College Football Odds & Picks: How We’re Betting Friday’s NCAAF Games
Sam Wasson/Getty Images. Pictured: University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
There's something special about Friday night lights, and this penultimate Friday of the 2022 college football season is no exception.
Friday's docket features two games in the Group of Five: South Florida vs. Tulsa in the AAC and San Diego State vs. New Mexico in the Mountain West.
While it's not quite as robust as the Black Friday slate we'll have on our plates next week, it'll certainly be a solid appetizer for Saturday's main course.
Read on to see how our writers are betting both of Friday night's college football games below — and be sure the check back tomorrow for even more Week 12 college football betting coverage.
Friday College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting on Friday night. 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.|
San Diego State vs. New Mexico
San Diego State will head to New Mexico on Friday night seeking its third straight win. The Lobos, meanwhile, are looking for their third win of the season, as they haven't won a game since a September victory over UTEP.
San Diego State struggled in its last game and fell behind by 14 in the first quarter to San Jose State. However, the Aztecs made a major comeback, going off for 43 points and 425 yards in a 43-27 win.
One key component to San Diego State's recent success — especially against San Jose State — is the run defense. The Aztecs have made it a point to try and hold teams to less than 100 yards rushing, and the Spartans tallied just 28 yards on the ground.
Can they also hold the Lobos to less than 100? More importantly, can they cover the two-touchdown spread?
Jalen Mayden did it all for the Aztecs against San Jose State.
The quarterback completed 17-of-22 passes for 268 yards. He did throw an interception, but he also threw for three touchdowns and tacked on 61 yards on the ground. His performance earned him Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Mayden has been nearly perfect since taking over as the starting signal-caller. He's gone 4-1 (3-2 against the spread), racking up 1,253 yards and eight touchdowns.
His best quality is his dual-threat ability, specifically when he's paired up with the Aztecs' talented running backs.
Three different running backs have recorded more than 200 yards season for the Aztecs this season. Senior Jordan Byrd leads the way with 415 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Aztecs defense shouldn't have much issue stopping a Lobos team that's averaging just 14.7 points and 240.6 yards per game.
San Diego State is one of the best in the country when it comes to Finishing Drives on defense, ranking 21st. The Aztecs also rank inside the top 40 when it comes to stopping the rush, something the Lobos do often with a rank of 16th nationally in rush rate.
There aren't many positives when it comes to this Lobos team, but there's one thing that could help it keep it close against the Aztecs — its pass defense.
The Lobos rank 42nd in Defensive Pass Success and have been solid when it comes to getting stops in the red zone.
The Lobos rank fourth among Mountain West teams in passing defense, holding opponents to just 192.1 passing yards per game. If they're going to have any chance at keeping it close against the Aztecs, it will be by stopping the passing game.
San Diego State vs New Mexico Betting Pick
Both of these teams rank inside the top 20 when it comes to rush rate. They're also both outside the top 115 when it comes to seconds per play. However, this total seems a little too low for me to back the under in this matchup.
Despite their struggles so far this season, I think the Lobos will benefit greatly from the slow pace of this game.
Back New Mexico to keep it somewhat close, as there may not be enough scoring for San Diego State to pull away. I would recommend the Lobos at +14 or better and wouldn't bet them below a two-touchdown spread.
USF vs. Tulsa
Midweek AACtion could be more entertaining. At 1-9, South Florida matches up with 3-7 Tulsa for Friday Night Lights, and nothing has gone right for either team.
I pegged South Florida for a breakout season in 2022, especially with Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon taking over at quarterback.
Instead, the Bulls are 3-7 against the spread.
I was far lower on Tulsa than the market — which is paying dividends — but I have still backed them in spots this season.
The Golden Hurricane are 3-7 ATS.
However lackluster both teams seem, Tulsa is far less pathetic. The Golden Hurricane are laying almost two touchdowns in this Friday battle.
Is that too many points?
When Bohanon was lost to injury for the season, I expected it couldn’t get much worse at quarterback.
