College Football Best Bets: Odds, Picks for Saturday Afternoon, Including Ole Miss vs. Tulane
Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss)
We're in the thick of the non-conference college football season, and Saturday features another loaded slate.
As we do every week, we've split up our best bets into three different windows (noon, afternoon and night), and this piece features our three favorite wagers for the 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff window.
Brett Pund has you covered for Ole Miss vs. Tulane, Mike Calabrese previews Texas State vs. UTSA, and BJ Cunningham has a pick for Miami (OH)-UMass.
Saturday Afternoon College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football betting staff is targeting from Saturday afternoon's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Ole Miss vs. Tulane
By Brett Pund
This is a great opportunity for No. 24 Tulane to secure a signature win at home in front of a sold-out crowd against No. 20 Ole Miss.
However, I feel like this is going to be a spot where the SEC team flexes its muscles, especially under a coach like Lane Kiffin.
If you look at his time with the Rebels, Kiffin loves to run up a big number in nonconference games to showcase his high-flying offense.
In fact, Ole Miss has scored at least 21 points in the first half of all nine of his regular-season matchups against non-SEC opponents. His teams have also averaged 46.9 points per game in those spots on the schedule.
Kiffin comes into this year with two strong quarterbacks in Jaxson Dart and Spencer Sanders, a 1,500-yard rusher in Quinshon Judkins and 131 career starts along the offensive line.
Meanwhile, the Green Wave are replacing a lot from last year’s defense, including their top five tacklers in 2022. This was already a defensive unit that ranked 104th in the country in points per opportunity (4.12) and 120th in Havoc (0.13).
I do expect the home team to put up some points as well, led by star quarterback Michael Pratt. This is why I’m avoiding any spreads in the game because I can’t fully trust the Rebels defense.
I’m excited for this great game in New Orleans, and it should have plenty of scoring from both sides.
Pick: Ole Miss 1H TT Over 20.5 (Play to 21)
Texas State vs. UTSA
No one had a better week than GJ Kinne. The 34-year-old head coach knocked off Baylor in his FBS-debut, nuking the Bears with a 42-point explosion.
TJ Finley looked masterful as the Bobs’ starting quarterback, accounting for 316 total yards and four scores.
This offense plays with tempo and has a deep receiving corps. The only question I had coming into 2023 was Texas State’s offensive line. After keeping Finley protected for four quarters against a Dave Aranda defense, I’m convinced this could be a top-five G5 offense.
Defensively, I’m not sure Texas State will be able to hold up. Baylor, which finished 42nd in the offensive EPA metric last fall, moved the ball at will until its starting quarterback got hurt.
Now here comes UTSA, which finished eighth in offensive EPA in 2022.
What this tells me is that UTSA will bounce back in a big way on Saturday against a lackluster TSU defense. Frank Harris, a quarterback with 99 career touchdowns, is simply too good. And Kevorian Barnes looked great in the opener, breaking the century mark on just 16 carries.
The Roadrunners could also be buoyed by the return of De’Corian Clark at wide receiver. The critical piece of their receiver room is coming off of an ACL injury and was held out of their opener against Houston.
He’s currently listed as a game-time decision. If he’s a go, I see UTSA scoring north of 40 points and this game sailing past this number.
Miami (OH) vs. UMass
Rutgers picked up a convincing 24-7 win over Northwestern in its opener, but the offense really wasn't that impressive. The Scarlet Knights averaged only 3.9 yards per play and 2.7 yards per carry in their dominant victory.
Rutgers didn't have much to look forward to in regard to its offense coming into the season, especially with Gavin Wimsatt as the starting quarterback. In a limited sample size last season, he had a PFF passing grade of just 45.3, so it's hard to see him throwing all over Temple's secondary.
Rutgers also struggled to run the ball, which was nothing new. The Knights put up only 3.6 yards per carry a season ago and ranked 122nd in EPA/Rush.
The Temple defense showed up in its opener against Akron, holding the Zips to just 4.9 yards per play. The Owls dominated up front and gave up only 2.6 yards per carry, which will be huge in this game because that'll put pressure on Wimsatt to beat them through the air.
Temple returns nine starters on defense, which was the strength of the team last year. The Owls finished last year 48th in Finishing Drives Allowed, 27th in Havoc and 56th in Explosiveness.
The front seven is stacked once again, so there really shouldn't be too much of a drop-off in these rankings.
However, Temple's offense was quite poor last season. It finished outside the top 100 in Success Rate and Finishing Drives because it couldn't run the ball to save its life.
The Owls finished 131st in Rushing Success Rate, 130th in EPA/Rush and 128th in Offensive Line Yards, all while averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.
Greg Schiano knows how to coach defense, and with eight starters returning to a unit that finished 40th in EPA/Play Allowed and boasted a top-35 ranking when it came to stopping the run, Temple is going to find it difficult to move the ball.
I only have 40.8 points projected for this game, so I like the value on under 44.5 points.