College Football Expert Picks: Our Staff’s 11 Favorite Bets for Week 7
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Penn State players celebrating a win over Pittsburgh earlier this year
- Our college football experts give their 11 favorite betting picks for Week 7 of the 2018 season.
- You'll find a few picks on the marquee matchups of the day and a few under the radar gems.
Can you believe it’s already college football’s Week 7? Cherish every weekend while football is still here.
Look around the Week 7 card and see if you can spot any major upsets. You can’t? Well, you might have said the same thing before Week 7 last season, but then we saw the following major upsets that had significant College Football Playoff implications:
- Arizona State (+18) beat No. 5 Washington 13-7
- Syracuse (+23.5) beat No. 2 Clemson 27-24
- Cal (+16.5) beat No. 8 Washington State 37-3
- LSU (+7) beat No. 10 Auburn 27-23
I bet you didn’t see those coming. That’s the beauty of a random college football Saturday in October. You just never know when chaos will strike.
To help with your final college football bet selections for this weekend, we asked a group of our staffers for their one favorite Saturday pick for Week 7.
Regardless of your betting style, you should find something that catches your eye — or at least helps you make more informed betting decisions for Week 7 — in the picks below.
We’ll lead off with three afternoon sides before getting into the prime-time selections. And don’t forget about the quick grabs at the end, where Peter Jennings will try to back up his Iowa State moneyline call from last week with another +250 moneyline this week.
We hope some of the reasoning provided can push you in the direction of a winner or avoid a loser. Let’s get to it!
*All odds pulled overnight on Oct. 12.
Collin Wilson: Kansas State +7 (vs. Oklahoma State)
Noon ET on ESPNU
Kansas State doesn’t have great numbers but it can lock down Oklahoma State in two particular areas:
- Kansas State ranks 26th in rushing explosiveness, which will cause problems for a Pokes defense that ranks 94th in rush explosiveness.
- Oklahoma State has been one of the most explosive passing teams in the country, ranking 14th, but that may play right into the hands of a Wildcats defense that ranks eighth in defending pass explosiveness.
Don’t forget the strength of schedule here either, as Kansas State has had the 33rd-toughest schedule to Oklahoma State’s 78th-toughest.
I will also have my eyes on Kansas State for a potential second-half bet since its best defender (Reggie Walker) will miss the first half due to a targeting violation. Last week, Oklahoma State suffered its first October loss since 2014, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it drop another one in Manhattan this weekend.
Ken Barkley: Duke +3 (at Georgia Tech)
12:20 p.m. ET on CHSS
If you can’t find +3 on Friday/Saturday at your shop, just take Duke moneyline.
I personally have this lined Duke -2, and couldn’t have been more pleased with the series of events that led to this game. The Blue Devils played their worst game of the season by far the last time anyone saw them — two weeks ago against Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech just absolutely dump-trucked Louisville on national TV.
To say this line is stretched as far one way as it can possibly go is an understatement. Georgia Tech’s demolition was partially motivated by hatred (as in, Paul Johnson hates Louisville DC Brian VanGorder), and VanGorder’s incompetence as a coordinator in general.
Now, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe and staff have had two weeks to prepare for the option, an offense it faced earlier this year when the Blue Devils handled Army easily. It’s an incredible spot for the Blue Devils, who are equal talent-wise to the Jackets but get the best setup possible.
John Ewing: Penn State -13.5 (vs. Michigan State)
3:30 p.m. ET on BTN
Advanced statistics paint these programs as evenly matched defensively: Penn State ranks 20th in defensive S&P+, while Michigan State ranks 24th. However, the difference between these Big Ten rivals comes on offense. The Nittany Lions average 50 points per game and rank ninth in offensive S&P+ — while the Spartans rank 85th in points per game (27.2) and 62nd in offensive S&P+.
Sparty was always going to struggle to keep pace with PSU, but James Franklin’s team has an additional edge thanks to a bye week. A bye week gives players a chance to recover and provides coaches additional time to prepare. Historically, ranked teams coming off a bye have covered the spread 54% of the time since 2003. And if the game is played at home, like it is for Penn State, ranked teams off a bye are 103-72-6 (59%) ATS.
Steve Petrella: Virginia +6.5 (vs. Miami)
7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Virginia has quietly put together a solid start to its season behind electric JUCO transfer quarterback Bryce Perkins, and while the Cavaliers lost their two toughest games, they catch Miami in a great spot. UVA comes into this game off a bye, while Miami needed everything it had to survive against in-state rival Florida State last week.
Virginia ranks top 50 in offensive and defensive S&P+ — and top 70 in all four factors that make up those rankings. The Cavs are balanced.
Miami’s defense is still excellent, but I think UVA can keep this game close and hang inside a touchdown by doing what Florida State did — pressuring quarterback N’Kosi Perry into mistakes and using an excellent secondary to cause problems (UVA ranks first in defensive back Havoc).
The under may also be worth a look as well with these two disruptive defenses.
Stuckey: WVU-Iowa State Over 55.5
7 p.m. ET on FS1
I don’t often say this, but I think a West Virginia over has value.
In my new weekly column that highlights five glaring mismatches on the upcoming college football card, I talked about how a dominant third down West Virginia offense should fire on all cylinders against an Iowa State defense that struggles to get off the field.
The Cyclones’ defense excels in limiting rush explosiveness (ninth) but is vulnerable to explosive plays in the passing game (93rd); that spells doom against a WVU offense that runs the ball at a bottom 20 clip nationally. Expect quarterback Will Grier and company to move up and down the field with ease, frustrating Iowa State with consistent third down conversions.
On the other side of the ball, new quarterback Brock Purdy has brought some life to this Iowa State offense. The National Freshman of the Week absolutely torched Oklahoma State in Stillwater in last week’s upset victory, throwing for four touchdowns and leading the ‘Clones in rushing. Wide receiver Hakeem Butler’s size (6-6, 225 pounds) on the outside should give the West Virginia corners fits. Iowa State can match the Mountaineers in what I think will turn into a shootout in Ames.
I’d also grab +7 if you can find it, as this Iowa State team has shown it can hang with the big boys over the past two seasons. Head coach Matt Campbell’s bunch has lost eight games between 2017 and this season, but all eight came by 10 points or fewer.
Danny Donahue: USC -7 (vs. Colorado)
10:30 p.m. ET on FS1
Colorado finally has a semi-legitimate win under its belt after beating ASU last week. That victory improves the combined record of its FBS opponents this year to … 5-17. So while the Buffaloes may have taken my money last week, I’m still not sold on them.
The support behind USC has been slightly increasing throughout the week, but the Trojans are still getting only 36% of bets. Home teams favored between -4 and -10 seeing such low support have gone 46-30-0 (60.5%) ATS since 2005.
Jason Sobel: Oregon +3.5 (vs. Washington)
Peter Jennings: NMSU moneyline +250 (at Louisiana)
Jack Settleman: Wisconsin Under 49
Lauren Joffe: Tennessee +15.5