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College Football Odds & Picks: Best Bets for Friday, Including UNLV vs. San Jose State

College Football Odds & Picks: Best Bets for Friday, Including UNLV vs. San Jose State article feature image
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Quarterback Doug Brumfield #2 of the UNLV Rebels football team.

There’s nothing quite like a Friday night college football slate — especially when there are four games on the docket.

It all starts with a Big Ten showdown in Piscataway, followed by an AAC showdown between Houston and Memphis. Then, we have two Mountain West matchups to wrap the night up.

Our staff came through with eight best bets for those four games, including at least one pick for each showdown.

Read on for all eight picks below — and be sure to check back tomorrow for our betting coverage for Saturday’s monster college football slate.


Friday 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 the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time
Pick
7 p.m. ET
Nebraska -3
7:30 p.m. ET
Over 57.5
7:30 p.m. ET
Over 57.5
7:30 p.m. ET
Houston Team Total Over 27.5
10 p.m. ET
Over 43.5
10 p.m. ET
Colorado State +3.5
10:30 p.m. ET
UNLV +6.5
10:30 p.m. ET
UNLV ML +200
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.

Nebraska vs. Rutgers

Friday, Oct. 7
7 p.m. ET
FS1
Nebraska -3

By Mike McNamara

I show a little value here on the Huskers against a Rutgers team that has really struggled the last couple of weeks. It’s always interesting to see how a team responds to a midseason coaching change, and it looks like Nebraska will still have plenty of motivation following Scott Frost’s dismissal.

Nebraska handled Indiana last week at home, and Casey Thompson looked a lot more comfortable in the pocket, going for 270 yards and two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Rutgers has managed just 36 total points in its last three games. Evan Simon has been loose with the football, particularly when he has been pressured.

Nebraska is more talented on both sides of the ball, and the Huskers may feel like they have new life given what has gone on in the Big Ten West.

Give me the Huskers to earn the road victory, covering the three-point number in the process.

Pick: Nebraska -3 (Play to -3.5)

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Houston vs. Memphis

Friday, Oct. 7
7:30 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Over 57.5

By Mike Ianniello

The Houston Cougars entered the season with New Year’s Six aspirations but have been a huge disappointment. This defense has taken a massive step back after defensive coordinator Doug Belk was a Broyles Award semifinalist last season.

After a dominant season last year, this unit ranks just 72nd in Success Rate against the pass and 103rd against the run. They’re 117th in tackling and give up a ton of big plays.

The only thing they’ve done well is put pressure on the quarterback but now lost their best player with edge rusher Derek Parish tearing his bicep. That’s going to put even more pressure on this inexperienced secondary.

Memphis throws the ball a lot with Seth Henigan and he has tossed nine touchdowns and just one interception. They also have three good running backs and everybody has had success on the ground against the Cougars.

Houston’s offense runs through veteran quarterback Clayton Tune and star wide receiver Tank Dell. Tune has thrown nine touchdowns on the year, with five of them going to Dell.

During the spring, the Cougars lost running back Alton McCaskill to a torn ACL, and now they just lost leading rusher Ta’Zhawn Henry to ankle surgery.

This could force the Cougars to rely on Tune and the passing game more. That’s not the worst thing against a Memphis defense that ranks 104th in Success Rate against the pass and 93rd in EPA/Play.

Both of these teams rank in the top 50 in Finishing Drives on offense and outside of the top 80 at preventing explosiveness on defense. Memphis likes to play fast, and Houston isn’t much slower.

With two quarterbacks I trust and two inexperienced secondaries that I don’t, I’ll play over 57.5 on Friday night.

Pick: Over 57.5 (Play to 60.5)


Over 57.5

By BJ Cunningham

Houston’s offense really struggled to move the ball against a really good Tulane secondary. The good news for the Cougars is Memphis’ secondary isn’t anywhere close to Tulane.

The Tigers are allowing 8.0 yards per attempt, rank 104th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 93rd in EPA/Pass Allowed.

They did play Mississippi State’s Air Raid in their first game, but their last four games have been against Navy, Arkansas State, North Texas and Temple — not exactly a murderer’s row.

Clayton Tune didn’t have a great start to the season, but he has started to heat up the last two games, putting up a PFF passing grade over 85.0 against Rice and Tulane.

He has one of the most dynamic wide receivers in college football to throw to in Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, who already has 454 receiving yards, five touchdowns and an 81.9 PFF receiving grade through five games.

Tune also has plenty of time to throw as well, as Houston has the 17th-best pass-blocking grade in college football, per PFF.

