College Football Odds & Picks: Stuckey’s 7 Favorite Week 7 Situational Betting Spots
Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Kentucky Wildcats.
Over the first six weeks of the season, I highlighted the 10 trickiest situational spots I had circled on each Saturday. With conference play now in full swing, those have started to dwindle — but I did still identify seven worth noting for Week 7.
Ultimately, the actual spread value still reigns supreme. No matter how great a situational spot appears on paper, you still have to factor in how much value the number holds. A good or bad spot may sway me one way or the other on a bet I'm on the fence for, but it's certainly more art than science.
Hopefully, I can help you make one or two of those same tough wagering decisions while sharing some key angles, matchups and injury situations for each particular game.
Let's kick things off with a pair of noon Big 12 kicks featuring two teams that played each other last week.
Iowa State +17 vs. Texas
Noon ET · ABC
After absolutely bludgeoning Oklahoma, 49-0, in the Red River Showdown, the Longhorns will head back to Austin to take on Iowa State just one week before facing Oklahoma State in a game that could decide their Big 12 title hopes.
A classic sandwich spot with an early kick time against an opponent that has dropped three straight games.
Texas has really struggled in this head-to-head in recent seasons with the Cyclones winning each of the past three meetings between 2019-21. The Longhorns have averaged only 16 points per game in those three defeats against an always-stout Iowa State 3-3-5 defense.
Now, Texas did just see a similar scheme last weekend but against a much inferior opponent. Iowa State arguably has the best defense in the conference.
The question is, can Iowa State's struggling offense score enough to stay within this number? That could prove difficult against a vastly improved Texas defense, especially since the Cyclones are dealing with injuries at running back.
That said, it has not been an easy task to blow this Iowa State team out under Matt Campbell. Following his first season in Ames back in 2016, Iowa State has never lost a game by more than 17 points. Its largest defeat came back in the 2020 season opener against Louisiana by exactly 17 points in a game where Ragin' Cajuns returned both a punt and kick for a touchdown.
And the only other loss by more than 10 over that span came by 14 back in 2018.
Notable Nugget: Matt Campbell is 30-17 (63.8%) against the spread (ATS) as an underdog, covering by 4.8 points per game. That includes a mark of 17-4 (81%) when catching at least a touchdown, including 14-1 against conference opponents.
Oklahoma -9 vs. Kansas
Noon ET · ESPN2
A week after Kansas' shocking undefeated campaign came to an end, it may be time to sell the Jayhawks while simultaneously buying low on a Sooners team coming off three blowout losses to start Big 12 play.
To illustrate how much things have changed in just one calendar year, Oklahoma closed as a 38-point favorite on the road at Kansas last October.
I expect Dillon Gabriel to return, which is obviously just massive for OU.
In the past two games against Texas and TCU, backup quarterback Davis Beville threw for 88 total yards on 13-of-28 passing with zero touchdowns and one interception. I'd argue there's a double-digit discrepancy in the point spread between Gabriel and Beville.
Meanwhile, Kansas will likely be without star quarterback Jalon Daniels. He did dismiss reports that he'd miss the remainder of the season, but I can't see him suiting up here.
Also, don't forget that Kansas still has one of the worst defenses at the Power Five level. There's no reason why Gabriel and company can't score at will. I'm sure they want to take out all of their frustrations and blow out an opponent if possible.
Notable Nugget: Oklahoma has failed to cover in each of its past three games by an average margin of 32.67 points. Since 2010, only six other teams have had an average coverage margin of worse than 31 points over any three-game stretch. It's a meaningless sample size, but those six clubs did go 5-1 ATS in the following game for what it's worth.
UMass +17 vs. Buffalo
1 p.m. ET · ESPN+
The Bulls have completely flipped the script on their season.
After an 0-3 start that included a home loss to FCS Holy Cross, Buffalo has won three consecutive league games to move into sole possession of first place in the East Division — two wins clear of second place.
Can it stay focused for a very sleepy road nonconference game against lowly UMass? We shall see, but this fifth road game in seven weeks screams "flat spot" with a massive MAC showdown with Toledo looming next week.
Plus, I do believe Buffalo has reached the top of its market value. The Bulls benefited from playing two backup quarterbacks in MAC play, which included a very lucky win at home over Miami (Ohio).
UMass is still dreadful but has been a bit more competitive this year under new head coach Don Brown. Hopefully, they can complete a few forward passes, which remains a struggle.
Make sure to hold your nose if you decide to dive into the dumpster with me and back the Minutemen, who I show value on in a favorable spot.
Notable Nugget: Since 2005, teams on a current straight-up and against-the-spread winning streak of at least three games (like Buffalo) favored by 17-plus against a nonconference opponent have gone 20-42-3 (32.3%) ATS, failing to cover by over a field goal per game.
