College Football Week 7 Odds, Picks, Predictions: Collin Wilson’s 3 Top Bets, Including Army vs. Wisconsin
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Andre Johnson.
- Can Miami (FL) slow down North Carolina's high-powered offense, and can Wisconsin contain Army's triple-option attack?
- Also, what should be bet in the Pac-12 showdown between Arizona State and Utah?
- Collin Wilson offers up his three best bets for the college football Week 7 slate.
We’ve made it to Week 7.
It’s been a wild season so far, but with so many conference races so wide open, the 2021 year is only going to get crazier from here on out.
One of the biggest surprises of the season is the performances of both North Carolina and Miami in the ACC Coastal Division. Saturday’s game between the Tar Heels and Hurricanes was supposed to represent a breakthrough in the division for the winner.
However, even with Clemson looking beatable in the post-Trevor Lawrence years, neither team looks interested in taking a step forward.
Then, Wisconsin entered the season as the favorite to win the Big Ten West, but Iowa has taken over that role. With Graham Mertz recording plenty of turnover-worthy throws, the Badgers will rely on their defense against the triple option of Army.
Finally, No. 18 Arizona State and Utah close the night out in what will be an emotional game for the Utes following the death of cornerback Aaron Lowe.
Many of these games didn’t look like they would from a storyline perspective entering the season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t betting value across the card.
Check out all three games I’m betting below, and don’t forget to follow me in the Action Network app ahead of game day.
My Week 7 College Football Betting Card
Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific game on my Week 7 college football betting card.
Specific bet recommendations come via 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.
Miami vs. North Carolina
Every preseason prediction included the Coastal competition coming down to Miami and North Carolina. Halfway through the month of October, North Carolina stands at 2-3, while the Hurricanes are 0-1.
The Tar Heels’ loss to Virginia Tech may have sealed the deal for head coach Mack Brown in making the ACC Championship game after being considered a dark horse to compete for the National Championship.
For Miami, a lone conference loss to Virginia does nothing to knock the Hurricanes out of contention in the Coastal. Head coach Manny Diaz must run through the rest of the division and beat NC State and Florida State from the Atlantic to compete for the conference title.
The game in Chapel Hill not only serves as an ACC knockout, but a loss severely diminishes the probability of making it to bowl season.
Tyler Van Dyke Show
Despite all the hype after transferring from Houston, quarterback D’Eriq King may have played his last college football game against Michigan State. King had season-ending surgery this week, leaving only a seventh-year medical redshirt as the only option to return to FBS play in 2022.
After finishing the 2018 season with a combined 50 touchdowns, the quarterback will end 2021 with just three through the air and no rushing touchdowns.
Miami now turns to Tyler Van Dyke to take over duties after a 15-of-29 performance in a loss to Virginia.
No King? No prob.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 1, 2021
The great news for Van Dyke is the similar ranks in pass rush and coverage between the North Carolina and Virginia defenses. The former baseball prospect targeted 10 different Hurricanes players to finish with a touchdown and no interceptions against Virginia.
Van Dyke had three big-time throws and just one turnover-worthy play, a positive factor considering the Hurricanes’ rank of 86th in Havoc Allowed.
Miami’s new quarterback had a 39% drop in adjusted completion rate in pressured dropbacks, but that has not been the forte of the Tar Heels defensive front.
Where is Miami’s Havoc?
The Hurricanes are known as the center of the universe when it comes to defensive chaos but have been rather quiet in the Havoc department through 2021.
Through 364 defensive snaps, Miami has caused just two fumbles and generated only 17 pass breakups. It boasts a top-five rank in tackles for loss per game, an area in which the North Carolina offense ranks outside the top 100.
— ©️CANE8️⃣9️⃣ (@CanesNumber1) October 12, 2021
The defense has had struggles in plenty of areas besides Havoc.
Manny Diaz’s defense ranks bottom-five nationally in both tackle grading and Finishing Drives. A coverage grade of 117th falls on corners Te’Cory Couch and Tyrique Stevenson, as both have taken the most targets this season by opposing quarterbacks.
Couch has missed 10 tackles so far this season, leading to a defensive passing downs explosiveness rank of 122nd for the Hurricanes.
Howell Needs Less Havoc
Quarterback Sam Howell was expected to be a major player in the run for the Heisman Trophy, but the Heels’ season has been derailed in three ACC losses to Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
Howell’s production has decreased in comparison to the 2020 season, specifically in the area of interceptions. The Tar Heels quarterback threw 14 in the previous two seasons with over 900 dropbacks, but through half of the games played this season, the quarterback has logged five picks.
