College Football Best Bets: Odds, Picks for Saturday Night, Including SMU vs. Oklahoma
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Temple’s Dominick Hill.
A Saturday with wall-to-wall college football action is always fun — but Week 2 isn't over yet.
We have plenty of best bets to come still, stretching from a nonconference Group of Five battle in Boca Raton to what should be a close Power 5 battle between Texas Tech and Oregon.
With nine best bets for Saturday night's college football slate, there's no use in wasting time — let's dive right in so we can cash some tickets and spend the night in Green Dot City.
Saturday Night 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 night'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.
Ohio vs. Florida Atlantic
Ohio has really struggled without Kurtis Rourke, after he left early in the season opener. He missed last week and is a game-time decision for this matchup.
CJ Harris and Parker Navarro both played against Long Island, and neither looked great. They also don’t possess the upside of Rourke.
Rourke is expected to return and play, but I still like Florida Atlantic here. Both of the Bobcats’ top two receivers didn’t play last week, as Sam Wiglusz and Jacoby Jones were both out. Wiglusz is an All-Conference receiver and is a massive loss.
Ohio managed just 27 points against the Long Island Sharks and had zero explosive plays.
Meanwhile, FAU rolled Monmouth in a dominant 42-20 performance, and it was 42-14 after three quarters when the Owls called the dogs off.
Veteran quarterback Casey Thompson looked poised and dominant in his FAU debut, going 20-of-25 with 280 yards and five touchdowns. The Owls had 10.7 yards per drop back. He reunites with head coach Tom Herman after throwing 24 touchdowns at Texas in 2021.
FAU has a ton of talent on the outside, with receivers LaJohntay Wester, Je’Quan Burton and Tony Johnson. All three players caught a touchdown last week.
This Owls offense is extremely balanced, with lead running back Larry McCammon III back after nearly 1,000 yards. He rushed for 125 yards and a score in Week 1.
He’s running behind an experienced offensive line and running mate Kobe Lewis is expected back this week.
On defense, the Owls return the most production in the entire country. The entire secondary is back and should be the strength of this unit. Even if Rourke plays, this defense can keep him in check.
FAU has a strong veteran quarterback and talent all over the field at wide receiver, running back and on defense. Ohio is essentially a three-man team of Rourke, Sieh Bangura and Wiglusz, and two of them are questionable here.
Even at full strength, back the Owls in this one at -3.5, and I would play them all the way to -5.5.
Although this spread has taken some intriguing money, I love this spot for Casey Thompson and the Florida Atlantic offense, as I expect them to expose an Ohio team with a ton of turnover on the defensive side.
The Owls’ offense looked impressive in their first outing against a lowly Monmouth squad, putting up 42 points behind a five-touchdown performance from Thompson.
What was even more promising was the success the Owls were able to have on the ground; Florida Atlantic racked up 213 rushing yards with 6.7 yards per attempt.
This rushing attack gives a second dimension to an offense that already ranks 10th nationally in Passing Down Success Rate.
Even if Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke is able to suit up on Saturday I still have faith in an Owls defense – that returns 10 starters from a unit that ranked 37th nationally in Havoc in 2022 – to give Ohio all it can handle.
I will take the Owls to cover this number in a game our Action Analytics team projects at -12.2.
SMU vs. Oklahoma
By Cody Goggin
In Week 1, we saw exactly what the Oklahoma offense may be capable of this season. The Sooners got an early jump on Arkansas State and never looked back, winning 73-0.
Arkansas State seems to be a program in complete disarray, while SMU is contending for the AAC Championship this season. This will be a much better test for the Sooners and their capabilities.
Last weekend, Oklahoma had a 99th-percentile Offensive Success Rate and 97th-percentile EPA per play.
Meanwhile, SMU took on Louisiana Tech and had a 37th-percentile Success Rate and 64th-percentile EPA per play.
These would be fine numbers for SMU if Louisiana Tech had a strong defense, but it certainly does not. Last year, that team ranked 95th in Defensive Success Rate and 105th in Finishing Drives.
