College Football Best Bets: How Our NCAAF Staff is Betting Friday’s Games (Nov. 11)
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- Friday night's college football slate features three intriguing games to bet, starting with East Carolina at Cincinnati at 8 p.m. ET.
- ECU opened as a 10.5-point underdog. As of Friday afternoon, the point spread has moved to East Carolina +4.5. A 6-point swing from the opening line!
- Then at 9:30 p.m. ET, USC (-34.5) hosts Colorado, and Fresno State (-9) travels to UNLV for a 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff. Read on to find out how our NCAAF Staff is betting all three games tonight.
Welcome to Day 4 of five straight days with college football. After a solid Thursday slate, we move to Friday night lights.
Friday’s slate brings with it three games from three different conferences.
The action kicks off in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Luke Fickell’s Bearcats host Mike Houston’s East Carolina Pirates in an AAC matchup that could have conference championship implications on the Cincinnati side.
Then, one of the nation’s worst Power Five teams in Colorado heads to Los Angeles to take on a high-powered offense led by quarterback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Jordan Addison.
To wrap it all up, Jake Haener and the Fresno State Bulldogs hit the road to face Doug Brumfield and the UNLV Rebels.
We broke down all three Friday night college football matchups and dished out a pick for each. So, let’s jump in.
Friday College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups on Friday’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet 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.|
East Carolina vs Cincinnati
The East Carolina Pirates exit their bye week riding a three-game winning streak. They’ll look to make it four in a row when they head to Cincinnati on Friday night to take on the 4-1 Bearcats.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, looks to maintain its second-place standing in the AAC. It sits behind Tulane, which it will play in its season finale.
The Bearcats are coming off of a 20-10 win over Navy last week, something this team absolutely needed. Cincinnati may be 4-1 in conference play, but it’s struggled considerably when it comes to pulling away from teams, and more importantly, covering the spread.
The Bearcats have failed to cover the spread in each of their last five games but are listed as a five-point favorite over the Pirates. Can they hold off a fresh ECU team looking to crash their party on Friday night?
After losing two of their first three conference games, the Pirates have found consistency and won their last two, along with an impressive win over BYU on the road to secure bowl eligibility.
However, like Cincinnati, they’ve struggled to cover the number in conference games.
The Pirates offense is one of the best passing attacks in the AAC, led by Holton Ahlers, who has put up at least 250 yards passing in four of his last five games.
The ECU offense is averaging 296.8 passing yards per game, but it’s seventh among AAC teams when it comes to scoring.
Ahlers will have to be at his best against a Cincinnati defense that ranks 20th in Pass Play Success Rate Allowed if his team wants to pull off the upset on the road.
The good news for the Pirates is their defense can definitely give the Bearcats some struggles of their own.
East Carolina’s defense ranks 18th when it comes to both Defensive Havoc and pass play explosiveness allowed. The Pirates are fourth — just behind Cincinnati — when it comes to scoring defense among AAC teams, giving up just 23.2 points per game.
The Bearcats are great when it comes to running the ball, ranking 24th in Rush Play Success Rate. But ECU can at least challenge them, as the Pirates come in at 37th in Rush Play Success Rate Allowed.
The Cincinnati offense can be successful both on the ground and through the air.
Quarterback Ben Bryant has posted 298 and 299 passing yards in each of his last two games. He’s racked up 2,358 yards passing on the season and has thrown just six interceptions against 18 touchdowns.
Running back Charles McClelland has been the driving force when it comes to the ground attack, going for 100 yards rushing or more in three games this season.
However, against a Pirates team that comes in at 51st in Defensive Rush Success, I think we see the Bearcats rely heavily on the passing game.
The Cincinnati defense will be a tough task for the Pirates. The Bearcats rank seventh nationally when it comes to Defensive Havoc and lead the AAC in sacks as a team. ECU, meanwhile, has given up 12 sacks on the season and ranks 94th when it comes to pass blocking.
If the Bearcats can get to Ahlers in the backfield, it could very well be the deciding factor in this game.
East Carolina vs Cincinnati Betting Pick
Both of these teams have improved nearly every week as the season has progressed. However, there are two continuous issues for the Bearcats that I believe will cost them this game.
Cincinnati has struggled when it comes to third-down conversions as well as Finishing Drives. The Bearcats rank ninth among 11 AAC teams in red-zone offense and come in at 75th in Finishing Drives. They’re also converting just 37.7% of third-down attempts.
ECU, meanwhile, leads the AAC in third-down conversions, reaching the marker 50.8% of the time. Its defense will also make things difficult in the red zone for the Bearcats, as the Pirates come in at 37th in Defensive Finishing Drives.
The Pirates offense isn’t great in that area, ranking 72nd in Finishing Drives, but it should expose a Cincinnati defense that comes in at 59th.
Back East Carolina to keep it close at +3 or better.
Colorado vs USC
The Pac-12 has its top program matching up with its bottom program under the Friday night lights.
There likely won’t be much drama in this matchup except from a betting perspective. USC enters this contest 8-1 with its sole loss coming by one point to Utah in mid-October.
The Trojans have been carried by their powerhouse offense that ranks sixth in the nation in scoring. Despite that, they’ve only beaten their six Pac-12 opponents by an average margin of 10 points per game.
USC has an opportunity to increase that number against a Colorado program that has hit rock bottom. The Buffaloes have been double-digit underdogs in every game this season for good reason. The group has one win on the season and lost its eight games by an average of four touchdowns per game.
Colorado could be in for another long night as it faces its toughest opponent of the season.
Colorado is without a doubt the worst team in the Power Five.
The Buffaloes rank 122nd in the nation according to Collin Wilson’s power ratings as the program fired head coach Karl Dorrell after starting out 0-5. Interim head coach Mike Sanford Jr. stole a victory the following week but has since been dismantled by Oregon State, Arizona State and Oregon.