Fortunately for UNC, the deep ball is still there. Howell has recorded nine big-time throws and just a single turnover-worthy play past 20 yards this season.
Most PASS TDs of 30+ yards among Power 5 QBs:
Sam Howell – 8 🔥pic.twitter.com/JlQbjn3ZgA
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 6, 2021
As with most quarterbacks, pressured pockets equal bad results. Howell has an adjusted completion percentage drop of 13% in pressured dropbacks with a target drop rate three times that of a clean pocket.
This is still one of the best offenses in the nation in explosiveness, particularly in passing downs.
UNC’s Middle Eight Awareness Must Improve
While the North Carolina defense has struggled to thwart opposing offenses, clock management has been an issue throughout the season.
The Middle Eight is a stat that calculates point differential from the last four minutes of the second quarter through the first four minutes of the third quarter.
North Carolina owns a rank of 121st in comparison to Miami at third in the nation. For any investor looking to live bet, Miami should be penciled in if it’s to receive the ball in the second half.
The Middle Eight is not the only category where the Heels have struggled. North Carolina is outside the top 80 in coverage and tackling grading, while special teams and Defensive Havoc have also taken a severe drop from seasons past.
Miami vs. North Carolina Betting Pick
There are weather concerns forecasted for this game, as Kenan Memorial Stadium has near 10 mph winds and a 25% of chance of rain throughout the game.
No matter if weather is a factor or not, this is expected to be a high-tempo game. Tar Heels offensive coordinator Phil Longo has been known for an uptempo offense, but the early-season offensive identity search has dropped North Carolina’s overall plays per minute.
The question is whether or not Miami will continue a top-10 tempo with offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee utilizing Van Dyke rather than King under center.
The Virginia game saw the Hurricanes fall to more than 26 seconds per play, suggesting that Lashlee slowed the offense down for his new quarterback.
Our Action Network projection for the total sits at 63.5, close to the current market. The two biggest key totals in this range are 62 and 65, as an under would be the look on the latter of the two numbers.
While it is a limited sample, Brown has not done well with time off. The 2019 Tar Heels took a loss to Pittsburgh after a bye week, with the same happening in 2020 against Notre Dame. Both the Panthers and Irish got out of the gate hot in the first quarter after North Carolina’s defense had extra time to prepare.
Miami’s tempo decline with Van Dyke under center should be monitored, but these two defenses are struggling in stopping red zone attempts and explosive plays.
The Hurricanes are bottom-five in Defensive Finishing Drives and 122nd in defending passing downs explosiveness.
As Howell looks to dice up the Miami defense, there are avenues for Van Dyke against a Tar Heels defense that does not pressure the quarterback.
Expect explosive plays and poor tackling out of both teams early in the game.
Pick: 1H Over 31 or better
Army vs. Wisconsin
There may be no better display of smash-mouth football than the scene at Camp Randall in Week 7.
Army brings the triple-option ground attack against a Wisconsin defense that excels in stopping the run. Conversely, Wisconsin runs on 63% of snaps, good enough for a top-25 rush rate. Containing the edge and filling the gaps on defense will be key in the final scoreboard tally.
Wisconsin comes off its first conference victory over Illinois and faces Big Ten opponent Purdue after this game, giving head coach Paul Chryst one week to prepare for a nonconference opponent running a bruising offense.
The Badgers must win over half of their remaining games to make a bowl.
Army is fresh off a bye week after a loss to Ball State, a defeat that causes head coach Jeff Monken to lose sleep at night.
The Black Knights look to notch one of the program’s biggest upsets ever after recording just one victory over a Power Five opponent in the past eight years.
Triple Option or Bust
Army is famous for running the triple-option offense, a scheme the requires opponents to be disciplined in filling the gap between the center and guard, containing the quarterback and attacking the pitch.
Army has run 324 rushing plays against 34 passes this season, giving opposing defenses reason to stack a minimum of eight defenders in the box.
The option has been heavily successful thus far, with a Rushing Success and Finishing Drives rank inside the top 10.
Army puts the first points on the board against WKU 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
— 247Sports (@247Sports) September 11, 2021
The Black Knights have been stuffed on rushing attempts 10% less than the national average. Those numbers come against a schedule of Georgia State, Western Kentucky, UConn, Miami (Ohio) and Ball State.
Of those defenses, only the RedHawks rank within the top 80 in Defensive Stuff Rate. Miami (Ohio) kept Army in check, allowing a Rushing Success Rate and Stuff Rate similar to the national average benchmarks.
Stuffing the Run
Army has been fantastic at stopping the run against a soft schedule of opponents. The Black Knights currently rank top-25 in Rushing Success Rate, Line Yards and Havoc.