Louisiana Tech also only returned four starters on defense this season. For reference, the Bulldogs are currently rated as the 130th-best defense by SP+ (one spot ahead of Arkansas State).
The biggest difference offensively this year for SMU is in its passing game. Tanner Mordecai transferred out to Wisconsin, leaving Preston Stone as the Mustangs’ starting quarterback.
Rashee Rice departs as well, after putting up 1,355 receiving yards last year and getting selected in the second round of the NFL draft.
SMU’s offense may still be strong with the other returning starters and Rhett Lashlee as their head coach, but there’s also a chance that it doesn’t match last year’s numbers with these losses.
Overall, I believe that Oklahoma is the much better team here. While I wouldn’t take much away from its performance against Arkansas State – especially defensively – I’m a believer in this team being a top-tier Big 12 competitor this year.
The Sooners’ Week 1 performance made them the biggest mover in SP+. Their rating was adjusted up by 7.6 points, bringing them from 13th to fifth in the country. Most of this adjustment was their offense being adjusted up by 5.1 points.
I don’t believe the market has fully factored Oklahoma’s improvements from last year into account. I’m also lower on SMU’s offense at this point of the season than the market seems to be.
For that reason, I think that Oklahoma can cover this spread, which currently sits at 15.5. I would take the Sooners up to 17 points.
Oregon vs. Texas Tech
By CJ Vogel
Texas Tech was the darling of the Big 12’s spring and summer, but it came out flat against Wyoming in Week 1 in a humiliating overtime loss.
Now Oregon and Bo Nix come to Lubbock with the hopes of sending Texas Tech to an 0–2 start to the season.
In all honesty, Texas Tech should have escaped Laramie victorious. Sometimes, kickers have different plans, and three missed field goals in the second half did that to the Red Raiders.
Jones AT&T Stadium is quietly a very tough place to play, and Tech fans will let Oregon hear it from the jump.
The line opened at 6.5 and it hasn’t moved, despite 78% of the handle being on the Ducks.
Texas Tech will be able to move the ball against Oregon, with QB Tyler Shough coming off of a 338-yard performance with three touchdown passes.
Oh, and it’s a revenge game for the Red Raiders QB against his former Ducks.
I do think the Texas Tech defensive front seven will be able to create enough pressure to stymie the Ducks’ offense. TTU held Wyoming under 4.0 yards per carry in the opener and created two sacks.
Oregon’s offense against Portland State looked incredible, putting up 81 points. But again, replicating that success in Lubbock is going to be difficult.
Texas Tech went 7–1 at home straight up last year, with wins over ranked Texas, Houston and Oklahoma in the first year under Joey McGuire.
Oregon could certainly join that list after this week.
This line is a total overreaction to Week 1 results. All summer the market had this lookahead line set at Oregon as right around a field goal favorite.
Now all of a sudden after one week of games, the Red Raiders are nearly a touchdown underdog at home?
I don’t care that Oregon beat a bad FCS team in Portland State by a million in a game where it could do whatever it wanted.
I watched pretty much all of the TTU/Wyoming game, and yes I was concerned with a few areas where the Red Raiders struggled.
That being said, it was a funky night in Laramie, starting with the weather delay. I don’t know who scheduled that game as an opener for Tech, but whoever did needs to answer some questions.
I fully expect Joey Maguire to have his team fired up and ready to bounce back in what should be a loud Jones AT&T Stadium crowd.
Tyler Shough has the tools to have a lot of success throwing the ball down the field against a still unproven Oregon secondary; not to mention it’s a revenge game of sorts for him against his old team.
I think Tech has a very good chance of winning this game outright, so I will endorse it on the spread — as well as the moneyline — in what should be a fun one in Lubbock.
Memphis vs. Arkansas State
Sometimes it’s as simple as identifying the worst team in college football and fading them every single week until the books finally overcorrect.
Arkansas State appears to be that team, with Butch Jones being in one of the most miserable situations in the sport. The former Tennessee head coach is just 5-20 since taking over the Red Wolves in 2021 and has led the team to a 2-14 record in the Sun Belt.
Jones hit his lowest moment of his tenure last week in Arkansas State’s 73-0 loss at Oklahoma, appearing to drop to a knee to cry.
