College Football Picks, Odds, Predictions: Collin Wilson’s Best Bets For Saturday, Including Liberty vs. Ole Miss (November 6)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Young.
- Week 10 will be highlighted by three SEC duels, including a top-25 duel between Auburn and Texas A&M.
- Alabama is a 28.5-point favorite vs. LSU, while Ole Miss is nearly a 10-point favorite against Liberty.
- Collin Wilson provides his entire betting card for this weekend of college football.
Very few things on any college football slate will grab an investor’s attention quite like the Liberty Flames traveling to Oxford, Mississippi, in Hugh Freeze’s return to Ole Miss.
With so many storylines taking up interest and two captivating personalities in Freeze and Lane Kiffin standing on opposite sidelines, it’s something that fans and bettors alike can enjoy. It also helps that the game represents clear betting value to kick off the slate.
Even after Freeze takes a stand against his past, there remains plenty of intriguing action.
As the calendar turns to November, Bo Nix SZN will look to remain in full effect, as the Auburn Tigers take on the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. Both the Tigers and Aggies have paths to the College Football playoff, but Auburn’s will much easier if it can pull off a win over Jimbo Fisher.
The SEC action continues at night when Nick Saban will be looking to put up style points against LSU to impress the College Football Playoff committee to keep Alabama’s ranking of second in the poll.
Check out my bets for all three of Saturday’s big games, and don’t forget to follow me in the Action App to see any other bets I make ahead of Saturday’s kickoffs.
Collin Wilson’s Best Bets for Week 10
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that Collin Wilson is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one 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.|
Liberty vs. #16 Ole Miss
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium could be the scene for fire and brimstone in a Sodom and Gomorrah-type act when ex-Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze returns to town to face his former team.
While the SEC fan base quickly uses the phrase, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’,” Freeze took his role as a head coach in the biggest conference to a level that reaches levels not seen since the days of Hosea and Gomer.
In July 2017, Freeze resigned after the athletic director leaked that he had used a school-provided cell phone to call numbers associated with female escorts.
This information was exposed because of a lawsuit former coach Houston Nutt had filed for a smear campaign in his departure. This sequence of events put an end to a crescendo of what Ole Miss had done on the field, beating Alabama during the regular season twice and making four straight post-season appearances, including a Sugar Bowl victory.
Freeze has since become a self-proclaimed reborn Christian while making waves with the Liberty football program. The school moved from FCS to FBS in 2017 and has deep pockets to continue ongoing facility upgrades while maintaining a high-quality coaching staff.
Still, the storylines never end when it comes to Freeze. A herniated disk in 2019 had the head coach calling plays from a hospital bed in the press box.
— Game On LU (@GameOnLU) August 31, 2019
Freeze will return to town to take on the Rebels under new management with Lane Kiffin.
After a brutal schedule in the month of October, the Rebels took a loss at Auburn in Week 9. The defeat moved Ole Miss out of the New Year’s Six and the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Brett McMurphy’s most recent bowl projections.
The injury status of several key players will be the handicap in this game, as Matt Corral did not practice on Monday. A trio of starting wide receivers was unavailable during various parts of the Auburn loss, while half of the offensive line deals with injury.
With Ole Miss staring at Texas A&M in Week 11, this game sets up perfectly for the Hugh Freeze redemption story.
Isaiah 44:22 may be specific to the current state of Freeze, saying,
“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
The verse isn’t so much about a redemption tour for Freeze, but for the Liberty offense.
In 2020, the Flames did not lose a game until the week of Thanksgiving but have suffered two losses to Syracuse and Louisiana Monroe already this season.
The main culprit has been Havoc allowed.
The Liberty offensive line had issues in 2020 with tackles for loss allowed, and those have continued throughout this season.
Pressure allowed has made a steep jump from 18% to 33% over the past year.
Quarterback Malik Willis threw an uncharacteristic six interceptions in back-to-back weeks against Middle Tennessee and UL-Monroe. Willis is still one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, averaging 5.5 yards after contact and creating 55 missed tackles this season.
On top of the ground game, Willis has already exceeded his 2020 total for passing touchdowns.
While the offensive line is the handicap for Liberty on one side of the ball, defending the trench has been an issue on the defensive side. The Flames rank 51st in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and 82nd in Line Yards.
Liberty runs a strict 4-2-5 defense under defensive coordinator Scott Symons. Led by linebacker Storey Jackson, the Flames blitz on just 17% of snaps. Liberty does have a rank in the top 25 in opponent third-down conversions, playing stellar defense in passing downs.
Symons mentioned that the ability to eliminate extended plays by Corral is the biggest key to the defensive game plan.