Although the Havoc number is high, the contribution from the secondary in pass breakups supports that number. Army ranks 115th in tackles for loss per game. A trio of linebackers in Arik Smith, Spencer Jones and Malkelm Morrison leads the team in tackles.
One area of struggle for the defense is stopping the big play. Although Army has posted national average rates in rush and pass defense, the Black Knights are 122nd in defensive rush expected points and 128th in defending standard downs explosiveness.
Curious Case of Graham Mertz
The emergence of Graham Mertz at quarterback led to the transfer of Jack Coan to Notre Dame. Fast forward through a dozen games, and Wisconsin is searching for a passing attack.
Through five games this season, the Badgers average a yard less per play and rank below the national average in passing plays.
Mertz has just two touchdowns versus seven interceptions after a 2020 season that saw twice as many big-time throws as turnover-worthy plays.
GRAHAM MERTZ (!!!)
WISCONSIN HAS LIFE #CFB
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 2, 2021
While depth of target has not been an issue, pressure in the pocket has directly affected the passing numbers. Mertz has an adjusted completion rate dip from 71% to 48% in a crowded pocket, as opponent pass rush will serve as an indicator of offensive success for Wisconsin.
Chaotic Badgers Defense
Wisconsin’s defense has kept it in almost every game through a troubled 2021 season.
The Badgers boast the top defense in the nation in Success Rate with complementary top-10 ranks in Line Yards and opponent big-play rate.
The biggest attribute is a rank of fourth in Defensive Havoc, as Jack Sunborn has six tackles for loss along with Faion Hicks breaking up six passes on the season.
Wisconsin has dominated standard downs, allowing opponents to achieve a Success Rate 10% below the national average. In five games, the Badgers rush defense has allowed 2.5 yards per attempt and stuffed 57 runs.
To hammer home how great Wisconsin has been on first-and-10, this is the top defense in the nation defensively in standard downs Success Rate.
Army vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick
The health of quarterback Christian Anderson is paramount to the success of Army’s triple-option attack. Service academies are generally plug-and-play at the quarterback position, but Anderson provides an explosive spark to the Army offense.
In the loss to Ball State, the Black Knights produced just 70 yards on 30 attempts from two different quarterbacks. Anderson’s 429 designed rushing yards are more than any other non-halfback in the country.
Monken was tight-lipped at his weekly press conference, not just about Christian Anderson, but Tyhier Tyler, who ran for 63 yards against Ball State.
Without Anderson under center for Army, the Wisconsin defense may live in the backfield. The healthy of Army quarterbacks and the expected tempo has the total falling below 40.
Army is dead last in plays per minute, while the Badgers rank 105th. Both teams may have a better chance of scoring with defense or special teams before the offenses.
Both rosters are top-25 in special teams, but the Wisconsin offense is near dead last in Finishing Drives. The Badgers average just 2.6 points per drive when a possession goes beyond the 40-yard line.
The projection on this game is Wisconsin -13, but the health of Anderson is paramount to Army’s offensive success. The news of Anderson’s status will determine the closing line, with his presence making the Army spread worth a look over three scores.
Instead, the focus should be on the total, with an Action Network projection of 44.
The Wisconsin defense is second in the nation in Stuff Rate, per Football Outsiders, an indication that if Army is going to score points, it must come on quarterback keeps or pitches.
On the other side of the ball, the Black Knights have had issues generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks with a grade of 81st, according to PFF.
Mertz should not see much pressure, a factor that should get the Wisconsin passing game moving the chains. Look for the Badgers to get their points with a possible assist from the defense and special teams.
Pick: Wisconsin Team Total Over 26.5
#18 Arizona State vs. Utah
The Pac-12 South will have a clear leader when the scoreboard goes final in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Arizona State and Utah are the only undefeated teams in the South, with the easier path after this game belonging to the Sun Devils. The Utes have a tricky remaining conference schedule that features UCLA and Oregon.
Arizona State’s only loss came in front of a frenzied crowd at BYU, and it now returns to the Salt Lake City area for another important game.
Utah has had a difficult path both on and off the field. Week 1 starter Charlie Brewer left the program as Cam Rising took over quarterback duties to provide a spark. This was Rising’s job in 2020 until an injury as he asserted himself as the alpha of this offensive unit.
Consecutive losses to BYU and San Diego State diminished any national title hopes, but the Utes have rebounded in conference play against Washington State and on the road at USC.
Off the field, Utah coaches and players made the trip to Texas on Monday for the funeral service of cornerback Aaron Lowe. This is a repeat trip to the area as funeral services were held earlier in the year for Ty Jordan.