Plus, one of Memphis’ starting cornerbacks, Julian Barnett, missed the last game against Temple and is questionable to play on Friday. So, there’s no excuse why Tune shouldn’t throw all over this Memphis secondary.

Houston has one of the best pass rushes in the country, putting up a 91.8 PFF pass-rushing grade through its first five games, but there are a lot of issues that still need to be sorted out.

Houston ranks 107th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and 130th in Power Success Rate Allowed. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that it ranks 117th in terms of a tackling grade, per PFF. Memphis, meanwhile, ranks around the FBS average in EPA/Rush, Rushing Success Rate and rushing explosiveness.

The Cougars had two new starting cornerbacks at the beginning of the season, and so far, it has not gone very well because the Cougars are 55th in EPA/Pass Allowed and 72nd in Passing Success Rate Allowed after ranking in the top 20 last year.

Both of these teams love to play fast, with Memphis running a play every 23.42 seconds (28th in FBS) and Houston running a play every 25.26 seconds (53rd).

I have 68.3 points projected for this game, so I like the value on over 57.5 points.

Pick: Over 57.5 (Play to 60.5)



Houston vs. Memphis

Friday, Oct. 7
7:30 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Houston Team Total Over 27.5

By Action Analytics

In their matchup last year, Houston beat Memphis, 31-13, snapping a five-game losing streak against the Tigers. While I expect this year’s game to be much closer, I think Houston’s offense will once again exploit the Memphis defense. Why?

To start, Houston ranks 39th in Finishing Drives, scoring an average of 4.6 points every time it passes its opponent’s 40-yard line. Meanwhile, Memphis sits 79th in points allowed per opportunity.

I expect this efficiency to be an even bigger factor in this game due to the fact that this Tiger defense does a poor job disrupting opposing offenses. They rank 106th in Defensive Havoc, and while Houston is by no means stellar in terms of Havoc Allowed, it’s a respectable 51st.

There’s also reason to believe Clayton Tune will continue to improve this season. The senior quarterback owned a 90 PFF grade in 2021, good for 18th. This year, he has a PFF grade of 80.6, putting him right in the middle of the pack at 58th. However, he was under duress much of the night in his last game against Tulane, getting pressured on 15 of his dropbacks.

I expect Houston’s offensive line to have one of its better games and keep Tune clean all night, allowing him to pick apart this Memphis defense that allowed 32 points to Arkansas State and 34 to North Texas.

Pick: Houston Team Total Over 27.5 or Better



Colorado State vs. Nevada

Friday, Oct. 7
10 p.m. ET
FS1
Over 43.5

By Patrick Strollo

Former Nevada head coach Jay Norvell and staff return to Mackay Stadium for the grudge match of the weekend in the Mountain West.

Norvell finds himself and his new program in the midst of one of a massive rebuild. Through five weeks of play, Colorado State ranks second-to-last in scoring offense, averaging just 10.8 points per game. Norvell, a proponent of the Air Raid offense, has dealt with offensive line issues and quarterback injuries.

If we take a look at why the offense has been so bad to this point, some of it can be explained by the difficulty of schedule. The Rams opened up the season against Michigan and then saw Washington State in Week 3. They scored seven points in each of those contests, but it should be noted that Michigan and Washington State rank in the top 25 in scoring defenses nationally.

Against Middle Tennessee, the 90th-ranked scoring defense in the nation, the Rams mustered 19 points. Admittedly, not great, but more than enough for an easy cover in this contest coming off of a bye week.

Nevada enters the game with a lackluster defense. Season to date, the Wolf Pack are allowing 31.2 points per game, putting them 102nd in the country in scoring defense.

After holding their first two opponents to just 13 points per game, the Nevada defense has been torn up, allowing 55 points to Incarnate Word, 27 to lifeless Iowa and 48 to Air Force.

The impetus for the cover will rest with the hometown Wolf Pack, who are averaging 24.4 points per game.

Similar to their opponent, the Nevada stat line is stunted by a difficult early-season schedule. In Weeks 4 and 5, the Wolf Pack faced two esteemed defenses in Iowa and Air Force, putting up zero and 20 points against the two top-25 defenses, respectively.

The Nevada offense shouldn’t be slept on and will be primed to bounce back this weekend against a Colorado State defense that has allowed 41.0 points (126th scoring defense) per game this season.

The total that the desert is hanging has too much elite defense factored into the team performances thus far. As such, I believe that both teams are capable of scoring 50% more of their season scoring averages in this Mountain West game.

