College Football Odds & Picks: How We’re Betting USC vs. UCLA, Plus 4 Other Week 15 Best Bets on Saturday

College Football Odds & Picks: How We’re Betting USC vs. UCLA, Plus 4 Other Week 15 Best Bets on Saturday article feature image
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Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: Brittain Brown.

Things are starting to get real in the college football world.

Only one week separates us from conference championship week, which means bowl season will be here before we know it. While that’s extremely exciting — especially in a year like 2020 — that means football is almost over.

Rather than preemptively mourning the waning weeks of this year’s college football season, there is cause for celebration: Despite COVID-19 constantly wreaking havoc on each week’s schedule, we’ve made it this far.

To celebrate these successes, our college football staff broke down its five favorite bets for Week 15 of the season, beginning with America’s Game in Army vs. Navy and ending with a UCLA vs. USC evening game.

Let’s make the most of these games while we still can. Because before we know it, we’ll be wishing it was football season again.


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Saturday College Football Best Bets for Week 15:

Check our top Saturday picks below, each of which comes from one of the following five games. Click any of the games below to navigate to a specific matchup.

Kickoff Time
Matchup
3 p.m. ET
Army vs. Navy
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 pm ET
North Carolina vs. Miami (FL)
7:30 p.m. ET
UCLA vs. USC

All listed odds have been updated as of Friday morning and via DraftKings. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown 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.



CLICK THE DROPDOWN ARROW TO EASILY NAVIGATE TO ANY GAME
Kickoff Time
Matchup
3 p.m. ET
Army vs. Navy
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 pm ET
North Carolina vs. Miami (FL)
7:30 p.m. ET
UCLA vs. USC

Army vs. Navy

by Mike Ianniello

ncaa-college football-best bets-week 15
Army Odds -7 [BET NOW]
Navy Odds +7 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -305 / +240 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 38 [BET NOW]
Time 3 p.m. ET
TV CBS
(Photo Credit: Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By now, it’s the beginning of the weekend, and you have unfortunately already lost the value on the best bet of the week: the service academy under. Go set yourself a reminder to bet the under between Army and Navy the Monday before they play next season so you don’t forget before it drops too low.   

Don’t worry, though. There’s still a great value bet in America’s Game. As we all know, these teams almost exclusively run the ball. Army runs the ball 87% of the time (first in FBS) and Navy runs it 75% of the time (fourth). 

The difference is Navy really isn’t that good at running the football. The Midshipmen average 185.3 rushing yards per game, the 46th-most in the country. They rank 107th in Rushing Success Rate. That’s not good for an offense that runs the ball 49.8 times per game. 

Strong quarterback play is still extremely important for an option team, as he is the one facilitating the entire offense. Navy has used four different quarterbacks this season, and none of them have been effective. It looks as though freshman Xavier Arline will get the start under center, but he, Dalen Morris, and Tyger Goslin have all struggled to move the ball consistently.

The other thing Navy isn’t very good at? Defending the run. The Midshipmen sit 106th in the country in Defensive Rushing Success Rate. They have allowed 5.3 yards per carry on the ground this season, which puts them 112th in the nation.

Army, meanwhile, ranks eighth in the country in Rushing Success Rate on defense. Senior linebacker Jon Rhattigan leads a Black Knights defense that allows just 119.0 rushing yards per game. Army’s defensive line ranks seventh in the country in Line Yards and 15th in Stuff Rate.

Army should have no problem shutting down the Navy option attack and will be able to run the ball against a weak Navy run defense. Army ranks third in the country in rushing and averages 5.0 yards per carry.

This game will be played in West Point for the first time since World War II, and although Navy has dominated this series over the last 20 years, the tides appear to have turned. Army should have no problem securing its fourth win in the past five years.

I like Army -6.5 and would take it up to -9.5.

Pick: Army -6.5 (up to -9.5).

[Bet Army at FanDuel completely risk-free up to $1,000]

CLICK THE DROPDOWN ARROW TO EASILY NAVIGATE TO ANY GAME
Kickoff Time
Matchup
3 p.m. ET
Army vs. Navy
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 pm ET
North Carolina vs. Miami (FL)
7:30 p.m. ET
UCLA vs. USC

Wisconsin vs. No. 16 Iowa

by Stuckey

ncaa-college football-betting-odds-picks-week 15
Wisconsin Odds -2 [BET NOW]
Iowa Odds +2 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -127 / +105 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 41.5 [BET NOW]
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV FS1
(Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

I think this is a perfect chance to buy low on the Badgers. Yes, they’ve lost two straight games but both in semi-fluky fashion.

