Wilson: My 5 Favorite College Football Bets for Week 11
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lynn Bowden Jr.
- Collin Wilson breaks down his five college football best bets for Week 11.
- He's betting some marquee games, some ugly games and some others in between.
There is a saying in adult slow-pitch softball that will grab the attention of both dugouts: “The middle is open.”
In my 20’s I pitched weekly in leagues and traveled through different states playing tournaments. I took plenty of shots at all parts of my body, but was thankful for wearing the necessary equipment to keep me safe.
Whenever an opposing batter comes up the middle at a pitcher in slow-pitch softball there is a cadence. The pitcher will look at the batter on first base, and if there is not an apology the pitcher will state, “the middle is open.” That phrase also applies to the showdown between LSU and Alabama.
Linebacker Michael Divinity was dismissed from LSU earlier this week. The senior had lost playing time due to injury and off field issues, but remained a constant for LSU in passing down situations. Divinity leads the team in sacks, taking away one of the best pressure linebackers for a Tigers defense that ranks 70th in sack rate.
With Derek Stingley and Kristian Fulton ranking as some of the best corners in the nation in passes defensed, it isn’t far fetched to guess Alabama will game plan to attack the middle of the LSU defense. Joe Brady, LSU’s passing-game coordinator, should have the same plan of attack with Joe Burrow.
LSU has excelled in shallow crossing routes, slants and quick hitches. Expect Joe Burrow to look over the middle at Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings before a check down to a running back. The play-action pass will mean everything to Burrow’s chances at explosive passes. The middle is not only open in this game, it’s necessary to attack for either team to remain atop the SEC West.
Tua Tagovailoa is not 100% as Nick Saban continues to call it a game-time decision. The quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain against Tennessee on Oct. 19, and has since undergone the TightRope surgery in hopes of playing in this game.
I will be in Las Vegas shopping for props on LSU and Alabama skill position player receipts and touchdowns, especially the secondary options such as Henry Ruggs III for Alabama and Terrace Marshall Jr for LSU. As for Week 11 bets, I’ll be looking at sandwich spots and home underdogs to get tickets to the window.
Be sure and follow me in The Action Network App to get my bets on every Week 11 game, plus the Week 12 opening lines I bet on Sunday.
College Football Best Bets for Week 11
Odds as of Thursday at 8 a.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Purdue vs. Northwestern
- Spread: Northwestern -2
- Over/Under: 38
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: Big Ten Network
This number initially caught my eye from our Action Network power ratings that made Northwestern a 3-point favorite. Purdue has lost quarterback Jack Plummer for the season, giving the Boilermakers an even tougher path to a bowl game. Wisconsin and Indiana remain on the schedule, but a date with the offensively inept Wildcats awaits.
Northwestern is having offensive issues of epic proportions. The Wildcats rank 130th in yards per play, rush explosiveness and red zone touchdown percentage. Charlie Kuhbander may be the most valuable player to Northwestern as the kicker. The junior is 8 of 10 in field goals and has made all six extra points attempted.
Purdue may be on the downward trend and not for just losing their quarterback. The Boilermakers are outside the top 100 in rushing success rate, kickoff return yards and punting yards. Field position has been an issue for Purdue, starting at its own 22 against a Nebraska team that started at its own 41 last week.
No one will mistake this Northwestern offense for being decent, but Purdue has allowed more 20-yard plays from scrimmage than anyone in the Big Ten with 39 total. Head coach Jeff Brohm made mention of “blocking the wrong guys, blocking in the wrong direction, punt unit taking too long.” There has been a downward spiral of issues for Purdue that Nebraska was not able to capitalize against with points.
Walk-on Aidan O’Connell will get the call under center for the Boilermakers. Expect special teams and field position to play a big part for the Wildcats who still field a top-40 defense.
Pick: Northwestern -2 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Western Kentucky vs. Arkansas
- Spread: Arkansas -1.5
- Over/Under: 52.5
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: SEC Network
To the rest of the country this game would look like an SEC team playing in a non-conference sandwich spot. There will be no overlook when Arkansas kicks at 11 a.m. locally at Razorback Stadium, as head coach Chad Morris is struggling to get victories as an SEC coach. In Coach Morris’ first season, the Razorbacks had two victories over Tulsa and Eastern Illinois. The count for 2019 is at two wins over Portland State and Colorado State. Chad Morris has yet to win a Power 5 game in his five years as an FBS head coach.
Western Kentucky comes to town with two features that should have gamblers looking at the under. Former Razorback quarterback Ty Storey is now the starter at Western Kentucky, giving defensive coordinator John Chavis plenty of ideas of how to attack the Hilltoppers offense. Western Kentucky is outside the top 100 in rush and pass explosiveness offensively, giving the Razorbacks a chance to win a ballgame.
