5
- Odds: Penn State -3.5 at Iowa
- Total: 42
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC
Penn State’s numbers all look impressive but the Nittany Lions haven’t played anyone of note. They have four home wins over Idaho, a depleted Purdue team, Buffalo and Pitt — and were actually outgained in the latter two. Their one road win came against Maryland, who I clearly had rated incorrectly.
This is a big step up for new starting quarterback Sean Clifford on the road in primetime against a stingy Iowa top 20 pass defense that has already faced two top 20 opponents on the road and held them to a combined 27 points.
I don’t expect an underwhelming Penn State running game to get much on the ground against Iowa, so it will be up to Clifford in Kinnick at night. And Kinnick has certainly taken its share of victims in recent years. Iowa has four top 5 wins in the past decade at home and has only lost one of its last eight home games against top 10 opponents by more than 3 points.
Penn State could easily win this game with its destructive defense and explosive offense but I have this as a true coin flip, so I didn’t hesitate to hit Iowa at +4 and would do the same at +3 or above.
Bottom line: the field goal-plus is just too valuable in what should be a low-scoring game.