College Football Odds & Picks: Our Afternoon Best Bets, Including Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M & Kansas vs. Iowa State
Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers.
- Week 5 of the college football season rolls on with a loaded afternoon slate.
- Our staff loves this kickoff window, coming through with five best bets, including picks for Kansas vs. Iowa State, Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M and North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech.
- Check out all five of our best bets for Saturday afternoon's college football games below.
As we move on from the noon slate, we turn our attention to Saturday's afternoon college football games.
Our staff loves this afternoon window, coming through with five best bets from 2 p.m. ET through 4 p.m. ET. Four of these picks are on over/unders across the country, but we have one bet on a short favorite in Iowa State vs. Kansas.
Read on for all five of our afternoon college football best bets below — and be sure to check out our other six best bets for the noon and afternoon kickoff windows.
Saturday Afternoon 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.|
UMass vs. Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan played a track meet vs. Buffalo last week, but I don’t see the scoreboard being lit up at the same, torrid pace with UMass in town.
The Minutemen are third-worst nationally in both yards (3.3) and points per game (6.7), as they have yet to score more than 10 points against FBS opponents this season.
They only rank in the top half of the country in rushing yards because forward passes are legitimately too complex for a program of UMass’s caliber.
The lone – and rare – bright spot is a defense that ranks top-50 nationally in total yards allowed per game at 364.9 – a huge step up from last year’s clip of 513.6.
The Eagles, meanwhile, are pretty banged up entering Week 5 before they get back into MAC play. They took it on the chin in a 19-point loss to Buffalo last Saturday, but this feels like a patented get-in, get-out type of business trip for the Eagles.
Under head coach Chris Creighton, they’ve gone under the total in five of the last six after a double-digit home loss.
Although I make the fair number 49, I recommend under bettors get on the right side of both 51 and 52, both of which are key.
Pick: Under 53.5 (Play to 52)
Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina
As of now, it seems as if Hurricane Ian’s effects will be limited by the time kickoff happens between Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
After seeing this total plummet since it’s open, now is the time to buy back the over.
Like my beloved Detroit Lions, this Tar Heel team has hit auto-over territory. Their defensive woes were on full display once again, as they got burned by one of the more anemic offenses in football, Notre Dame.
Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik needs to figure it out – and fast – if he wants to keep his job. North Carolina currently ranks near the bottom of the barrel in nearly every defensive metric, including Success Rate and Havoc.
Virginia Tech’s offense is nothing special by any means, generating little to no production against West Virginia in its last game out.
Even for a conservative offense, though, this sets up for a big Grant Wells bounce-back spot to carve up a defense that is this poor.
I originally played this at 51, so I would only play it for small at 54.5 and go no higher than 55.
Pick: Over 54.5 (Play to 55)
Bowling Green vs. Akron
Two of the least imposing defensive squads face off on Saturday afternoon when Bowling Green heads North to Akron for an intrastate MACtion clash.
So, what’s happening on the tackling side of the ball for both teams?
Well, not a whole lot, with both teams being in the bottom decile (10%) nationally in scoring defense. Through non-conference play, Akron (124th) and Bowling Green (128th) are allowing 39.8 and 45.0 points per game, respectively.
Both teams have faced relatively difficult opening schedules, as they raise money for the programs by going on the road to face Power Five opponents. With four Power Five road trips between the two programs, the teams have scored a combined 37 points in those four games.
I believe that the road games have understated what both of these teams are capable of putting up on the scoreboard, especially when playing in a more evenly-matched, inter-conference game.
When we look at the number of points the two programs have combined for in four non-Power Five games, we get a much better 133 points of offense. It’s far too early in the season — especially since we are just getting to conference play — to write off these teams as completely inept on the offensive side of the ball.
Based on six years of MAC data (2015-2021 ex. 2020), the average total points scored has been 56.4 points, which understates the total by more than a touchdown for this game, based on historical data.
Offensively, Bowling Green has shown an ability to put up points this season, averaging 30.5 per game. If you analyze the Falcons’ non-Power Five matchups, they are averaging 45.5 points per game. That’s not too shabby heading into a game where the total line is at 50.
Lastly, if we look under the hood of the Akron offense, we can find some glimmer of hope.
Through four games, the Zips are averaging only 12.0 points per game, ranking 128th in the nation in scoring offense. If you look at Akron’s performances outside of road games against Michigan State and Tennessee, the Zips are averaging 21.0 points per game.
Take the over in this MAC game, as the offensive potential of both programs has been underestimated because of difficult opening road schedules. I am projecting this game to have a final total in the low 60s.
Pick: Over 50 (Play to 53)
Iowa State vs. Kansas
Kansas opened the season with a win total of 2.5 games, but it has dominated all four of its matchups, covering the spread by an average of 17.5 points per game.
This weekend, that streak comes to an end against Iowa State.
This play is primarily a power-rating play, as I have Iowa State favored by close to a touchdown in this matchup.
Kansas has yet to face an opponent that can stop the run. Iowa State will do just that, as it has allowed 2.8 yards per carry and limits explosive plays.
Those are two areas the Kansas offense is reliant on. The Jayhawks are averaging just shy of six yards per rush attempt, which opens up the play-action deep ball.
The Jayhawks are going to be playing from behind the sticks in this matchup, constantly being put in third-and-long situations.
That’s a recipe for disaster against a Cyclones defense that ranks 20th against FBS opponents, allowing 5.9 yards per pass attempt.
Kansas has been reliant on getting into shootouts, as its defense ranks 111th against FBS foes, allowing 470 yards of offense per matchup. The Jayhawks are allowing nearly nine yards per pass attempt, and Iowa State is averaging nearly 40 pass attempts per game.
This is a perfect time to sell high on Kansas, as it will match up against its first legitimate Big 12 defense.
Pick: Iowa State -3 (Play to -5.5)
Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State
By CJ Vogel
I’ve faded Texas A&M in the past, and in a way, I’m doing it again this week — just with a larger emphasis on the offensive side of the ball.
After a fortuitous doink off the upright to come away victorious against Arkansas last week, A&M lost its biggest playmaker in Ainias Smith to a season-ending leg injury.
An offense that has already struggled to put points on the board and look competent in the process has lost one of the most electric playmakers in the country. That’s not a good recipe for the Aggies, who go on the road to Starkville, where they’re 1–3 in their last four trips.
Both offenses rank outside the top 70 in the country in protecting their quarterbacks in terms of sacks allowed. Keeping Max Johnson uncomfortable will be key here for Mississippi State, and it’s something it should be able to do at home.
All of the playmaking for A&M now falls onto the shoulders of true freshman wide receiver Evan Stewart running back RB Devon Achane.
It’s slim pickings for the Aggies, and points will be hard to come by.