5 College Football Unit Mismatches Bettors Can Exploit in Week 7

Oct 10, 2018 1:19 PM EDT
  • Entering Week 7, we have enough data to determine the specific strengths and weaknesses of each college football team.
  • We'll examine some of the biggest mismatches that bettors can take advantage of when handicapping games each week.
  • This week features everything Alabama's passing attack against Missouri's porous secondary to Buffalo's offensive line against Akron.

As we head into Week 7 of the college football season, I feel that we finally have a solid enough data set (once adjusted) to determine relative strengths and weaknesses of the 130 FBS teams. Whether you want to look in the trenches, or at matchups on the outside or even at special teams, it’s important for bettors to understand glaring unit mismatches.

As the season moves on, I will point out five noteworthy unit mismatches for each Saturday slate, which will hopefully help you make more informed betting decisions. I will point out a major discrepancy in a standard statistic and then provide supporting evidence that the underlying metrics back up.

Let’s take a look at the five for Week 7.

Oklahoma State Pressure vs. Kansas State

  • Oklahoma State -7 at Kansas State
  • O/U: 60
  • Noon ET, ESPNU

Anticipate plenty of quarterback pressure from Oklahoma State’s defense, which leads the nation in total sacks (28), sack yards (159) and sacks per game (4.67). That anticipation doesn’t even consider Kansas State’s offensive line, which has allowed 3.3 sacks per game (122nd).

From an advanced metrics perspective, the Cowboys defense ranks 10th in adjusted sack rate, while the Wildcats’ offense ranks 116th. The Pokes should live in the backfield on Saturday.

Buffalo Offensive Line vs. Akron

  • Buffalo -11 vs. Akron
  • O/U: 53.5
  • Noon ET, CBSSN

Buffalo has allowed one sack in six games this year for an NCAA-leading rate of 0.17 sacks per game. Don’t expect anything different against an Akron defense that has recorded only four sacks; only Texas State has fewer.

The advanced metrics paint the same picture, as the Bulls’ offense ranks fourth nationally in adjusted sack rate, while the Zips’ defense ranks 127th.

That disparity is even more glaring on passing downs, where Buffalo ranks No. 1 and Akron ranks dead last. Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson should have all day to throw behind an experienced offensive line.

Troy Rushing Offense vs. Liberty

  • Troy -9 at Liberty
  • O/U: 65.5
  • 2 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Troy ranks 13th nationally in yards per rush (5.9), which doesn’t bode well for a Liberty defense that allows an eye-popping 5.8 yards per carry (123rd). 

Expect Troy to chunk its way down the field on the ground — while hitting a few big plays. The Trojans offense ranks second in the country in Rush Explosiveness, per S&P+.

Alabama Passing Offense vs. Missouri

  • Alabama -28 vs. Missouri
  • O/U: 75
  • 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Not much more needs to be said about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the seemingly unstoppable Alabama passing attack, which leads the country with a silly 13.8 yards per passing attempt. Don’t expect things to slow down against a Missouri defense that allows a staggering 8.3 yards per reception (tied for 109th).

The advanced metrics tell the same story, as the Tide rank first in passing efficiency and second in passing explosiveness (both adjusted, per S&P+). Meanwhile, the Tigers’ defense ranks 106th and 115th in those two statistics, respectively.

Even more troubling for Missouri, it simply can’t get to the quarterback — the Tigers rank 128th in adjusted sack rate. Tua should have all day to pick apart a suspect Missouri secondary.

West Virginia Third Down Offense vs. Iowa State

  • West Virginia -6.5 at Iowa State
  • O/U: 57.5
  • 7 p.m. ET, FS1

West Virginia’s elite offense, which converts third downs at 56.9% (No. 4 nationally), should keep the sticks moving against a Cyclones defense that allows opponents to convert 46.1% of third downs (118th).

Per S&P+, the Mountaineers offense ranks ninth in Third Down Success Rate, including third overall on third-and-long. That could pose major problems for an Iowa State defense that ranks 123rd and 116th in those two categories, respectively.

Credit:

Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy with Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder

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SCHEDULE
OPEN
CURR
# BETS
MSU
MICH
+6.5
47.5
+7.5
41
LSU
MSST
-6.5
44.5
-6.5
45.5
TEM
CIN
-3.5
48.5
-3.5
47.5
ECU
UCF
+24
64.5
+21.5
65.5
USF
CONN
-31
70
-32.5
69.5
WASH
COLO
-17
51
-17.5
50
TCU
OKLA
+7.5
61
+7.5
62
WSU
ORE
-2
66
-3
69
UK
VAN
-11.5
48
-13
46.5
TENN
BAMA
+28.5
58
+29
57.5
CLEM
NCST
-17
53.5
-17.5
57.5
IOWA
MD
-13.5
51.5
-9
44
PUR
OSU
+12
64.5
+12
69
WISC
ILL
-25.5
54.5
-24
57
IND
PSU
+13
62
+14.5
59.5