  • Outgained Northwestern, 366-263 (4.5-3.9 ypp), in a loss to the Wildcats
  • Outgained Indiana, 342-217 (5.0-4.1 ypp), in a loss to the Hoosiers

Those two games came after blowout wins over Michigan and Illinois to start the year.

The Badgers have been unlucky in the turnover department and very poor when it comes to finishing drives off with points. We could see regression in both this weekend for an offense that has shown it can move the ball.  Plus, it may get a little healthier at wide receiver this weekend. And on the other side of the ball, Wisconsin’s defense has graded out as one of the best units in the league so far this year.

I also think Iowa is a tad overrated after playing a soft schedule with a couple of fortunate late wins.

Ultimately, I make Wisconsin a 3.5-point favorite, so I will gladly take them at anything 1.5 or below. I trust its defense more in a game in which points may really come at a premium given the brutal weather conditions currently forecasted.

Pick: Wisconsin -1.5 or better.

[Bet Wisconsin now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

CLICK THE DROPDOWN ARROW TO EASILY NAVIGATE TO ANY GAME
Kickoff Time
Matchup
3 p.m. ET
Army vs. Navy
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 pm ET
North Carolina vs. Miami (FL)
7:30 p.m. ET
UCLA vs. USC

Wisconsin vs. No. 16 Iowa

by BJ Cunningham

ncaa-college football-betting-odds-picks-week 15
Wisconsin Odds -2 [BET NOW]
Iowa Odds +2 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -127 / +105 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 41.5 [BET NOW]
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV FS1
(Photo Credit: Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Outside of the Illinois game, Graham Mertz is averaging only 5.8 yards per attempt and has thrown three touchdowns and four interceptions. That has led the Badgers to the 76th-best offense in terms of Passing Success, so Mertz is likely going to struggle again on Saturday against a solid Iowa secondary in bad weather. 

As it is every year, the rushing attack is the strength of the Wisconsin offense. The Badgers rank ninth in Rushing Success, per College Football Data, and average 4.4 yards per attempt.

However, they haven’t been able to break off many explosive runs and rank 116th in rushing explosiveness. That’s going to be an issue against an Iowa defense ranked third in the country in rushing explosiveness allowed.

The main reason Iowa is on its current winning streak is because of its “bend, but don’t break” defense. This defensive mindset drives Hawkeye fans crazy sometimes, but it has led them to be the top team in the nation in explosive plays allowed. They are also top-five in both rushing and passing explosiveness allowed, so Wisconsin’s offensive struggles may continue.

Iowa ranks in the top half of both Defensive Rushing and Passing Success, but perhaps the most impressive stat is something that will make head coach Kirk Ferentz smile. Iowa is 10th in opponents’ average starting field position.

One of the reasons Iowa has won five consecutive games is due to its rushing attack behind the duo of Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent. The Hawkeyes are the 27th-ranked offense in terms of Rushing Success, per College Football Data, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

However, the Hawkeyes are not explosive by any means, as they sit in the bottom half of college football in rushing explosiveness. Saturday’s tilt against Wisconsin’s rush defense is going to be a massive step up in competition.

While Wisconsin’s offense has taken a step back over its past few games, the defense has remained one of the best in the Big Ten. The Badgers have been the best team in the country against the run, allowing only 2.9 yards per attempt. They rank first overall in Defensive Rushing Success and second in rushing explosiveness allowed.

The weather in Iowa City is not going to be ideal with substantial wind and possible snow in the forecast. That is likely going to lead to another defensive struggle, as is usually the case between these two teams.

I have the total projected at 34.26, so I think there’s value in taking under 41.5 points with two elite defenses and bad weather.

Pick: Under 41.5.

