College Football Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s 3 Best Bets for Today’s Afternoon Games, Including Kent State vs. Maryland (Sept. 25)
Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Maryland Terrapins football team.
- College football Saturday rolls on after the noon kickoffs to the afternoon games.
- Our staff has three best bets for this kickoff window, including picks for Kent State vs. Maryland and Iowa State vs. Baylor.
- Check out all three picks, complete with full breakdowns, below.
The Saturday college football noon kickoff window featured a top-25 battle between Notre Dame and Wisconsin, but the afternoon slate has an even juicer ranked matchup in store.
Two weeks after No. 7 Texas A&M nearly lost to Colorado and No. 16 Arkansas surprised Texas, the Aggies and Razorbacks now face off in a much-anticipated neutral-site game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
In addition to that epic SEC duel, the 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff window also offers betting opportunities for No. 14 Iowa State vs. Baylor and Kent State vs. Maryland.
Our experts break down all three games and provide their best bets, so use the table below to find the pick that will earn you some cash.
Check out our Saturday College Football Best Bets for Each Kickoff Window:
Saturday College Football Best Bets for Week 4
Our Top Picks for Saturday Afternoon
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff’s best bets for games kicking off at 3:30 p.m. ET. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific pick 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.
No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 16 Arkansas
After being so wrong fading Arkansas last week, I took an ample amount of time this week to dig into the Hogs.
And I came away thoroughly impressed with the job Sam Pittman has done, particularly with both the offensive and defensive lines, which I think is the biggest difference with Arkansas this year.
Arkansas now finally has adequate bulk in the interior of the defensive line of its three-man front.
The addition of big man John Ridgeway (transfer from Illinois State) has done wonders for this defense, which already had an abundance of talent on the back end (Grant Morgan, Jalen Catalon to name two) of a very well-schooled 3-3-5 defense.
This defense is legit and one of the most underrated units in all of college football. I think it can really confuse freshman Zach Calzada, who hasn’t been that impressive against inferior competition so far this year.
He only has a 51% completion rate with more turnover worthy throws than big time throws against New Mexico and in limited duty against Kent State and Colorado. Against those teams, Texas A&M actually ranks below the national average overall in EPA per play.
It also doesn’t help that the offensive line (which ranks 90th in OL efficiency, per PFF) has been subpar after having to replace four starters from last year. It’s a unit that has dealt with some injuries and is still moving some pieces around to find the right fit. True freshman center Bryce Foster, in particular, is really struggling.
Additionally, the wide receiver unit will be missing Caleb Chapman and could be without top wideout Ainias Smith, who does so many different things for the Aggies.
In contrast, there have been absolutely no issues with the Texas A&M defense, which has been dominant to date, allowing only 17 points combined in its first three contests.
I expect this veteran unit to bottle up an Arkansas offense that is also dealing with a few injuries along the offensive line and skill positions.
From a game script perspective, I expect Jimbo Fisher to lean on his running game and short throws within a conservative game plan that protects his young quarterback and leans on his outstanding defense.
I also don’t expect either team to play fast, which certainly helps the under. I know it’s on a fast track with a lot of playmakers on the field, but I think both defenses rule the day against two conservative offensive game plans.
Give me the full game and first-half unders.
Pick: Under 47 | 1H Under 23.5
No. 14 Iowa State vs. Baylor
Iowa State has been no stranger to a disappointing early nonconference loss in Matt Campbell’s tenure in Ames. In fact, from 2017-20, the Cyclones dropped at least one nonconference game in September in each season.
Every single time that has happened, Matt Campbell’s groups have bounced back with a very strong start to conference play.
I have zero concern that this Iowa State team has lost its fight after the brutal loss to Iowa. This is a mature team that knows that a Big 12 title is still in front of it.
Led by star linebacker Mike Rose, the Cyclone defense has lived up to its billing thus far. They have largely dominated opposing offenses, and I don’t see that changing this week against Baylor.
The Bears have put up some lofty offensive numbers in their first three games of the season, but it has come against one of the weakest schedules of any team in the country.
Quarterback Gerry Bohannon will be in for a rude awakening when he takes on this Cyclone defense on Saturday afternoon.
Expect Brock Purdy and the Iowa State offense to finally get some momentum going after a very sluggish start to the year. The Cyclones will be playing angry after another loss to the Hawkeyes, and they are the superior unit on both sides of the ball. Iowa State by double digits in Waco.
Pick: Iowa State -7
Kent State vs. Maryland
This Maryland offense has improved leap and bounds from what we saw in 2020. It’s averaging 14 more points per game than last year, thanks to the improvement of quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa.
After ranking 102nd in Offensive Points Per Drive and nearly dead last in Finishing Drives last year, the Terrapins have found their groove this season to average 37 points per game.
Tagovailoa has completed 75% of his passes and thrown seven touchdowns to zero interceptions. He will be able to pick apart a Kent State defense that hasn’t shown the ability to generate any pass rush this season.
The defense ranks 104th in Rushing Success and 92nd in Pass Success. Maryland will have its way against this unit that allowed 38 points per game last season.
Offensively, Kent State plays with a “Flash Fast” tempo that ranks ninth in plays per minute.
Quarterback Dustin Crum averaged 10.5 yards per pass attempt and over 300 passing yards per game last year. He’s seen a bit of a decline in 2021 since he’s matched up against defenses such as Iowa and Texas A&M. This matchup is a strong opportunity for Crum to return to his 2020 form.
All the opponents these two programs have matched up with have wanted to play slow-paced games.
That won’t be the case in this matchup, where the offenses will be playing up-tempo with many scoring opportunities.