The Flames defense is top-10 in Passing Success Rate and Havoc, which may lead to a heavy dose of the Ole Miss rushing attack. Liberty will be undersized against an SEC offensive line, but stopping the rush is a must if it wants to pull off the outright upset.
Head coach Lane Kiffin is well aware of how prepared the Ole Miss roster must before this non-SEC game. He described his battles against Freeze when Kiffin served as offensive coordinator at Alabama, praising his opposition for being fresh and ready on game day.
Although Kiffin has had brief interactions with Freeze, his brother worked as an assistant under Freeze at Ole Miss and is vital in understanding how Liberty will prepare for this game.
The status of Corral will be the story heading into Saturday, as the one-time Heisman frontrunner was injured against Auburn and carted off the field only to return to the game in the second half.
Kiffin understood that Corral’s competitiveness is what led to the quarterback’s return, but that’s not always a good characteristic in terms of health in the long term.
The Matt Corral leg injury at Auburn pic.twitter.com/WfLN4CJquJ
— Patrick Greenfield (@PCGreenfield) October 30, 2021
Backup freshman Luke Altmyer came in relief of Corral and fired off a perfect 5-of-5 passes for just 18 yards. None of the passes were beyond nine yards or logged as turnover-worthy plays. As for Altmyer’s wheels, only one scramble attempt produced eight yards.
The freshman is expected to get the bulk of the snaps behind an offensive line that ranks 29th in pass blocking.
With a handful of wide receivers hobbled with injury, it’s safe to assume this game falls on the ground with Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner.
Snoop Conner for the 13 yard TD.
His 10th rushing TD on the season pic.twitter.com/9GxVKNIXMj
— TeeJay (@TJOxley1) October 31, 2021
The Ole Miss offense is looking to expose the undersized front seven of Liberty through the run game, but the defense must step up in this nonconference game.
Ole Miss continues to struggle on defense in Success Rate, more so on the ground with a rank of 119th against the rush and a mark of 110th in Line Yards.
More importantly, teams are pushing the Rebels to the red zone and scoring as many points as possible. In 31 red-zone scores against Ole Miss, 26 have been touchdowns. That’s a bad combination against a Liberty offense that ranks sixth in Finishing Drives.
Liberty vs. Ole Miss Betting Pick
Both teams are going to pick up large gains on the ground. There’s no answer in the Liberty front seven for Conner and Ealy, but the Flames have been above average against the explosive run and rank 37th in Defensive Finishing Drives.
The handicap in this game comes down to whether or not Liberty’s offensive attack can keep this a one-possession game.
The weakness of the Flames is the offensive line, but the Ole Miss defensive line is 68th in pass rush and 43rd in Stuff Rate. Without an intimidating defensive interior, Willis will be able to make plays for Liberty.
The Action Network projection makes the side Ole Miss -10 and the total 68.5, both in line with the current market offering.
Liberty is one of the best teams in the nation in putting points on the board in scoring opportunities, but the lack of defense for Ole Miss in the red zone is the difference-maker here.
With Corral questionable for this game and Texas A&M on deck, there’s no reason to think that Altmyer couldn’t get the start for the Rebels. This is not a Flames secondary that Kiffin will want to test with a freshman quarterback.
If there’s anything to learn from the book of Hosea, it’s that the Lord loves all of his children just like we gamblers love to bet on all 130 of our expanding FBS teams.
Look to take Liberty and the points, backing Hugh Freeze in his biblical-esque return to Oxford.
Pick: Liberty +9 or better
#13 Auburn vs. #14 Texas A&M
The stakes could not be any higher for Auburn and Texas A&M heading into Week 10. Both teams rank just outside the top 10 in the first College Football Playoff rankings, with both teams angling to win the SEC West.
For Auburn, the path is straight: Win at Kyle Field and beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and a date with Georgia for the conference title is set.
For Texas A&M, the path is a little less clear with a win over Alabama in the rearview mirror. For the Aggies to have any shot, Auburn is a must-win game, and then a Tigers victory in the Iron Bowl will likely be needed.
Historically, this series has been tight over the past decade. Auburn holds the advantage, winning five of the last nine, but the spread falls evenly at 4-4-1.
This will be head coach Bryan Harsin’s first trip to College Station, where the Aggies have covered against four of their five opponents this season.
The Tigers had the benefit of coming off a bye week before beating Ole Miss, but now the Aggies have that advantage before they host Auburn.
Quarterback Bo Nix continues to post the best numbers of his career with a 9:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, making quick work of secondaries when the opponent’s pass rush is not strong.
That was the case against Ole Miss, as just 7-of-34 dropbacks were pressured passing downs. Nix was nearly perfect within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, going 15-of-17 and dicing up the Rebels’ front seven.
Nix led an offensive assault in passing downs that finished 20% higher than the national average in Success Rate.
