College Football Odds & Picks: How to Bet Friday Night’s San Diego State vs. San Jose State, BYU vs. Boise State, More
Loren Orr/Getty Images. Pictured: Chase Cord (left) and John Hightower (right).
- There's something special about Friday Night Lights, and The Action Network has you covered on how to be all three of tonight's games.
- The slate kicks off with Miami vs. NC State before transitioning to San Diego State vs. San Jose State later in the night. BYU vs. Boise State will serve as the nightcap.
- Collin Wilson and Mike Calabrese broke down all three games below and shared analysis and betting picks for each one.
Friday Night Lights.
Don’t get me wrong: At The Action Network, we love us some Tuesday or Wednesday MACtion, Thursday Fun Belt games, and — of course — Saturday’s wall-to-wall college action. But there’s just something about Friday night college football under the lights that hits differently.
This week, we’ve been blessed with yet another three-game card for Friday night. We’ve analyzed the odds, poured through the tape, broken down schemes, and highlighted our favorite betting positions for each of those three games. Below, check out comprehensive game guides for each of Friday’s college football matchups:
- 7:30 p.m. ET | #11 Miami vs. NC State
- 9:00 p.m. ET | San Jose State vs. San Diego State
- 9:45 p.m. ET | #9 BYU vs. #21 Boise State
#11 Miami vs. NC State
|Miami Odds||-10.5 [BET NOW]|
|NC State Odds||+10.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-380 / +290 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||58.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
The first half of Miami’s season can be considered a success after breaking in a new offensive coordinator for transfer quarterback D’Eriq King. The Canes sit at 5-1 this season — their only loss coming against Clemson — with a remaining schedule that includes Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Without Notre Dame on the schedule, Miami is still very much on track to make the ACC Championship game.
The Hurricanes get a boost offensively with the return of tight end Brevin Jordan. A shoulder injury took away one of King’s top weapons, as Jordan ranks second on the team in third-down targets. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee runs the Miami offense out of 12 personnel on 33% of snaps and had issues in Finishing Drives against Virginia. Jordan’s return liberates higher-value targets on third down and provides a great blocking piece on rushing attempts.
This block by Brevin Jordan pretty much sums up this Miami – Florida State game pic.twitter.com/041ex5GpHx
— Billy Moy (@PFF_Billy) September 27, 2020
The signature of the Miami defense has always been Havoc. The Canes rank 16th in Defensive Havoc and continue to improve in the trenches with a rising rank in Line Yards. The concern is in the back seven with the pass defense. Pro Football Focus grades Miami as having the 69th-best coverage unit in FBS. Safeties Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall Jr. lead the team in missed tackles.
NC State Wolfpack
The loss of quarterback Devin Leary to a broken fibula was most felt in the Wolfpack’s loss to North Carolina. Both Bailey Hockman and Ben Finley saw time at quarterback and combined to throw three total interceptions. Despite the turnovers, there was success offensively, as North Carolina State had two Explosive Drives and met the national average for drives with at least two first downs. If the Wolfpack can live up to its rank of 34th in Passing Success Rate, a clean turnover sheet may help NC State upset a few opponents.
The bad news for the Wolfpack comes on the defensive side of the ball. A rank of 84th in Finishing Drives derives from allowing opponents an average of 4.4 points per trip past the 40-yard line. NC State ranks 100th out of 103 active FBS teams in tackling grade, per PFF. A high percentage of those missed tackles come from the linebacker unit, which has been the point of attack for opposing passing games.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Manny Diaz acknowledges there’s an issue with Miami football when extra rest is involved. Diaz has been with the program since 2016, originally serving as defensive coordinator for head coach Mark Richt. Per our Bet Labs database, the Hurricanes have covered in just one game when given at least eight days rest since 2018.
The one victory against the number came against Louisville on Sept. 19 after nine days off from a UAB victory. With increased awareness of this trend in the Miami program, there could be regression to the mean in such a short sample size during the Diaz era.
A brief look at the advanced statistics shows plenty of advantages for Miami. A top-10 explosive rush attack should get to the linebacker level, where NC State has posted some of the worst tackling numbers in the nation. King has not had interruptions in scoring opportunities, with 19-of-21 red-zone attempts resulting in a score.