[Bet the Iowa-Wisconsin under at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

CLICK THE DROPDOWN ARROW TO EASILY NAVIGATE TO ANY GAME
Kickoff Time
Matchup
3 p.m. ET
Army vs. Navy
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 pm ET
North Carolina vs. Miami (FL)
7:30 p.m. ET
UCLA vs. USC

No. 17 North Carolina vs. No. 10 Miami (FL)

by Darin Gardner

ncaa-college football-betting-odds-pick-week 15
North Carolina Odds +3.5 [BET NOW]
Miami (FL) Odds -3.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +120 / -148 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 6-.5 [BET NOW]
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV ABC
(Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

North Carolina’s offense has been incredible this season.

To date, it ranks fourth in explosive play rate and 11th in Success Rate. Quarterback Sam Howell ranks fifth among all quarterbacks in Pro Football Focus grade, and he is sixth in yards per attempt.

On the ground, UNC running back Javonte Williams is forcing missed tackles at a rate that PFF has not seen in the past seven years. Meanwhile, Michael Carter, who shares carries with Williams, is averaging 7.1 yards per carry. These backs are going to face a Miami front seven that ranks 102nd in second-level yards allowed. On the outside, wide receiver Dyami Brown ranks second in Expected Points Added per play among all receivers with at least 75 targets.

North Carolina’s defense hasn’t been great, but its strengths match up with Miami’s offense. UNC can get gashed on the ground, but the Hurricanes rank 81st in Rushing Success Rate. Miami is much more efficient in the passing game, and that’s where the UNC defense has most of its success (21st in Passing Success Rate Allowed).

As a whole, Miami has been too reliant on explosive plays. The Hurricanes rank only 87th in First Down Rate and 77th in Success Rate. Their best win of the season was a one-point win over Virginia Tech in a game in which they were outgained in yards per play. 

North Carolina will easily be this team’s biggest test since getting blown out by Clemson, and I trust UNC’s offense a lot more than Miami’s. I like UNC catching 3.5 and wouldn’t steer you away from the moneyline, either.

Pick: North Carolina +3.5.

[Bet North Carolina now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

CLICK THE DROPDOWN ARROW TO EASILY NAVIGATE TO ANY GAME
Kickoff Time
Matchup
3 p.m. ET
Army vs. Navy
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 pm ET
North Carolina vs. Miami (FL)
7:30 p.m. ET
UCLA vs. USC

UCLA vs. No. 15 USC

by Patrick Strollo

ncaa-college football-betting-odds-picks-week 15
UCLA Odds +2.5 [BET NOW]
USC Odds -2.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +110 / -132 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 62.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV ABC
(Photo Credit: Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The UCLA Bruins (3-2) will host the No. 15 USC Trojans (4-0) this Saturday at the Rose Bowl. This will be the 90th all-time meeting between the two programs with USC leading the series, 32-48-7. The two teams, both wearing their LA home jerseys are jockeying for the Victory Bell in this rivalry game.

Last year, the Trojans defeated the Bruins, 52-35. USC is 2-2 against the spread this season, while the Bruins are 4-1 against the numbers crunched in Sin City. 

USC ranks 41st in FBS total offense, averaging 424.5 yards per game. The Trojans have an Offensive Predicted Points Added (PPA) per play mark of 0.14, which ranks 76th in FBS. On the other side of the ball, the Trojans own a defensive PPA per play of 0.13, ranking 45th in FBS.  

UCLA ranks 37th in FBS total offense, averaging 430.6 yards per game. The Bruins have an Offensive PPA per play of 0.20, which ranks 47th in FBS. Defensively, The Bruins own a defensive PPA of 0.10, ranking 30th nationally. 

On the surface, it appears USC is the better team, being nationally ranked and undefeated. Keep in mind that the Trojans whistled past the graveyard in their first two games of the season. But a win is a win.

The Bruins are better offensively and will look to their secondary to mitigate the Trojan passing game. I expect an outright Bruin win as UCLA looks to complicate the Pac-12 Championship picture. 

My model has UCLA as the outright winner in this one. Based on UCLA’s performances so far this season, I project it as 6.5-point favorites. I think that the moneyline is the pick in this one. If you are opposed to the ML, consider taking the field goal with the associated juice.

Pick: UCLA ML +112.

[Bet the UCLA moneyline now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

CLICK THE DROPDOWN ARROW TO EASILY NAVIGATE TO ANY GAME
Kickoff Time
Matchup
3 p.m. ET
Army vs. Navy
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
3:30 pm ET
North Carolina vs. Miami (FL)
7:30 p.m. ET
UCLA vs. USC

 


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