College Football Odds, Picks & Predictions: 4 Best Bets for Saturday Afternoon’s Slate
Tom Hauck/Getty Images. Pictured: Oregon defensive back Jonathan Flowe.
As the Week 10 college football slate rolls on, we turn our attention to the afternoon games — and there are a lot of them.
Our staff dished out four best bets for this key kickoff window, including picks for UTSA vs. UAB, New Mexico vs. Utah State, Syracuse vs. Pitt and Oregon vs. Colorado.
Whether you're looking for a potentially gross Group of Five game (sorry, Lobos and Aggies) or a star-studded Pac-12 matchup (Bo Nix SZN is still in full effect), we have you covered.
Read on for all four of our afternoon best bets below, and be sure to check out our other best bets for Saturday's noon and evening games.
Saturday Afternoon College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today's slate of afternoon games. Click the team logos for one of 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.|
UTSA vs. UAB
The Roadrunners are a flawed football team. They can’t, for the life of them, stop anyone from passing the football against them this season. UTSA ranks 107th in passing defense and 119th in explosiveness allowed through the air.
I’ve been biding my time waiting for the right spot to play them given their obvious deficiencies on defense.
This is that spot.
UAB has been a mess offensively with injuries at quarterback and uninspiring play from Jacob Zeno. The Baylor transfer has gone 21-for-42 for 215 yards (5.2 YPA) in UAB’s last two losses. Even if Dylan Hopkins returns from injury, which is iffy at the moment, this passing game will hold UAB back.
Because otherwise, the Blazers’ strong defense and fantastic running game should translate to a winning football team. Instead, UAB has found a way to lose to Rice, Western Kentucky and FAU in October.
UTSA, meanwhile, continues to rack up wins behind an elite passing attack and strong run defense. Frank Harris, UTSA’s senior signal-caller, ranks 25th in QBR and has 10 total touchdowns in C-USA play against just four turnovers.
His receiving corps is the very best in the Group of Five, making life hard on opposing secondaries. Zakhari Franklin, De’Corian Clark and Joshua Cephus have 18 receiving touchdowns combined this season.
Brenden Brady is also coming off of a career game at running back. The senior tailback went for 112 yards and a pair of scores in the Roadrunners’ four-point win over North Texas.
But the clincher here for me is the UTSA run defense. which is fourth in Success Rate. Is it going to shut down DeWayne McBride? I don’t believe so.
But if it forces UAB into third-and-mediums all game, the Blazers’ passing issues and mediocre play on third downs (41.57%, 49th) should bite them again in this pivotal C-USA matchup.
New Mexico vs. Utah State
This is a gross game, but the number is simply too high for Utah State.
Both teams are coming into Week 10 off of a bye, but the last time Utah State was in action, it put out a pathetic offensive performance in Laramie, scoring just 14 points on 3.5 yards per play.
In the last two weeks, it's combined for just 31 points against Colorado State and Wyoming.
The quarterback position is a major question mark right now for the Aggies. Logan Bonner is out for the season, and both Levi Williams and Cooper Legas were injured for the last game.
That meant true freshman Bishop Davenport took the snaps. No matter who's under center, it will be a backup, and Utah State's passing attack has already been one of the worst in college football.
The Aggies rank 104th in Passing Success Rate, 113th in passing explosiveness and 124th in EPA/Pass. New Mexico actually boasts an above-average secondary, ranking 34th in EPA/Pass Allowed and 27th in coverage grade, per PFF.
So, that means Utah State is going to have to run the ball successfully, which it hasn't done at all this season.
Wyoming stacked the box against the Aggies, and Utah State averaged just 3.1 yards per carry in that game. For the season, they're 97th in Rushing Success Rate and 104th in EPA/Rush.
New Mexico's offense has been very poor this season, as the Lobos average only 3.6 yards per play and rank 127th in Success Rate. They boast one of the worst passing attacks in the entire country, ranking 130th in EPA/Pass.
But they don't have the worst rushing attack in college football.
New Mexico sits 77th in Offensive Line Yards, 90th in rushing explosiveness and 86th in EPA/Rush. Running back Nathaniel Jones is averaging 3.7 yards per carry and has 10 runs of more than 10 yards on 83 carries.
That's exactly how teams attack this Utah State defense that ranks 123rd in rushing explosiveness allowed and 104th in EPA/Rush Allowed.
This is an ugly one, but there’s some value on the Lobos at +15.5.
Syracuse vs. Pitt
It has been a brutal couple of weeks for the Syracuse Orange. After starting the season 6-0, the Orange have dropped two straight.
Syracuse played Clemson very tough in Death Valley, losing 27-21, and then got thoroughly beaten by Notre Dame at home the following week in a 41-24 effort.
I don’t think the season is lost for Syracuse, though. The Clemson loss was demoralizing for the Orange, effectively killing their CFP hopes, and then they didn’t get up for last week’s game against Notre Dame.
The now-No. 20 Orange head to Pittsburgh for a game that’s entirely winnable. Syracuse will finish with a very respectable 10-win season if it wins out the remainder of its ACC schedule.
Syracuse was gouged in the last two weeks by the run. Pittsburgh is getting love from Vegas here because it boasts a solid running game, and the perception is that Syracuse has been figured out.
Israel Abanikanda is the lead back for the Panthers and is having a solid season, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. What Pittsburgh doesn’t have is a competitive passing game.
The Panthers rank 80th in the nation in passing offense. The Pitt passing game will be neutralized by the Orange’s third-ranked passing defense.
Syracuse is well suited to counter Abanikanda with a defensive front seven Havoc rate that ranks 25th in the nation.
The game plan will be straightforward for Orange: Stop the one-dimensional Pittsburgh rushing attack because there’s no backup plan.
On offense, the Orange can focus on what they do best, and that’s let running back Sean Tucker do his thing against a Pitt defense that has struggled.
I think Syracuse should be favored in this matchup, but it’s getting points because of quarterback Garrett Shrader’s questionable status.
The Orange will get back on track in Pittsburgh as they target a 10-win season after a series of setbacks. I love the value of a plus-money outright win here that is firmly within reach.
Oregon vs. Colorado
By Dan Keegan
I can’t believe I am going to say this, but my best bet of the week is backing Bo Nix on the road.
His Oregon Ducks have an advantage over the Colorado Buffaloes in every aspect of this matchup, and should dominate it thoroughly.
Oregon’s pass defense is a cause for concern in bigger matchups or the postseason, but Colorado isn’t the opponent to find cracks in that armor.
Colorado’s defense is downright dreadful. It’s dead last in FBS in sacks with only six, and it has no chance to pressure Nix, who has only been brought down once in the entire season. Nix will be given plenty of protection to compile stats for his Heisman Trophy resume.
The Buffs defense is 129th in Success Rate Allowed, and Oregon ranks second in Rushing Success and sixth in Passing Success. It will move the ball and find the end zone at will.
Colorado got a little interim head coach bump after firing Karl Dorrell, scoring an upset over Cal. But it’s since returned to their miserable ways, getting blown out by Oregon State and losing to an equally sad-sack Arizona State outfit in its next two.
The line for the game is huge: 31.5. So, we’re going to take Oregon to cover the first half spread. You can find it at -17 juiced to -120 at FanDuel, or at -18.5 with -110 at most shops.
Skip the backdoor, and the possibility that this a look-ahead spot for Oregon with three tremendous Pac-12 showdowns on deck (Washington, Utah, Oregon State).
The Ducks will take care of business in the first half, and if Colorado trims the final number to 28 or 24 while Nix rests on the sideline, so be it. We already cashed in the first half.