Katravis Marsh was good against Tulane and Houston and then confirmed my suspicions. He fell apart against Temple and SMU, going just 12-for-31 in his last game.
Plus, Baylor loses Bohanon’s rushing ability. So, while Bohanon had just six touchdowns to six interceptions, he added an extra dimension with his ability on the ground.
Marsh doesn’t have that.
Oh, and then Marsh got hurt. He’s out for the season with a neck injury that he suffered last week. It was a scary situation, but he will make a full recovery.
So, the Bulls are down to their third- or fourth-string quarterback — either Byrum Brown or Michel Dukes.
Dukes was a three-year backup at Clemson who never got any playing time, while Brown is a freshman. So, I can’t say I have a lot of faith in the quarterback room.
I’m going to guess it’s Brown. He’s a three-star recruit out of North Carolina who received offers from App State, Campbell, Dartmouth and Florida A&M before committing to USF.
Again, not much faith.
The rest of the roster is decimated, too. Left tackle Donovan Jennings went down early with a leg injury, alongside second-string running back Jaren Mangham, second-string tight end Chris Carter, and two other wide receivers.
But South Florida’s issues are on the defensive end. The Bulls rank among the bottom 10 FBS teams in:
- Rush Success Rate Allowed
- Pass Success Rate Allowed
- PFF’s Pass Rush grades
- Points per Opportunity Allowed
They’re 105th in Havoc Created and 110th in Defensive Line Yards. This defense has been shredded seven ways to Sunday, allowing a whopping 7.4 yards per play.
Tulsa doesn’t have the offense to break anybody.
It's combined to score 23 points over the last two weeks. Granted, it managed that against Memphis and Tulsa, but the Hurricane managed between three and four scores against two well-known pathetic defenses in Temple and Navy.
The formula for Tulsa is always the same. The Hurricane will play an uptempo, pass-happy style of football that leans on Davis Brin.
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) September 24, 2022
Brin’s had a half-decent season, boasting 8.6 yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns to eight picks. However, he’s made 16 turnover-worthy plays to just 18 big-time throws, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some negative turnover regression.
That's especially true considering Tulsa’s offensive line does not protect Brin. Tulsa ranks 114th in PFF’s pass-blocking grades, 102nd in Havoc Allowed and 127th in Adjusted Sack Rate.
Tulsa is also weak in the trenches on the other side of the ball. However, the Hurricane secondary has compensated, ranking 22nd in PFF’s coverage grades.
As a result, Tulsa sits 26th in Pass Success Rate Allowed.
But the Hurricane have no issue getting shredded on the ground. The only team that is worse against the run is … South Florida.
USF vs Tulsa Betting Pick
South Florida is just going to run the football. Its third-string quarterback will hand it off for 60 minutes and hope the defense can get a few stops.
However, that strategy might work better than we think.
South Florida has a top-40 rush offense in terms of Success Rate and a top-50 offensive line in terms of Line Yards. While Bohanon won't take the field, running back Brian Battie is having a career year, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and ranking top-20 nationally in PFF’s grades.
Brian Battie is 3rd in the AAC with 599 rushing yards
— 🤘🤘Sidelines-USF🤘🤘 (@SSN_USF) October 31, 2022
That unit is going up against a horrific rush defense in Tulsa. The Bulls will play very slowly, — they rank 90th in seconds per play — and will likely move the chains.
That means USF can play keep away from Brin and Co. while avoiding Tulsa’s biggest strength in the secondary. It’s going to be hard for the Golden Hurricane to cover two touchdowns with this game script.
Besides, Tulsa doesn’t do well in this scenario, as it’s 1-4 ATS as a favorite this season. At least South Florida has covered two of its last four underdog opportunities.
South Florida has also covered three of the last four games against Tulsa, including last season.
Our Action PRO projections make this line Tulsa -8.8, and I think there’s clear value on the underdog in this lame-duck Friday night game.