While the team returned to campus late Monday night, the roster has been outspoken about the devotion each player has for the 2021 goals and each other.
Best Rushing Unit in FBS
Head coach Herm Edwards wants to establish the run, stating that anytime the Sun Devils have eclipsed 200 yards on the ground, the team has gone 11-1.
Arizona State ranks fifth in the nation in Rushing Success Rate with a Line Yards rank of 12th in FBS.
The statistics back up the claim that the Sun Devils can run the ball on almost any defense. Both quarterback Jayden Daniels and running back Rachaad White have created 15 missed tackles apiece.
— ✯✯✯✯✯ (@FTBVids_YT) October 9, 2021
This is an area Arizona State will have success in, especially if there’s no contact at the line of scrimmage. The Utah defense ranks eighth in Stuff Rate, a measurement of how often a rush is stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Utah has stuffed runs more than 10% of the national average, tallying 68 in 168 opponent attempts. Teams have had success in the open field, as the Utes are just 67th in defensive rush explosiveness.
The key to a Sun Devils’ victory is more designed misdirection and pre-snap motion to avoid contact at the line of scrimmage.
Headliners in Defensive Injury Report
Following the Stanford game, Edwards spoke about injuries for a slew of players. Defensive edge Michael Matus, interior lineman DJ Davidson and two key secondary players in Evan Fields and Chase Lucas are all questionable for the trip to Salt Lake City.
Through 256 snaps, Fields is graded as the best tackler on the team, per PFF. Matus was one of the few on the defensive roster to generate a double-digit number in creating quarterback pressures.
Lucas was the second-most targeted player in opponent passing attempts, which may leave Arizona State with a depth issue on Saturday.
“Rising” to the Occasion
The pandemic season of 2020 went nothing as expected from the viewpoint of Rising. The quarterback had won the position battle over transfer Jake Bentley but suffered an injury just 14 plays into the first game.
Fast forward to 2021, and another transfer in the form of former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer took over starting duties.
After lackluster offensive performances, Rising took over the starting position and currently stands at seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
— LivinginSLC (@LivinginSLC) October 12, 2021
Play-action passing has the sophomore quarterback’s forte, as he owns an 88% adjusted completion rate and 258 yards on just 19 completions.
The one area of improvement is pressured pockets, where Rising has completed just four passes in 26 drop-back attempts. The great news for Utah is the lack of pass rush coming from Arizona State, which has a rank of 71st, per PFF.
Utah’s Defense Creating Chaos
Junior linebacker Devin Lloyd ranks seventh individually and continues to create Havoc in all areas of the field.
Wow, Devin Lloyd keeping the Utes alive. pic.twitter.com/yofFBgTUmN
— Garrit Jacobson (@gjacobson) September 25, 2021
As the defensive front seven gets behind the line of scrimmage, the Utah secondary has been excellent against the pass. The Utes rank 28th in coverage and 32nd in defensive passing expected points.
Arizona State is a run-first team with a 61% rush rate, but the Stuff Rate rank in the top 10 may have Daniels on the run.
Arizona State vs. Utah Betting Pick
The Pac=12 South comes down to two teams with a number of on- and off-field variables.
Utah will take the field with heavy emotions after the death of a teammate while its offense is clicking on all cylinders as conference play has started. Arizona State proved to be battle-tested in wins over UCLA and Stanford, as a road loss to BYU was chock-full of penalties.
The Sun Devils received 16 flags in the loss to the Cougars and now are near dead last in penalties and penalty yards per game. That is a contrast from the Utah penalty ranks in the top 10 with more than 300 yards less than Arizona State.
If the Sun Devils are not pushed back by flags, the Utah defense has been stellar at stuffing opponents’ rushing attacks this season.
With the exception of the USC game, Utah has been notoriously slow starters by scoring less than 10 points in the first half. With Edwards expecting to spend the majority of the first few offensive series establishing the rush, there should be a slow start to the game.
With an Action Network total projection at 50, the current first-half under deserves an investment.
Utah is one of the few teams that can stop Arizona State behind the line of scrimmage. As for the Utes offense, Rising struggles in passing downs with pressured pockets. The spotlight will be on Travez Moore for the Sun Devils, graded as one of the best defenders in college football by PFF in pass-rush productivity.
As for the side, the projections of Utah -1 serves no value on the current market.
The Utes field a quarterback with a hot hand and the more disciplined squad when it comes to penalty flags. Utah will do everything on defense to stop the Sun Devils’ rush attack, which will be enough to pick up the emotional victory at home.