College Football Odds, Predictions, Picks: Our Best Bets for Saturday Afternoon’s Games (November 27)
- College football Saturday rolls on as we prepare for the afternoon slate.
- Our staff came through with three best bets for this kickoff window, including Penn State vs. Michigan State and SMU vs. Tulsa.
- Check out all three picks for the window below.
Rivalry Week rolls on with the afternoon kickoffs.
Whether you’re in the green after the noon kickoffs or looking to get back to even, we have you covered with three more best bets for the afternoon set.
Our top afternoon bets begin with a Big Ten battle between Penn State and Michigan State and a Conference USA contest featuring Western Kentucky and Marshall at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Then, just 30 minutes later, SMU and Tulsa kick off in what should be an entertaining matchup in the American Athletic Conference.
So, check out all of our top bets for Saturday’s afternoon slate below. And when these games all wrap up, we’ll see you back here for the late-night set.
Week 13 College Football Best Bets
Our Top Pick’s for Saturday Afternoon
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from Saturday afternoon’s slate of games (3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET). 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.|
Penn State vs. Michigan State
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford has had a very interesting season and has battled a ton of injuries. He’s averaging only 7.1 yards per attempt and has a 68.2 passing grade with 14 big-time throws and 10 turnover-worthy plays.
Clifford was hurt in the last game against Rutgers, and freshman Christian Veilleux ended up throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns. We may see both of them at points on Saturday.
The good news is that Michigan State’s secondary is one of the worst in the Big Ten, ranking 105th in Passing Success Rate Allowed, and 82nd in terms of a coverage grade, per Pro Football Focus. So, the quarterbacks and with star wideout Jahan Dotson should be able to shred the Spartans.
Additionally, Penn State has the eighth-best pass-blocking grade, per PFF. It will be able to handle Michigan State’s pass rush, which has the 24th-best grade in the country.
Putting the game in Payton Thorne’s hands is not the recipe for victory for the Spartans, which was the case last Saturday considering they went down three touchdowns in the blink of an eye. Thorne played terribly against Ohio State, averaging 4.4 yards per attempt and putting up a 56.3 PFF passing grade.
The biggest thing about Thorne and the Michigan State offense, as a whole, is it needs explosive plays to be successful.
Thorne’s passing grade on throws over 20+ yards is 92.0, but it drops below 73 on anything under 20+ yards.
Now, he’ll be facing a Penn State secondary that is sixth in the country in explosive passing allowed, so it’s not a good matchup for the Spartans’ passing attack.
I have Penn State projected as a -5.6 favorite, so I think there is some value on the Nittany Lions at -1.5.
Pick: Penn State -1.5
Western Kentucky vs. Marshall
If you’ve lived under a rock, and have not watched this Western Kentucky offense, then boy, have you missed out.
Tyson Helton and the Hilltoppers went in and harvested the organs of FCS Houston Baptist, hiring away offensive coordinator Zach Kittley after a record-setting season.
Kittley brought with him star quarterback Bailey Zappe, and there few people I am more thankful for this Thanksgiving. Zappe leads the country with 421.8 yards per game. His 4,640 total passing yards are over 500 more than the next closest signal-caller.
Zappe’s 48 touchdown passes are 10 more than the next closest player, Alabama’s Bryce Young. Zappe has thrown at least three touchdowns in every single game this season and has at least four in the last four games. He has 11 touchdown passes in the last two games.
Three receivers also came over from Houston Baptist, headlined by Jerreth Sterns. Like Zappe, the transition has been seamless as Sterns lead the country with 137.4 receiving yards per game. He has hauled in a nation-leading 123 receptions and 12 touchdowns.
Western Kentucky’s defense really struggled early but has clearly shown signs of improvement as the season has gone on.
Through the first five games, Western Kentucky went 1-4 and was allowing 38.4 points per game. Then things started to click, and over its six game winning streak, the defense has allowed just 18.5 points per game.
The Thundering Herd run the ball really well, ranking 40th in Rushing Success Rate this season behind stud running back Rasheen Ali.
But quarterback Grant Wells might be one of the most frustrating players in the country, especially for gamblers.
The 2020 C-USA Freshman of the Year can look so good at times. He is second in the conference with 305.5 passing yards per game and has tossed 15 touchdowns. But he also leads the conference with 12 interceptions and makes some really bad decisions.
The biggest strength for the Hilltoppers defense has been forcing turnovers. They have 18 interceptions this year, the second-most in the entire country. That could be an issue for Wells, who has thrown the third most interceptions in the country.
You cannot afford to make mistakes against this Western Kentucky offense, and the Hilltoppers’ improved defense will be able to force Marshall into mistakes and do enough to limit the Herd on offense.
Then, Zappe will do Zappe things and lead WKU to the Conference USA Championship game.
Pick: Western Kentucky +2
Tulsa vs. SMU
SMU (8-3) hosts Tulsa (5-6) for its regular season finale on Saturday afternoon.
This game is almost certainly the end of the Sonny Dykes era, as his name has been tossed around locally and nationally for vacant Power Five head-coaching jobs.
The Mustangs are looking to rebound after a tough road loss to Cincinnati last weekend. They lost to the now-No. 4 team in the nation and were completely shut down on offense.
SMU has a prolific scoring offense that ranks ninth in the nation, averaging 39.1 points per game. It has a pass-first offense that averages 305.1 yards per game through the air.
Junior quarterback Tanner Mordecai has been having an outstanding season and is in the running for a variety of national awards. Mordecai has thrown for 38 touchdowns and over 300 yards in eight of the team’s 11 games this season.
Tulsa is going to have a hard time keeping up with SMU’s offensive production. The Golden Hurricane rank just 91st in scoring offense, averaging 25.4 points per game.
Preventing SMU from returning to form on offense will be a big challenge for Tulsa as well. It ranks 75th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up an average of 27 points per game.
My model projects SMU as 17.06-point favorites. The Mustangs’ edge, in my forecast, is driven by their rankings in Offensive and Defensive Success Rates, which rank 27th and 43rd, respectively.
This compares to Tulsa’s Offensive and Defensive Success Rates that rank 79th and 48th in the nation, respectively.
Not only does SMU have a big edge over Tulsa on offense, but it has a slight edge on the defensive side of the ball too.
SMU is 6-5 against the spread this season but 5-0 against the spread at home.
The Mustangs will bounce back on Senior Day for what is likely to be Dykes’ last home game as the SMU coach.
The blowout loss at Cincinnati will be in the rearview mirror as Mordecai gets the aerial attack back on track. Look for SMU to end the season perfect against the spread at home.
A hook under seven is a great football number here. Lay the points at home on Senior Day.
Pick: SMU -6.5
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