Bo Nix is the king of schoolyard QB scrambles pic.twitter.com/bCQjuc236I
— Patrick Greenfield (@PCGreenfield) October 30, 2021
Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter will look to move the ball against a Texas A&M defense that ranks 114th in Stuff Rate and 41st in Rushing Success Rate. Auburn will get short yardage, but explosive plays through the air have been rare against the Aggies defense.
The Auburn defense has also been stellar against the pass, ranking fourth in defensive pass expected points and 28th in coverage via PFF.
The ability to stop the explosive run against the Texas A&M skill positions is the biggest liability when the Tigers are on defense.
The rumors about head coach Jimbo Fisher and the LSU position persist after the coach served as an assistant on a National Championship team in Baton Rouge in the past.
A loss to Auburn would do nothing but warm up Fisher’s seat with remaining road games at Ole Miss and LSU. The criticality of this game cannot be stated enough, as the Aggies have a small probability to win the West but would also fall to the basement of the division with a loss.
Fisher stressed at his weekly press conference that the offense has found its identity in the three consecutive wins over Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina.
Devon Achane nearly went untouched from the 35 yard line 😳💨#CFB
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 24, 2021
Texas A&M rushes the ball on 54% of plays, but that number has significantly increased of late. The Aggies had a balanced approach against Alabama, 15 more running plays than pass against Missouri, and had double the amount of rushing attempts than pass against South Carolina.
The devastating combo of Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller is the formula on the ground in standard downs. Both running backs rank in the top 25 in yards after contact of all FBS rushers with at least 80 carries.
As for the passing game, Zach Calzada has been limited in attempts but does favor a particular zone on the gridiron. In wins over Missouri and South Carolina, the Texas A&M freshman threw just seven times over 20 yards. Calzada’s passing attack has primarily focused between the hashmarks behind the line of scrimmage up through 10 yards down the field. The Auburn front seven will look to eliminate this zone in passing downs.
Defensive coordinator Mike Elko is calling another fantastic season with a 4-2-5 scheme that flashes blitz on opponents’ third-down attempts.
Texas A&M has been particularly stingy when opposing offenses get into scoring position with a rank of sixth in Finishing Drives. Of 22 drives to enter the red zone, the Aggies defense has allowed just 10 touchdowns on the season.
Although there are advantages for the Auburn offense on the ground, the defensive scheme has ranked top-30 in stopping the explosive run, which should keep the Tigers from quick scores.
Auburn vs. Texas A&M Betting Pick
Auburn’s ability to manage the explosive run will be under a microscope when these two teams kick at Kyle Field. The Tigers are 87th against rush explosiveness and allowed both of the last two opponents to stay in standard downs thanks to the run.
Ole Miss averaged 4.7 yards per play on the ground with a Success Rate 15% above the national average. Similarily, Arkansas was above the national average in Success Rate with the rush and averaged 4.9 yards per play.
Achane and Spiller are the biggest factors in this game, as they rank top-20 in FBS of all running backs when it comes to elusiveness, defined by PFF as success and impact of a runner with the ball independent of the blocking in front.
Fisher was specific in mentioning the Aggies’ identity of controlling the clock and saving the play-action pass after pounding the run. Calzada may not have much luck against the Auburn secondary, but winning time of possession can be achieved.
As for Auburn’s offense, the explosive play may be the only means of scoring, with the Aggies being one of the stingiest defenses in the red zone.
The Aggies are top-25 in tackling and 11th in passing downs explosiveness, making Texas A&M and the under the plays.
Pick: Texas A&M -4 | Under 49
LSU vs. #2 Alabama
The announcement that LSU head coach Ed Orgeron would be relieved of his duties after this year came at a point in the season when the Tigers were at a crossroads.
A few more victories, and Tigers would be bowling. A few more losses, and they’d be at the bottom of the SEC.
Athletic director Scott Woodward might have made up his mind long before the Ole Miss game after a number of events from sexual assault charges against players, a crack with the team over racial justice issues and a few coordinator hires that didn’t pan out.
This didn’t stop LSU players from showing up against Ole Miss in Week 9, though. The Tigers were above the national average in every Success Rate split, along with posting more explosive drives against one of the most high-powered offenses in the Rebels.
Turnovers and vanilla play in scoring opportunities led to the loss, as Max Johnson continued insufficient play at quarterback.
A bye week has left plenty of questions on the table heading into the rivalry game with Alabama. Will LSU be focused, or have the players already started to think about personal plans in the offseason?
Brennan waited three years at LSU, got injured three games into his first year starting in 2020, then broke his arm before 2021 camp. @samspiegs had it first.
