College Football Odds, Picks: 3 Late-Night Best Bets for Colorado State vs. Colorado, UTEP vs. Arizona (Sept. 16)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images. Pictured: Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders.
By the time you read this article, you’ve probably been watching and betting on college football for nine hours.
But there are still late-night games to be played on the West Coast and in the Rockies, including a monster matchup between Colorado State and Colorado.
Our staff has you covered for the late-night Saturday college football slate, including a pick for the aforementioned matchup and a fade of Miner Nation.
College Football Saturday Late-Night Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football betting staff is targeting from today'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.
Colorado State vs. Colorado
Usually in projected blowouts you have to read the tea leaves when it comes to a coach’s motivation. Does he want to run it up, or will he be content settling for a win while trotting out his reserves and dialing up vanilla play calls?
In the case of Deion Sanders on Saturday, we know exactly what he wants to do.
For whatever reason, Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell thought it would be a good idea to poke the bear and call out Coach Prime. He noted in an interview that when he speaks to “grown-ups” he always removes his hat and sunglasses.
In response, Deion Sanders was recorded speaking to his team. Sanders set things up by saying, “It was just gonna be a good game. They done messed around and made it . . . .”
His team emphatically capped off the sentiment by yelling “Personal!” This team won’t be calling off the dogs Saturday night.
But as I like to say, it takes two to tango when betting an over, and I love Colorado State and its lightning pace. The Rams are fourth in plays per minute this season and have one of the best collections of skill position talent at the Group of Five level.
Yes, redshirt freshman Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi is in at quarterback, but he has solid upside. A former three-star recruit who received offers from Arizona, Oregon State and Pitt, BFN could surprise against an underwhelming Colorado pass defense.
The Buffaloes rank 126th in Standard Down Success Rate against the pass and can’t get to the quarterback (99th in Sack %).
In their opener, Colorado State and Wazzu combined for 74 points. Colorado, meanwhile, is averaging over 40 points per game.
My numbers call for this total to be 67, which is why it’s my top play of Saturday.
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The handicap on Colorado remains; it's a team that loves third-down explosives and defensive Havoc. An opponent with a strong secondary and discipline on offense to not turn it over will present a challenge to the Buffaloes, but that's not expected to come from Colorado State.
The Rams drew a coverage grade of 127th, per PFF, ranking 128th in Defensive Quality Drives. Because Colorado does its best work on third and long, Colorado State must improve a defense that allowed Washington State to post 11 conversions on 17 attempts.
The bigger handicap is if Colorado State can keep up on the offensive side of the ball. Nebraska will struggle the entire season in passing downs and generating chunk plays through the air, but TCU dominated the Buffs in passing downs with a 53% Success Rate. The Horned Frogs generated at least two first downs on 8-of-12 drives, completing eight passes over 15 yards.
No matter if Clay Millen or Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi is under center, getting the ball in space to Tory Horton and Justus Ross-Simmons will be the mission. Through two games, Colorado is near last in Defensive Passing Downs Success Rate.
The tempo of the game is also notable, as every college football investor knows coordinator Sean Lewis wants Colorado to immolate the "Flash Fast" pace from Kent State. The Buffaloes are one of the fastest teams in FBS at 24.6 seconds per play, only to be outdone by Colorado State.
Norvell had quick offensive possessions against Washington State, averaging a lightning pace of 21.1 seconds per play.
UTEP vs. Arizona
I love Miner Nation, but I’m starting to think Dana Dimel is just not a good football coach. In his sixth season at UTEP, he’s just 18-42.
The Miners went into halftime tied 7-7 against Northwestern last week before getting their doors blown off in the second half, being outscored 31-0.
UTEP is terrible at Finishing Drives and converting on third down, it doesn’t pick up big plays and it doesn’t create any Havoc on defense.
These are all things that come back to coaching.
Gavin Hardison is a veteran quarterback, but he regressed last year and is struggling again this season. He has four touchdowns and four interceptions through three games.
On the other side, Arizona is 16th in the country in Success Rate on offense this season. It also ranks 25th on defense.
The Wildcats are coming off of a heartbreaking loss, but they still went into Mississippi State in a hostile environment and took the Bulldogs to overtime.
They didn’t just force overtime; they absolutely dominated that game. Arizona outgained Mississippi State 416-268 and had a 50% Success Rate. Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura threw for 336 yards against an SEC defense. And he’s going to shred this UTEP team.
Arizona’s defense did a great job slowing down the Bulldogs; the issue was de Laura threw three interceptions. He knows he cost his team the game last week, and I expect a big bounce back from him.
UTEP has forced just one turnover this year and struggles to create Havoc.
Tetairoa McMillan has looked terrific at wide receiver and last year’s leader in receptions – Jacob Cowing – is poised for a fantastic game. Not only is he a stud receiver, but he’s a former UTEP Miner.
He’s going to torch his old team, and if you like betting player props, I’d sprinkle on him to score in this one.
The Wildcats’ defense currently leads the country in EPA per game against the run. If the unit is able to take away Deion Hankins and this UTEP rushing game – and make Hardison throw it around a bunch – this game could get really ugly.