College Football Odds, Picks: Our Staff’s 3 Noon Best Bets, Including Toledo vs Eastern Michigan (October 29)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Harris (71) and the Oklahoma Sooners.
Another Saturday of wall-to-wall college football action is here, and it feels so good.
Our staff wasted no time diving into the action, hand-picking three best bets for Saturday’s Week 9 noon slate, including Toledo vs Eastern Michigan, TCU vs West Virginia and Oklahoma vs Iowa State.
So, whether you’re looking to prep for midweek MACtion — which will be here before we know it in a few days — or find yourself eyeballing some intriguing Big 12 matchups, we have you covered.
Read on for all three of our best bets for Saturday’s noon slate, and be sure to check out the rest of our best bets for Week 9’s afternoon, evening and late-night kickoff windows.
Saturday Noon College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet 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.|
Toledo vs Eastern Michigan
The key to beating Eastern Michigan is simple: Run the damn ball.
Eastern Michigan is 3-5 against the spread this season. In the Eagles’ three covers, they held opposing offenses to an average of 125 yards rushing per game. In the five failed efforts, opposing offenses have averaged 189.2 yards per game on the ground.
The Eastern Michigan rushing defense is one of the worst in the country, ranking 94th while giving up 165.1 yards per game on average – although this does put it towards the middle of the pack in MACtion.
Toledo has one of the best running attacks in the country, with the 34th-ranked rushing offense (194.3/game) and third-ranked rushing offense in the MAC.
Toledo is ranked just behind a Northern Illinois team that is second in the MAC in rushing (202.3/game). The Huskies gouged Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti two weeks ago, rushing for 287 yards and three touchdowns.
The Rockets, a run-first team, are led by dual-threat quarterback Dequan Finn. The sophomore quarterback is leading the team in rushing with 65 yards per game, but is supplemented by a stable of backs that work by committee.
Look for Toledo to emulate the success Northern Illinois had just a couple of weeks prior in a blowout 39-10 win against Eastern Michigan.
The Rockets are a smooth 3-1 against the spread this season in conference play after losing outright last week as seven-point favorites. In a contest in which Finn threw four interceptions – with three of those coming in the fourth quarter – I expect to see a much tighter game for Finn, who was averaging less than an interception prior to last week’s performance.
My model has Toledo as 11.9-point favorites based on its running prowess contrasted against the relative weakness of the Toledo rushing defense.
After opening at nine points, the line has come down to just inside a touchdown at six and a hook. I love the Toledo rushing offense on the road at anything better than seven points.
Look for Toledo to come out with a heavy rush emphasis – likely more so than usual – after Finn’s disappointing passing game last week.
Dequan Finn Over 55 Rushing Yards
Fleet-footed Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn comes into Saturday’s game as the Rockets’ top rusher with 520 yards on the ground this season.
Finn, a sophomore, is the 80th-ranked rusher nationally and 19th in the MAC, averaging 65 yards per game. He faces an Eastern Michigan team that has trouble defending the run, ranking 94th in rushing defense, allowing 165 yards per game.
The Eagles have struggled this season against rush-heavy attacks. Through eight games this season, Eastern Michigan has allowed 30.3 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks on the ground, with dead-footed quarterbacks significantly bringing down the average.
In last week’s contest against Buffalo, Finn was careless with the ball through the air, throwing four interceptions with three of those in the fourth quarter.
This week, I expect the Rockets to refocus on the run, which is what they do best.
Look for Finn to lead Toledo’s bounce-back effort with a heavy ground-and-pound attack after last week’s loss.
This number is 10 yards lower than his season average. While 55 is a steal, I would be comfortable laying up to 77 yards.
Pick: Dequan Finn Over 55 Rushing Yards (Play to 77)
TCU vs West Virginia
This is a great buy-low spot to back the Mountaineers after a 38-point loss at Texas Tech. I also think this sets up as a prime opportunity to sell high on what I believe is an overrated TCU team compared to market perception.
I could also easily see the Frogs coming out a bit flat for a noon road kick in Morgantown with their gas tank potentially running on fumes after five straight draining contests.
After a road date with rival SMU, they faced four consecutive ranked conference opponents in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Kansas State. Not only that, but they had to stage comebacks in each of the past three one-possession victories.
Meanwhile, West Virginia should have much fresher legs, having played only once since Oct. 13.
Look, West Virginia’s defense is horrendous. Don’t expect many stops against the high-flying Frogs, especially with how well Max Duggan is playing.
However, I can say the same about the TCU defense, which has benefited from quarterback injuries in each of its past four contests. The Frogs knocked out Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma), Jalon Daniels (Kansas) and Adrian Martinez (Kansas State) in the first half. At one point, the Wildcats even had to go to their third-string quarterback, who threw an interception.
The only starting quarterback to finish a game over that stretch was Spencer Sanders, who clearly appeared limited by a shoulder injury throughout the second half. As a result, TCU’s defensive numbers look a lot rosier than they would if, for example, it didn’t get to face Davis Beville for a good chunk of the Oklahoma game.
Even with those breaks, TCU still ranks 93rd in EPA per Pass, which bodes well for the pass-heavy West Virginia aerial attack.
For what it’s worth, this also marks the exact weekend that Dykes’ teams have fallen off a cliff in each of the past three seasons.
Oklahoma vs Iowa State
By Cody Goggin
After a brutal stretch of losses against Kansas State and Texas, I think that we finally were able to see the potential of this Oklahoma team against Kansas, as the Sooners put up 701 yards of offense and 52 points.
Now coming off of a week of rest, Oklahoma will travel to Ames to take on the Iowa State Cyclones. The Sooners are only short favorites, which somewhat surprises me based on what we know about the makeup of these teams.
Oklahoma ranks 38th in Offensive Success Rate and has had most of its success on the ground, where it has the 35th-best Rushing Success Rate in the country and runs the 32nd-highest rate of run plays.
Iowa State has a strong defense that will be useful in countering this attack. The Cyclones are rated as the 13th-best defense in the country by SP+. They have been largely helped by their ability to avoid allowing long plays.
Iowa State’s defense ranks 17th in EPA per play allowed and 13th in SP+. It ranks third-best in Explosiveness Allowed on defense, which has covered up the fact that Iowa State has just the No. 89 Success Rate on defense.
If Oklahoma falters this weekend, it will likely be because its defense let it down. This Sooners defense has been poor this year, but I think that it matches up well against Iowa State and will benefit from the week it had off to regroup.
At the end of the day, Oklahoma is the more talented team and should be able to pick up this win in Ames. If the Sooners don’t, the voices arguing about Brent Venables’ job status will continue to echo louder and louder with each loss.
This seems like a good place for the Sooners to get things back on track and pick up a big conference road win.