Saturday College Football Best Bets & Picks: UConn vs USF, Oregon vs Washington State Highlight Afternoon Bets

Saturday College Football Best Bets & Picks: UConn vs USF, Oregon vs Washington State Highlight Afternoon Bets article feature image

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.

After an unbelievable noon slate of college football, you’re likely jonesing for a few more winners.

Lucky for you, our loyal Action Network reader, our staff has three best bets for the Saturday afternoon slate, including picks for USF vs. UConn, Washington State vs. Oregon and Toledo vs. Miami (OH).

Read on for a full breakdown of all three picks below.

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Saturday Afternoon College Football Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football betting staff is targeting from Saturday afternoon's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
Specific betting 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.

USF vs. UConn

Saturday, October 21
3:30 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Over 54.5

By BJ Cunningham

South Florida is playing at one of the fastest tempos in the entire country, running a play every 20.7 seconds.
The key to the Bulls’ offense is running the ball effectively. They've struggled from a Success Rate standpoint, but they're top-10 in rushing Explosiveness and 34th in EPA/Rush.

The reason their rushing attack has been so good is because of quarterback Byrum Brown, who took over for an injured Gerry Bohanon early in the season.

Excluding sacks, Brown is averaging 7.3 yards per carry with a PFF rushing grade of 81.3. He has 23 runs over 10 yards with 32 missed tackles forced.

UConn ranks outside the top 60 in both Rushing Success Rate Allowed and Rushing Explosiveness Allowed, so Brown could break off some more big runs on Saturday.

The Huskies lost quarterback Joe Fagnano to a season-ending shoulder injury in the second week of the season, but Ta'Quan Roberson has done a nice job replacing him.

He has a 78.6 PFF passing grade and ranks 64th in EPA while making eight Big Time Throws compared to just three Turnover Worthy Plays.

What helps in this matchup is the fact that South Florida's secondary has been horrendous, ranking 126th in EPA/Pass Allowed.
The Huskies have been efficient when they've gotten inside the opponent's 40-yard line, averaging 4.1 points per scoring opportunity to rank 56th in the country.

Meanwhile, South Florida sits 94th in that same category defensively.

Both of these teams have gone over the total in each of their last three games, so I like the value on over 53.5 points.

Pick: USF-UConn Over 54.5 | Play to 58

Washington State vs. Oregon

Saturday, October 21
3:30 p.m. ET
Washington State Team Total Under 20.5

By Thomas Schlarp

Oregon’s Bo Nix and Dan Lanning’s aggressive offensive decisions may garner most of the attention, but the Ducks defense that was on the same lowly tier as USC last year has actually been quite competent in 2023.

Oregon’s pass defense currently sits atop the Pac-12, allowing 180.7 yards per game, almost 25 yards better than the next closest team.

The Ducks are ninth in Pass Success Allowed — all stats that include a game against the Heisman frontrunner in Michael Penix Jr. The Huskies quarterback still had a great game against Oregon last weekend, but his 302 passing yards were a season low.

The Ducks, who rank 45th in Rush Success Allowed, haven’t allowed a team to rush for 100 yards in four consecutive games.

Then there’s Washington State.

The Cougars had one of the nation’s better offenses in the first month of the season, led by quarterback Cam Ward. In September, Washington State averaged 45.8 points per game.

But come October, injuries have started to mount up, and the Cougs’ scoring has fallen off a cliff down to 11.5 points per game against UCLA and Arizona.

Ward’s numbers go hand-in-hand with Wazzu’s scoring, as he’s passed for fewer than 200 yards in each of the last two games while throwing just one total touchdown to three interceptions — his first picks of the year.

Oregon feels like it still gets pegged as a fast-paced team that’s involved in a shootout every week, but that’s just no longer the case. Will Stein runs a slower offense than Kenny Dillingham did, which helps to keep the ball out of the opposition’s hands.