— Brody Miller (@BrodyAMiller) November 1, 2021
On the other side, Nick Saban might have a few axes of his own to grind when Saturday rolls around. The College Football Playoff ranking didn’t have the Crimson Tide at the top, leaving room for the coach to insist his players have plenty of unfinished business for the committee to grade.
Also, the 2019 loss to an LSU team that featured Joe Burrow is still fresh on the mind of the winningest coach in history. Saban and Orgeron have a professional relationship, but this isn’t one where the respect level equals sitting on the ball in the second half.
Alabama will be going for the jugular early and often against its rival.
Monday press conferences are a chance for the head coach and coordinators to review events of the prior week and provide updates. LSU is coming off a bye week, allowing Orgeron to free flow about what is wrong with the current state of LSU football.
His critical description included everything from predictability on first down to formations and defense.
That leads to one of two conclusions against the Crimson Tide. Either LSU is running plays never executed on first down and running a new defensive scheme, or Alabama will predict the play pre-snap. Neither option is a good outlook for the Tigers.
The numbers speak for themselves as far as disguising plays, as a quarterback has been under center on 88% of plays. A shotgun look or no motion has indicated a pass on at least 65% of snaps. More importantly, LSU ran just four different third-down formations in recent games against Ole Miss and Florida.
The defense has been just as predictable, running a 4-2-5 scheme calling blitz at one of the lowest rates in FBS.
The best part of the defense has been the pass rush, with BJ Ojulari leading in pressures since the season-ending injury to defensive end Ali Gaye.
What a play by BJ Ojulari pic.twitter.com/M3JpqghA6v
— Matthew Brune (@MatthewBrune_) October 16, 2021
While the defense struggles to stop opponents’ rushing attempts, the offense might give a look to a freshman quarterback. Garrett Nussmeier took praise in training camp for having a cannon of an arm, but a tendency to do too much and generate turnovers kept him on the sidelines.
Nussmeier received a chance against Ole Miss and produced three big-time throws and no turnover-worthy plays.
If LSU wants to keep Nussmeier from hitting the transfer portal, the freshman might see even more snaps against the Crimson Tide.
The Crimson Tide ranked second in the first set of College Football Playoff rankings.
Gary Barta, the chairman of the selection committee, indicated that after Alabama and Georgia, there was heavy debate among the remaining teams. Alabama has no room to leave any doubt in the eyes of the committee after already suffering a loss to Texas A&M.
Will the Crimson Tide be the first-ever two-loss team to make the playoff? Saban would prefer to win the SEC and avoid the question.
The biggest notes from the weekly presser came in comments about quarterback Bryce Young’s lack of deep passing. Saban expressed that deep balls from his freshman quarterback are improving, as drops and overthrows have been mixed in past results.
The head coach is spot-on when citing drops as an issue. On 34 attempts over 20 yards, Young has an on-target pass drop percentage of 28%.
When Young does complete a pass downfield, targets like Jameson Williams have the ability to take it to the house.
Jameson Williams…the speed, & versatile playmaking is such a treat to watch. Not sure if he declares but if so…🔥pic.twitter.com/rwCy2tf87h
— Damian Parson 🏈 (@DP_NFL) October 28, 2021
The Crimson Tide have a versatile offense, electing to go heavy run against Ole Miss and heavy pass against Florida. If Alabama is going to make an effort at getting vertical with passes more than 20 yards, then the total is certainly worth a watch.
As for the defense, Alabama has had moments of exposure throughout the season.
Texas A&M posted a 58% Success Rate in passing plays and standard downs to beat of the Crimson Tide. The Alabama defense is 70th in Passing Success Rate and 99th in Finishing Drives, leading to a higher score from opponents.
When opponents get into scoring position, defensive coordinator Pete Golding has had issues calling the correct scheme to prevent points. The Crimson Tide are outside the top 100 in red-zone defense, a statistic worth watching against an LSU offense that ranks 14th in the nation in that area.
LSU vs. Alabama Betting Pick
The Action Network projection makes Alabama a 23-point favorite, indicating there’s value on this LSU team. Oddsmakers have adjusted this line, with knowledge investors likely to fade a coach that will be unemployed by the end of the month.
That additional tax in raising the spread to 28.5 has us looking elsewhere. LSU did show up and beat Florida, but that same energy was not present when the team traveled to Ole Miss just before the bye week.
The Tigers might have the longest inactive list in all of FBS, including plenty of recognizable names on the defense. Cornerbacks Eli Ricks and Derek Stingley are out indefinitely, plus Major Burns continues to miss games with an undisclosed injury.
If Alabama wanted to pick a week out to test the deep pass, LSU ranks 106th defensively in passing downs success rate. Saban knows every style point will matter if the Crimson Tide lose the SEC Championship game.
Expect Alabama to run LSU up and down the catwalk in front of the College Football Playoff committee through the first half to secure that second spot for another week.