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College Football Predictions: Stuckey’s Saturday Bets for Fresno State vs SDSU, Alabama vs Auburn, More

College Football Predictions: Stuckey’s Saturday Bets for Fresno State vs SDSU, Alabama vs Auburn, More article feature image

Getty Images. Design by Cyriel Klitsie/Action Network. Pictured (clockwise from top-left): Nebraska’s Billy Kemp IV, Oregon State’s Deshaun Fenwick, Illinois’ John Paddock and Auburn’s Jarquez Hunter.

  • Another Saturday college football slate means another list of betting spots from Stuckey.
  • Stuckey broke down a number of his top Saturday spots, including picks for Fresno State vs SDSU, Alabama vs Auburn and more.
  • Read on for all of Stuckey's top Saturday college football betting spots below.

Somehow, the final full regular-season week is upon us already, so this will be the last edition of the college football spots piece with college basketball taking over on Saturdays in the New Year.

After a rough Friday slate that finished 0-6 (CMU, TCU, Temple, Oregon State, Texas Tech and Nebraska), we're looking to pick up the slack with five spots on Saturday.

My primary goal here is to simply share a few key angles, notable matchups, regression signals and injury situations for each particular game that hopefully help you make more informed wagers.

For reference, last year's spots finished a ridiculously unsustainable 45-20-1 (69.2%). I don't think I'll ever repeat that level of success in a season, but hopefully we can avoid the regression monster and have another profitable season.

Although, rough weeks in this gig are inevitable, as we saw yesterday.

Looking ahead to this weekend, I have highlighted my five favorite Week 13 Saturday spots. Let's close with a bang!

Keep in mind the actual spread value still reigns supreme. No matter how great a situational spot appears on paper, I still have to factor in how much value the number holds compared to my projections. 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.

All lines referenced are current as of the time of writing, which I bet and logged on the Action App. For your convenience, I included what number I'd play each to in case the market has moved a bit or you read this later in the week.

  • 2022: 45-20-1 (69.2%)
  • 2023: 50-49-0 (50.5%)
  • Overall: 95-69-1 (57.9%)

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GameTime (ET)Pick
12 p.m.Ball State +7
3:30 p.m.Auburn +14.5
3:30 p.m,Illinois -5.5
4 p.m.Jacksonville State +1
10:30 p.m.San Diego State +6

Ball State +7 vs. Miami (OH)

Saturday, 12 p.m. ET ⋅ CBS Sports Network

Similar to Toledo, I'm not sure Miami (OH) will want to show too much or play all of its starters in this meaningless game, especially considering it already lost starting quarterback Brett Gabbert for the season, while No. 1 receiver Gage Larvadain missed last game with a hamstring injury.

While I'm looking to fade Miami (OH) in this spot, I'm also looking to continue backing Ball State, which I tabbed as a "buy-on team" in my midseason MAC Manifesto.

Following a brutal nonconference schedule that resulted in a number of key injuries, the Cardinals have finally started to put it together over the past month with five straight covers and a 3-2 overall record.

After not having much success with either Layne Hatcher or Kadin Semonza under center, head coach Mike Neu turned to his third-string quarterback, Kiael Kelly, while transitioning to a more basic read-0ption offense for the mobile sophomore.

With injuries and a lack of talent at wide receiver and tight end, this switch played into the strength of the Ball State offense.

Meanwhile, the defense has continued to improve as the season has progressed after expected early-season struggles following the loss of three super-talented defensive backs in the offseason.

Ball State doesn't have anything to play for on paper, but this is a team playing with a lot of confidence and pride down the stretch.

Additionally, I'm sure the Cardinals would like to avenge last season's loss to Miami (OH) in the regular-season finale.

In a game where both teams needed to win to get to bowl eligibility, the RedHawks stormed back from a 17-6 deficit in the fourth quarter to pull out an 18-17 win to end Ball State's season.

Lastly, this matchup projects as super low-scoring (hence, the total of 35.5) between two plodding offenses without much explosiveness.

Consequently, that makes the underdog even more intriguing in a game where points will come at a premium.

Pick: Ball State +7 (Play to +5.5)

Notable Nugget

Over the past five seasons, Ball State head coach Mike Neu has gone 16-6 (72.7%) as an underdog in MAC play, including 10-2 (83.3%) against teams with a non-losing record.