Full-game totals are actually 4-1 to the under in Oregon’s last five games, thanks in large part to Oregon’s defense that is 11th in the country, allowing 15.8 points per game.

I don’t want to tempt fate with Lanning trying to redeem himself this week and potentially going for every fourth down possible, so I’m just going to back the Ducks defense to keep Washington State down on the mat.

Pick: Washington State Team Total Under 20.5

Toledo vs. Miami (OH)

Saturday, October 21
4 p.m. ET
Miami (OH) +2.5

By Tanner McGrath

At home in their biggest game of the season, I’m betting that Miami (OH) will prove it’s the MAC’s best team.

The RedHawks season-long metrics aren’t pretty, but their profile is deflated from that ugly season-opening loss to Miami (FL).

The Hurricanes are college football’s laughingstock after their embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech, but they’re still a pretty good football team. So, the deflating loss is understandable.

But, since that loss, Miami (OH) is 6-0 with a +122 point differential, picking up a Power Five win over Cincinnati during the stretch.

Quarterback Brett Gabbert has been elite, tossing 14 touchdowns to only four picks across the six games. He’s completing over 60% of his passes for close to 10 YPA. He posted an aDOT over 12 in five of the six wins.

Gabbert is firing right now. He’s the best quarterback in the MAC, and I’m betting he proves it against DeQuan Finn.

Finn had six big-time throws to one turnover-worthy play against Texas Southern in a monster performance. Aside from that game, he has six big-time throws to nine turnover-worthy plays. He’s averaged 7.2 YPA across the six contests.

Let’s look at Toledo’s overall resume. The Rockets are also 6-1 and on a six-game win streak. Still, they lost to a mediocre Illinois team in the season-opener and have played Texas Southern, San Jose State, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, UMass and Ball State since.

That’s the sixth-easiest schedule in FBS, per Power Rankings Guru.

Miami (OH) hasn’t played a much more difficult schedule, but it’s taken care of business against inferior opposition. It’s covered every game.

Conversely, the Rockets have three wins by one possession. They’re 1-5 ATS since the season opener. They’re due for a close loss.

A big part of Finn’s game is his dual-threat ability, given he’s racked up over 400 rushing yards at 6.4 YPC. Between him and lead back Peny Boone (792 yards, 7.4 YPC), the Rockets are among the nation’s best ground attacks, averaging 243.1 rush YPG at 5.8 YPC while ranking eighth nationally in EPA per Rush. They rush at a top-10 rate (61%).

But the RedHawks’ rush defense has rebounded since the Miami (FL) loss. They’ve held four of their past five opponents under 80 rushing yards. Cincinnati amassed 273 rush yards against them, but it took 57 attempts, so the YPC was only 4.8.

Moreover, the RedHawks' front seven is playing well all around. They rank sixth nationally in sack rate (10.1%) and 23rd in PFF’s Pressure grades. Edge rusher Caiden Woullard has a whopping 35 pressures with a 17.9% pass-rush win rate.

Conversely, Toledo’s front seven has been questionable, at least against the run. The Rockets are 87th in EPA per Rush allowed and 79th in Rush Success Rate allowed.

Gabbert is an elite MAC quarterback, but the RedHawks are still a rush-first team. They dial up run at a top-25 rate nationally. Rashad Amos is the lead rusher, but Gabbert isn’t entirely immobile (129 rush yards on 42 carries).

They haven’t been effective on the ground yet, but the RedHawks could earn some valuable rush yards against a lousy Rockets front seven. That would open up even more passing opportunities for Gabbert.

It’s a good situational spot for Miami (OH) getting this huge game at home. The RedHawks have proven they’re a better team, even if only because the Rockets have looked mediocre against weak opponents. And the schematic matchup favors Miami (OH).

Miami (OH) is catching two at home, but our Action projections make the RedHawks a short favorite.

I agree. I think the wrong team is favored, and I think the RedHawks win this game outright. Although, I’ll happily take the points.

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