College Football Best Bets for Week 10: Our 6 Top Picks for Saturday Afternoon, Including South Alabama vs. Troy
Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: North Carolina State Wolfpack defensive end Xavier Lyas (97).
- We are eyeing five games in the afternoon slate of college football, including lower tier mid-major games.
- Also, Baylor travels to TCU following the departure of Gary Patterson and NC State faces off against feisty Florida State.
- Our staff provides their six best bets for this window in Week 10.
What a day it’s been so far.
It’s not even 3:30 p.m. ET yet, and we’ve already seen a triple-option service academy showdown, Hugh Freeze’s return to Oxford, and the No. 1 team in the country play at home.
But there’s plenty of action to come, and our staff came prepared.
Our writers love the Group of Five this afternoon, as they have best bets ready to go for Charlotte vs. Rice, South Alabama vs. Troy, and Colorado State vs. Wyoming. And for good measure, they added picks for an in-state Big 12 matchup between TCU and Baylor and the ACC duel of NC State vs. Florida State.
Week 10 College Football Best Bets
Our Staff’s Top Picks for Saturday Afternoon
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting for games kicking off from 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.|
Baylor vs. TCU
Sometimes the narrative matters. TCU parted ways with Gary Patterson last Sunday after 21 years.
Patterson is pretty much the main reason why TCU football is where it is today. He brought the program to the Big 12, had many 10+ win seasons, and brought a Rose Bowl to Fort Worth.
As he has done throughout his career, Patterson handled the news with class. In fact, Patterson stayed in the football offices this week to help the team get ready for Baylor. I believe you’ll see an extremely inspired effort from the Horned Frogs this weekend to win one for Coach P.
Meanwhile, Baylor is coming off a huge win against Texas and the Bears play host to Oklahoma next week. Classic sandwich spot.
I expect star running back Zach Evans to be available this week for the Frogs, which should provide a nice spark to the TCU offense.
Max Duggan will need to use his legs to make plays against Baylor’s defense, which has been pretty good overall throughout the year.
Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon has been much improved in 2021, and this should be a good matchup against a TCU defense giving up over 6.5 yards per play.
That said, The TCU defense is as healthy as it’s been at any point in the season, and I think you’ll see the Horned Frogs try to bring a lot of blitzes to get the Bears off schedule.
Look, Baylor definitely has some advantages in the trenches in this game, but with this line moving to seven, I’m very comfortable playing the Frogs. I think you’ll see TCU play its most complete game of the season in a rivalry game the week after Patterson’s departure.
Give me the Frogs and the points, and do not be surprised to see TCU pull off the upset.
Pick: TCU +7
Rice vs. Charlotte
It’s not the most appetizing dish on the college football buffet Saturday, but here’s a total still worth playing at the current market number.
Only UMass’ defense has been worse than Charlotte (7.8) in terms of yards per play allowed over the last three games. In fact, the 49ers have limited just one FBS team to fewer than seven yards per play this season: Illinois.
Rice lost quarterback Wiley Green for the season, but Jake Constantine is the better option in a game that requires some points. The latter’s 8.4 yards per attempt and 8.5 air yards per pass rival the former’s 7.4 and 6.4, respectively.
Expect a decent game flow and perhaps a couple of explosive touchdowns. Both defenses are bottom-20 nationally in big plays allowed.
Pick: Over 53
South Alabama vs. Troy
South Alabama +4
South Alabama has one of the best defenses in the country from a Success Rate standpoint. The Jaguars rank fourth in Offensive Success Rate Allowed and have done an incredible job at stopping the run this season.
South Alabama is allowing only 3.7 yards per carry, ranks 11th in EPA/Rush allowed, second in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, second in Defensive Line Yards, and first in Stuff Rate.
So, for a Troy offense that is 86th in Rushing Success Rate, it’s going to be forced to throw the ball, which it’s used to since it passes the ball 55.39% of the time. However, it hasn’t been that effective throwing it.
Troy made a switch at quarterback position to Gunnar Watson after the loss to South Carolina, and he’s been marginally better than Taylor Powell, throwing for 7.5 yards per attempt but only has a 69.7 passing grade, per Pro Football Focus.