Western Kentucky is no slouch on defense. The Hilltoppers are 24th in total defense, 10th in opponent third down conversions and 18th in opponent red zone scoring percentage. The biggest news in Fayetteville is the move to John Stephen Jones and KJ Jefferson atop the depth chart at quarterback. Jones, who is the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, is redshirt freshman with just 24 career attempts and less than 100 yards.
While Jones looks to navigate a Western Kentucky that is 13th in opponent passing success rate, the Razorback fanbase is hungry for more KJ Jefferson after his Mississippi State debut.
The 12th-ranked dual threat quarterback has high expectations, but the Western Kentucky defense may give the freshman a struggle. The Hilltoppers rank seventh in opponent rush explosiveness to compliment an opponent pass completion rank of 26th.
Our Action Network total projection has this game around 46 while the number continues to steam into the low 50s. Between Arkansas’ familiarity with quarterback Ty Storey and the Razorbacks going two freshman under center, points may come at a premium. Toss in Western Kentucky ranking top 30 in opponent red zone scoring to Arkansas 120th in red zone scoring percentage and we have a formula for taking an under ticket to the window.
Pick: Under 52.5 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
USC vs. Arizona State
- Spread: Arizona State -2
- Over/Under: 57
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC
For the first time in weeks, we may have a healthy USC defense without injury or ejections affecting playing time. Linebacker Palaie Gaoteote is close to 100%, while Isaiah Pola-Mao returns from a second-quarter ejection against Oregon.
— I'M SEEING GHOSTS (@FTBeard11) November 3, 2019
The Trojans are 32nd in sacks and will benefit from the return of their best players on the defensive side of the ball. Turnovers are the name of the game for USC, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Of the 15 fumbles on the season for the Trojans, only six have been recovered. That will be an issue against an Arizona State defense that has recovered 11 fumbles and ranks 32nd in defensive havoc.
The USC offense has struggled on the road this season, as the Trojans may not have much to play for in Tempe on Saturday. Arizona State comes off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare for a one dimensional USC offense. The 3-3-5 for the Sun Devils is often used to combat air raid offenses, much in the way Matt Campbell’s defense at Iowa State is schemed against the entire Big 12.
Look for Jayden Daniels and Eno Benjamin to start slow off the bye week as plenty of USC defenders are healthy (and not ejected). On the other side of the ball, Arizona State runs the perfect scheme to get USC quarterback Kedon Slovis to struggle.
Pick: Under 57 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Kansas State vs. Texas
- Spread: Texas -7
- Over/Under: 58
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
In what is probably my favorite bet of the weekend, I cannot get enough of Texas. Our Action Network projection sits at -8.5, prompting a play in the Action Network App at -5.5. I would still play this to the projected number because of key statistical areas that give the Longhorns the advantage.
Off consecutive victories against Oklahoma and Kansas, the Wildcats entered the College Football Playoff rankings at 16. Texas head coach Tom Herman comes off a much needed bye week to improve the health of his roster. That is great news for Sam Ehlinger, who may be able to expose the Wildcats’ greatest weakness.
The Kansas State defense is 78th in opponent rushing success and 119th in opponent rushing explosiveness. While Texas is not the most explosive team on the ground, it ranks second in first downs and third in third down conversions because of Ehlinger’s ability to leave the pocket.
The Wildcats benefited from several Oklahoma miscues in a game they would win just 35% of the time, while Kansas was unable to expose the Kansas State rush defense. Texas is in a prime position to take advantage of a Wildcats defense that is 130th in opponent red zone scoring. Kansas State has yet to stop any team from scoring once they reach the red zone, and that is an issue against a team that specializes in rushing for first downs.
Pick: Texas -7 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Tennessee vs. Kentucky
- Spread: Kentucky +1
- Over/Under: 42
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: SEC Network
Since an injury to Sawyer Smith, Kentucky football has been the Lynn Bowden Jr. show. Running a version of the read-option, the quarterback is averaging 8 rushing yards per attempt with almost 100 yards more than lead running back Asim Rose. Pretty impressive for Bowden Jr, who also leads the team in receptions and receiving yards.
Lynn Bowden Jr. is GOING OFF 😤 pic.twitter.com/82Hjcjnr9S
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 27, 2019
Tennessee has had success on defense against the pass, ranking 12th in opponent pass explosiveness and a sack rate of 21st. With respect to the numbers, the Volunteers racked up those numbers against traditional quarterbacks. Kentucky’s rank of 29th in explosive rush is all Bowden Jr, and should be on full display against a Volunteers defense that is outside the top 100 in line yards, opportunity rate and stuff rate.
Whether Jarrett Guarantano or Brian Maurer start under center for Tennessee, Kentucky has fielded one of the best stop units against the pass. The Wildcats are eighth in opponents explosive passing, taking away the Volunteers biggest weapon.
With two weeks to prepare and a solid havoc rank against Tennessee’s havoc allowed, the Wildcats will get tickets to the window led by Lynn Bowden Jr.
Pick: Kentucky -1 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]