The program has had a quarterback carousel with no real viable option. Quarterback Owen McCown showed the most promise by providing mediocre stats, but he’s since been injured.
The Buffaloes will be going back to J.T. Shrout under center this week. Shrout has completed 44% of his passes for an average of 5.9 yards per attempt. The Sophomore quarterback has six interceptions to go along with six touchdown passes in his seven starts.
Colorado ranks 121st in the nation averaging only 5.9 yards per pass attempt this season. The lack of any aerial threat has allowed opposing defenses to focus on slowing down the run. Colorado owns a Rush Rate of 50% despite averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, which also ranks 100th nationally.
The main concern for the Buffaloes in this matchup is how they slow down the high-powered Trojans offense. And the answer is clear: they can’t.
Colorado ranks 127th in the nation allowing over 40 points and 490 yards of total offense. The Trojans are poised to find the end zone frequently, both through the air and on the ground.
The Trojans will own the advantage in nearly every aspect of this matchup.
Offensively, USC is scoring 41 points per game while averaging 7.1 yards per play. Travis Dye has been one of the best running backs in the nation averaging 6.3 yards per carry and nine touchdowns this season. He will move the chains on the ground at will against a unit that ranks among the bottom of the country, allowing 6.1 yards per rush and 237 rushing yards per game against FBS competition.
It will be the same story for quarterback Caleb Williams, who is averaging over 300 passing yards per game. Williams is completing 65% of his passes while tossing a whopping 28 touchdowns to only one interception this season.
USC’s defense has been the chink in the armor for the Trojans this season. The group ranks 123rd in Rushing Success Rate and is allowing 4.5 yards per carry.
Though with a step down in class against a one-dimensional offense, I anticipate them to button that up this week.
Colorado vs USC Betting Pick
I’m not sure how Colorado can find a way to keep this game within reach.
The Buffaloe’ defense has been one of the worst units in history for a Power Five program. Colorado ranks among the bottom 10 in the country in points per game, yards per game and yards per play this season.
Now, they’re tasked with slowing down one of the most elite offenses in the country. That’s a task that is insurmountable, reminiscent of David vs. Goliath.
USC can basically name the score in this matchup, and I envision it blowing the doors open early in this matchup.
The Trojans have put up 40 or more points in seven of their nine matchups this season. We saw they aren’t afraid to run up the score in the 66-14 victory over Rice, and they will keep their foot on the gas pedal in this matchup.
I’m laying the points with USC, which has the potential to win this game by 50 as long as it isn’t looking ahead to next week.
Fresno State vs UNLV
Friday night in Las Vegas — few things are better. Well, that’s as long as you’re not UNLV, which finds itself 4-5 on the season and fresh off of a loss to San Diego State in a game it very well could’ve won.
It marked the Rebels’ fourth loss in a row and the third time in their last four games they’ve failed to score more than 10 points.
The struggling offense will need to fix things quickly as they welcome in the highest-scoring offense in the Mountain West: the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Fresno State enters this hot as it could be, riding a four-game win streak. With Jake Haener back under center, it has its sights set on the Mountain West Championship.
To do reach that game, the Bulldogs will have to win out. UNLV is just the next step on a long road to go. Can Fresno State stay hot?
The Bulldogs offense has been rolling, averaging 29.2 points and over 400 yards per game. This unit is highlighted by Haener, who has facilitated its elite passing attack and has looked even better since his return from injury.
The offense isn’t completely reliant on Haener and the pass either. Fresno State ranks 17th in Rush Success and averages 136.6 rush yards per game.
Jordan Mims, the lead back for the Bulldogs was pivotal to their success while Haener was out. He’s continued to be a game-changing factor for the Bulldogs Haener returned, specifically in the red zone. Mims has scored in each of Fresno’s last four games.
The Bulldogs have also impressed on defense, keeping teams to just 22.9 points and 262.2 yards per contest. The secondary has been the most consistent level of its defense, holding opposing teams to just 202.1 passing yards per game.
However, I think their front line can be the biggest factor against the Rebels. UNLV’s quarterbacks have been sacked 27 times on the season, while Fresno State ranks third in the Mountain West with 21 sacks on the year.
The Rebels offense does average 26 points and 347.9 yards per game, but they’ve been abysmal over the last month.
The return of their quarterback has not yielded the level of success Fresno State has seen. Doug Brumfield has been a liability, specifically when it comes to turnovers, throwing two interceptions against San Diego State last week.
Leading rusher Aidan Robbins went for 115 yards on 21 carries last week, and the Rebels should unleash a similar game plan against Fresno. Keeping the ball on the ground and out of Fresno State’s hands might be its best chance at stopping the passing attack.
Defensively, the Rebels haven’t been able to stop much of anything, giving up 28 points and 375 passing yards per game. The Rebels fell, 42-7, to Air Force, the second-best scoring team in the Mountain West.
I’m not sure we’ll see a different result against the only Mountain West offense that’s better than the Falcons.
Fresno State vs UNLV Betting Pick
The Bulldogs have been lacking when it comes to Finishing Drives and covering double-digit spreads, so there’s some concern there. But it feels like this team is only getting better with each game since Haener returned.
Sure, Fresno played Hawaii last week. The Rainbow Warriors might have one of the worst defenses in the country, but Haener’s performance was one of his best. He completed 24-of-29 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns — and he didn’t even play the full game.
Playing on the road has not been a factor for the Bulldogs, and home-field advantage has been even less important for the Rebels.
I don’t see any way UNLV can stop Fresno State on Friday night other than maybe holding the ball as long as possible. But even then, UNLV is converting just 32.1% of its third-down attempts.
Back the Bulldogs as high as a 10-point favorite on Friday Night.