Our Action Network Projection has the side at Miami -12.5, while the Pace Report calls for the game to land at 57. The current market provides no value to the number, but any line at Miami -10 or North Carolina State +13 has the edge for those respective teams. Considering Miami’s awareness of bye-week issues, the first-half over is worth a flier. The Hurricanes scored on four of the first five drives in their last game off of a bye week (Louisville). Given the Wolfpack’s top-30 rank in pace of play, points should come early in this contest.
Pick: First-Half Over 30 or better
San Jose State vs. San Diego State
|San Jose State Odds||+9.5 [BET NOW]|
|San Diego State Odds||-9.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+270 / -345 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||47.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 9 p.m. ET|
|TV||CBS Sports Network|
San Jose State Spartans
The progression of the Spartans under head coach Brent Brennan was noticeable last season as they picked up five wins. San Jose State had three losses in 2019 that were within one possession, signaling SJSU as a buy-low team this season. The strength of the offense has come via the stability of the passing game. Transfer-quarterback Nick Starkel leads an air assault that ranks first in expected points.
Another one! @NickStarkel hits sophomore Isaiah Hamilton with a 43-yard strike and the Spartans are on top 14-0.
— San José State Football (@SanJoseStateFB) November 1, 2020
The offensive line deserves plenty of credit for its top rank in Adjusted Sack Rate on passing downs. However, while Starkel has been protected in passing downs, rushing attempts have been subpar against New Mexico and Air Force. The Spartans rank second-to-last in Rushing Success Rate and Explosiveness.
The defensive side of the ball has experienced massive improvement in tackling, with a Pro Football Focus grade of third in FBS play. The Spartans rush defense was on full display in a low-scoring game against Air Force. San Jose State has allowed opponents to score only 1.8 points per trip inside the 40-yard line.
San Diego State Aztecs
New head coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Kurt Mattix were featured in this week’s Havoc Ratings. Outside of creating chaos through two weeks of play, the San Diego State defense ranks top-10 in Passing Success Rate, Finishing Drives, and PFF coverage grade. Admittedly, it may be fair to critique the Aztecs’ strength of schedule (games against UNLV and Utah State), but the early results are positive on defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, coordinator Jeff Hecklinski is ushering in a new era in Aztec scoring. San Diego State has scored at least 34 points through two games — an astonishing number considering the Aztecs have not achieved that scoring total since 2017.
As shown above, San Diego State is gaining chunk yards after contact. Led by Greg Bell, the Aztec running back stable averages more than four yards per attempt after contact. Hecklinski has called 65% rushing plays with a pace of 78th in FBS, leaving the conclusion that the high scoring comes from explosive runs. The team’s second-place rank in Stuff Rate and third-place rank in Line Yards was on full display against Utah State.
Greg Bell stretches out for the @AztecFB TD!
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) November 1, 2020
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Mountain West did away with both the Mountain and the West divisions for 2020, as this would have been a knockout game for the West. With the new dynamic, one of these teams will be the first 3-0 team in the conference, while the loser will move to a wide group of teams with one loss. Considering San Diego State does not have Boise State on its regular-season schedule, this is the last call to grab a Mountain West future on the Aztecs.
Our Action Network Projection for the game is San Diego State -10.5, giving little value to the current number. The head-to-head matchup above shows why the total opened low and has remained under seven touchdowns. While both the Spartans and Aztecs have found offensive success, it’s the defensive profiles that insist this should be low-scoring.
Both defenses rank top-10 in Finishing Drives, while San Jose State is one of the best tackling teams in the nation. The Spartans must contain Aztec rushing attempts that gain extra yardage after contact.
The Aztecs defense is also the best in the nation in defending expected points through the air. In combination with a first-place rank in defensive Havoc and third-place rank in opponent passing Success Rate, San Diego State has the proper traits to shut down the Spartans passing attack.
Both teams have been slow-starters through the first quarter of respective games, and that should continue Friday night.