Justin Parks consoling his head coach Butch Jones during a tough afternoon ❤️ pic.twitter.com/88TZvgmywl
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 2, 2023
Memphis opened the season with a 56-14 win over FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman. Seth Henigan is one of the more consistent quarterbacks in the country, with over 7,000 career passing yards just a game into his third season.
The Tigers are working to replace their two top receivers from 2022, but the veteran quarterback should make light work of an Arkansas State defense that allowed over 400 yards passing and forced just three incompletions against Oklahoma.
And when Memphis gets up and starts to run more, the Tigers rushed for five touchdowns in Week 1 without their top running back.
This is a Memphis team that’s going to contend for the AAC title.
If the Tigers can force Arkansas State to abandon the run and make Colorado transfer quarterback J.T. Shrout try to lead the Red Wolves’ offense, this is going to be back-to-back ugly scorelines to open the season for Jones and his team.
Temple vs. Rutgers
By John Feltman
Let’s face it: as good as this Rutgers defense can be, the Scarlet Knights shouldn’t be laying 8.5 points to any FBS team.
Yes, I said it.
Although the Owls really struggle to run the ball, I think QB E.J. Warner is set up to have a solid day against this Scarlet Knights secondary.
The Owls are coming off an underwhelming victory at home against Akron, but I think the market is really overreacting here.
Rutgers pulled off a victory of its own, defeating Northwestern 24-7. Do not get fooled by that final score, because if the Wildcats contained any sort of competence, they could’ve possibly won the game outright.
I have faith in Schiano’s defense, but you’re going to tell me that this offense is going to light the world on fire? QB Gavin Wimsatt finished last week with 163 passing yards against arguably the worst Power-5 team in the country.
I know the Owls’ defense has issues, but their defensive front should be well improved this season. This was the anchor of this team a year ago, and I have a hard time believing they’ll get exposed in this matchup.
This is a classic spot to back the road dog coming off an underwhelming performance. I trust Warner to make enough throws to keep them inside the number, and I wouldn’t flinch if the Owls won this game outright either.
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.
Air Force vs. Sam Houston
Air Force will head to Houston, Texas, to face Sam Houston for a Saturday evening kickoff.
The Falcons have traveled exceptionally well in the last two seasons, going 10-3 straight up and covering 54% of the time.
Last week against FCS Robert Morris, the Falcons attempted only three passing attempts in classic Air Force fashion, all of which came in the first half.
Behind quarterback Zac Larrier, the Falcons ran their typical run-heavy triple-option offense. Lerrier led the team in rushing last week with 99 yards and two touchdowns as the Falcons rushed for 374 yards in a 42-7 victory.
The Air Force triple option will be a very difficult test for a Sam Houston defense that’s more suited to defend the pass.
The Bearkats’ defensive strength resides with their defensive backs and linebacking corps, but there will be size and talent issues in the trenches against the veteran Air Force offensive line.
Sam Houston has yet to score a point as an FBS team after getting skunked against BYU last week, 14-0. The Bearkats had trouble getting anything going offensively against a BYU team that finished the 2022 season as the 97th-ranked scoring defense (29.5 PPG).
Now, they’ll face a much better defense in Air Force. The Falcons finished the 2022 season as the third-ranked scoring defense (13.4 PPG) in the country and have returned a majority of their veteran leadership.
Stylistically, this is a very tough matchup for Sam Houston. It will be facing a triple-option offense and most likely doesn’t have the depth or size to slow the Falcons down. The Air Force defense should be better than the BYU defense it faced last week, which will likely make things difficult in this neutral-site matchup.
Lastly, this bet provides the opportunity to fade the consensus play with 81% of the tickets and 99% of the cash on the Bearkats. This action has driven the opening line down from 14.5 to 13.5, providing a great entry point.
My model is projecting Air Force as 17-point favorites, and I think the line of 13.5 provides an excellent opportunity to jump all over this very difficult triple-option matchup for Sam Houston in its second FBS game.
I recommend playing this at 14 or better with a strong preference for 13.5.