Auburn +14.5 vs. Alabama

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET ⋅ CBS

After last week's vomit show, I'm reluctantly buying low on the Tigers at home in Jordan-Hare Stadium, where weird things happen in the Iron Bowl.

Since 2005, Alabama is just 2-7 ATS in Jordan Hare, losing five of its nine games outright to go along with a two- and five-point victory as double-digit favorites.

From everything I've heard from those close to the program, Auburn got caught completely looking ahead to Alabama, essentially ignoring preparation for New Mexico State, which makes sense if you watched that game.

The lookahead line for this game prior to last week was sitting around 10.5, which is about where I had it. Now, Auburn absolutely has to be downgraded after last week's loss, but I still can't get to a spread of over 13, so I had to take the hook here.

Expect a much better effort and game plan from the Tigers after that embarrassing loss last week. Don't forget they covered with ease earlier this season when catching the same number at home against Georgia, which will likely be about a four-point favorite against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game next week. This is a simple catch-the-falling-knife play.

Pick: Auburn +14.5 or Better

Notable Nugget

Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze owns an impressive 28-14 ATS (66.7%) record as an underdog, covering by an average margin of 6.5 points per game. That includes a 4-1 ATS mark against Nick Saban and Alabama.

Since 2005, he's been the sixth-most profitable coach out of 551 in our Action Labs database when catching points.

Illinois -5.5 vs. Northwestern

Saturday, 3:30 p.m, ET ⋅ Big Ten Network

Here's another spot where I'm willing to back a team playing for bowl eligibility against an opponent that might be a little flat after reaching bowl eligibility themselves.

Northwestern is one of the best stories in college football this season.

After essentially being priced as a coin-flip at home against UTEP earlier in the year, the Wildcats somehow got to six wins under new head coach David Braun, who recently shed the interim tag. That's quite an accomplishment after dealing with plenty of adversity leading up to the season with a roster that doesn't have much talent for a Power 5 team.

However, the Wildcats have certainly benefited from some good fortune this season with two of their wins coming over the aforementioned Miners and FCS Howard by three in a game they finished with fewer yards.

They also beat Minnesota in overtime by three after a miraculous 21-point comeback and got fairly fortunate in a six-point win over Maryland.

For a perfect microcosm of the Northwestern season, look no further than last week's one-score win over Purdue.

The Boilermakers had the statistical edge despite late scratches of their starting quarterback and best defender, but couldn't overcome a missed field goal, fumble inside the Northwestern 40-yard-line, three turnover on downs inside the 30-yard-line and finally an interception in Northwestern territory to end the game.

That's the formula for scoring only 15 points despite gaining 443 total yards.

illinois fighting illini-vs-kansas jayhawks-college football-odds-picks-predictions-betting preview-reggie love iii-friday-sep 8-2023
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Reggie Love III of the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Northwestern did have a well-deserved victory over Wisconsin, but the rest has been an abundance of smoke and mirrors, having been outgained in five of six its wins, including one against an FCS opponent, while benefiting from key opponent injuries and turnover luck.

The Wildcats have a +8 turnover margin in large part due to only losing one of 11 fumbles this season.

Additionally, their two quarterbacks have combined to throw 16 touchdowns to just six interceptions despite a ratio of only 14 big-time throws to 15 turnover-worthy plays, per PFF.

They've also overperformed on late downs based on their more stable early downs data. Regression certainly looms for the Cats.

Even if we just look at basic surface statistics, Northwestern, which has faced an easier schedule, has a -0.5 net yards per play margin, while Illinois is nearly a full yard better at +0.4.

This Northwestern offense that ranks 125th in yards per play can't consistently take advantage of a vulnerable Illini secondary.

Meanwhile, Illinois should enjoy success through the air when it has the ball, especially with the recent emergence of quarterback John Paddock.

If not for two brutal last-minute losses to Wisconsin and Iowa, Illinois could be playing for the division this week. Instead, it needs a win just to get to bowl eligibility.

Based on everything I've read and heard, the Illini care about getting to the postseason, so I'm backing them here in a game I project close to a touchdown in a great situational spot.

Pick: Illinois -5.5 (Play to -6.5)

Notable Nugget

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema has generally bounced back well, going 33-20 (62.3%) ATS in conference play after a straight-up loss, making him the third-most profitable coach among 429 in that situation since 2005.