Colorado +14.5 vs. Cal
4 p.m. ET · FOX
This is peak hold-your-nose territory, but we've seen plenty of teams respond positively to coaching changes this season. Georgia Tech and Arizona State, which both appeared lifeless prior to a change, even pulled off outright upsets as underdogs of greater than two touchdowns.
From what I've heard about the situation under recently-fired Karl Dorrell, it can only get better moving forward. Plus, nobody on the roster has left during the recently opened transfer portal window, which signals an optimistic locker room.
The new staff will also benefit from a bye week to implement any changes with a potential element of surprise working in their favor.
Colorado hasn't done much right on offense, but it has seemingly found its quarterback in Owen McCown after the first two on the depth chart failed miserably early in the season.
The defense has been equally as dreadful but could benefit from the reportedly more simplified scheme. Its extremely young secondary should also continue to improve as the season progresses.
Lastly, this isn't the best spot for a Cal team that has been fairly inconsistent in 2022. I could see the Bears coming out a bit flat on the road against a winless Colorado team with Washington, Oregon and USC up next.
Notable Nugget: Colorado comes into this weekend as one of only two teams (Fresno State) that have yet to cover a game this season.
Michigan State +7.5 vs. Wisconsin
4 p.m. ET · FOX
After four straight losses and failed covers, I'm reluctantly buying low on the Spartans, while also selling Wisconsin after a beatdown of Northwestern on the road.
I don't expect Michigan State to lay down on Homecoming for a game it probably needs for any shot at bowl eligibility. Now, if the Spartans don't pull off this mini-upset, they could quickly turn into a corpse.
They could also get back two of their most important defenders from injury. Safety Xavier Henderson and defensive tackle Jacob Slade haven't suited up during Sparty's current four-game skid, but both did dress and participate in warmups last Saturday.
Even without those two and a few other key contributors, Michigan State's run defense has been decent. That will help in this particular matchup.
However, its pass defense still remains absolutely dreadful, although it has faced some very good opposing passing attacks. I'll pay to make the inconsistent Graham Mertz prove he can back up his best career passing performance with another stellar outing.
Lastly, Michigan State's tempo could also create potential problems for the Wisconsin defense, which has struggled with pace in the past. Ultimately, I can't pass up catching over a touchdown, per my numbers.
Notable Nugget: Since 2005, road favorites in Big Ten conference games have covered at a 55.3% clip over a sample size of just under 400 games by an average of 2.84 points per game. Favorites of over a touchdown have fared even better at 106-82-2 ATS (56.4%), which surprised me.
LSU +3 at Florida
7 p.m. ET · ESPN
I came away very unimpressed in Florida's victory over Missouri last week in what set up as a great situational spot. Without an early pick-six, the Gators could've easily lost outright.
Meanwhile, LSU got thoroughly embarrassed in every phase at home against Tennessee. As a result, I expect a spirited effort in a good buy-low spot for the Tigers, who have a decent matchup on both sides of the ball.
Unlike last week against a stout Tennessee run defense, the Tigers can lean on their ground game in this particular matchup against a shoddy Gator run defense.
Florida's rush defense ranks outside the top 100 in both EPA per Rush and Rush Success Rate. That could spell success for an LSU rushing attack that ranks in the top 25 in both categories even if potentially down two starting offensive linemen.
Notable Nugget: Following a straight-up loss, LSU head coach Brian Kelly is 25-16 (61%) ATS. That includes a super impressive 14-6 (70%) ATS record as an underdog or favorite of a field goal or less, covering by an average of five points per game in this spot.
Kentucky +4.5 at Mississippi State
7:30 p.m. ET · SEC Network
This is a great buy-low spot on the Wildcats after losing at home by double digits without star quarterback Will Levis. The projected first-rounder is currently listed as day-to-day but is apparently trending in the right direction after being out at practice on Tuesday.
With such a significant gap between him and freshman backup Kaiya Sheron, Levis' availability is obviously crucial. If he can go, there's a ton of value in the home dog.
Additionally, this may present a viable opportunity to sell high on Mississippi State in a classic sandwich spot with Alabama on deck.
I came into this season with very high expectations for the Bulldogs, but they've had back-to-back misleading results in a pair of SEC wins over Texas A&M and Arkansas.
In those victories, Mississippi State won the turnover battle, 6-1, while also benefiting from Arkansas turning the ball over on downs three separate times in Bulldog territory. Even with a backup quarterback, the Hogs moved the ball successfully for most of the day.
Also, don't forget the Bulldogs did get blown out at LSU.
The Cats may even have a chance to get their struggling rushing attack going against a Mississippi State defense that ranks 82nd in EPA per Rush.
Plus, Kentucky's run defense has performed much worse than its pass defense, which isn't as big of an issue against the Mike Leach Air Raid.
Notable Nugget: Since 2014, the home team is a perfect 8-0 ATS in this series, covering by a whopping 14.5 points per game on average.