College Football Expert Picks: Our Staff’s 13 Favorite Bets for Week 6
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Miami Hurricanes defensive back Trajan Bandy
- Our college football experts give their 13 favorite betting picks for Week 6 of the 2018 season.
- Underdogs and unders are the flavor of the week -- and a juicy 3-1 moneyline underdog also makes the cut.
On paper, this doesn’t look like the best college football Saturday slate of the year — but those usually end up being the wildest days. Expect the unexpected on October Saturdays. And to bettors, any Saturday with college football is like Christmas morning.
To help you narrow down which games will make your final card, we asked a group of our staffers for their one favorite college football Saturday bet for Week 6.
Regardless of your betting style or preferences, you should find something that catches your eye — or at least helps you make more informed betting decisions for Week 6 — in the picks below.
We’ll lead off with a large underdog and a total at noon before getting into our mid-to-late afternoon and prime time favorite angles. And don’t forget about the quick grabs at the end!
We hope some of the reasoning provided can push you in the direction of a winner or stay away from a loser, which can feel even sweeter at times.
Let’s get to it!
*All odds pulled overnight on Oct. 5.
John Ewing: Kansas +28 (at West Virginia)
Noon ET on ESPN2
WVU is good, but overrated. The Mountaineers are No. 9 in the AP poll, but The Action Network college football power ratings have them at No. 22.
Thus, one of the biggest discrepancies between our power ratings and current Week 6 spreads is West Virginia, as our numbers only make WVU a 22-point favorite. Not only is the spread inflated for head coach Dana Holgorsen’s team, but this is a potential letdown spot after notching a top-25 win on the road. WVU just might come out a little flat against a perennial Big 12 doormat.
The line has continued to climb after opening at Jayhawks +26.5. I’ll likely wait until Saturday morning to place this wager in hopes of getting an even bigger number.
Steve Petrella: Buffalo-Central Michigan Under 52
Noon ET on CBSSN
Central Michigan might have the worst offense in the country. It ranks last in efficiency, fourth-worst in explosiveness and 130th (out of 130) by S&P+. That’s a shame, because the Chips actually have a defense. CMU ranks top 50 in defensive efficiency and explosiveness — while also ranking 26th in yards per play allowed at 4.74.
Buffalo has a potentially explosive offense behind quarterback Tyree Jackson, but its defense has been much better than expected; the Bulls’ defense ranks 65th overall in S&P+ and 32nd in yards per play allowed.
The way teams have attacked these defenses also plays into the under. Opponents have run the ball on each with a much higher frequency than the national average, both on standard and passing downs. That should keep the clock moving.
Rain is expected at Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Friday night and Saturday morning, so a game involving CMU’s offense could actually get even sloppier.
PJ Walsh: Navy-Air Force Under 49
3:30 p.m. ET on CBSSN
This under has been a target for professional bettors, and for good reason. According to Bet Labs, unders are 30-8-1 (78.9%) in games between the service academies since the start of the 2005 season.
In addition, the forecast as of Friday morning calls for a steady 15-16 mph cross breeze that will make connecting for big plays through the air even more difficult for two teams already struggle in that regard. Of 130 FBS programs, Air Force and Navy rank 126th and 128th in passing yards per game, respectively.
Since 2005, unders are 272-196-8 (58.1%) in college football games with winds of at least 15 mph.
Jason Sobel: Miami -13.5 (vs. Florida State)
3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Last week, after promising myself I was done with the Seminoles for the rest of the season, I took ’em anyway — based solely on the notion that Louisville is even worse. Nope. Sure, Florida State won. But the Seminoles failed to cover against the lowly Cardinals.
I’m going back to the well, but I will fade the ‘Noles this time. I think Miami will pour it on in this rivalry game. The 13.5 looks like a lot of points, but there’s a valid reason for it. Florida State still isn’t good, and Miami’s defensive line should absolutely dominate this game.