Troy is also 79th in Passing Success Rate, 114th in passing explosiveness, and 104th in EPA/Pass. So, a South Alabama secondary that’s giving up only 6.5 yards per pass attempt and ranks 20th in Passing Success Rate Allowed should be able to shut down the Trojans’ passing attack.
South Alabama’s main success on offense has come through the air. Starting quarterback Jake Bentley is averaging 8.0 yards per attempt and has a 84.0 passing grade this season, per PFF.
Throwing the ball is how the Jags are going to have to beat this Troy defense, since the Trojans boast one of the best front sevens in the Sun Belt, ranking 13th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed nationally.
I have South Alabama projected as a -1.17 favorite, so I think there’s some value on the Jaguars on the road at +4.
Pick: South Alabama +4
South Alabama ML +155
South Alabama is four points away from being one of the best stories in college football.
In his first season, Kane Wommack has already exceeded last year’s win total in just eight games. And that includes a pair of two-point losses (Louisiana, Texas State).
In short order, the former Indiana defensive coordinator has turned the Jags defense into one of the Sun Belt’s best. South Alabama is 19th nationally in total defense, 30th in yards per carry allowed, and the scary part is its pass defense might be even better (55% completions, picking off nearly 5% of throws).
This has led to a top-25 showing in turnover margin on the season.
It took a few games for the offense to really gel under offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, but the Jags offense is now rolling in Sun Belt play. In its past four games, USA is averaging 33.5 points per game.
Jalen Tolbert has been doing the most damage, averaging 10 receptions and 141 yards per game during that torrid stretch. He’s nabbed five touchdowns in his last four and appears headed for the NFL next season.
If the Jags had upset Louisiana earlier in the season, this spread could easily be flipped in their favor. My power rankings call for it to be USA-3.5, so I’m more than happy to take the moneyline and tack that onto the card.
Sharps seem to be on the Jags outright, so grab this one while it’s still north of +150.
Pick: South Alabama ML +155
Colorado State vs. Wyoming
We’re looking at a game that should be closer to a pick’em.
These teams are almost identical in SP+ Ranking (Wyoming is 77th, Colorado State 78th). Wyoming’s defense, led by Butkus and Bednarik Award Nominee Chad Muma, is 27th in Success Rate, 23rd in Finishing Drives and 23rd in Defensive EPA/Play allowed. Colorado State’s offense, on the other hand, is 110th in success rate, 110th in Finishing Drives and 89th in EPA/Play.
Wyoming quarterback Levi Williams will be the X-Factor in this game. His performance against San Jose State was a mixed bag, with 129 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
If Wyoming can stay ahead of the chains, it should be able to move the ball on Colorado State, which has one of the worst standard downs defenses in the country. On standard downs, the Rams are 96th in EPA/Play allowed, 113th in Success Rate allowed and 90th in explosiveness allowed. Wyoming’s offense is one of the best offenses in the country on standard downs, ranking 17th, 22nd and eighth in those respective categories.
Williams’ performance last week might be why the Cowboys are an underdog here, but I’m unfazed. Give me the Wyoming moneyline and watch their defense shut down Colorado State.
Pick: Wyoming ML +155
NC State vs. Florida State
By Doug Ziefel
The North Carolina State Wolfpack rebounded nicely last week after their upset loss to Miami.
Quarterback Devin Leary had his best performance of the season, tossing four touchdown passes while racking up 317 yards.
Though what may be even more impressive is the performance of the Wolfpack defense. It held the dynamic Malik Cunningham to 4.2 yards per carry on the ground and allowed him to complete only 39% of his passes.
As for Florida State, its key to offensive success is to pound the rock on the ground.
Unfortunately for the Seminoles, the Wolfpack has been stout against the run, holding their opposition to 3.6 yards per carry, which is good for 29th nationally.
On the other side of the ball, we have seen NC State put up around 30 points in almost every game except in its loss to Mississippi State.
In this matchup, we should see a similar output. While the Seminoles get tough around the red zone, they are in the middle of the pack defensively overall.
There is great value in this line, as NC State should be around a five-point favorite. I would play this up to 3.5.