That would put Nevada at 36.8 points and Colorado State at 16.2 points. My model has the total easily reaching the 50-point mark. Take the over in Reno.

Pick: Over 43.5 (Play to 45)



Colorado State vs. Nevada

Friday, Oct. 7
10 p.m. ET
FS1
Colorado State +3.5

By Kyle Remillard

Friday night’s matchup between Colorado State and Nevada features two programs that have a combined two wins. But it will be filled with drama, as head coach Jay Norvell returns back to Nevada after leaving for Colorado State in the offseason and bringing a boatload of talent with him.

However, that strategy hasn’t worked out for him quite yet, as the Rams are one of only two winless teams in the FBS. But that changes on Friday night.

Colorado State’s offense will finally find some success against a Nevada defense that can’t get off the field on third down. Opponents are converting third downs at a 48% clip. The Wolf Pack have been reliant on their run game this season, and Colorado State’s run defense will be able to slow it down.

Despite the 0-5 start, Norvell will have his squad fired up for this game. That won’t take much effort considering 16 players and recruits have ties to the Nevada program.

Colorado State has taken just a third of the bets on this matchup, yet the Rams account for 74% of the money. Despite that, the number has moved in their favor from +3 to +3.5.

Action Network’s PRO Projections have the Rams projected as half-point underdogs in this matchup. And I agree — I would make this matchup a pick’em, so I’ll happily take the free points.

Pick: Colorado State +3.5 (Play to +3)



UNLV vs. San Jose State

Friday, Oct. 7
10:30 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
UNLV +6.5

By Cody Goggin

The UNLV Rebels have had a strong start to the year at 4-1, but San Jose State has not done too poorly itself, going 3-1. Both teams are undefeated in Mountain West play, so this may end up being an important matchup come season’s end.

It hasn’t faced the toughest schedule, but UNLV ranks 20th in the country in Offensive Success Rate and 19th in EPA per Play. The Rebels are carried by their strong running game, which ranks fifth in the nation in Rushing Success Rate and ninth in PFF rushing grade.

This is notable because the San Jose State defense isn’t particularly strong but has a glaring weakness against the run, where it ranks 111th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate. Furthermore, the Spartans rank 124th against the pass as well.

On the other side of the ball, I don’t believe there’s anything too noteworthy. San Jose State ranks 86h in Offensive Success Rate and will face a UNLV defense that ranks 69th. Additionally, San Jose State’s offense is rated as the 117th-best offense by SP+. While UNLV doesn’t have a great defense, I’m not too worried about the Spartans offense.

I backed the Rebels last Friday, and I’m going to do it again. Last week, UNLV was a 14-point favorite against New Mexico and struggled to get it going early on. It eventually turned it on but it was too late. It won by 11, failing to cover the number.

I think UNLV’s strength of running the ball matches up well. It should keep it close, if not win outright. The Rebels are 4-1 against the spread this season, and I think they’ll move to 5-1 tonight.

Pick: UNLV +6.5 (Play to +4.5)



UNLV vs. San Jose State

Friday, Oct. 7
10:30 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
UNLV ML +200

By Mike Calabrese

The Mountain West hasn’t played out how anyone would have predicted just six weeks ago.

Utah State, the 2021 MWC darling, is in shambles at 1-4. Boise State is 2-0 in conference play, but it had already fired its offensive coordinator, and its opening day starter at quarterback has entered the transfer portal. Fresno State is on the verge of collapse with Jake Haener banged up. and Air Force has already been upset by lowly Wyoming.

If I were to describe this conference in early October in a single phrase, I would say “wide-open.”

Enter UNLV. The Rebels have been to exactly one bowl game since 2001 and have been waiting for a coach and quarterback for decades. It appears Harrison Bailey was their signal-caller of choice, as they snagged him out of the portal from Tennessee.

But in a shocking turn, Doug Brumfield won the job in fall camp, and he’s been masterful for UNLV. He has 13 total touchdowns against just two turnovers, and the UNLV offense is well-balanced enough to put up 37.8 points per game (26th).

If Kyle Williams is a go on Friday night, this offense is primed for a big road win. Williams and Ricky White have given opposing secondaries issues. Aidan Robbins, UNLV’s big, bruising Louisville transfer has eight rushing touchdowns already this season.

UNLV blew a fourth-quarter lead to SJSU last season, but I feel like it has the talent and momentum to close the deal this time around. I’m also not afraid of SJSU’s home-field advantage with CEFCU Stadium still under renovation (limited capacity of 21,520.)

Pick: UNLV ML +200 (Play to +180)

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