Danny Donahue: Arizona State +3 (at Colorado)
4 p.m. ET on PACN
Colorado’s wins look worse and worse by the week. The 4-0 Buffaloes have three FBS victories against teams with a combined 1-12 record — and that one win was by Colorado State against Arkansas (a 1-4 team in its own right). Since they’re an undefeated Power 5 team, they get to have a little number next to their name, but don’t get fooled into thinking they’ve proven worthy of a top-25 ranking.
Going contrarian with a good, unranked team (.500 or better) against a school in the bottom five spots of the AP poll has led to an 11.1% ROI since 2005, winning bettors 31.8 units with a 158-118-9 record against the spread.
Collin Wilson: UAB +9.5 (at Louisiana Tech)
7 p.m. ET on Facebook
If you read my weekly nine best bets column, you know I have love for the UAB Blazers once again. The boys from Birmingham come into this game looking to add their name to the Conference USA West race.
The Blazers have been efficient on offense so far this season, ranking in the top 10 in third-down conversions. UAB does have issues defending explosiveness, but Louisiana Tech ranks just 83rd on passing downs in explosiveness.
Also, UAB should create havoc on passing downs against a Louisiana Tech team that ranks 75th in protecting the quarterback. The Blazers rank No. 1 in the nation in adjusted sack rate on defense, sacking opposing quarterbacks on an absurd 14.6% of dropbacks.
Our Action Network Power Ratings make this line UAB +8, while S&P+ actually makes this game close to a PK.
Ken Barkley: Mississippi State +3.5 (vs. Auburn)
7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Is this rock bottom for Mississippi State after two demoralizing losses to Kentucky and Florida in back-to-back weeks as a significant favorite? Market sentiment on them couldn’t be lower, but I’m still optimistic. Time to buy.
This team is still an extremely veteran group with a ton of talent, especially on defense. And quite frankly, Auburn’s offense may be broken. Some really uninspiring efforts against both Arkansas and Southern Miss have gone under the radar because those opponents were so ghastly, but the Tigers really lack any offensive identity.
The Tigers want to run, but their most talented players are all outside. It’s turned into quite a mess, but Auburn is getting credit as if it has figured things out. The Tigers have figured nothing out. This game may get ugly if Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald continues struggling throwing downfield, but I can’t pass up on Mississippi State at home getting more than a field goal in this spot.
Stuckey: Mississippi State +3.5 (vs. Auburn)
7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
If you listened to our latest podcast episode, you know I totally agree with Ken here (although Florida almost made the cut). This is a great opportunity to buy low on the Bulldogs in StarkVegas. As Ken alluded, there is just something off with the Auburn offense — and it starts with its offensive line play. The last team you want to play with a struggling offensive line is Mississippi State, which has one of the most ferocious defensive lines in the country.
Also, getting the hook here is even more valuable in a game where points may come at a premium. I will gladly side with the home dog in a game I make a PK.
Sean Newsham: Notre Dame -6.5 (at Virginia Tech)
8 p.m. ET on ABC
During the first three games of the season, Notre Dame struggled to find the end zone, averaging just 23 points per game with Brandon Wimbush under center. But the offense has exploded since transitioning turning to quarterback Ian Book — averaging 47 points over the past two games. Book accounted for six touchdowns through the air and three more on the ground in those two blowout Irish wins.
Notre Dame now has its sights set on the College Football Playoff, though making the CFP would likely require a win this weekend in Blacksburg against the Hokies. Virginia Tech saw its season implode two weeks ago against Old Dominion but rebounded against Duke last week.
Virginia Tech will still be without starting quarterback Josh Jackson (who suffered a leg injury against ODU that could cost him his season). Look for the superb Irish secondary to take advantage of the inexperienced new signal caller, Ryan Willis.
Sean Koerner: Colorado State-San Jose State Under 63
Peter Jennings: Iowa State moneyline +315 (at Oklahoma State)
Jack Settleman: Texas +7.5 (vs. Oklahoma)
Lauren Joffe: Northwestern +10.5 (at Michigan State)