Jacksonville State +1 at New Mexico State

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET ⋅ ESPN+

The Aggies are facing one of the biggest letdown spots of the season after upsetting a completely lifeless and unprepared Auburn team as near four-touchdown underdogs on the road.

Not only that, but they have a conference championship on deck against Liberty across the country on a short week.

I incorrectly thought the Aggies would rest players and go vanilla last week, but that's certainly in the cards again this week — although not part of my handicap this time.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville State should come out of the gates with its hair on fire, as it believes it should be playing for a spot in the conference championship this week with both teams tied at 6-1 in the Conference USA standings.

However, due to an archaic NCAA rule, the Gamecocks are not eligible for the conference championship and may not even get to participate in a bowl game if there are enough other eligible teams.

This is essentially their Super Bowl.

They also should be much more well-rested following a bye week and a laugher over Louisiana Tech last week at home.

Not enough people are talking about how great this Jacksonville State defense has played this season. The Gamecocks rank eighth in Success Rate, third in Defensive Line Yards and 13th in yards per play allowed.

In comparison, against a slightly easier schedule, New Mexico State ranks 81st, 82nd and 73rd in those respective categories.

The Aggies also rank 97th in Rush Success Rate, which spells trouble against Rich Rodriguez's run-heavy offense that has the fifth-highest rush rate in the country.

I have Jacksonville State power-rated slightly ahead of New Mexico State due to the defensive superiority in a matchup of two equally-rated offenses. Throw in the tremendous situational spot, and this had to make the final card.

Pick: Jacksonville State +1 (Play to -2.5)

Notable Nugget

Both of these teams have been absolute cash cows this season with both among a group of just six FBS teams with only two ATS losses.

Jacksonville State sits at 8-2-1 ATS with an average cover margin of 10.7 points per game. Meanwhile, New Mexico State is 9-2-1 ATS with an 8.8-point average cover margin.

San Diego State +6 vs. Fresno State

Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET ⋅ FS1

This has to be a huge letdown spot for Fresno State.

With bowl eligibility already locked up, the Bulldogs have nothing to play for after getting upset at home last week as a three-touchdown favorite by New Mexico.

That devastating loss eliminated Fresno State from the Mountain West Championship game just two weeks after controlling its own destiny.

Not only could Fresno come out completely flat here, but I just haven't been impressed with the Bulldogs all season after a number of fortunate one-possession wins earlier in the season.

Conversely, San Diego State should be motivated here in its final regular-season game after a disappointing 3-8 campaign. Why? Well, it's the final game on the sidelines for beloved head coach Brady Hoke, who will retire after this one is over.

I expect the Aztecs, who have lost four of their six league games by one possession, to give a spirited effort, especially after losing in heartbreaking fashion at Fresno State last season when the Bulldogs put together a huge fourth-quarter rally that essentially eliminated the Aztecs from the division race.

From a matchup perspective, San Diego State sports one of the worst rush defenses in the country. However, Fresno State doesn't really run it much and doesn't have much success when it actually decides to hand it off.

If you look at SDSU's schedule this season, which has been tougher than Fresno's, it has been blown out by elite rushing teams (UCLA, Oregon State, Air Force) due to a porous run defense that ranks fourth-worst in the country in Rushing Play Success Rate.

However, in all of their other games, the Aztecs have held their own.

Lastly, it's worth mentioning that Fresno State lost starting left tackle and best offensive lineman Jacob Spomer to a season-ending injury earlier this month. Then, his backup got hurt, which forced Kingsley Ugwu into the mix last week against New Mexico, which did not go well, to say the least.

That's especially bad news when you consider the left guard situation also leaves a lot to be desired.

Fresno should likely get Mikey Keene back at quarterback this week, but we'll see if he's fully healthy.

Regardless, this is a favorable matchup for the SDSU defense against a Fresno team that still has some looming negative regression.

On the season, the Bulldogs rank in the top five nationally in both fourth-down conversion percentage and turnover margin thanks in large part to an FBS-low one fumble lost in 11 games.

Pick: San Diego State +6 (Play to +4.5)

Notable Nugget

During his time at San Diego State, Brady Hoke is 11-4 ATS (73.3%) in Mountain West play as an underdog of three-plus points.

He's also gone 29-14-1 ATS (67.4%) in conference play after a straight-up loss; only former Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder has been more profitable in that situation over the past two decades.

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