Pick: First-Quarter Under; First-Half Under 24 or better
#9 BYU vs. #21 Boise State
|BYU Odds||-3.5 (-105) [BET NOW]|
|Boise State Odds||+3.5 (-115) [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-160 / +135 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||61 (-115/-105) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 9:45 p.m. ET|
It’s been 30 years since BYU entered a regular-season game with legitimate national championship aspirations. Led by Ty Detmer, the Cougars opened the 1990 season with four straight wins, including an upset of defending national champion Miami in Provo. The Cougars rose to No. 4 in the national polls but fell to Oregon in Eugene by 16 points in late September. They have been trying to claw their way back to the top of the mountain ever since.
On Friday night in Boise, Brigham Young finds itself in unfamiliar territory. If it wins, — and wins decisively — the Cougars have a compelling argument for their inclusion in the College Football Playoff committee’s top four when it announces the first rankings on Nov. 24.
Boise State, meanwhile, can catapult into the top 15 if it can defend its home field against the undefeated Cougars. A win like this would give BSU a puncher’s chance to secure the Group of Five’s automatic bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Will the stakes elicit tight play from the Broncos and Cougars, or should we strap in for a thrilling shootout? The numbers bear out the latter on the Smurf Turf in Idaho’s capital city.
Boise State Broncos
Boise State proved last week it can move the ball up and down the field with backup quarterback Jack Sears leading the way. The USC graduate transfer and former four-star recruit is the highest-rated quarterback to ever start a game for the Broncos.
Against Air Force, he wasted little time — 10 seconds to be precise — proving that he wasn’t just another highly-touted recruit who couldn’t hack it. On the very first play of his first start for the Broncos, he connected on a deep shot (43 air yards) to CT Thomas. This would become a theme throughout the game, as Sears gave an already highly efficient offense an explosive element that has been missing since the Kellen Moore days.
THAT IS HOW YOU GET A GAME GOING!!
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) October 31, 2020
When Bryan Harsin took over in 2014, the former Boise offensive coordinator doubled down on some of the trademark characteristics of the Boise State offensive brand. Tons of formations, pre-snap motion, tight end/H-Back involvement, and misdirection led to 8.3 average yards per attempt (YPA) between 2014 and 2019. This put the Broncos right around 20th in the country on an annual basis.
This season, something is different. Through two games, Boise’s YPA is up to 10.8 (fifth), and it’s not sacrificing efficiency for big plays. The Broncos rank top-10 nationally in Finishing Drives, red-zone efficiency, completion percentage and interception rate. Beyond the stats, it’s also plain to see that Sears is a threat to beat the defense deep, and the Boise staff is setting him up with aggressive play calls.
If Sears indeed gets the starting nod for the second straight week, I anticipate another strong offensive performance against a BYU defense that allowed 310 passing yards against Houston three weeks ago.
Boise State’s air prowess has been on full display through two games, but Zach Wilson’s aerial work has been captivating audiences for months. Wilson has been a revelation for the Cougars, posting the following numbers:
- 86.3 Total QBR (ninth)
- 198.7 QB Rating (seventh)
- 74.6 Competition % (sixth)
- 11.2 YPA (fifth)
- 19:2 TD-INT Ratio
Despite the fact that the Cougars don’t push tempo (80th in Pace), they’re averaging 44.4 points per game.
When this offensive output is paired with an impressive defensive Havoc rating (18.16%, 28th), it’s easy to envision a high-scoring affair. Digging deeper into BYU’s play this season, the offensive stats skew even higher in the first 30 minutes. The Cougars are averaging 26 points in the first half this season, which has pushed six of their seven games over the first-half total. The first-half over has hit in both of Boise State’s games as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this game gets off to a fast start.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With mild temperatures and calm wind conditions forecasted for this ranked battle at Albertsons Stadium, the stage is set for a track meet. Both offenses have the potential to score in the 40s if everything is clicking, which is why the total is a safer play than a side in this spot. I do lean BYU, tailing the big money that has been placed on the Cougars in the past 48 hours. As of publication, 75% of the handle on this matchup is BYU money.
Pick: Over 61 / BYU-2.5 (Lean)